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July 2, 2016 / 26 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust’

How to Understand the Holocaust

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

In Israel this evening on Holocaust Memorial Day, restaurants, bars, and cinemas will all be closed in respect for the millions who were murdered in the gas chambers of modern enlightened Europe. At ten o’clock in the morning, a memorial siren will blare out for two minutes all over the country. Hearing it, everything will stop. Schoolchildren will stand quietly in school playgrounds; pedestrians will stand frozen on sidewalks; motorists will stop their cars in the middle of highways. For those two minutes, the hearts of all the country are united. There is nothing like it in the world. True, in some of Israel’s institutions for the insane and mentally handicapped, some patients won’t notice the siren, and there are some mentally deranged still at large who will continue about their business, detached in their psychopathic cocoons from the real world around them, but the overwhelming nationwide feeling is one of profound respect and remorse. Our Sages tell us that it is the person who shares in the sorrows and struggles of Jerusalem who shall merit to share in its joys. May the memory of the martyrs be for a blessing.

Many writers and scholars have put forth theories which attempt to explain the Holocaust. One Haredi point of view focuses the blame on the reform Jews in Germany who broke away from the Torah. Another attitude blames the secular Zionists for having brazenly established a non-religious settlement in the Land of Israel before the Mashiach’s coming. Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaCohen Kook had a different understanding. These theories, he said, failed to embrace the whole sweep of history. The workings of Divine Providence cannot be isolated to any one moment, or group, but must be seen in the context of the Divine historical plan which spans generations. Accusations that blame this group or that group, fracture the unity of the Jewish Nation. Just as G-d is One, the Nation of Israel is one. Only from this encompassing perspective, which embraces all of Jewish history, can one hope to fathom the Divine Will in the horror of the Holocaust. Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda spoke these following words on Holocaust Memorial Day at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem. I took the trouble to translate his lecture because of its incredible depth and poignancy. Yes, it is long. Yes, it is serious. But for readers searching for understanding in the darkness and confusion which the Holocaust caused, the answer lies in his teaching:

“Everything that happens in the world is a Divine mystery. The understanding of Divine Providence, in all of its complexity, is not revealed to us. Analytical studies of the Holocaust are a juvenile activity. Only with great sensitivity, and with a mature spiritual perspective, is it possible to approach this awesome topic. First, one must remember that there is a difference between human comprehension and Divine reckoning. The true understanding of the world, and the true understanding of faith, demand an understanding of the Torah verse, ‘Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations’ (Devarim, 32:5.) This sweeping historical perspective includes a deep faith that everything comes from G-d. But along with this, one must remember that, ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts; My ways are not your ways, says the L-rd. For My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts are higher than your thoughts’ (Yishayahu, 55:8-9.)

“A weakness of faith, and a narrow world outlook, causes one to measure Divine Providence according to the yardstick of our understanding, which is limited. Human understanding is finite and cannot grasp the workings of ‘Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom’ (Tehillim, 145:13.) Our reckoning is a reckoning of the here and now, whereas the Divine reckoning is an accounting of ages. Sometimes, man forgets that matters are not dependent on, nor begin with him. In truth, events are connected by a Divine historical plan. Thus our comprehension of them is dependent upon our ability to elevate ourselves and recognize the overall Divine reckoning.

“Rising to this level is not easy. Therefore, there were people who abandoned their faith on the heels of the Holocaust, because they did not succeed in lifting themselves up to the knowledge of the true G-d. Obviously, one sympathizes with them. As our Sages said about Job, ‘A man is not blames for what he utters in his agony’ (Baba Batra 16B.) There is room to understand errors committed in an hour of suffering. Yet difficulties do not justify abandoning faith. One must not subject G-d to our reasoning and perception. Only with this understanding is it possible to approach, in fear and awe, a comprehension of a tiny part of the Holocaust. In our generation, we have seen an awesome new form of destruction (the Holocaust) and an incredible new revival and building (the State of Israel). There are people who don’t agree with this order of Divine Providence. They become confused when they encounter these events. But nothing happens randomly. There is not a thing which transpires that isn’t carried out according to the Providence of the Almighty. Not only the good events, but also the things which appear evil to us, they all happen according to the Divine plan.

“There are not words to describe the shocking, frightening, and horrifying atrocity of the Holocaust. It will remain this way forever. It is impossible to stop the anger one feels against the Nazis, may their names be erased. They not only perpetuated an unspeakable evil against us, they also damaged our psyches, leaving us psychologically scarred. All of our national identity and pride was uprooted by them. This is even more pernicious than the killing and murder. All of the national, social, and political uncertainty we now experience, all of our confusion in our world outlook and lifestyle, follow from this destruction of the Israeli community. The Holocaust caused an upheaval in our attitudes and worldview, and it damaged our faith in G-d.

“We are commanded to rise up to a sublime vision, to ‘Contemplate the years of many generations,’ to rise up over trivial explanations, to peer beyond mere superficial perception. One must guard against thinking in a condensed and myopic fashion when clarifying the historic reckonings of Clal Yisrael. The nation of Israel is a single unity which arrives at its wholeness only after a continuum which spans all ages. The whole truthful vision beholds the entire Nation of Israel in all of its generations. It is true that there are many levels in the Nation of Israel, from the completely righteous, to people average deeds, to doers of evil. However, all of these categories compose one complete entity. Just as ‘The Torah of the L-rd is whole’ (Tehillim, 19:18,) so is the Nation of Israel whole. Like the body of a man that is made up of different organs having various functions and levels of importance, yet which together, each performing its task, constitute the complete man – so is the Nation of Israel, each tribe has its unique value, and all of them together make up the nation. A perspective of the Nation of Israel which divides the whole into parts (religious and secular, Zionist and anti-Zionist), without sensitivity to the overall oneness of the Nation, is a narrow-minded perspective that brings many divisions and crises in its wake. All of Israel’s millions are bound together, in one body, in one soul.

“This single, complete body of the Nation of Israel is whole only in Eretz Yisrael. In the exile, we are not in our normal national situation, nor in our vibrant state. The return to the Land of Israel is a return to national normalcy and to health. G-d’s presence among the Jewish People on appears in its true form in Eretz Yisrael. There is even a difference in the value of a mitzvah which a Jew performs in the Land of Israel, compared to the value of the same precept when performed outside the Land. The actualization of Israel in all of its wholeness is only in Eretz Yisrael. Outside of the Land, we are not healthy because the national component of Clal Yisrael is shattered, and we only exist as solitary individuals, the remnants of Israel. The exile causes a delay in G-d’s light on the Nation. Galut destroys our national format, and we remain isolated souls. However, the bones of Yechezkel’s prophecy do not disintegrate forever, and we wait the appearance of a new burst of life (Yechezkel, 37:3-5.) And now the time has come to return to health. The end of exile has arrived. Everything has stages, and the Redemption does not appear all at once, but gradually, a little at a time (Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 1:1.) The Master of the World arranges history in such a way that for a certain time we are confined to exile, and afterwards He brings about historical events which cause the national body of the Jewish People to awaken in a developing process spanning generations. This awakening builds in momentum toward a complete revival.

“There are situations where it is difficult to separate from the galut. However, the time has arrived for our Nation’s revival, and for the Redemption of our Land. The Revealed End has come, the time when, ‘You O mountains of Israel shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they will soon be coming’ (Sanhedrin 98A.) The time approached for Israel’s return to Zion, and this caused the rebirth of the Land. But as the time arrives for our departure from the darkness of the exile, situations arise which resemble the Hebrew slave who rejects freedom and says, ‘I loved my master’ (Shemot, 21:5.. Jews fell in love with the exile and refused to come back to Israel. But the Diaspora cannot continue forever. The Diaspora is the worse Desecration of G-d that there is, as we find in Yechezkel: ‘And when they came to the nations into which they came, they profaned My holy Name, in that men said of them, these are the people of the L-rd, and they are gone out of His Land’ (Yechezkel, 36:20..

“When the time comes for Redemption, complications arise and large portions of the nation are embedded in the tar of the galut. The facts bear witness – multitudes of Jews grew accustomed to the impurity of the Diaspora, and refused to extricate themselves from it. Thus begins a Divine surgery, a deep inner, esoteric purification from this decay, a treatment of amputation and healing. All of Israel’s millions are one single body, an indivisible organism, and when it is delayed from returning to health because of its clinging to a foreign land, then a cruel Divine amputation is needed. The time came for the Jewish People to return to their Land, but since they refused, there was no way to bring them back other than, ‘He took me by the side-lock of my head’ (Yechezkel, 8:3,) in order to bring them against their will to Eretz Yisrael. When the end of exile arrives, and all of Israel fails to recognize it, there is a need for a cruel Divine amputation and severance. We are not speaking here about a reckoning against this person or that person, since this is a secret matter of G-d belonging to the secret world of souls. We are speaking of a reckoning that encompasses all of the Nation, which arises from a situation of, ‘They despised the desirable Land’ (Tehillim, 106:24.) This is an amputation which causes the Nation as a whole to separate from the Diaspora and return to its life in the Land of Israel.”

A Holocaust can transpire by mass murder, or a Holocaust can transpire by mass assimilation. One way or other, to save the Jewish People, it is time for our exiles to come home.

Tzvi Fishman

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

In Israel, for one minute in the morning each year, a siren sounds throughout the Land and daily life stops. Cars halt in the middle of the highway, factories go silent, and students cease to study. People utter prayers or personal thoughts memorializing the 6 million Jews murdered at the hands of the Nazis. On this day, places of entertainment are closed by law, TV stations air Holocaust documentaries, and low-key songs are played on the radio. Flags are flown at half-mast and a memorial ceremony is held at Yad VaShem, the Holocaust Memorial, in the presence of the Israeli Prime Minister, President, survivors and their families.

{Reprinted from Aish.com)

Guest Author

Here Are The Lessons Israel Needs To Learn From The Holocaust

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Once a year the entire nation of Israel commemorated the six million that were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. At exactly 10:00 am, sirens sound throughout the Jewish State and most of Israel’s citizens (Except the Arabs who deny the Holocaust and some radical Ultra Orthodox Jews who call themselves religious) stood in silence to remember and give respect to those who were murdered, burned, gassed and dehumanized by the Nazis and their collaborators.

Some keep their eyes shut in total silence remembering a family member who was murdered and some whisper a prayer in honor of the six million innocent Jewish souls that were violently ripped from this world.

Most years, I belong to the second group, but this year, I was lost in thought asking myself, why? Why remember?

What is it about that horrible time in Jewish and human history that is so important to remember? My grandmother (Z”L) who survived numerous camps and saved other Jews will never be forgotten by me, so why is it important to have a national memory of such a tragedy? What exactly am I remembering?

Is there someone who actually believes that our memory will prevent another Holocaust from happening? Look around!

Syria is murdering tens of thousands of people by gas and chemical weapons, Russia is conquering Ukraine and let’s not even get started with the amount of people who are being slaughtered throughout Africa!

Has the world learned anything?

My answer is an absolute NOT A THING!

Obama is a joke and has threatened Syria time and time again that if they dare use chemical weapons, the US will be forced to react. Hello? Does Obama watch the news?

Some say that the Holocaust should not be mixed up with politics, I say WRONG! Only when we remember just how low human nature can stoop will one have total political clarity.

It is very important to remember an American President who flew fighter jets over the train tracks that led millions to their death in Auschwitz but refused to bomb them because he didn’t want political “trouble, or the silence of the world as millions of Jews were burned, gassed and shot. These facts gives us total political clarity and reality, Israel will protect itself!

On July 7, shortly after the U.S. War Department refused requests from Jewish leaders to bomb the railway lines leading to the camps, a force of 452 Fifteenth Air Force bombers flew along and across the five deportation railway lines on their way to bomb Blechhammer oil refineries nearby

To remember a British leader who met, shook hands and was actually on the brink of signing an agreement with Hitler because he didn’t believe Hitler was a real threat!

The Munich Agreement – “Peace In Our Time”

And let us not forget our Muslim neighbors who seek “peace” with the Jewish State and claim that all our problems started when the modern day State of Israel was born in 1948.

Taken in 1943! No State No Settlements Just Islamic Anti Semitism!

Brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers were burned, gassed and treated like animals and the world said NOTHING! Nothing from France, nothing from England, nothing from America, nothing from anyone!

What do I learn from the Holocaust? I learn that the State of Israel is the ONLY true safe haven for Jews and we cannot trust anyone with our safety, security, military or Jewish survival.

Barack Obama and John Kerry say they are our friends, but they have been pressuring Israel into handing over more parts of the Land of Israel to Muslim occupiers and have recently forced us to to agree to a ceasefire with a fanatic Islamic terrorists organization called HAMAS!

Instead of the US President and Vice president siding with the Jewish State that has the same basic values as the US, they have taken sides with the people who hold the same terrorist ideology that was responsible for the murder of over 3,000 people when they blew up the Twin Towers!

When Abu Mazen signs an agreement with the terrorist organization Hamas, John Kerry blames Israel and warns that if Israel doesn’t make peace (give in to their demands) soon, the Arabs will start killing Jews! Really? Does that sound like a friend to you? To me it sounds like blackmail!

This Is Hamas!

Then Kerry says it was Israel’s refusal to release terrorists as well as the building of houses and kindergartens in JERUSALEM that is to blame for the failed peace process. Of course the fact that Abu Mazen has completely refused to recognize a Jewish State has absolutely nothing to do with it, right John! I am not even going to get started with the Hamas missile fire that the White House said nothing about till Israel reacted!

When I say NEVER AGAIN! I mean it and the time is now! Unfortunately not only is the world ignoring the dangers Israel is facing, Israel’s leaders themselves are ignoring the imminent dangers and are dreaming of signing a “peace” deal with those who idea of peace is war.

Bibi, the Arabs have no right to this land! Can they live here in peace? Yes! The Druze do, The Christians do and yes, there are plenty of Muslim Arabs who just want to live, but the second they talk of a national country within the Land of Israel, it’s time to say it loud and clear, NO WAY!

Read Also: The History Of Palestine 101

The motto ‘NEVER AGAIN’ has nothing to do with the Nazis. They like the Romans, Greeks and the Mussolini’s are all gone.

Never again means we will never again be so naive to believe the world when they say they will do something about the powers of evil, especially when those powers threaten Israel or the Jews!

We now know that even our greatest allies and friends will fly right over our heads and ignore the flames that burn our flesh!

We know that their political standing is more important than morality and certainly more important than a couple of Jews burning or being blown up by Muslim terrorists.

What do I learn from the Holocaust? There is only God to rely on and he is given us back the Land Of Israel as well as the IDF so that NEVER AGAIN will this little boy march to his death with his hands up in the air!

Don’t forget to join me on the IsraelShield Facebook Page as well as on @israel_shield on Twitter  to join the online debates!. We Always Win, We Can’t Afford To Lose!

@israel_shield

Rivlin at Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony: We Will Continue to Survive and Battle Anti-Semitism

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – President Reuven Rivlin said that the Holocaust is central to Israel’s identity and vowed to combat the “chronic disease” of anti-Semitism on Wednesday night during the official ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.

“The Holocaust, whether we like it or not, has become a factor in shaping the standards of our understanding of ourselves, of understanding our relationship with other nations, and our role in the world,” Rivlin said. “The Holocaust places the Jewish people before basic principles, as a people and as a nation gazing inward at ourselves and outward toward all of humanity.”

Rivlin stressed, however, that the founding of the State of Israel was no redress for the Holocaust.

“The State of Israel is not, under any circumstances, compensation for the Holocaust,” he said. “However, the Holocaust put into perspective the necessity and crucial need of the Jewish people to return to its historical roots, as a nation that takes its fate in its hands.”

Rivlin emphasized that Israel not only allows the Jewish people to take control of its own destiny, but also allows it to defend itself as a collective against the continuing phenomenon of anti-Semitism.

“Anti-Semitism and the persecution of the Jews are not a fad, or something that can be taken lightly,” Rivlin noted. “It is a difficult, chronic disease that penetrates deep into the heart and history of nations.”

“The State of Israel will deal with this anti-Semitism by ensuring, first and foremost, a national home and a Jewish army that protects the nation of survival,” added Rivlin. “We are a nation that has survived and will continue to survive thanks to our resilience and strong spirit.”

Rivlin also addressed the Holocaust survivors attending the ceremony, asking for their help in extracting the meaning of the tragedy and lessons to be learned.

“These are the years in which we should take the opportunity to try to clarify along with you how you want to shape the memory of the Holocaust and its lessons for future generations,” he said. “The number which was tattooed onto your flesh is etched into the hearts of this nation for generations and has become the living will of the Jewish people.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Translating My Father’s Holocaust Memoir

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Shortly after the end of World War II, a young patient told my father, Dr. Ernst Bornstein, that she was under the impression that stories about the gassing of women and children in Auschwitz was anti-German propaganda.

She asked my father if he was a Jew. When he responded that he was in fact a Jew, she asked if it was really true – were there really concentration camps? He recalled the scene in his memoir:

Until then she had been of the belief that reports of this nature were pure propaganda disseminated by the occupying army to damage the reputation of the Germans. So I understood that this was the opinion of democratically educated post-war youth. If this youth believed that the bloody era of the Nazis was only an invention of the propaganda, I will play my part in shattering these illusions.

Though my father already knew he wanted to write about his experiences in the war, it was that moment in his dental clinic that convinced him of the need to record his story.

He realized it was imperative, especially in a world that was all too ready to forget, that he dedicate himself to raising awareness about what had happened to his family.

As someone who witnessed horrors in no fewer than seven concentration camps, my father also wanted to publicly address the question of how it was possible that large masses of people, numbering in the millions, could be led to their extermination without a fight.

And as a medical doctor, he sought to explain to scientists the psyche and social profile of survivors so that they could receive appropriate help to rebuild their shattered lives.

After my father was liberated in the wake of the infamous Death March, he stayed in Germany where he documented the oral histories of other survivors while working for YIVO. He then went to medical school and graduated with a double doctoral degree (M.D./D.D.S) in medicine and dentistry/oral surgery.

Afterward, despite being busy rebuilding his life and setting up his dental practice, he did not delay in penning his own memoir spanning the years 1939-1945. He dedicated himself to writing while his memories were visceral and raw.

His memoir was eventually published in 1967 in its German original as Die Lange Nacht (The Long Night). As one of the first post-World War II memoirs available to the German public, it was covered in major international publications including The Times Literary Supplement in London.

Ironically, even though the original German edition of The Long Night had a proud place in the middle of our family’s living room, neither my siblings nor I knew much about its content while we were growing up. It took the birth of my youngest daughter, Nina, twenty-five years later to galvanize me to translate it.

At the time, I felt as if a flame were rising within me. I had a great urge to disseminate my father’s experiences in the concentration camps he survived and the Nazi barbarism he and the Jewish people suffered simply because they were Jews. But as my motivation to translate the book grew, I knew I would need a tremendous amount of inner strength to address my father’s past.

My translation of the work soon turned into a labor of love that lasted three years. David Arnold, MBE, who used to coordinate the annual Yom HaShoah program in our community, assisted me with the translation, as he is particularly sensitive to the subject.

He gave me the discipline to address the subject at times when I didn’t feel like it or found it hard to go on. Of course, that brought its own guilt. After all, how could I find this task difficult as I sat in the comfort of my home in the UK when, in absolute contrast, my father had lived through such horrors? How dare I not bear it?

Noemie Lopian

The Holocaust: Many Villains, Few Heroes

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nuremberg trials, at which selected Nazi leaders were placed in the dock, we must ask some disturbing questions about those who were never tried for their complicity in the world’s worst genocide. It would have been impossible to carry out the mass murder of so many people without the complicity of so many governments, groups, and individuals. Perhaps there were too many guilty parties to put them all on trial, but it is not too late to hold the guilty morally accountable for what they did and failed to do.

To be sure, the guiltiest individuals were the Nazi leaders who directly planned and implemented the final solution.  Their goal was to in gather Jews from all over the world in order to kill them and to destroy what they regarded as the “Jewish race”.  They came very close to succeeding, wiping out nearly all of Europe’s Jews in a relatively brief period of time. These Nazi leaders had the help of many “willing executioners,” both in Germany and in the countries under its control.  Among the worst culprits were individual Lithuanians, Latvians, Hungarians, Slovakians, Poles, Ukrainians, and others.

There were some heroes among these groups and they are justly remembered and honored.  But the number of villains far exceeded the number of heroes. Then there were the guilty governments that cooperated and helped facilitate the deportations and round-ups.  The French government deported more Jews than the Nazi’s demanded.  Other governments, including those of Norway, Holland, Austria, Hungry, also helped the Nazis achieve their genocidal goal. Bulgaria, on the other hand, declined to cooperate with the Nazi genocide and its small Jewish population was saved.

There were also the countries that refused to accept Jews who might have escaped the Nazi’s had they been permitted to enter.  These countries include the United States, Canada, and many other potential places of asylum that shut their doors.  In the United States and Canada too, there were heroes who pressed their leaders to do more, but for the most part they failed.

Many Arab and Muslim leaders also played ignoble roles, siding with the Nazi’s and conducting their own pogroms against local Jews.  The leading villain in this regard was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who joined Hitler in Berlin and played a hands-on role in sending Jews to their deaths and in keeping the doors of Palestine closed to Jewish refugees.

Could more have been done by Britain and the United States to end the genocide?  Could they have bombed the rail lines to Auschwitz and other death camps?  These are complex questions that have been asked but not satisfactorily answered since 1945.

There were also the actions of those who pardoned and commuted the sentences of Nazis convicted at Nuremberg, and those who helped Nazis escape prosecution after the war ended.  That list too is long and disturbing.

The Nuremberg trials, by focusing narrowly on Nazi leaders and their direct henchmen, implicitly exculpated those who played important, but less direct, roles by their actions and inactions.  By their nature, courts are limited in what they can do to bring to justice large numbers of individuals who belong on a wide continuum of legal and moral guilt.  But historians, philosophers, jurists and ordinary citizens are not so limited.  We may point fingers of blame at all who deserve to be blamed, whether or not they were placed on trial at Nuremberg, or at subsequent legal proceedings.

There will never be perfect justice for those who helped carry out the Holocaust.  Most of the guilty escaped prosecution, lived happy lives and died in their beds, surrounded by loving family members.  West Germany prospered as a result of the Marshal Plan and many German industrialists, who had benefitted from slave labor, continued to benefit as a result of the perceived needs of the Cold War.  The scales of justice remain out of balance.  Perhaps this helps to explain why more than 6 million people have been murdered in preventable genocides — in Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur and other placed — since the world pledged “never again.”

There is, of course, the risk that by blaming all, we blame none.  It is important to calibrate the responsibility of those who played very different roles in the Holocaust. This is a daunting task, but it must be undertaken if future genocides are to be deterred.

Alan M. Dershowitz

Romania Expected to Facilitate Return of Property to Holocaust Survivors

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

The Romanian parliament is expected to pass a bill next week to ease the way for Holocaust survivors to submit restitution claims.

Lawmakers in Romania told Reuters they anticipate the measure will pass next Tuesday.

The law, if passed, will eliminate the obstacles that prevent Holocaust survivors from claiming their former property.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/romania-expected-to-facilitate-return-of-property-to-holocaust-survivors/2016/04/27/

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