This past fall, I had the privilege of attending the Houston Symphony’s production of
Kaddish. The Kaddish Project seeks to commemorate the noble struggle of individual Holocaust survivors, including four who have made their homes in Houston. Much of my research at Trinity focused on the concept of personhood, that we are more than just biological systems but instead are “someones,” persons. I couldn’t help but think of this as I heard the chorus sing the song of the persecuted Jews: I am someone and “I am here.” Though mocked and beaten in the streets even in the days before World War II, the Jewish people of Europe taught their children that they were of value even though others thought otherwise. The soloists and chorus related the story of one survivor’s recollection of a concentration camp. When the prisoners arrived, those under 14 years of age and over 65 were separated to the left and killed. They were less than optimal for the German labor camp, so they were eliminated. Kaddish led me to reflect on how physicians were a significant part of the German “Final Solution.” They were the ones who deemed the crippled and deformed, the mentally deranged and deficient economic burdens. That’s why I think that as we look for disease and perform technical procedures, it’s important for us to remember that our patients are someones who we must relate to and care for.