June 2017 Archways

Dispatch from the City of Brotherly Love

“For the first 38 years of 
my life, if I wanted to see a 
dramatically desecrated Jewish cemetery, I had to 
fly to Eastern Europe,” said Associate Professor of Creative Writing Daniel Torday in response to the desecration of the Mount Carmel Jewish Cemetery in Philadelphia earlier this year.

On NPR’s Fresh Air, Torday recalled a 1990 
visit to the Hungarian town where his grandfather 
was born. “On the outskirts
of town we found a walled graveyard…. On headstones throughout the place we saw graffiti, the painful 
evidence of kids who’d come to hang out there, defacing graves and drinking. Under the weeds we found the names of my great- grandparents, who had been deported to death camps during World War II. My father explained that my great-grandparents’ bodies weren’t actually buried there. They’d never been recovered. The family had put these markers up 
to commemorate their lives: to consecrate them.”

“The morning I went to see Mount Carmel Cemetery, I was overcome by a familiar feeling, one I’d had in Hungary…. Now I was feeling it in the city where I live. In 2017.”

Listen at bit.ly/DanTorday