Mark Strauss was 11 years old when World War II began for him in Lwow, Poland, now present-day Lviv, Ukraine.
In the first year of the war alone, 85,000 Jews in his town were murdered. The remaining 15,000 Jews – including Strauss and his parents – were forced to relocate to a guarded Jewish ghetto, where Strauss remained until he was eventually smuggled out.
“The way I survived– I was hidden by a Polish Catholic family,” Strauss said. “I was in a little tiny room for a year and a half, incarcerated. Incarcerated.”
The 85-year-old Holocaust survivor spoke to UMD students yesterday at the Ben and Ester Rosenbloom Center for Jewish Life about his experiences during the Nazi occupation of his home country from 1941 to 1945.
On Thursday, October 1, nine people were murdered when a 26-year-old opened fire in a classroom at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon before killing himself in a shootout with police. Another nine people were wounded.
The latest incident at Umpqua Community College in Oregon has fallen under the spotlight over the last week as some Americans nationwide question whether a number of these victims could be considered martyrs for their Christian faith.
“He had us get up one by one and asked us what our religions were,” stated survivor Anastasia Boylan in an interview with ABC News. “The shooter said (to a victim) that he would only feel the pain for a couple of seconds and that he would be with God soon, and then he shot him.”
After Boylan had been shot in the back near her spine, she laid on the ground and pretended to be dead. She could hear everything in her surroundings as nine of those around her were killed at the hands of the killer. During the ABC interview, Boylan mentions how the 26-year-old was laughing as he was shooting his victims.
“He sounded really deranged because he said that he had been waiting to do that for a very long time, and then he laughed,” remembered Boylan.
Over the last couple of months, there has been much controversy surrounding government funding of Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization that does research into and gives advice on contraception, family planning and reproductive problems.
About three months ago, a small group of anti-abortion activists called the Center for Medical Progress, began releasing videos. Republicans and conservatives say those videos show that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling fetal tissue for profit and violating other federal prohibitions, such as federal law at 42 U.S. Code 289g-2, which strongly prohibits the sale or purchase of aborted fetal tissue, according to the Cornell University Law School.
Specifically, the law states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce.”
I’m not a religious or faith driven person, and for the most part, I don’t mind those who are. Everyone is entitled to his or her own beliefs. I say this to emphasize that I am not a militant atheist; I have no desire to destroy other people’s faiths. This being said, I also have no qualms with challenging other people’s faiths.
The other day a friend of mine told me how she admired her roommate sacrificing “sweets” for Lent. I glibly retorted that it was incredibly convenient this roommate’s “sacrifice” for Lent could also double as a healthy diet—my logic being that it’s not really a sacrifice if what you’re giving up ultimately benefits you. My friend admonished me, saying that I should be more tolerant of other people’s faiths. Her admonition got me thinking about tolerance; more specifically, it made me question whether my critical comments on other people’s faiths could be considered intolerant.
On March 26, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a bill passed in the Indiana House just days before.
This bill has stirred up a ton of controversy due to the wording in it. Part of it stated, “A governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability,” specifically in section 8 provision (b) of the bill.
The wording allows for businesses to deny service to LGBTQ individuals in order to follow the beliefs of owners’ religious practices.
This caused protests all over the country, especially since Gov. Pence received backlash about the bill for two days before he signed it into law.