A Mother’s Covenant with Her Son
Thoughts of a Second Generation Survivor of Nazi Persecution of the Jewish People*
I wish to share with you a piece written in 1992: A Mother’s Day Message.
Today I honor my mother, Chaya Hershberg Rubinek by sharing with you some of her wisdom gained through hard experience.
My mother, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s death camps, told me what happens when we lose sight of individual rights and responsibilities. Please listen to what she experienced as a younger woman in Europe. I ask for a renewed commitment to our country so that freedom in America shall not perish.
My mother told me of a society where people had trust in their government and gave up their liberty for safety’s sake. Six million of my people died as the world watched. In the Twentieth Century, over 60 million civilians died, murdered by their own governments.
A first step towards oppression throughout recorded history has always been civil disarmament. My parents made this very clear to me.
Growing up I wondered why at holidays there was no one else besides my parents, no little cousins, no aunts nor uncles. There was no talk of grandma or grandpa when I was little, and I knew I was different from all the other little boys and girls whose homes were filled with the sounds of family.
When I was about 5, my mother told me about the despot, Adolph Hitler, and how her family was dragged away one night by armed Nazi troops, never to be seen again. Mother heard them say, “We looked for guns and we found more Jews!” Sent to Auschwitz, the largest concentration camp, she was chosen by “Doctor” Mengele for “experiments” which were simply medical torture. She survived Hitler’s concentration camps only because of her beauty.
Mother was a source of strength and inspiration to other prisoners. She told them of a land where individuals are judged on their own merits, not condemned as a group. She spoke of a land, America, where the people control the government, as opposed to Europe, where governments for centuries enslaved the people.
Father’s story was a bit different. He had a gun hidden in his home in Poland, and when the Nazis came he shot them dead after seeing them kill his brother and sister from his window. He escaped, not knowing what they did to his parents. He was in shock, but he survived!
After the war my parents met in Italy, were married in Israel after its creation and emigrated to America the first chance they had.
They couldn’t believe the rights Americans have protected by a precious document, the Constitution. Even then, they were dismayed over how Americans took their rights for granted and let unscrupulous politicians and a corrupted media brainwash them with baseless and emotional sound bites. They told me this happened in pre-Nazi Germany, and a tyrant was elected to power.
My mother taught me that there are few things more destructive than a government gone bad. She instilled in me an abiding love of the Constitution, which she studied very closely in order to become a citizen. Swearing loyalty to the United States was one of her proudest moments.
Mother died in August 1974. While she experienced many sweet years in America, she was never free from her painful memories.
She left this message, one well worth sharing with every son and daughter in this great land: “YOU MUST FIGHT FOR YOUR FREEDOM EVERYDAY OF YOUR LIFE. EVEN IF AS A LAST RESORT, YOU MUST TAKE UP ARMS TO DEFEND FREEDOM! FREEDOM IS YOUR G-D GIVEN RIGHT. PROTECT IT.”
In the end only tyrants — and the very criminals who tyrants claim they want to disarm — will have all the guns … and no lives will be saved. No one will be safe. We once again will have learned nothing from history. Criminals by their very own nature do not obey the law; therefore it is moral perversion to remove a right of the people for safety’s sake.
There is a very simple premise which secures freedom. Be vigilant, speak up, know your legislators and write them. Tell them you will not tolerate the removal of any of America’s institutions of liberty. Trust me, if your freedom is gone so will your voice for redress. It happened then and it will happen again if you decide to do nothing.
I can only tell you what my parents taught me so it will never happen again. Holocausts cannot happen as long as there is an equitable sharing of power, including a right of the people to be armed.
May G-d bless you and may His grace and wisdom be shining upon all of humanity. Thank you for being here on this very special day honoring you and those who gave their lives in the name of liberty.
*These remarks were presented on Mothers’ Day, 1992, to a veterans group.