Anti-Semitism has become practically PC in some quarters, especially among leftist academics. We have to be vigilant and ready at all costs to do combat with it whenever and wherever it raises its ugly head.
Anti-Semitic talk soon leads to anti-Semitic action; if someone threatens to do us harm, believe him.
The Holocaust In Hungary
Re Dr. Ervin Birnbaum’s important, excellent, and informative “The Holocaust Comes to Hungary” (front-page essay, March 7):
I would like to mention some people who worked to save Hungarian Jews.
On May 15, 1944, Rabbi Chaim Michael Dov Weissmandl sent a map of Auschwitz, with a letter, to Western and Jewish leaders, pleading for Auschwitz and roads leading to it be bombed. He demanded action from the Allied nations and from the Jews of the West.
People working with Rabbi Weissmandl included his father-in-law, Rabbi Samuel David Ungar, and Gize Fleischmann.
Of course there was Raoul Wallenberg, who saved approximately 100,000 Jews by means that included issuing special Swedish diplomatic papers, housing Jews in Swedish diplomatic housing and pulling them off trains headed for Auschwitz.
Among those who worked with Wallenberg was Per Anger, also a Swedish diplomat. Wallenberg worked under the auspices of the United States War Refugee Board. Wallenberg’s activities also inspired Swiss, Spanish, Vatican, and Portuguese diplomats to act to save Hungarian Jews.
Ira Hirschmann, who was recruited to the War Refugee Board by President Roosevelt, also worked to save Hungarian Jews.
And let us not forget Joel Brand and Hannah Szenes. You can see Joel Brand’s testimony at the Eichmann trial on YouTube.
The Journey Back
I am writing in response to the recent articles by Rabbi Eliyahu Safran (“God Loves Our Lost Children – and So Must We,” front-page essay, Jan. 31; and “To Be a Parent Is to Be a Very Special Rebbe,” op-ed, March 14) on young people who go off the derech (OTD).
The articles were written from the perspective of the parents, family and community of that child. Please allow me to offer the viewpoint of one of those children, now well into middle age.
Nearly four decades ago, after being raised in a frum home and having gone to yeshiva for 13 years, I slowly started going OTD and eventually married a non-Jew.
My entire family and almost all my friends wrote me off completely. I was 20 years old at the time.
When I got divorced six years later, my ex-wife called my parents to let them know. They initiated contact with me that would remain sporadic; because of the hurt on both sides the relationship was irrevocably diminished. Both of my parents passed away with barely any reconciliation between us.
A few years ago I started the long journey back to Yiddishkeit. I married a Jewish woman and we have a young son. Though we are divorced now and she is not religious, I am raising my son with strong Jewish values.
Had the ties to my family and community remained open – had I not been thrown out as, in Rabbi Safran’s phrase, “useless garbage,” but been given any support and love at all – I am certain I would have come back many years before I did.
On a related note I would like to comment on the Feb. 28 letter from reader Alex Lapin concerning the difficulty he has sitting in shul on Shabbos, getting dressed up in a suit after wearing one all week at work, sitting through a long service, etc.
I guess we don’t know what we have until we lose it. As a returning Jew, I am overjoyed and sometimes moved to tears to go to shul on Shabbos and Yom Tov. I am lucky to be able to do this again and to pass it on to my child. I too work long hours (although not, like reader Lapin, in a suit), yet I consider it not only a duty but a privilege to daven.
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