web analytics
November 26, 2014 / 4 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.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Today’s Exodus

The SS Exodus

The SS Exodus

If you believe, as I do, that nothing is a coincidence, then today’s events will come as no surprise. On November 9th, 1938, the Germans launched a wave of anti-Semitic attacks against its Jews. It was not the first and certainly not the last, but it represented that critical moment when Hitler’s plan could no longer be denied.

Jewish businesses were attacked and set on fire; books were burned and worst of all, of course, was the murder of at least 91 Jews. And just nine years later, on November 9th, 1947, the Hagannah, the predecessors of today’s Israeli army, bought a ship called the President Warfield.

The President Warfield was refitted and renamed and given a purpose. The new name was the SS Exodus and the purpose was to carry 4,515 Jews, mostly survivors of the Holocaust to the land of Israel. Israel at that time was called Palestine and the British, hoping to maintain some sort of balance between a promise they made in 1917 and another promise they made later; a compromise between giving the land to the Jews and giving it to the Arabs.

Their response was the White Paper, a document and a practice that involved blocking entry to Jews. Perhaps the Hagannah knew that war was inevitable; that the Arabs would not accept a Jewish presence in Palestine. Perhaps they knew. But without question, what was clear in those days was that the Jews needed a home, the only home they had ever known – the land of Israel.

The SS Exodus set sail on July 11, 1947 – almost 65 years ago to the day. From the start, they knew they were on a collision course with the British army and new it was a battle that they could not win. The trip was to have taken 2 weeks. Several babies were born during the short voyage. One woman…Paula…and isn’t that another coincidence (Paula Abramowitz) died in childbirth, her infant son died a few weeks later in Haifa. Three people – a crew member and two passengers, were killed by the British when they fired on the ship.

The British refused to allow the passengers entry to Palestine; ultimately forcing the ship to France. The passengers refused to disembark in France, demanding they be taken back to Palestine. The British decided, in an irony that still stabs me in the heart, that the only place to take the Jewish passengers – was to Germany. Even a British diplomat was smart enough to realize the idiocy of this decision as he wrote to his superiors:

You will realize that an announcement of decision to send immigrants back to Germany will produce violent hostile outburst in the press. The pros and cons of keeping the Exodus immigrants in camps … there is one point that should be kept in mind. Our opponents in France, and I dare say in other countries, have made great play with the fact that these immigrants were being kept behind barbed wire, in concentration camps and guarded by Germans.

If we decide it is convenient not to keep them in camps any longer, I suggest that we should make some play that we are releasing them from all restraint of this kind in accordance with their wishes and that they were only put in such accommodation for the preliminary necessities of screening and maintenance.

The legacy of the Exodus, captured by Leon Uris in his book, changed many lives – including my own. The stand taken aboard the Exodus was a response to a world that didn’t even realize a question had been asked; it was a demand, to a world that had forgotten Jews had a right to demand.

Decades after the ship was sent back to Germany, I read the story and it changed my life. It sent me on a journey to learn about Israel, about the Holocaust, about my people’s history, and ultimately, about myself and my place in this world. It was the first time I learned that such a people existed – beaten and humiliated, starved and persecuted – these people crossed a continent and let nothing stop them to come and help build the land of their forefathers. These survivors came here to make their stand, to tell the world that there was simply no other place for a Jew, here, in Israel. Suddenly, I was not just a Jew, but I was a member of a people more brave, more resilient, more determined, more honorable than any other. The meaning of being a Jew changed when I was able to understand that our legacy comes as much from what we lost in the Holocaust as from what we built of ourselves after it.

About the Author: Visit Paula Stern's blog, A Soldier's Mother.


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 “Today’s Exodus”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Riot Hundreds of masked Palestinians carry the body of 16-year-old Palestinian Mohamed Abu Khdeir during his funeral in the Arab neighborhood of Shuafat flash 90
Likud Proposes Multipoint Plan to Fight Arab Terrorism in Israel
Latest Indepth Stories
Looters in Ferguson wore masks to avoid being identified -- but the kafiyehs worn by some provided a clue to possible identities.

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

got your back

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

Gush-Katif-082412

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

Red Line Obama

“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.

The pogroms in Chevron took place eighty five years ago, in 1929; the Holocaust began seventy-five years ago in 1939; the joint attack of Israel’s neighbors against the Jewish State of Israel happened sixty-six years ago… yet, world history of anti-Semitism did not stop there, but continues until today. Yes, the primitive reality of Jews […]

“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?”

Arab opposition to a Jewish State of any size was made known by word and deed in the form of terror

Operation Moses: First time in history that non-blacks came to Africa to free blacks from oppression

As Arabs murder and maim Jews, Jordan’s leaders bark the blood libel of “Israeli aggression.”

Perhaps attacking a terrorist’s legacy broadly and publicly would dissuade others from terrorism?

R’ Aryeh yelled “Run, I’ll fight!” Using a chair against terrorists to buy time so others could flee

Riot started when Muslim students wore the Pal. kaffiyeh and Druze students demanded them removed

The “Media” didn’t want us to know what a kind, giving, loving young woman Dalia was.

More Articles from Paula R. Stern
Arabs attacking Israelis with rocks. (file photo)

It’s time to let the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) protect our citizens.

Siren

I listened to what was supposed to symbolize a massive missile attack – sirens wailing all over Israel.

While there are many heartwarming tales told about Egged, sadly, the less than amazing is often more the norm.

The area around Rachel’s Tomb has been fortified, cement barriers erected to protect those wishing to pray beside her grave.

A response to Ahmadinejad’s vitriol from a Jew of Persian descent.

The upcoming President’s Conference has a rich list of speakers and unlike some others, I personally don’t think Stephen Hawking will be missed.

If anyone is restricted in Jerusalem today – it is we Jews, who are not allowed to move our lips in a whispered prayer, on the Temple Mount. But for today, I will think of the greater celebration.

What do you do when you find yourself in a no-win position?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/todays-exodus/2012/07/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: