Our connections to Ukraine
Toward the end of our Shabbat service two weeks ago, I mentioned that many of us had Ukrainian Jewish ancestors, and we should acknowledge this and find ways to support their struggle against Vladimir Putin’s onslaught (“Ukrainian Jews in Baltimore mourn attack on their homeland, loved ones,” March 4).
The next day I joined with my newly affirmed ancestral countrymen and women at a rally at the White House. I had never been proud or even knowledgeable of my Ukrainian homeland, though I knew that on the maternal and paternal sides of my family we were descended from Jews who came from Lviv and Kyiv. My bubbe, Mary, when pressed by me, spoke of family origins in Ukraine, Poland, Moldova and Romania, as they are known today, and knew all those languages.
Historically, Jews suffered at the hands of clergy and peasants. Now that history seems to give way to their acceptance of a Jewish president and, according to those I met that Sunday, other Jewish cabinet members. They have become heroes to most Ukrainians, and apparently to Slavic peoples in general.
Those I joined kept pointing to their “Jewish blood” as a point of pride. A DNA-tested family I walked with said they and many of their friends have Ashkenazi ancestry.
My ancestral name, Sirrota (orphan in Russian), according to this family’s insight, had a distinct Ukrainian pronunciation when I said it.
If these demonstrations continue — and I think they might — we, as Jews, might consider joining. Based on my experience, we’d be welcome. For Jews, silence should never be an option.
Jon S. Cardin’s “America’s small revolution” (Feb. 25) is confusing in many ways, as near the end he writes, “We cannot tolerate…intolerance.” Which apparently means we are to be intolerant of the intolerant. Are they then supposed to be just as intolerant of us? Equally confusing is the constant refrain about book-banning, though none of the books Cardin refers to (by Morrison, Kendi, Spiegelmann) is actually banned, at least not that I know of. You have to get through a few paragraphs at the beginning to realize that he is really talking about what is or is not to be placed in public school libraries, or what school children should or should not be reading. That’s not book-banning! Cardin goes on to rant about “a nationwide attempt to rewrite history” by “people pushing pro-hate, racist and anti-education agendas.” It’s surprising to me that the book most often talked about in this regard (and actually banned from the very beginning) is totally ignored by Cardin. That, of course, is the Mark Twain classic, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Were Twain alive today he might be astonished that some still consider Huck Finn a racist or that the book itself promotes bigotry. On the other hand, Twain also had a great sense of humor (reflected in that very book), so he might simply have laughed the whole thing off.
Cardin ends by demanding “action…on the local and federal level” to stop this “revolution.” Clearly Cardin wants government to decide what our children should get to read. Big government will solve your problems. I couldn’t disagree more. Parents, through their local school boards, PTA meetings and the like should be the deciders. This is America. We don’t want government propagandizing our children and taking away the natural rights of parenthood.