alchemy

On birthdays, the Holocaust and Eva Levine

Column by Andrea Doray
Posted 10/9/18

As I celebrate my birthday this week, my thoughts turn instead to Eva Levine. I commemorate Eva’s birthday – July 6, 1916 – as I do every year, by reflecting on the Holocaust; however, because …

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alchemy

On birthdays, the Holocaust and Eva Levine

Posted

As I celebrate my birthday this week, my thoughts turn instead to Eva Levine.

I commemorate Eva’s birthday – July 6, 1916 – as I do every year, by reflecting on the Holocaust; however, because I was on leave of absence in July, I am writing about her here, now.

In the spring of 2014, I visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., with my sister. I have been a student of World War II for more than 20 years, possibly because both of my parents served, my dad in Italy and North Africa, and my mother in the Pacific. They met after the war.

Although I have read extensively and watched films and seen photographs of the transport trains and the ghettos and the death camps, examining the actual artifacts and the scaled models of the gas chambers and ovens was profoundly disturbing.

So, too, were the stories of the people – those who lost their homes, their health, their families, their lives, as well as those who survived to bear witness.

Such a survivor was Eva Levine.

Eva was rounded up and transported because she was Jewish. She lost her husband and the rest of her family in the brutality of the Nazi camps and was near death when she was liberated by the British in 1945. Eva then sought refuge in the U.S.

Eva’s story lives on for me because I received her ID card #2633 to carry with me through the museum, and I often wonder today what she saw and felt and experienced here in her adopted country.

Certainly there continued to be anti-Semitic sentiment after the war, which apparently has continued to simmer among a segment of the population.

Hate crimes in the U.S. – with an increase in incidents motivated by bias against Jews, Muslims and LGBT people, among others – are on the rise, shown in data from the FBI. Hate crimes in America’s 10 largest cities rose 12.5 percent in 2017, resulting in the highest total in more than a decade, according to an analysis by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

What would Eva Levine think of the grotesque caricatures – à la Hitler’s Third Reich – spread around social media, and some mainstream outlets, of certain races and religions? What would Eva Levine say about a tiki-torch rally, reminiscent of Kristallnacht, that ended in death and destruction? And how would such a survivor, who had her own family torn from her, react to children separated from their parents, some of whom are still not reunited even after court order?

(If you haven’t read “Sophie’s Choice,” or seen the movie, do. You will never be the same.)

Some people may tell me that the parents arrived here illegally. And that when other people go to jail, they can’t take their children with them – even though they usually know where their kids are and can choose who will look after them. But please also tell me what you would do if it were you threatened with inescapable drug and gang violence, rape, murder … or when it has actually happened to your family.

It is still perfectly legal for these families to seek asylum in the United States. Just as Eva Levine did, more than 60 years ago.

Update: Thanks to those of you who reached out with good wishes and your own stories. The angiogram and a subsequent ultrasound showed that blockage is not the problem. This means more testing but my heart is filled (pun intended) with gratitude for modern medical procedures, for the outcome, and for friends and family who have been present in so many ways. 

Andrea Doray is a writer who advocates for the decency and dignity of human beings, and believes that we all, on any side of any aisle, as a nation, can do better. Contact Andrea at a.doray@andreadoray.com.

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