web analytics
October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
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.



Archive Comes To Life At New Holocaust Education Center

Undated photo of Rabbi Avigdor, courtesy of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford.

Undated photo of Rabbi Avigdor, courtesy of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford.

All of a sudden, the tone of the letters changes. They become dry reports of annual profits from a synagogue in New Jersey. Next, there is a letter offering employment to Rabbi Avigdor from the Sons of Israel Congregation in New Jersey. Hooray! Rabbi Avigdor will emigrate to the United States and have a job and so there is a letter to the consul at the United States Visa Department. Following this is a flurry of letters testifying to Rabbi Avigdor as a student and as a rabbi.

Personal Rosh Hashanah greeting card from Rabbi Avigdor from Tishrei 1938, when he was the young rav of Drohobycz. Property of KFHEC.

Personal Rosh Hashanah greeting card from Rabbi Avigdor from Tishrei 1938, when he was the young rav of Drohobycz. Property of KFHEC.

No matter how aware I am of the sheer terror, the evil, the awfulness of the Nazis and the Holocaust, I sometimes find myself bowled over by the most seemingly mundane details, and to borrow from Hannah Arendt, by the banality of evil. I realize that Jews who were taken from their homes, who lost family members, prized family possessions and their freedom, also lost identity papers. These are the papers that we keep locked in a safe. The papers that are our passports, our social security cards, our marriage certificates, and our diplomas – these are the papers that testify and that assert our identities. Rabbi Avigdor, among countless others I am sure, had to rebuild his life. He also had to rebuild his identity by slowly and meticulously writing to all the places he had been to in his previous, pre-Nazi life and asking them to testify for him.

The most heartrending example is Rabbi Avigdor’s efforts to obtain membership to the Rabbinical Council of America. By 1953, Rabbi Avigdor was a shul rabbi in Hartford, Conn. and he wanted to join the council. The correspondent at the RCA is sympathetic and quite apologetic but states that he’s sorry but policy dictates that Rabbi Avigdor must present not one but two certificates of semicha, rabbinic ordination. He realizes, he says, that Rabbi Avigdor lost everything in the war and he suggests that Rabbi Avigdor write to one or two rabbi friends and have them write letters testifying that he has received rabbinic ordination. As I follow this exchange, the years between 2013 and the decades following the war melt away. What will happen? Will Rabbi Avigdor receive his letters and then membership? I sit on the edge of my seat.

There is a letter by Rabbi Nathan Manuel and another by Rabbi Aaron Pechenik and yes, Rabbi Avigdor has achieved membership. A few documents in and I am almost at the end of the Avigdor file. I see an article written in honor of his fortieth wedding anniversary and later, sadly, his obituaries.

Now it is time for me to fill in the details, to move on to secondary sources. I learn about his weekly, long running, beloved column in The Jewish Press. I read his books. From Prison to Pulpit, published in 1975, contains a collection of his weekly derashot, sermons. A Survivor’s Thanksgiving (Shehecheyanu), published in 2003, recounts life before the war. He recounts his history in still another and I learn that Rabbi Avigdor was reunited with his father, Rabbi Dr. Yaakov Avigdor, who later became the chief rabbi of Mexico. I learn that Rabbi Avigdor moved to the Lower East Side with his father and became the executive director of the Shlomo Kluger Yeshiva despite not speaking English. He got married and was blessed with four sons. Rabbi Avigdor, who passed away in 2010, lived until he was 90.

About the Author: Shoshana Batya Greenwald recently received a master's degree in decorative arts, material culture and design history from Bard Graduate Center. She is the collections manager at Kleinman Family Holocaust Educational Center (KFHEC) and a freelance writer.


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 “Archive Comes To Life At New Holocaust Education Center”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Israel's Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations David Roet, at a UNSC meeting held July 22, 2014 regarding the Palestinian Arab-Israeli conflict.
Israel Attempts to Insert Reason into UN Debate About Middle East
Latest Sections Stories

Sadly, there are mothers who, due to severe depression are unable or unwilling to prepare nourishing food for their children.

Michal had never been away from home. And now, she was going so far away, for so long – an entire year!

Though if you do have a schach mat, you’ll realize that it cannot actually support the weight of the water.

Social disabilities occur at many levels, but experts identify three different areas of learning and behavior that are most common for children who struggle to create lasting social connections.

Sukkot is an eternal time of joy, and if we are worthy, of plenty.

Two of our brothers, Jonathan Pollard and Alan Gross, sit in the pit of captivity. We have a mandate to see that they are freed.

Chabad of South Broward has 15 Chabad Houses in ten cities.

Victor Center works in partnership with healthcare professionals, clergy, and the community to sponsor education programs and college campus out reach.

So just in case you’re stuck in the house this Chol HaMoed – because there’s a new baby or because someone has a cold – not because of anything worse, here are six ideas for family fun at home.

We are told that someone who says that God’s mercy extends to a bird’s nest should be silenced.

Our harps have 22 strings. This gives musicians a wide musical range and yet stays within Biblical parameters.

More Articles from Shoshana Batya Greenwald
Undated photo of Rabbi Avigdor, courtesy of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford.

People often ask me why do we need another Holocaust center? The story of Isaac Avigdor is the answer.

An image from Heirloom Modern.

This time of year, there is little pleasure greater than cozying up with a good book. The problem is, of course, that there is a lot to do.

As professions go, an international children’s rights advocate is probably not listed anywhere as a low stress job. Fighting on behalf of children in places as far off as Sudan, Yvette Garfield took their plight to heart and came up with – a cookbook. Handstand Kids, Garfield’s company, was established in 2007 to connect children in a global community. In her words, “I had done a lot of traveling and wanted to introduce kids to the world and food seemed the best way to do it.”

On my third visit to the annual New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show, I did not take any pictures.

Work-life balance has been in the media a lot lately. Anne-Marie Slaughter, a Princeton professor who served as the first female Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department, wrote a groundbreaking article in The Atlantic entitled “Women Can’t Have It All.” Slaughter writes about her struggle with balance—parenting and working, and the importance of being present, as well as the importance of absolute boundaries between work and parenting. As evidence—both of the compartmentalizing men are capable of and as an example of the type of behavior women should engage in more, Slaughter writes about Orthodox men she has worked with: “Come Friday at sundown, they were unavailable because of the Jewish Shabbat.”

Now, only months after the artist’s death, is no time to be coy. Moshe Givati’s work is a revelation: dynamic, throbbing with life, pulsating with meaning. The exhibition “Equus Ambiguity – The Emergence of Maturity,” is up for only a few more days but I urge you to hurry to the Jadite Gallery and familiarize yourself with this under-recognized artist.

It’s time for the next chapter in the re-education of kosher cooks. First came correctly pronouncing quinoa, incorporating edamame into salads and soups, and who can forget the strawberry mango salad? Now, there is a mass of new recipes available with the introduction of Kolatin, a parve bovine-based, kosher gelatin. Espresso panna cotta, here we come.

Memo to the New York Public Library: I’m sorry that I still haven’t returned several books by Livia Bitton-Jackson. They are a series of vibrant, touching memoirs of a young girl navigating her way through the world, both literally and on an emotional plane; the stories of a Holocaust survivor with wanderlust in a world that doesn’t want to hear it are not easy to part with.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/features/feautures-on-jewish-world/archive-comes-to-life-at-new-holocaust-education-center/2014/02/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: