Chillul Tefila Bifarhesia, as well as halachicly challenged verbiage and dress, are external manifestations of a critical lack of personal yiras shomayim which has lethal consequences.
If one makes his way beyond the outskirts of Kiev and continues deep into the forests of the neighboring village of Radomyshl, he soon enters an unmarked clearing.
To the untrained eye, the gap in the trees would appear random and most passersby would likely admire the lush vegetation enveloping the spot before continuing along the way.
But the horrific reality rooted here, as in hundreds of other sites strewn around the Ukrainian landscape, tells a wholly tragic, often ignored chapter in the incomprehensible history of the Holocaust.
Beneath the grass and the lilies that now sprout unchecked lie the bodies of hundreds if not thousands of Jewish victims, summarily murdered during a brief span of days in early 1942. The massacre was carried out by Nazi killing squads acting alongside their local paramilitary collaborators. All too often nearby villagers joined in, welcoming the chance to translate age-old hatred of the Jews into cold-blooded murder.
Underneath these grounds are the stories of remarkable families. Families who exemplified centuries of Jewish traditions that personified the rich cultures of Eastern European Jewry.
With the crack of each killer’s bullet, lives were terminated without any chance to say goodbye.
The Nazis diabolically assumed that their Jewish victims would be quickly forgotten and that unmarked killing fields would quickly fade into the lush surrounding landscape.
Incredibly, they were right, multiplying the crime. It was not just murder of innocents, but also erasure of the crime and the memory of the victims.
Decades later, there is a growing fear that in this regard the Nazis may have succeeded. For even while historians try to document precisely how many souls were lost to the Final Solution, the reality is that if these clearings in the forest go forever unnoticed, the sacred lives lost in each spot will also vanish.
There is no disputing that a life lost in the backwoods of Ukraine or Belorussia is no less valuable than one extinguished in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Every one of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis deserves to be remembered and his or her life memorialized.
There are many reasons why this effort is critical for humanity. But, undeniably, our most important motivation in accurately preserving the memories of the victims of Nazism is to ensure that humanity never ignores, forgets or diminishes the fact that these horrors occurred.
Though it may seem absurd that people could ever deny the systematic annihilation of millions of innocents, current events prove that evil-intentioned people are intent on doing just that. It is therefore incumbent upon us in the Jewish community, and indeed upon all human beings who understand the true dangers represented by hate-filled and genocidal regimes, to do everything in our power to make sure that every victim of the Holocaust is properly remembered and memorialized.
It is this very commitment that drives our current initiative to create a Ukrainian Jewish Museum. This project will provide a physical facility where guests can come, visit and learn about the remarkable centuries-old history of one of the Jewish world’s proudest communities. No less important, the museum will embrace a monumental commitment and infrastructure to identify the anonymous killing fields in the woods that would otherwise continue to be ignored.
Clearly, the clock is working against us. Admittedly, this effort should have been launched two or three decades ago. Regrettably, the political environment and other factors prohibited us from pursuing this approach at that time.
It is all the more critical for us to move as quickly as possible while the greatest resource available for understanding the Holocaust – the survivor community – remains alive. Even given the limited capacity in which we have been able to work up to now, survivors have been absolutely instrumental in identifying mass graves.
Some of these survivors were able to remain alive as small children, fleeing into the forests and literally hiding behind trees as they witnessed family members being slaughtered and thrown into the pits. While the Nazis would force Jewish laborers whom they kept alive for that purpose to cover over the bodies and disguise the unthinkable crimes taking place, those who were able to survive would eventually find their way back and reveal the truth.
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parently an affront to J Street’s worldview, the focus of which appears to be the creation of a Palestinian State, whether or not that will bring peace.
The importance of the caucus on organ harvesting in China, sponsored recently by the Liberal Lobby in the Knesset, cannot be exaggerated. On the surface, the caucus’s topic seems odd. Knesset members and other VIPs were called together to discuss horrors being perpetrated by the Communist regime in China against what the government there calls “regime opponents.”
My mother, the eldest daughter of Reb Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt”l, was niftar last month at the age of 92. She took her last breath in her home in Efrat, Israel, next door to the shul that was my father’s for 24 years before his passing in 2007.
Following the Boston Marathon bombing, one crucial point will likely remain overlooked. The most loathsome aspect of this or any other terror bombing attack on civilians will always lie in the inexpressibility of physical pain. While all decent people will abhor the idea of bombs expressly directed at the innocent, whether here or in other countries, none will ever be able to process the very deepest horrors of what has been inflicted.
It’s only natural to see increasing evidence of Jerusalem’s glorious Jewish past being unearthed, quite literally, under modern Israeli sovereignty. The new archaeological finds are also very timely – as the Arab onslaught attempting to detach Jerusalem from its Jewish roots gains steam, the facts on the ground, or “under” the ground, show quite otherwise.
The Talmud (Berachot 26b) says, “tefillot avot tiknum” – “prayer was established by the avot.” The Talmud then uses the following verse (Bereshit 19:27) to prove how Avraham established prayer: “Vayaskem Avraham baboker el hamakom asher amad sham et pnei Hashem” – “And Avraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before God.”
Nearly 13 years ago, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak journeyed to Camp David to end the conflict with the Palestinians. With the approval of President Clinton, he offered Yasir Arafat an independent Palestinian state in almost all of the West Bank, Gaza and in part of Jerusalem. Arafat said no.
The news that the Internal Revenue Service unfairly targeted conservative groups has brought renewed spotlight on a 2010 lawsuit filed by the pro-Israel group Z Street, which alleges it was also singled out by the IRS when applying for tax-exempt status.
In an editorial last week (“Circling the Wagons”) we noted the efforts by the administration and its supporters to dismiss allegations that the government’s spin on the Benghazi attack was designed to shield the president and that the IRS was improperly used to stifle opposition to Mr. Obama’s reelection.
As the controversies besetting the Obama administration continue to grow in number and intensity, the prospect that President Obama would seriously consider military action against Iran, should that country continue its drive to become a nuclear power, becomes more and more remote. So we welcome the current enhancement of sanctions against Iran on the federal and New York State levels.
To his parents’ friends, he was “Mrs. Greenberg’s disgrace,” but to sports fans he is one of the greatest – if not the greatest – Jewish baseball players of all time. Long before Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg excited Jewish sports fans with his prowess on the baseball diamond.
To eat is to live – to keep our physical bodies alive. For without the body, there is nothing. No experience. No memory. No joy and no hardship. But man, unlike animals, eats to live and to enjoy. So how should a Jew respond when he is challenged as to why he imposes upon himself not just ceremonies dedicated to the enjoyment of eating but even more to the limiting of what he can eat?
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/for-every-jewish-mass-grave-a-sign-a-name/2010/10/13/
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