Banning Books Closes Minds
It’s 5:00 on a Friday afternoon. I’m wrapping up my documentation for the day, and I’m running later than anticipated. But before my frustration gets to me, I’m calmed by a welcome, yet unexpected sound. Over the loudspeaker of the nursing facility where I work, the cantor sings a song in Hebrew, welcoming the beginning of the Jewish sabbath.
I loved my time working for Beth Sholom. And although I have moved on, my 10 years there, until the very end, were very happy. I have fond memories of befriending a building full of grandparents, many of them Jewish. My respect for the faith was solidified during my time there. I met several Holocaust survivors, with tattoos and all, and many others who fled Europe under less than ideal circumstances. I also learned first hand how instrumental the Thalhimer family, owners of the Richmond based department store of the same name, was in rescuing young Jews from certain genocide.
One of my patients was a woman who was recruited by Thalhimers to work in their downtown Richmond store in the late 1930’s. She eventually became the head of the bridal department there. I had no idea until hearing her story that this family did that. I later read the book Finding Thalhimers, written by the granddaughter of their last president, which detailed this venture. It’s another interesting aspect of the Holocaust.
Visiting the Holocaust museum is another unique experience in Richmond. There is a survivor’s wall, and I personally know about half of the people featured on that wall. Jay Ipson, the founder of the museum, gave us a personal tour the first time I went. There is an exhibit there that is modeled after his family’s own hiding place, which was a root cellar. At one time, you could crawl in and experience it for yourself. Shocking that an entire family fit in that tiny space and hid all day. The museum itself is so thoughtfully presented; its exhibits also include a cattle car and accounts of other cases of genocide throughout the world.
My curiosity about the Jewish faith began in elementary school. My best friend was Jewish. Her family invited me to several special dinners, including Passover and a few nights for Hanukkah. I appreciated the fact that my parents, both Southern Baptists, my father…