web analytics
November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Six Thousand Miles And Nine Pairs Of Shoes Later: An Interview with Professor William Helmreich

William Helmreich

William Helmreich

Any chance they will one day see a wider audience?

It’s interesting you mention that because the fellow I was talking to told me that if I put the interviews together in the form of a pamphlet, it would probably be widely distributed in the yeshiva world. So when all this dies down – this book is only out four weeks and is already going into a second printing – I’m going to turn my attention to that because I really feel these interviews should find a wider audience especially because there’s so much revisionism that goes on in the Orthodox community.

For example, in the second chapter of The World of the Yeshiva, I write about the attempt to start a college in the mid-40s. I got hold of documents from the Board of Ed from New York State that indicated that Chaim Berlin and Torah Vodaath – Rabbi Hutner and Rabbi Mendelowitz – wanted to start a college to counter Yeshiva University’s influence on their community. They got together a charter and spent $150,000 on it and a year later in 1946 they got approval for this college – called the American Hebrew Theological University.

I have a lot of information about this that I did not put in the book. I probably want to attach that as an addendum. There’s a lot of stuff that I didn’t put in the book. When it was published, Rabbi Moshe Sherer, who was the head of Agudah for a long time, said to me, “We thank you for what you wrote; we thank you even more for what you didn’t write.”

In addition to writing the first in-depth work on American yeshivot, you also wrote Against All Odds, the first sociological study of Holocaust survivors in America. The book’s subject matter is arguably very important due to the common phenomenon today of people blaming their past for their problems in life. If there ever was a population, though, that could have justifiably complained or blamed circumstances for not being able to function, Holocaust survivors would be it. But, as you write, they largely didn’t. They bit their lips and rebuilt their lives.

Well, I think we don’t always have a lot of control over what happens to us but we do have control over how we deal with it. A lot of the survivors were damaged. My statistical study based on a random sample of survivors indicates that 15,000 of the 140,000 survivors who came here were seriously damaged. Now that’s not small potatoes, but it’s also important to understand that 125,000 managed to go on with their lives.

It has to do with a fundamental attitude. I think today, as our society has grown more comfortable materially, we don’t make the same demands nor do we have the same expectations of people that we had then. The truth of the matter is we have so much therapy available that it’s almost like we have too much therapy. It’s almost like we’re always trying to find an excuse for somebody who does something wrong rather than hold him accountable for it.

And there’s a natural tendency if you have a choice between being made to pay for what you did wrong and not having to pay, you would rather not. And if you’re given the opportunity to blame other forces, you will.

Survivors didn’t have that kind of opportunity…. And it’s also not clear that talking about your suffering really clears your head. People say, “Oh, you’re just repressing.” Well, maybe it’s better to repress. You go through your whole life, you repress, you don’t think about it too much, you die, and you’ve lived a relatively satisfying life. Or, you wallow in self-pity and you can’t go on. I think today people are much more self-indulgent.

About the Author: Elliot Resnick is a Jewish Press staff reporter and author of “Movers and Shakers: Sixty Prominent Personalities Speak Their Mind on Tape” (Brenn Books).


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 “Six Thousand Miles And Nine Pairs Of Shoes Later: An Interview with Professor William Helmreich

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Betar soccer fans pour out on the field at Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium, where Hamas planned to carry out a mass-casualty attack.
Hamas Planned Massive Attack at Teddy Soccer Stadium in Jerusalem
Latest Indepth Stories
Rabbi Maurice Lamm

Creativity without clarity is not sufficient for writing. I am eternally thankful to Hashem for his gift to me.

Golden presents a compelling saga of poor but determined immigrants who fled pogroms and harsh conditions in their homelands for a better life in a land of opportunity.

It seems to us that while the Jewish entitlement to the land of Israel transcends the Holocaust, the Jewish experience during that tragic time is the most solid of foundations for these “national rights.”

Too many self-styled civil rights activists seemed determined to force, by their relentless pressure, an indictment regardless of what an investigation might turn up.

Egypt’s al-Sisi is in an expansionist mood. He wants Israel’s permission to take over Judea and Samaria.

Cries of justice for Michael Brown drowned out any call for justice for Police Officer Daryl Wilson.

Cloistered captain Obama, touts his talents and has the temerity to taunt Bibi,his besieged ally

Former PM Ariel Sharon succinctly said, “the fate of Netzarim (Gush Katif) is the fate of Tel-Aviv.”

“What’s a line between friends?”

Unrest in YESHA and J’m helps Abbas and Abdullah defuse anger, gain politically and appear moderates

A “Shliach” means to do acts with complete devotion and dedication in order to help bring Moshiach.

There is still a great deal of work to be done in these and many other areas, but Derech Chaim’s initial objective is to unite Jews from all over the world with a common goal in mind. In this way, the Derech Chaim Movement hopes to pave the way to the ultimate redemption; may it […]

“We don’t just care for the children; we make sure they have the best quality of life.”

“Why do people get complacent with the things they’re told?”

More Articles from Elliot Resnick
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen

You can’t say “Jewish French,” “Jewish British,” “Jewish Italian.” They are “French Jews,” “British Jews,” and “Italian Jews” – because they’re seen as Jews first and residents or citizens of their countries second.

Joshua Klein

Another thing they have been covering up is the nature of the building that was attacked. To this day people refer to it as a consulate or an embassy, but it wasn’t.

The reality is that civility is less important than clarity, and right now only very few people on the Left are interested in having a civil conversation about the merits of particular policy solutions.

Rabinovich is the author of several popular books on Israel’s wars, including The Battle for Jerusalem, The Yom Kippur War, and The Boats of Cherbourg.

I think Seth Lipsky is amazing, but it just drives home the point that newspapers have a lot of moving parts.

Can teenagers seriously be expected to behave properly when they are surrounded by so much suggestive material? Is it fair to expose them (and ourselves) to so much temptation and then tell them, “Just say no”?

If you remember, in 2006, a Jewish kid in Paris, Ilan Halimi, was abducted, beaten, and held hostage for three weeks… These are the kinds of people attending these Gaza solidarity rallies.

King Solomon said it long ago: “Cast your bread upon the waters” because you don’t know when you’ll hit something. Our job is to do.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/six-thousand-miles-and-nine-pairs-of-shoes-later-an-interview-with-professor-william-helmreich/2013/12/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: