Remembering September 11 – Responding to Islamophobia

September 11, 2010 Remarks by Dr. Enid Bloch

Organized by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (WNY Chapter), held at Masjid An-Noor Mosque, 9/11/2010.  Co-sponsored by the Islamic Society of Niagara Frontier, North Presbyterian Church, the Network of Religious Communities, and Westminster Presbyterian Church, for the purpose of “Showing Solidarity with our Muslim Neighbors.”

I am a member of Congregation Havurah, but I am speaking today just as an individual Jewish person.

No one knows better what it is like to be the victims of prejudice than Jewish people.

We know about the burning of books.

We know about the burning of synagogues, and of the Torah.

We know about the burning of people. So many, many people, both Jewish and not Jewish.

I myself was born in 1941, the year the Holocaust began.  One of my earliest memories is that of my father showing us where we would hide if the Nazis came.  We were safe in America, but my father thought the threat was very real, so I did too.

Another early memory was formed in the local movie theater.  Those were the days before television, and we watched newsreels in the theater to learn what was happening in the world.  In 1945, when I was four years old, the concentration camps were opened up.

I will never forget the films of piles upon piles of naked, starved bodies, thousands of bodies.  German people living nearby were forced to come into the camps to see what they had ignored, the horrors taking place right at their own doorsteps.

And I remember holding up my little fists, clenching them in the darkness of the theater, and swearing to myself that I would never become the kind of person who could allow such things to happen.

I resolved I would never stand silently by, as had those Germans, but would always speak out in the face of prejudice, bigotry, and injustice toward any human beings.

I have tried to keep that promise.

I am not alone.  There are many other Jewish people who have made similar promises to themselves.

To our friends and neighbors in the Muslim community, I want to say that we stand with you, today and every day, as we join in affirming the dignity and beauty of all human beings.

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