An example of this new trend: Yosef Diamant had the number 157622 permanently inked on his own arm by the Nazis during his World War II internment at Auschwitz. After a high school field trip to Auschwitz in 2008, Diamant's granddaughter Eli Sagir decided to express her solidarity with her grandfather by getting the same number inscribed upon her left arm at a hip tattoo parlor in downtown Jerusalem. The following week, her mother and brother also had the same six digits inscribed onto their forearms. In September 2012, her uncle followed suit.
Eli Sagir, who is now 21, claims her motives are pure, explaining “All my generation knows nothing about the Holocaust. You talk with people and they think it’s like the Exodus from Egypt, ancient history. I decided to do it to remind my generation: I want to tell them my grandfather’s story and the Holocaust story.” Perhaps that may be the case in Israel, but there's no lack of Holocaust awareness elsewhere, particularly in the United States, which has a network of 25 Holocaust museums, with a 26th on the way in Columbus, OH.
But some of the Jewish elite are uneasy at best. Michael Berenbaum, a professor at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles who is among the foremost "scholars" of the memorialization of the Holocaust, characterizes it as a "brazen, in-your-face way" of bridging the gap between actual memory and historical memory; only 200,000 Holocaust survivors remain alive, and the number is dropping steadily. On Chabad.org, a rabbi responded more critically to a reader's question:
...How would a tattoo impact a positive change in the world? Certainly it would give the person who has it a sense of solidarity with those who were in the camps. However, it doesn't truly do anything positive, or do anything to elevate the souls of the six million who perished in the Holocaust. In fact, if you had asked someone who was forced to get that tattoo in the camps if they'd want a Jew 70 years later to get one as well...what do you think would be the reply?
It would most probably be the same response that Elie Wiesel gave when some people affixed yellow stars to their clothing. He said that it was a desecration of “the memory of the Holocaust.”
Surprisingly, the Anti-Defamation League has not taken a public stand on this trend. This seems odd considering that the ADL guards Holocaust memory with the ferocity of a pit bull guarding a bone. Instead, Abe Foxman wastes his time trying to explain how fighting hate speech defends free speech. Of course, the ADL demonstrated their real attitude towards free speech when they bullied Internet service providers into taking down some Christian Identity websites recently. Free speech for the Chosen -- but not for the rest of us.
Who would have thought that Jews would try to transform the Holocaust into a fashion statement?