Harry Brod is a professor of philosophy and humanities at the University of Northern Iowa and the author of “Superman Is Jewish?: How Comic Book Superheroes Came to Serve Truth, Justice, and the Jewish-American Way.” His blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:
I always have a valid passport. I keep it within easy access and I know just where it is, and I’ve made sure my kids have one too. You never know. It’s not that I’m paranoid — well, maybe it is, but that’s not how I think of it — it’s that I’m a child of Holocaust survivors. I used to think of my need to be exit ready as a fear of being trapped, but I’ve realized it’s got very little to do with what I think about the present or future. It’s about the past. It’s a link to my parents, a way of keeping their worldview alive in me. As bizarre as it may sound – at least to those who aren’t children of survivors, but I expect those who share my background will understand – not to have a valid passport feels to me like a betrayal of my parents, a failure to heed hard won lessons.
Actually, I should clarify that, when I speak of myself as a child of Holocaust survivors, the identity I really claim is that I’m a child of temporary Holocaust survivors. What I mean is that while my parents survived the war years, they both died younger than I think they would have had they not had to endure the hardships and traumas of those years. They survived, but only temporarily, my mother having died by age 49 and my father by 59.