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December 19, 2014 / 27 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust’

Druze Artist Marches Among the Living at Nazi Death Camps

Monday, April 28th, 2014

A Druze artist who has devoted the lion’s share of her work to depicting scenes of the Holocaust joined the 12,000 participants in this year’s March of the Living.

Buteina Halabei, 38, lives in the northern Israeli town of Daliyat al-Karmel with her husband Tamir, a teacher, and their three children. The artist was invited to join the March by Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, chairman of the event, and his deputy and general director Aharon Tamir, to thank her for her work in this area.

Both she and her husband offer classes on the Holocaust in the Druze community, and give lectures at local schools. A professional artist, she has devoted most of her career to painting scenes of the Holocaust – but the works are not for sale.

Halabei explained in a past interview that the pieces are expressions of her “thoughts and feelings, and one doesn’t sell one’s thoughts and feelings.”

It’s not an uncommon decision among artists; Brooklyn-based Syrian Jewish artist Robin Antar, a sculptor whose ancestors hailed from Aleppo and settled in the United States three generations ago, also hoards a number of special pieces that she absolutely will not sell. Antar was recently in Israel searching for stone to use in new works, and to retrace the steps of her son, who passed away a few months ago.

“Art from the soul cannot be sold,” explains Antar. ” One cannot sell one’s soul.” She would know. Antar is about to begin working on a knot that transforms into a memorial flame reaching to the heavens, symbolizing the tortured soul of the son who passed away.

“In many ways he was tortured in ways not unlike some of those in the concentration camps,” Antar told The Jewish Press in a telephone interview. The horrified mother discovered years ago that her helpless toddler had been repeatedly abused and forced to witness acts of sexual abuse and torture of other children by an adult pedophile in his Brooklyn daycare. His perpetrator ultimately managed to escape justice despite strenuous efforts by the Syrian community and his parents to force the legal system to hold him responsible for his crimes.  An Orthodox Jewish rabbinical court (Beis Din) did, in fact, rule in favor of the parents and validate their accusations but the civil justice system refused to recognize the document.

Aging Rescuers of Holocaust Survivors Paid Debt of Gratitude

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Thousands of non-Jews from across Europe and Eastern Europe saved Jewish lives from the horrors of the Holocaust, placing their lives and the lives of their families at risk. Over 25,000 known non-Jews have been recognized by Yad Vashem as “Righteous Among the Nations” including Christians and Muslims.

Today many of these rescuers are aging and living in poverty. The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) founded by American Rabbi Harold Schulweis in 1986 is one non-profit organization that seeks to repay the debt of gratitude by providing financial support to those non-Jewish rescuers in need.

JFR provides on-going monthly financial assistance to 654 rescuers in 22 countries to pay for food, housing and medical expenses. The rescuers are often reluctant to ask for help, having acted without expecting a reward then or now according to the organization’s website. One of those recipients is Czeslaw Polziec, whose family took in a Jewish family and hid them for two years on their farm in Zawadka, Poland. This past Chanukah, JFR reunited Czeslaw Polziec with a member of the Jewish family that his parents rescued, Dr. Leon Gersten of Cedarhurst, New York.

Leon Gersten grew up in the Jewish shtetl of Frysztak, Poland. His mother, Frieda Tepper Gersten was a peddler who traveled throughout southern Poland to support her family. Her parents, Yitzchak and Necha Tepper raised Leon.

Gersten recalls how on Rosh Hashana in 1939, all the Jews of his community were praying in the shtetl synagogue, when the Germans surrounded the building and started shooting. “We all laid down on the floor and started praying Shema Yisrael. After killing a few Jews, they let us out – that was our first introduction to the Germans,” remembers Gersten.

“It’s one thing to kill a few people, it’s another to kill everybody, where every Jewish soul, every baby was on the most wanted list,” says Gersten.

On July 1942, the Germans ordered all of Frysztak’s Jews to gather in the animal marketplace. Around 1,600 Jews were rounded up- mostly elderly and children – and taken outside of town, where they were killed and buried in a mass grave. Leon’s grandparents, Yitzchak and Necha, were among those murdered.

After the mass killing, Leon’ s mother, Frieda, went out to the countryside dressed up as a Polish Catholic woman to try and find someone to take in her family. She went to Polish families who had purchased goods from her, and although a number of homes turned her away, one couple, Maria and Stanislaw Polziec agreed to provide shelter for her family. Maria, a seamstress, and Staninslaw, a farmer, had five children and barely enough food for their own family, but they were willing to house the five desperate Jews.

For more than two years, Leon Gersten, his mother, Frieda, her sister and brother-in-law, Celia and Herman Wiesenfeld and their son Moshe, were kept hidden from the Nazi occupiers in the Polziecs’ attic.

The Polziecs also built an underground earthen bunker that they covered with a grain storage bin in case of a raid. One night, recalls Leon, German soldiers raided the farm. “We were very organized and ran down to the bunker but the German soldiers heard us. They suspected the Polziecs of hiding Jews and proceeded to beat Stanislaw who tried to tell them it was his children sleeping in the attic that had run down scared.”

“We could hear Stanislaw screaming and the cries from the Polziec family but not one of them said a word about us,” recalls Gersten. “There was one goal and that was to keep Frieda and her family safe until the Soviet Army arrived,” said Czeslaw, who was the oldest son in the family and responsible for bringing the Gerstens food and standing guard.

The Holocaust Survivor Who Fought in Every Israeli War (Video)

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Ze’ev Tibi Ram is one of two Holocaust survivors who fought in every Israeli war.

He perfectly symbolizes “Shoah ve Tkuma”- Holocaust and rebirth. As a Holocaust survivor, Tibi understands better than anyone the importance of protecting the Jewish state.

He lost his whole family in the Holocaust but survived Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.

After being separated from his mother and eventually finding her at the end of the war, she disappeared and Tibi never saw her again. His brother survived until the end of the war, but died shortly after.

Now, Tibi gives lectures to soldiers about the Holocaust and his extensive military experience. He is also the proud grandfather of an IDF soldier

He says life has been good – except for that one insane year of Nazi persecution.

Jewish Ukrainian Mayor Shot, Worry Rises as Separatists Seize More Towns

Monday, April 28th, 2014

The Jewish mayor of the eastern Ukrainian town of Kharkov was shot in the back by unidentified masked gunmen on Monday and is now fighting for his life, even as Israel’s president warned Jews around the world on Holocaust Remembrance Day to watch for signs of rising anti-Semitism.

Pro-Russian separatists captured Kharkov, eastern Ukraine’s second-largest town, on Monday, according to a report by RIA Novosti. The news outlet quoted a friend of Mayor Gennady Kernes who said, “They shot him in the back from the forest…  His lung is pierced and his liver pierced all the way through.”

Aides said the mayor had recently received numerous threats,  RT News reported. The attack, which came less than 24 hours after a clash between anti-government protesters and nationalists in the city left 14 people injured, left Kernes critically wounded.

Speaking at the opening ceremonies Monday for Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Peres spoke of the death of his family in the little town of Vishnyeva, in Poland. Two thousand Jews all died there after being locked into the wooden synagogue building by the Nazis, and then burned alive.

“Half of the Jews of Vishnyeva made aliyah to Israel, the other half, which did not, were burned alive,” the president said. “Our body was slashed in two – but our spirit remains undivided, pulsating here in Israel as a locked memory, an independent Jewish renaissance never again to be destroyed.”

The clear warning issued by the president is one the Jews in Ukraine now must heed – if they even had a chance to hear it as the rising war begins to rage around them.

So far the Jews of Kharkov seem to be safe – but the city has a bloody past in terms of protecting its Jews. More than 15,000 Jewish residents of Kharkov were murdered between December 1941 and January 1942, herded by Germans into a ghetto area set up for them about five miles from the city and periodically hauled out and shot to death. Some were just buried alive. A mass grave was discovered not far from the site, in the Drobitzki Valley.

Many of the supporters of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko are also anti-Semitic, sources told the Arutz Sheva website in an interview in February. As a result, some of the community is considering aliyah.

In the eastern Ukraine on Monday, armed gunmen also seized town of Kostyantynivka, entering the administration building and the police headquarters. International media reported that masked gunmen were wearing camouflage outfits and were armed with assault weapons.

Both towns are located in the Donetsk region, along with Sloviansk, a third city which also has now been declared an independent entity by pro-Russian secessionists.

Protesters seized a local state TV station in the city of Donetsk. The protesters demanded the launch of a ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ TV channel, and that Russian TV channels be broadcast. The Ukrainian flag was lowered from the building and the flag of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic was raised in its place – but later, that too was removed. Nevertheless, a source told Interfax-Ukraine that secessionist security personnel remained at the TV station to enforce the demands.

The Parchment of Rebuke That Came Home

Monday, April 28th, 2014

On a day in which the cruelties of the Nazis and the devastation of the Holocaust is uppermost of the minds of the People of Israel, there are yet numerous examples of how we are shown there are sparks of hope among the ashes.

Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, Dean of the Migdal Ohr Institutions, was presented with one such example. The rabbi sat in his home in Migdal Ha’emek in bewilderment, re-examining the piece of Torah parchment he was given. Cut by a Nazi almost 70 years ago from a Torah scroll in an Eastern European synagogue, the sacred parchment was used by the Luftwaffe officer as a wrapping for his ID card during World War II.

How did Rabbi Grossman come into the possession of such a unique and shocking piece of history?

 Moti Dotan, the Head of the Lower Galilee Regional Council, had recently returned from a ceremony honoring of the 25th anniversary of the twin cities pact between the Regional Council and the Hanover district in Germany.

Dotan was approached at the conclusion of the event by a member of the Hanover District Council. “My father, Werner Herzig, died a few weeks ago,” said the man. “Before his death he said he wanted to share with me a secret. He told me he had fought in World War II and told me about his involvement in those awful crimes, such as his participation in the burning of a synagogue on the Russian front. ‘It’s important for me to tell you this, because today there are those who don’t believe that it happened’ he told me.”

 Dotan relates that Herzig junior gave him the ID document and parchment and asked him to locate a holy man in the Galilee and present it to him. “I thought of the holy work that Rabbi Grossman does, and that he was the most suitable person to receive the document and parchment,” says Dotan. “When I came to him to give him the document, I shared with him the story. As he held the parchment tears started to flow from his eyes,” recalls Dotan. He said that Rabbi Grossman symbolizes to him all that is good in Judaism, and will make proper use of the item.

 Rabbi Grossman held the piece of parchment and read from the text. The parchment is from the Book of Deuteronomy, in the weekly portion of “Ki Tavo.”

He read: “…and distress which your enemies will inflict upon you, in your cities… Then the Lord will bring upon you and your offspring uniquely horrible plagues, terrible and unyielding plagues, and evil and unyielding sicknesses… Also, the Lord will bring upon you every disease and plague which is not written in this Torah scroll, to destroy you. And you shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of the heaven for multitude” (Deuteronomy 28, 57-62). These verses are known as the verses of admonishment.

Rabbi Grossman is convinced that this is a “Supreme message of Divine providence. After 60 years, this document arrives in Israel, wrapped in these words of scolding, and is calling on us ‘to awaken.’ After all, the German could have cut the parchment from any of the Five Books of Moses, and he specifically cut out the section that speaks suffering, servitude and then of redemption,” he said.

Rabbi Grossman has shown the ID book and parchment to young people, and tells of the great excitement it causes. “It’s a tangible object, which you can see with your own eyes. You can see here the embodiment of evil; how after the destruction of a synagogue, this man had the audacity to enter and cut from the Torah scroll, only because he thought that the parchment was a suitable way to preserve his document.”

Rabbi Grossman has vowed to continue to visit schools and young people with the document and to share this awe-striking story with them.

Standing to Respect Victims of the Nazi Murderers

Monday, April 28th, 2014

A siren will sound at 10 am throughout the State of Israel to bring citizens to their feet across the country as a measure of respect for those who fell as victims of the Holocaust.

The two-minute siren is an annual tradition in Israel and is known not to be an air raid siren.

If by some chance there is a rocket attack at that time, the nature of the siren will change, and will rise and fall a number of times instead.

Survivors (Photo Essay)

Monday, April 28th, 2014

On Sunday evening, April 27, 2014, six Holocaust survivors lit six torches representing the six million Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide during the opening ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem.

Holocaust survivor Asher Oud (R) lights a torch with his grandson during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 27, 2014. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Holocaust survivor Asher Oud (R) lights a torch with his grandson during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 27, 2014.
Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Holocaust survivor Zvi Michaeli lights a torch with his grandson during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 27, 2014. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Holocaust survivor Zvi Michaeli lights a torch with his grandson during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 27, 2014.
Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Holocaust survivor Dita Kraus lights a torch during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 27, 2014. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Holocaust survivor Dita Kraus lights a torch during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 27, 2014.
Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Israeli soldiers stand below a monument as they attend a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day. April 27, 2014. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Israeli soldiers stand below a monument as they attend a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day. April 27, 2014.
Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Jewish Youth from all over the world participating in the March of the Living seen at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp site in Poland, on the eve of the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Day, on April 27, 2014. Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash 90.

Jewish Youth from all over the world participating in the March of the Living seen at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp site in Poland, on the eve of the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Day, on April 27, 2014.
Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash 90.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-news/holocaust/survivors-photo-essay/2014/04/28/

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