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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Bnei Akiva’

Aliyah from the US Down13 Percent in 2013

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Only 2,680 Jews moved to Israel from the United States this past year, an 11 percent decrease from the 3.070 who “made aliyah” in 2012, according to information provided by the Jewish Agency and Ministry for Absorption and immigration.

The number of new olim from Canada was virtually unchanged, with 321 moving to Israeli in 2013, two more than in 2012.

The decline of American olim continues the reversal of an upwards trend in Aliyah that peaked in 2008 and raises questions about the future of American Zionism, if it is defined as packing up and leaving “home” to go home. In 2008, 3,300 Jews moved from the United States and Canada to Israel. The number declined slightly to 3,260 in 2009 and then dropped sharply the following two years to 2,801 and 2,575.

No figures were supplied concerning the breakdown of affiliation, but Jews who identify with Orthodoxy have consistently been the largest group, usually between half and two-thirds of new olim.

Aliyah from other countries this past year generally increased, with the most dramatic rise in France, with the arrival of 3,120 immigrants this year, compared to 1,916 in 2012.

The biggest decrease was registered in Ethiopia, which was expected because of the conclusion of Operation Dove’s Wings

“Every immigrant who arrives in order to make his or her home in Israel fills me with joy and I hope Aliyah continues to increase, “said Immigration Minister Sofa Minister Landver.

Chairman Sharansky: “That 19,200 Jews have chosen to establish their lives in Israel is a concrete expression of Israel’s

According to an analysis of the data, Israel experience programs for French Jewish youth and Aliyah encouragement efforts

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky stated, “Israel is the beating heart of the Jewish people. That 19,200 Jews have chosen to establish their lives in Israel is a concrete expression of Israel’s centrality to Jewish life and to Jews around the world. This is an era of Aliyah by choice, rather than Aliyah of rescue.”

Given the assimilation rate of approximately 70 percent in the United States, that statement could easily be argued.

Bnei Akiva Founder Rabbi Avraham Zuckerman Dies

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Rabbi Avraham Zuckerman, founder of the Bnei Akiva yeshiva network and a leader in the national-religious movement in Israel, has died.

Zuckerman, whose Bnei Akiva network included some 60 institutions, died Saturday night. He was 98.

A Lithuania native, he moved to prestate Israel in 1936. Zuckerman studied in Poland and Israel under Rabbi Yaakov Kanievsky, who became one of the leaders of the Israeli Orthodox Lithuanian community.

Four years later, Zuckerman co-founded the Kfar Haroeh Yeshiva near Netanya, eventually introducing secular subjects to the institution’s curriculum. He also was the founder of Yeshivat Hakotel in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Among the institutions in the Bnei Akiva yeshiva network are hesder yeshivas, yeshiva high schools, high schools for girls and women’s seminaries.

The rabbi refused to leave Israel to travel abroad and celebrated the day of his aliyah every year, according to Ynet.

Zuckerman is survived by his wife, five children and more than 150 great-grandchildren.

Kashrut – More Than Just A Symbol On A Box

Monday, September 10th, 2012

When I walk in to the grocery store it is second nature for me to just check to make sure that that bag of chips or that cookie has an OU or other kosher symbol on it. To many Jews, it is just something that they do, and it usually is like that for me. But when this question was asked, I thought deeper. I began to think about how this label gives me a sense of community; and as I made that connection, I thought of our rich heritage, and once that relationship was made I thought about our homeland – Israel.

When I look at the kosher label on a box of cereal or a chocolate bar, it reminds me that this symbol is something bigger than just a letter or a word on the box. It reminds me that I am part of a community – a community bigger than just my shul, or even Denver in general. A community all around the world, a community of Jews. All around the world there are people like me. Someone who won’t eat bacon at his classmate’s birthday party, or who won’t go to that basketball game with his teacher on Saturday. When a terrorist attack happens in India and a rabbi and his wife are killed, we in Denver, Colorado feel the pain and mourn the loss of our fellow brother and sister.

A couple weeks ago I went to a deaf school to learn about the deaf community. One of the teachers asked me what my school’s letters, DAT, stood for, and I told her that they were letters in Hebrew. She pulled out her necklace with the word chai on it and said to me, “I am Jewish, too.” This is what the Jewish community is. It is larger than just me and my friend, larger than just me and everyone in Denver. This is a community all around the world that show and feel a rich connection to a Jewish past; people deaf or hearing, blind or seeing, religious or not.

Our rich history is something that unites us. I often feel that one of the reasons is because in the Torah we see great role models and leaders uniting us. There is Avraham – the original leader; Moshe – who united us and brought us to a great level; and in the future, Mashiach – who will bring us all back to Israel. Unity started when the ‘Father of Judaism’ brought us all together. We know Avraham went around traveling and converting people to Judaism. He showed people there is something greater than just themselves – something bigger than them all in which they can all connect and join together. Moshe brought us out from a time of pain and affliction from the King Pharaoh. He united us, and we all went in togetherness, relying on one another, out of Mitzrayim. We know that in the greatest time of Bnei Yisroel we were all in unity as we heard the Ten Commandments being given. This was what made Hashem so happy, and this is what Moshe brought to Bnei Yisroel. For forty long years he helped us unite when we were in the desert at a hard and rough time. He made sure we were all protected and that we followed the way of Hashem – the ultimate Being that keeps us united.

Finally, I would like to focus on Mashiach. Every day we await and hope for the arrival of Mashiach, who will bring us all back from the galut into Israel. Have you ever thought why this is so important? I think this is so important because all around the world there are people searching for something deep inside with this connection to our history. When Mashiach comes, he will do that. He will bring us all together in oneness underneath the greatness and the awesomeness of Hashem – something that connected us all as one with Avraham.

The third connection that I have to this bottle of apple juice with some letter on it is my homeland Israel and how it came to be. During the Holocaust, six million Jews were killed by terrible people and their entire Jewish identity was threatened. In a sense, to me personally this symbol shows the world ‘we are here; we are here to stay.’ After this tragic event happened, people came together and Israel was formed. When I look at this can, I know that my friend Gali in Israel has the same symbol on her can of soda, too. In Israel today people have come together – Jews everywhere can look at that tiny sliver on the map and say, ‘that is my home.’ Everywhere, people connect to Israel. I am very fortunate to have a community with Bnei Akiva – a youth group centered on Israel – where we learn about Israel and get to experience people with the same fiery passion within for Israel. Israel is our home and on every single kosher symbol we can see that connection to home.

Events In The West

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Events In The West: On September 12 Rabbi Bernie Fox, principal of Northwest High School, will speak at Congregation Shevat Achim in Mercer Island, Washington. His topic: “Why can’t we all be friends? Repentance and healing relationships”… Bnei Akiva’s western regional leadership Shabbaton takes place on the weekend of September 21 in L.A.

Kashrus Update: Costco at the Hickey Blvd. store in San Francisco is now selling Meal Mart Barbecue Beef Ribs (in addition to other Meal Mart products), some chalav Yisrael cheeses, and Golden refrigerated products.

I wish the readers of The Jewish Press a healthy and happy New Year!

AGOURA HILLS, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Engagements: Jonathan Schrage, son of Alvin and Beverly Schrage and Mara Schrage, to Rachel Udkoff, daughter of Drs. Ranon and Rivka Udkoff of Westlake, Village, CA.

LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Engagement: Megan Marcus, daughter of Brian and Suzanne Marcus, to Jacob Kamaras of Brooklyn, NY.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Births: Daniel and Rivka Schimel of Clifton, NJ, a daughter (Grandparents Dr. Harold and Magda Katz)… Tzalo and Rebecca Naor, a son (Grandparents Motti and Ayala Naor and Baruch and Bracha Crayk of San Diego; Great-grandmother Fani Teichman)… Natan and Sarah Leah Fried of Kiryat Sefer, a son (Grandparents Dovid and Tikvah Menter)… Jeff and Ashley Woodall, a son (Grandparents Mark and Rachelle Berger)… Jason and Dena Mason, a son (Grandparents Roger and Shelly Parrell… Dr. Avery and Ellen Schwartz, a daughter (Grandparents Dr. Joseph and Brenda Schwartz)… Yoni and Laura Battat, a daughter… Isaac and Leora Orenbuch, a daughter (Grandparents Walter and Esthie Feinblum)… Fivey and Devorah Helfgott, a daughter (Grandparents Elimelech and Bracha Farber)… Jeremy and Aviva Stern, a daughter (Grandparents Larry and Meryl Stern)… Jonny and Rachie Teller, a son (Grandparents Alan and Lisa Stern)… Moshe and Leora Abady, a daughter.

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvah: Moshe Nissanoff, son of Dr. Jonathan and Raizie Nissanoff.

Mazel Tov – Engagements: Adam Gleicher, son of Gary and Carol Gleicher, to Torie Kravis… Alex Schiro to Joell Czech… Naftali Fishman, son of Martin and Miriam Fishman, to Tania Rapp of Melbourne, Australia… Lisa Kurtz, daughter of Ira and Debbie Kurtz, to Seth Timen, son of Dr. Sanford and Beth Timen… Evan Cohen, son of Dr. Hart and Debbie Cohen, to Melissa Factor of Toronto, Canada… Avi Zuman, son of Dr. Betzalel and Devorah Zuman, to Rivka Feder of Lakewood, NJ… Chaya Steinberg, daughter of Rachmiel and Tziporah Steinberg, to Joel Mehrel of Boro Park, NY… Shira Lavian, daughter of Yaakov and Sharona Lavian, to Shlomo Khalili of San Fernando Valley, CA… Chaya Sara Klein, daughter of Rabbi Usher and Rochel Klein, to Eli Morgenstern of Cleveland, OH… Michael Dear, son of Rabbi Moshe and Sara Lea Dear, to Rivka Levy of Philadelphia, PA.

Mazel Tov – Weddings: Yitzi Greenbaum, son of Aryeh and Felice Greenbaum, to Aliza Vishniavsky of Boston, MA… Rachel Schultz, daughter of David and Debbie Schultz, to Daniel Small of Teaneck, NJ… Chaim Katz, son of Dr. Harold and Magda Katz, to Dena Shandalov of Chicago… Miriam Hier, daughter of Rabbi Ari and Sandee Hier, to Yehuda Dubin of Teaneck, NJ… Lawrence Dardick to Juliet Schmidt… Tova Klavan, daughter of Rabbi Yehoshua and Rochel Klavan, to Pinchas Shulman of Baltimore, MD… Tamar Rohatiner, daughter of Marc and Lynn Rohatiner, to Chezki Bendheim of Jerusalem… Uri Okrent, son of Dr. Derek and Batsheva Okrent, to Atara Jacobs of Englewood, NJ… Hillary Barak, daughter of Dr. Mark and Michelle Barak, to Aaron Khodorkovsky.

Congratulations: Barry Simon, IBM Professor of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Caltech, upon receiving a 2012 Henri Poincare Prize from the International Association of Mathematical Physics. The prize was awarded at the International Congress of Mathematical Physics in Aalborg, Denmark.

Welcome: Rabbi Avrohom Morgenstern, new rosh chabura of the Link Kollel.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Wedding: Yael Friedkin, daughter of Jerry and Miriam Friedkin, to Matt Kovner.

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Weddings: Sivan Shachar to Shoshi Weiss… Meira Rubin, daughter of Andrew and Morissa Rubin, to Ezra Wolkenfeld of Los Angeles.

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Sam and Meryn Ellis, a daughter (Grandparents Joel and Faye Snyder).

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Weddings: Avigail Goldgraber to Aaron J. Keyak… Joey Eckstein to Michal Cohen… Rabbi Mattaniah Ahron Breezy to Rebecca Katz… Adam Saitowitz to Menucha Howell.

Bnei Akiva World Convention

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Fifty years ago, when I served as the director of Bnei Akiva of New York, I wondered how my relationship with Bnei Akiva would develop. Today, years later, after coming on aliyah to Israel in 1973, I find that I still cherish my Bnei Akiva past and still enjoy the friendships that were developed so many years ago. Not only are some of my grandchildren involved in Bnei Akiva, but I, too, still feel involved. This past year I was involved in the 75th reunion of Bnei Akiva’s Moshava camps of America, and a few years ago, I helped plan the 70th Anniversary of America’s Bnei Akiva in Jerusalem. I owe so much to the socialization and education that I received in Bnei Akiva, to my year of Hachshara (a Bnei Akiva program) in Israel and to the friendships I developed over the years.


 


I recently attended the World Bnei Akiva Convention in Jerusalem. Delegates from around the world gathered in the Jerusalem Theatre for the Grand Opening. One hundred delegates from 23 countries came to examine the accomplishments of the movement and to decide its future. They came from Europe, the U.S., Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. They toured Israel and were greeted and feted by government ministers and local Israeli leaders.


 


The major event of the four day convention was the grand opening at the Jerusalem Theatre where thousands came to greet the delegates and to honor the Bnei Akiva shlichim (emissaries) from around the world who attended this event. The program included delightful entertainment by the Yeshiva University “Maccabeats” who were flown in especially for this event. Two of the singers, Noach Jacobson and Nachum Joel, are former Bnei Akiva leaders.


 


Part of the program included greetings from Bnei Akiva Hachshara and yeshiva students from around the world who were seated in the audience. To the cheers of all of those attending, one young woman declared that she had just arrived in Israel this morning and had come to settle.


 


Rabbi Chaim Druckman, the director of Yeshivot Bnei Akiva, read the prayer for the State of Israel and the prayer for Israeli soldiers and prisoners.


 


Professor Rabbi Daniel Hershkowitz, the minister of science and technology and a former director of Bnei Akiva, gave a d’var Torah about carefully choosing emissaries. Zevulun Orlev, a former Bnei Akiva member of Shevet Alumim, reminded the audience that just as the parshah speaks of leaving Egypt, all Jews must leave the Diaspora, even if it is comfortable and rich, and come to Israel. “You must remove the Egypt from every Jew.”


 


The keynote speaker at the opening was President Shimon Peres, who declared, “There is no Israel without Judaism, and there is no Judaism without Israel. You have to believe and those who think otherwise are wrong!” He continued, “You are endangering our identity if you speak Hebrew without knowing the Tanach. You are endangering the future of the Jewish people if you learn Tanach without even knowing how to pray. Hebrew and Jewish tradition go together.”


 


Zeev Schwartz, the director of World Bnei Akiva, spoke and mentioned that Yoske Shapiro, the first Bnei Akiva director, was among the many guests and former shlichim that evening. Schwartz praised all of the emissaries and spotlighted the contribution of Arye Kroll, the former shaliach to Australia. Kroll spoke and pointed out that, “Bnei Akiva is not just a movement but it also is a way of life!”


 


Avraham (DuvDuv) Duvdevani, the new chairman of the executive of the World Zionist Organization, the first Orthodox delegate to hold that position, praised those early Bnei Akiva immigrants (like me, I guess) who now have great-grandchildren living in Israel. “Wherever you go today in Israel, you will find former Bnei Akiva members.”


 


Part of the well-organized evening included film clips of greetings from Chief Rabbi Amar, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel Army Chief Rabbi Rafi Peres. Rabbi Peres, a former Bnei Akiva member, explained that he serves today thanks to Bnei Akiva.


 


An interesting film about the Hashmonaim community, which is one of the many communities that have absorbed the thousands of Bnei Akiva immigrants, was shown. Hopefully, it will soon be available on YouTube.                                              


 


Comments welcome at dov@gilor.com.

The Value Of Self-Worth

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

In my previous column, I wrote that helping to foster a positive self-image in one’s children is the greatest gift parents can give them. Similarly, self-like (not to be confused with narcissistic self-worship) is a key component in having a successful life.

 

When you feel good about yourself, it causes other people to feel good about you as well. If you perceive yourself to be a “winner” and walk around with confidence and self-assurance, people will gravitate to you – because they subconsciously think that your “winner-ness” will rub off on them by association.

 

That is why so many people are besotted with sports. When their team wins, fans (which comes from the word “fanatic”) are ecstatic because it makes them feel special. It’s success by proxy. A stranger hitting a home run (and getting very well paid for his efforts) does not make the fan wealthier or important, but a few brief moments of feeling “part of it,” of saying, “We won” and thus feeling better about himself is better than nothing for the average Joe. Like the song says, “When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.” It is human nature to want to associate with people who are on top. In everyday human interactions, like dating or finding potential employees, that sentiment extends to people who exude confidence and self-respect.

 

Interestingly, while good looks, wealth or yichus might help a person be successful, it is the positive self-esteem that these assets tend to generate that often leads to that success – not the attributes themselves. There are people who lacked money, looks or status but yet were very successful in their personal and/or professional lives. Conversely, others, born with everything going for them were “losers” in every sense of the word. The big, mitigating factor was whether they had a positive or negative sense of who they were.

 

As I was growing up, there was tremendous pressure on me to be “popular,” to have lots of friends and be invited out. I If I stayed home on a Saturday night or had no plans on a Sunday afternoon, I felt like a “loser.” The harder I tried to make friends, the more difficult it became – because nothing turns people off like desperation. Conversely, nothing attracts people like confidence.

 

I remember going to a Bnei Akiva function for teenagers that was “mixed” (as was the norm in those days), and seeing a girl who, without any prejudice, can best be described as being a “plain Jane from an average family.” While not attractive in her looks, she attracted attention.  As soon as she walked into the room, many of the guys and girls greeted her.

 

What did she have, I wondered, that made people want to be with her – when she was so ordinary? And what was I missing? I knew I was better looking and made an effort to be friendly (even going out of my way to ingratiate myself by doing favors), and yet I was usually on the sidelines – never the center of attention.  It was much later that I came to realize that what she had – and what I was lacking – was confidence. It showed in her easygoing manner, her posture, and the way she held her head up. She believed herself to be worth knowing despite her ordinariness. Thus, everyone believed it too.

 

On the other hand, there are men and women who have money and status, but see themselves as being inadequate or unlikable. This leads to self-doubt, even self-loathing. And in a desperate attempt to escape their emotional pain, or to shore up their low self-esteem, they partake in harmful activities and behaviors that ultimately fail. This only brings them down even further.

 

What causes an ordinary child to feel self-assured and valuable, enabling him/her to reach for and attain their life goals? And, likewise, what causes those born with so many assets to feel they have little value – and will most likely not live up to their great potential?

 

I strongly believe that the biggest contributing factor is how parents make their children feel about themselves. Later on, the words, attitudes and actions of siblings, teachers and friends will have a significant impact – but not as big as those of their parents’. Chronically critical or emotionally absent parents and, conversely, mothers and fathers who encourage and praise their children and are respectful of their children’s opinions and feelings – whether they are toddlers or teenagers – can make or break their kids.

 

Young children see their parents as all-knowing, as parents are their first source of information. So when parents tell their child, “You are stupid, you are hopeless,” the child believes this to be true. It is like Torah to them. Likewise, if a child hears that he/she is special, they will believe it – because Mommy and Totty know everything. If parents are there for them, both physically and emotionally, or if they are not there for them, that will make all the difference as to whether the children become well adjusted, contented human beings.

 

It isn’t enough to feed their bodies. You must nourish their souls as well.

Fifty Years Of World Bnei Akiva

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

         I recently joined an overflow crowd of more than 1,000 current or former Bnei Akiva members for a reunion at the Jerusalem Theater. We gathered for the concluding session of the 11th World Bnei Akiva Convention: A Salute to Yoske Shapira.

 

         Greeting old friends and acquaintances was a true pleasure, especially for the participants of the first Bnei Akiva Hachshara in Israel, held during 1956-1957 in Kibbutz Yavne. It was the 50th anniversary of our year in Hachshara, and we were happy to celebrate it with the delegates to the 50th year of the World Bnei Akiva Organization.

 

         Bnei Akiva, over 70 years old in many countries, combined its individual branches at its first convention in 1956 to form the world union. Only a few of the original Hachsharaniks were able to show up for the reunion but we were excited to find one or two friends from Hachshara who many of us hadn’t seen in 50 years. Despite the years, it was with a warm feeling of friendship that we reminisced and reacquainted ourselves. In the theater, our group (spouses included) sat in a reserved section and was presented with beautiful roses to mark our golden anniversary.

 

         We were fortunate to be joined in the theater by the 100 Bnei Akiva delegates present. But due to the huge turnout, a large TV screen carrying the program was set up in the lobby to accommodate the guests who were unable to be seated in the theater.

 

         The evening’s highlight was the honoring of Yoske Shapira, who served for 20 years as the first director of World Bnei Akiva. In later years, Yoske was the founder of Tehillah, which assisted new immigrants. He also founded Children, which worked with youth in the Diaspora and was in memory of children murdered in the Holocaust, and Oze, which assists young children in poor neighborhoods. Yoske was also a minister in the Israeli government from 1984-1989. He is credited with initiating the Bnei Akiva Hachshara programs in Israel.

 

         Bnei Akiva played a very important role in my life. Without Hachshara in Israel, my wife, children, grandchildren and I might not be living in Israel today. During my formative years, my religious family was too poor to pay even the minimal tuition in yeshiva and I was forced to attend a public high school. Without Bnei Akiva, I might never have remained religious.

 

         Later, when I entered the computer profession, jobs often required work on Friday evenings and Shabbat. It was only the influence of my Bnei Akiva friends and the religious strength I had gained in my youth that gave me the ability to refuse to work on Shabbat and to raise my children in a wholesome religious environment.

 

         Bnei Akiva is the largest Zionist youth movement in the world. The World Bnei Akiva convention is held every five years to review past accomplishments and to plan for the next five years. At this year’s assembly, Zev Schwartz was confirmed as the new director, replacing Gael Greenwald. He succeeded Yitzchak Stiglitz, who assumed responsibility from Yoske Shapira. They were all honored at this 50th anniversary celebration.

 

         One hundred young delegates from 25 countries of the earth’s four corners were represented, including from the U.S., Canada, South America, Europe, Russia and South Africa. Many plan to settle in Israel in the coming years, while some plan to return to their native countries and serve as future Jewish leaders.

 

         The central theme of the convention was pioneering (chalutziut). In that spirit, each delegate pledged to do their utmost to encourage both Jewish religious practice and the making of aliyah.

 

         During the convention, the young delegates visited Sderot, the city under constant rocket attack, along with the northern cities of Israel. They also spent some time participating in mitzvah projects.

 

         It is very thrilling for the youngsters to gather at a convention with others from around the world who share the same Zionist religious agenda. Please encourage your children to join Bnei Akiva, attend Camp Moshava and come spend a year in Israel on the Bnei Akiva Hachshara.

Lodz Jewish Cemetery

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

        The cemetery in Lodz is said to be one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Europe, with about 230,000 graves. It was first opened at the end of the 19th century with a large separate building for the preparation of bodies for internment and funerals. Today there is an exhibit of original pre-war items used by the burial society.

 

         By the beginning of World War II, in 1939, the cemetery already contained many of the elaborate tombstones and mausoleums for which it has become famous. The grave markers run the full gamut from that of Israel Poznanski, the largest mausoleum in the cemetery, to those of people who were interred during the Shoah, when tombstones were not allowed. Indeed, one finds parts of bed frames embedded in the ground, often twisted in a particular shape, as a means of identification.

 

 


Mass grave of Bnei Akiva youth group members.

 

 

         There is also the Ghetto Field, a vast, seemingly empty field that is the final resting place of the 45,000 people who died in the Ghetto. During the Shoah, the death rate among Jews living within the ghetto was very high. Dozens of funerals were held each day, with the number going as high as 170 funerals on one terrible day. While these graves remained unmarked, the Jewish community offices kept meticulous records of each grave. Today there is a program through which Israeli soldiers have been coming to Lodz, clearing the field and placing markers denoting dates and the names of the departed.

 

         The job of caring for the cemetery is a tremendous one and never ending. Groups come from Israel on a regular basis to work clearing the wild growth of trees, bushes and high weeds. Schoolchildren from around Poland also come to do their part. Most of the time they are working among graves that are just names, and in many cases the people clearing the area have no concept of who is buried in these hallowed grounds.

 

 



The Ghetto area after being cleared of debris and markers placed by the Israeli soldiers.


 

        

         But every now and then there is a famous name – a Rubinstein, Tuwim and Szyk can be found – but there are many tombs of famous rabbis scattered throughout the cemetery. One interesting feature is that the wives of famous rabbis also have elaborate tombstones. Located separately, these are some of the largest grave markers dedicated to women to be found anywhere. There are also numerous mass graves for multiple victims of German terror. There is the grave of nine Bnei Akiva members who were part of the resistance during the Shoah. Their grave is an often-visited site by scouts and other youth groups (during my recent visit I found a Bnei Akiva pennant and many candle stubs at the site).

 

         During the last days of the Ghetto, when the Russian army was approaching, the Germans sent most of the remaining Jews to Auschwitz, but kept about 800 to clean up the area. As the Russians approached, they were forced to dig pits near the wall of the cemetery, which they suspected would be their own graves. The Russians advanced so quickly that there was no time for the final executions, and the Germans ran away, saving the 800 Jews and leaving the pits empty. These pits have been left open as a reminder of the lives saved and the graves not used.

 

         The cemetery is still in active use today, but it is the history within that draws thousands of visitors every year.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/lodz-jewish-cemetery/2006/11/15/

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