OUR CLASS Still Reverberates Even After Closing

A wonderful guest blogpost in Moment Magazine, penned by TJ Council member, Al Munzer.

Earlier this month, as I watched the Theater J production of Our ClassI revisited a painful part of my family’s history in Poland. The play, being performed in Washington, D.C., chronicles the lives of ten friends—five Catholics and five Jews—over the course of 80 years beginning in 1926. The play comes to grips with one of the most painful aspects of the Holocaust when political differences and foreign invasions rekindled ancient religious hatreds that pitted neighbor against neighbor. It portrays the inexorable tragic descent from the innocence of childhood into the hell on earth that mirrored the experience of my own family.  And it leaves us with the question whether reconciliation after such horror is ever possible.

My family history, wrapped up in the history of Poland and the Holocaust, is not something upon which I often care to reflect. My mother was born in Rymanow, a small town in Polish Galicia whose Jewish population was deported to Belzec, a Nazi extermination camp. She left Rymanow to avoid persecution in 1925 for Berlin, and in 1932 went on to the Netherlands  where she married my father. Her brother, who found asylum in Bolivia, was the only other family member who was spared the fate of the Rymanow Jews.

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One thought on “OUR CLASS Still Reverberates Even After Closing

  1. Even though Monday’s reading of ‘Andy and the Shadow’ lacked the typical setting of a play—lights, props, extravagant music… a stage—I found the play extremely captivating. One would think that it would be hard to stay amused during a motionless production, but I felt completely engaged with the actors and the script. In my opinion, the large audience and small room played a huge role in that engagement, as everyone embraced the emotions of the actors and the audience members around them. The script resonated with the audience and Andy’s emotions spiraled around the room.

    While it is generally quite difficult for me to relate to the characters in a play, I saw a lot of myself in Andy. He seemed to possess a considerable amount of anxiety and distress for issues out of his control, a similar struggle I face on a daily basis. Even though I know I have very little control of my surroundings, I feel the need to take authority of issues that have very little impact on my life. In my opinion, Andy faced this same type of control issue by trying to decipher the past of his parents and connect those stories to his heritage. By doing this he seemed to push his mother away and overlook the relationship he had with his father. As I sat and embraced Andy’s actions, I found his behavior to seem selfish and in return realized I possess some of the same character traits. I generally let thoughts slip before I think and I make actions before considering the consequences. While these traits have never led me to the ground, they sure lead me on a path to destruction. Luckily, Andy was able to recognize this control issue before it was too late—before he lost the people in his life that meant the most to him. It may not be an easy realization to accept, but it is a very important one.

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