The Shmooze

Kirk Douglas' Bloody Nose

By Anne Cohen

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Kirk Douglas

It’s hard to picture Spartacus taking snark from anyone.

But in a a personal essay in the Huffington Post, Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovtch) recalls how as a young child, he ran home to mommy with a bloody nose given to him by Yanak, a childhood friend who punched him after accusing him of killing Jesus Christ.

This was Douglas’ first encounter with anti-Semitism. And as he mentions, it wasn’t his last. But, he insists, he didn’t then, and never has blamed. Nor does he blame young Yanack’s father.”It wasn’t his fault,” he explains, “because that was what he had been taught to believe by his father.”

Hate, Douglas writes, is taught, and can be untaught — that is why he is full of hope for the future.

“I’ve lived a long time. Almost 97 years. I’ve seen a lot of fear-mongering, bigotry and discrimination. But now I’m also seeing a modern generation of children who view the world very differently than their parents and grandparents. For them, no amount of teaching will make them hate people simply because they’re different. That gives me hope.

Meanwhile, I will never forget my first bloody nose. It always reminds me of why I’m proud to be a Jew. As Mark Twain wrote, “[the Jew] has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him.”

Read the full essay here.


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