One of the most poignant books of recent years was Tatiana De Rosnay’s Sarah’s Key. The movie version cut like a scalpel, revealing the events of July 16, 1942 when the French police herded every Jew they could find into Velodrome d’Hiver and later shipped them off to death camps. Sarah’s Key is the story of one who escaped and how her life unfolded decades later. The story is a gripping depictions of anti-Semitism.          Seventy years later prejudice has not subsided.

Noted scholar Alvin H. Rosenfeld recently spoke at the University of Oklahoma about the continuing struggle. Rosenfeld is professor of Jewish Studies at Indiana University as well as the author numerous books and articles. He detailed:

«  The FBI thwarting several Muslim converts attempt to bomb two Jewish synagogues in New York,

«  An 88-year old white supremacist and Holocaust denier killing a security guard at

the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., in 2000,

«  Jewish hatred being globalized across the world through the Internet by  the pressing of a computer key.

Rosenfeld’s list goes one and on. Today we face escalating European anti-Semitic hate crimes, terrorism, and attempts to criminalize Jewish religious rites that have been practiced for thousands of years. In Cologne, Germany a judge declared circumcision illegal and brought charges against a rabbi for performing a bries, a circumcision, on an infant. In Toulouse, France three children and their rabbi were shot while anti-Semitic attacks rose 40% in France. Even the American Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) voted to boycott Israeli products from “Palestinian Land” even though there is no Palestinian state with defined borders.

The left-wing in Europe continues to characterize Israel as an imperialist power in the on-going struggle with the Palestinians. Philosopher and author John Paul Sartre described the conflict not to be between Jews and Palestinians but those advocating peace on both side and their rejectionists. He understood that Europe’s left-wing always ignored and failed to comprehend this fact.

To hopefully reverse this tide of hate, the City Council of Paris will commemorate the Velodrome d’Hiver event and the young Parisian victims among the 1,500,000 children exterminated by the Nazis. A few of the children came from substantial income homes, but the majority were from modest backgrounds. The mayor of Paris noted in opening the exhibition that half of the Jewish children deported from France were Parisian. The fact is that only 200 came back. The mayor concluded his remarks by saying they wished to honor the memories of these children.

The children who survived in France were hidden by righteous gentiles. The separation from their parents, changing of identities, being brought up outside of their faith, and living in fear took an overwhelming toll. By 1945, there were 10,000 Jewish orphans in France who could not find their parents. The cost of anti-Semitism continues with many of them to this day.

We do well to remember this history lest it be repeated. We cannot allow the assaults of prejudice against any race, any religion, any nation to go unchallenged. The path to a better future leads through a briar patch of angry words and aggressive actions that must be countered by resistance.

Sarah’s Key reminds us that this very hour is the time to make a difference. 

1 Comment

Filed under History, Judism, Violence, World


  1. The Rev. Carmen Collazo-Edwards

    Very true. We do well to remember the past. In many ways and world places many have forgotten or don’t care. However, this is to be taken very seriously.

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