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History Walks Our Halls
January 10, 2012
History Walks Our Halls

Posted by Judy Engibous

It started off as a typical lunch at my desk getting caught up on people’s Facebook posts while I ate. Someone I knew over 20 years ago who reconnected with me recently on Facebook had posted a political comment over the weekend, and one of her friends had commented – twice – by saying something blatantly anti-Semitic. Dangerous as it is for me to type when I have steam coming out of my ears, I posted in reply, “As a Christian who works for a Jewish human service agency, I can't tell you how much I object to those comments. I have nothing but love and respect for the management here, and I don't think I've ever been treated better.” Then I finished my lunch and tried to concentrate on my work.

There were a few emails back and forth, but after a difficult night’s sleep, I posted the following:

Also, you’re forgetting your history. From what I’m remembering – and I’m a contracts manager, not a historian, so this won’t be perfect – the fines levied on Germany after World War I plunged the German economy into chaos, and Hitler rode the wave of economic discontent to power, in no small part by using blame-the-Jewish-bankers rhetoric. Ultimately murdered were more than six million men, women, and children. That’s not just a history lesson to me. My agency has programs for Holocaust survivors, and at least one of my coworkers is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to this country after World War II. Working here I know that some of the elderly clients I see in the building may have witnessed untold atrocities in concentration camps as children. History walks among us, and its lessons need to be learned. Not enough people spoke up against Hitler then. The least I can do now – in the face of similar sounding rhetoric – is to speak up.

Judy EngibousOriginally from Michigan, Judy Engibous spent seven years of her childhood as an American in Switzerland and then three as a northerner in Louisiana. After college in Ohio and Texas, she is happy to be a Midwesterner in New England and a Christian at a Jewish agency.

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