web analytics
October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Advocate For The Jews Of Post-War Europe

      Editor’s Note: We are pleased to publish the following guest editorial by the noted attorney Nathan Lewin on the 11th yahrzeit of his father, Dr. Isaac Lewin, zt”l. Dr. Lewin provided much of the intellectual heft to hatzalah efforts during World War II and thereafter as well as to the reconstruction of Jewish life both in Europe and the United States. An accomplished historian and Torah scholar, his countless articles and historical works provided an important framework for much of the rebuilding of the shattered Jewish nation.

 

      In the summer of 1946 we were living in a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. I was ten years old and I slept on a convertible sofa in our living room. My childhood memories of the war years were of routinely falling asleep to the clickety-clack of the Hebrew typewriter that my father banged at with two index fingers at our dining table, churning out the Yiddish articles that he wrote for the Morgen Journal, the daily newspaper read by Orthodox Jews in New York, and for the weekly Amerikaner.

 

      The war had ended the previous year, and it was only then that my father learned of the gruesome murder in Lemberg of his father, the great Reisher Rav, Rabbi Aharon Lewin, zt”l, by Ukrainian thugs in the summer of 1941. The hope that his father was still alive somewhere in Europe stayed with us through the war. During the war, my father spent day and night working on hatzala efforts and trying to waken Jews in the United States to the terrible destruction that was being perpetrated in Europe. His articles in the Morgen Journal and in other Yiddish newspapers (some of which he collected in a volume titled Churban Eiropa) were the first to publicize the reports coming from Europe describing mass murders of Polish Jews and to call on the American Jewish community to rise in protest.

 

      Calls would come into the house at all hours from rabbis and other Orthodox leaders who were engaged in the United States and abroad in rescue efforts. Although my parents were living off the meager salary he drew for his Yiddish articles and for teaching some courses in Jewish history at Yeshiva University (which, in those days, was frequently unable to meet its payroll), my father spared no time or effort when his help was requested for volunteer activity on behalf of the kahal.

 

      And suddenly, in the summer of 1946, when the academic year had its vacation, he was asked to go off to Europe for three months to help in the rehabilitation of the Shearit Ha-Pleta – the survivors of what was not yet called the Shoah. I remember how handsome my mother thought he looked in the military-like uniform of the UNRRA – the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration – under whose auspices he and Cincinnati’s Rabbi Eliezer Silver, zt”l, traveled through European areas under Western control including Austria, Germany, and Czechoslovakia to meet with and assist the organizations that were working to rehabilitate the Jewish survivors.

 

      We missed him, but were proud to get accounts of his accomplishments during that trip. He joined with Rabbi Silver in high-level meetings that restored Jewish religious observances, such as the practice of shechitah, in post-war Europe, and he reported in his Yiddish articles on Rabbi Silver’s inspirational addresses to gatherings of survivors and to European political leaders.

 

      The articles he sent back for publication during his trip and those he wrote after his return told of continued suffering, neglect, and outright persecution of the Jews. (Many of the articles were collected in a volume titled Nochen Churban.) While the civilized world was exulting over its military victory over Hitler and Japan, little attention was being paid to the Jewish survivors of history’s most terrible campaign of organized genocide.

 

      An article my father wrote in Prague on July 30, 1946, that appeared in the Morgen Journal of August 9, reported on two weeks in Austria and Czechoslovakia, when he witnessed thousands of Jews streaming across the borders from Poland, as if fleeing with all their belongings in small pekalech. The scene reminded him of September 1939, when Jews were escaping from Poland without knowing where they were headed.

 

      In an article he published after his return he wrote that the few months he had spent in Europe “were the most difficult in his life.” (This coming from an important public figure in Poland who had been uprooted by the Nazi invasion, who had smuggled across the border into Lithuania, who had endured two weeks’ travel on the trans-Siberian railroad to get to Vladivostok, and who then had to travel to Japan before finding refuge in the United States.)

 

      It became clear to him, he said, that even after the end of the war, the remnants of European Jewry were in danger of further destruction. In a meeting with American General Mark Clark in Vienna, he told the general that, for these survivors, the war had not ended, and the general agreed. And my father added: “Everyone who rides the trains in Austria, for example, and sees engines with Jews in freight-cars being transported to Germany, everyone who sees their condition when they arrive in Vienna, Linz, Salzburg, or Munich, and everyone who visits the refugee camps in which they must live is alarmed and must ask himself: What in the world is going on? Is the war truly over?”

 

      He concluded this article with the statement that “it is now my duty to alert the Jewish world to the condition of the Jews in Austria. It is an obligation that we have to the Jews who are there and to ourselves.”

 

      Not long thereafter, my father began his many years of illustrious volunteer activity as the representative of the Agudas Israel World Organization at the United Nations. His first addresses to agencies of the UN dealt with the situation of Jewish refugees and with the obligation of the world to return Jewish orphans to Jewish homes.

About the Author: Nathan Lewin is a Washington, D.C. lawyer who has argued numerous cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and teaches a seminar in Supreme Court litigation at Columbia Law School.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Advocate For The Jews Of Post-War Europe”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Newly elected Chief Rabbis of Jerusalem: Rav Shlomo Amar (L) and Rav Aryeh Stern (R).
2 New Chief Rabbis Elected for Jerusalem After 10-Yr Hiatus
Latest Indepth Stories
Noah and his Family; mixed media collage by Nathan Hilu. Courtesy Hebrew Union College Museum

Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.

Sweden prefers to ignore its own problems and make trouble elsewhere.

The question of anti-Semitism in Europe today is truly tied to the issue of immigration.

256px-Israel-Palestine_flags.svg

Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.

Map of Syria-Turkish border area, pinpointing Kurdish border town of Kobani, just taken by ISIS terror forces Oct 7, 2014.

Turkey and Iran the 2 regional powers surrounding the ISIS conflict gain from a partial ISIS victory

Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.

Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters: “‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’…This is an outrage.”

Do you seriously think that as you kidnap our children we should medically treat and help yours?

Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it must enforce the dismantling of Hamas.

The Arab Spring has challenged Jordan with the task of gradual reform with regard to its monarchy.

Israel offered Syria the entire Golan Heights, only to find that the Syrians were demanding MORE!

Israeli hasbara too can be described at best as pathetic, at worst non existent.

A ‘good news’ story from the Nepal avalanche disaster to warm your heart. Take out your Kleenex.

Journalists see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as morality play: Israel=evil; Palestine=innocent

Warsaw Ghetto: At its height, the Nazis walled in some 500,000 Jews within the1.3 square mile area.

While police officers face dangers every day on the job, Jews also face danger in their daily lives.

Carter developed a fondness for Arafat believing “they were both ordained to be peacemakers by God”

More Articles from Nathan Lewin
488px-WielkaSynagoga3_Lodz

In the Thirties it was common for anti-Semites to call on Jews to “go to Palestine!”

Pesach matza cover

Federal and local laws protect your right to workplace accommodations for your religious observance.

The inauguration of an American president has, since 1937, always begun with an invocation by a clergyman

The late Israeli Supreme Court judge Menachem Elon, was a pioneer of Jewish and Israeli law.

On Tuesday, February 28, it was widely reported that the basketball team of Houston’s Robert M. Beren Academy had “forfeited” its place in the semi-finals of the tournament conducted by the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) because it would not play on Friday night and Saturday. But a headline in Friday’s New York Times read: “In Reversal, a Jewish School Gets to Play.”

On August 9, 2001, Ahlam Tamimi, a member of Hamas, drove a suicide bomber to the Sbarro restaurant in the heart of Jerusalem, where the bomber blew himself up, killing 15 people including Judy Greenbaum, an American citizen from New Jersey.

Editor’s Note: On July 30, the firm of Lewin & Lewin, LLP, filed in the Supreme Court its brief in Zivotofsky v. Clinton, No. 10-699, on which the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in early November. The constitutional issue in the case is whether Congress had the authority to enact a law in 2002 that directs the Secretary of State to permit U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to record their place of birth in their passports as “Israel.” Because the State Department has consistently refused to recognize any part of Jerusalem as being in Israel, the government has refused to implement the 2002 law, claiming it violates the President’s constitutional authority to “recognize foreign sovereigns.” This is the Introduction to the Zivotofsky brief written by Nathan Lewin, followed by a Summary of Argument.

Congress has never seen a better friend of the observant Jewish community than Stephen Solarz, who died of esophageal cancer on the 22nd of Kislev. Yonoson Rosenblum’s recently published biography of Rabbi Moshe Sherer describes Solarz as an “invaluable ally” for many Agudath Israel projects and there are 20 references to Solarz in the book’s index.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/advocate-for-the-jews-of-post-war-europe/2006/08/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: