Maybe once a day my dad will point out something to do with the Holocaust. There are small reminders around the city: little plaques on the sidewalk outside buildings Jews used to live in, a memorial wall in a shopping mall built over a demolished Jewish cemetery, a hulking Nazi bunker right next to the fairground. I always get awkwardly quiet at these moments; I don't know what to say.
It's a lot more personal for him; his parents were Holocaust survivors (as were my mother's), and a lot of their siblings and family and friends were killed. My knowledge is third-hand, and sketchy; my father's parents didn't like to talk about their experiences and they died a while ago. I suppose my father knows but it's not information he volunteers. I was 20 before I even knew that Yiddish was his first language.
I'm the first generation of my family to grow up white. My cultural heritage is a factoid, somewhere up there with my blood type on things that people only learn after knowing me a while and never really care about. I've never had anyone insult or attack me for being Jewish or non-jokingly use a slur against me. Although I'm fairly well educated about it, I don't follow the Jewish religion much. I make no special effort to befriend or date other Jews. My Hebrew and Yiddish end at the swear words. I straighten my hair and dye it red.
So I'm uncomfortable talking about the Holocaust because I'm neither an insider who can feel anger or grief, nor an outsider who can offer sympathy and sorrow. This isn't exactly "look what happened to my people," but it certainly isn't "I'm so sorry what happened to your people." Maybe what I'm feeling is that after what my family went through, I should be a Jew. I feel uncomfortably guilty that people so recently would hold on to their faith in the face of death, and I'm giving it up just because it's kind of old-fashioned and inconvenient.
I suppose family guilt is the Jewishest emotion of them all.