Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Heebs, Humor, and The Holocaust

The St. Lou Jew is all about respecting the past, but living in the present.  That's why we try to focus on living Jews who are contributing to the ever expanding world of building Jewish culture and peoplehood.
Recently, however, we are seeing an interesting/potentially disturbing trend that trivializes the Holocaust in ways that may be crossing a line.

I was tipped off the the first of these incidents via our favorite local Jewish artist, Maya Escobar (who was recently written about on  In a quick message, she sent me a link to one the of blogs on Heeb Magazine, which announced the 'Heeb Magazine Fake Holocaust Memoir Competition.'

The article made light of the number of recent Holocaust memoirs which have turned out to be fake and, while totally facetious in tone, the article struck a chord with Maya, who was livid that anyone could find this to be a joking matter.

On one hand, I agree that we should not, particularly in this time of growing revisionist history and denial, minimize the Holocaust in any way.

On the other hand, Heeb magazine is known more for its edginess, bacon and swimsuit edition than for contributions to mainstream Jewish thought.
Also, After living in Israel, in which the word, 'Shoah' (Hebrew for Holocaust) is used interchangably to describe bad traffic or a bad experience, perhaps I'm less sensitive.  

In fact, Israelis are the worst offenders when it comes to Holocaust disinterest.  With an aging population of survivors, the children and grand-children of this group are trying to get out from under the shadow, and often find humor the way to do it.

Which brings me to incident #2, a YouTube creation featuring an scenc from a movie depicting the fall of the 3rd Reich, overdubbed to depict Hitler complaining about parking in Tel Aviv.
I'll admit it...I laughed..more than a little.

But this video made enough of a splash in Israel that Haaretz published a story depicting the reaction to it, particularly among survivors (That link also contains the offending videos with both Hebrew and English subtitles).

What do you think should be the place of the Holocaust as we move forward in creating a Jewish identity based in living culture?
Should the Holocaust be a laughing matter?

After-all Mel Brooks said, about "The Producers", that making people laugh at Hitler was the best revenge.

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