On Wednesday and Thursday, we commemorated the 80th anniversary of one of the largest mass murders of Jews in the Holocaust. Over a period of less than 48 hours, on September 29-30, 1941, the Germans and their local collaborators murdered 33,771 Jewish men, women, and children at Babi Yar, a ravine north of Kiev, Ukraine.
I remember my first visit to Babi Yar in 1998. It was chilling.
On September 19, 1941, about three months after the invasion of the Soviet Union, Nazi troops marched into Kiev. A few days later, resistance fighters blew up several buildings in the city center where the occupiers had taken up residence. The Nazis used this as a pretext to launch a massacre. Leaflets were distributed throughout the city of over a million inhabitants, calling on Jews to appear at an intersection on the outskirts of Kiev at 8:00 a.m. on September 29, 1941. They were to bring money and warm clothing. Anyone who refused to come would be shot.
When people arrived, they were ordered to take off their clothes. Then they were driven to the edge of the ravine and, in assembly line fashion, shot. Loud music and planes circled overhead to try and drown out the screams and shots. It was a chapter of Ukrainian (and Soviet Union) history that was long suppressed. It was not until 1976 that the first memorial to the victims of the massacre was even erected -- but there was no mention of Jews.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky participated in a ceremony on Wednesday and stated, “Babi Yar. Two short words that sound like two short gun shots, but carry long and horrid memories for several generations. Because they know and remember that not two gun shots sounded in Babi Yar, but hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands times more.”
We must never forget!
Now for a total non-sequitur.
Do you know what a proprietary eponym is or genericide? It is when a "brand name loses its distinctive identity as a result of being used to refer to any product or service of its kind." Examples include: Kleenex, Band-Aid, Tupperware, Popsicle (yep!), and now Zoom. Here is a list of 34 of the most common proprietary eponyms you may not even realize you are saying.
One of my favorite almost proprietary eponyms is Spam, canned cooked pork. Rather than being used to commonly refer to all brands of canned cooked pork, the term “spam” took on a completely different meaning – the unsolicited email and electronic posts we all receive. Wonder how Hormel feels about that?
Perhaps the proprietary eponym most used today started 23 years ago this week, on September 27, 1998, with the launch of Google. Sergey Brin and Larry Page built a search engine that used links to determine the importance of individual pages on the World Wide Web. Its original name was "Backrub" before it was changed to Google, as a play on the mathematical expression for the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. On a daily basis, Google receives around 5.6 billion searches in over 150 languages around the world.
Now, why am I writing about this? I admit it is a long way to get to this small point.
Over the holidays, I decided to Google “Jewish Portland.” I wondered what may come up and in what order. Well, give it a try…your results may be different than mine based on Google’s algorithms. Here are my top 10 links in order (feel free to share yours):
- Jewish Federation of Greater Portland
- TravelPortland.com with The Official Guide to Jewish Portland
- Congregation Beth Israel
- Forward article – “Why Portland is a Wretched Place to Date”
- Mittleman Jewish Community Center
- Jewish Federation’s Facebook page
- Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent article -- “Portland, Oregon: Worthwhile, Wonderful, and Weird”
- JConnect webpage from Jewish Federation of Greater Washington (DC, MD, VA) about our local Jewish Federation
- Portland Jewish Academy
- Oregon Jewish Community Foundation
The reason I share this is how surprised/frustrated I was by some of the initial links, as well as the number of search pages one needs to funnel through to find the majority of our Jewish agencies and synagogues. I can only wonder how hard someone will search for what they may be looking for in our Jewish community? We must make our Jewish community as easy to find and as accessible as possible.
Finally, let me end on a very happy note! Today is the 50th anniversary of the opening (October 1, 1971) of the “most magical place on earth” -- Disney World. Apparently my family visited in both November and December 1971, before I was even 2 1/2 years years old. The park was nothing like it is today – admission in 1971 was $3.50 for adults and $1.00 for children, but prices did not include the cost of rides and attractions. You bought books of paper tickets to visit each of the "lands." And, seemingly from the photos below, it looked far less crowded. (Special thanks to my sister for sharing these photos -- I think she got rid of the cute ones of me.)