By David Gole
It has been almost 70 years since the holocaust and the era of hearing a story from a survivor first hand is coming to an end. Where do we go from here? How do we remember this part of history and make sure that it never happens again? Several youthful descendents of survivors have started a trend to carry on the legacy of their ancestors, who had experienced a living hell—through permanently tattooing the numbers of a survivor on their body.
Tattoos in Jewish culture are very controversial. Jewish law states that a Jew should be buried the way they were born, preventing people with body piercings and tattoos from being buried in a Jewish Cemetery. Lately, Cemeteries have become more lenient, being considerate of survivors who still have the tattoo on their body.
In modern culture, many young adults have been getting tattoos to express themselves in a non-destructive manner. These tattoos have enabled some Jews to become closer to their relative and help create an unbreakable bond between them. Though some people have become accustomed to young people getting tattoos, many frown upon the idea of holocaust tattoos being sported by young Jews.
When people see someone out in public with holocaust numbers tattooed on their forearm, they might ask “Why do you wear these numbers on your arm?” or “What does it mean?”. Others might be more angry than curious about such a “sensitive” tattoo. Some may be ridiculed for being insensitive to the extermination of millions. In one instance, a police officer said “God created forgetfulness so we can forget.” If that is the case, the why do we say never forget? Yes there are other, probably better ways to remember the holocaust, but the one thing you have to admire about these young Jews is their empathy. It takes a lot of bravery for someone to stand up for what he or she believes in, no matter what anyone else may think about it.
What do you think about this? Should young Jews be tattooing a survivor’s number on them, or should they find another way to honor their memory?