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October 22, 2016 / 20 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘lesson’

Holocaust As A Lesson For Life

Friday, June 17th, 2016

In our May 27th issue we featured an article about an 8th grade class in Tom’s River, New Jersey that studied Professor Livia Bitton Jackson’s memoir as part of its Language Arts curriculum. When their studies were over, the students had some comments and questions for Professor Jackson, which she graciously agreed to respond to.


LBJ-061716-BridgesIzabella Brodbeck: The Holocaust can be told in more than 1,000 words, but Livia’s memoir tells “1,000 years.”

Professor Jackson: The 1,000 years reflected my sense of the enormity of the Holocaust experience and the history of Jewish suffering. The words were in response to the German woman’s question as to my age at the time of liberation by US troops. She thought I was “60, or 61…” When I told her I was 14, she walked away in shock, leaving me to think that I was indeed 14 but I had suffered and lived 1,000 years.

Katelyn Bajcic: Reading the story makes you thankful for what you have now.

PJ: One of the significant lessons that can be derived from the Holocaust, a story of extreme privation is gratitude for all we are granted in our daily existence.

Jenna Aldellizzi: How were you able to trust in mankind after surviving?

PJ: A survivor would have been justified in loosing faith in mankind, yet I was aware that the horrors of Holocaust were caused by the Germans and their collaborators, not by mankind. And not all Germans were evil. Many were unaware of what was going on and some of those who were even helped Jews. One must not generalize but look at people as individuals.

Emily Robinson: Was there ever a time when you might have wanted to give up on saving yourself and your mother? If you had known about the heinous personalities of the Nazis and the German people, would you have trusted the one officer, Pista, with your poems?

PJ: Never! I felt I had to keep fighting for every day, every moment. For tomorrow. For life. Especially for my mother’s life. To return home. To bring her home.

Emily, Pista was a Hungarian soldier, not a German. But I would have trusted him anyway. He had a kind face.

Mrs. Trent: Did you ever get back any of the writing you had done before the war?LBJ-061716-Elli

PJ: No. All was lost. I do not have a single page of my former writing.

Edgar Lemus: How hard was it to adapt back to society after being isolated for so many years?

PJ: Yes, it was a difficult and gradual process. I described it in two books, sequels to I Have Lived A Thousand Years: My Bridges Of Hope and Hello, America. In those books the reader can experience how we coped post-Holocaust.

Ryan Hueston: When you were taken into Auschwitz, was there anyone other than your mother you could trust at the level of a family member?

PJ: On arrival in Auschwitz we met my Aunt Celia, my mother’s younger sister and two cousins, daughters of my father’s sister. But we were soon separated from them, and never saw them again. I had no one to share with or trust on that level.

LBJ-061716-Thousand-YearsVictoria Jackson: How did you view the Nazis during the Holocaust and how do you view them now? Is the resentment still living inside you?

PJ: During the Holocaust I dreaded the Germans. We all feared them as they treated us cruelly, often shooting at us or sending any of us to the gas chambers at a moment’s whim.

After the Holocaust I returned to Germany at the invitation of the German government for commemoration ceremonies of our liberation by the Americans. During these visits, in 1995, in 2005 and in 2015, I met a number of Germans and their families and became convinced that they truly regretted what their grandparents did. I made lasting friendships in Germany. My total outlook has changed.

This is the final lesson of the Holocaust: it cannot happen again! The Germans are no longer our enemies, and we Jews are no longer helpless victims. We have our own state, Israel, an outstanding member of the family of nations.

Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson

UN Mid-East Envoy Not Thrilled with Netanyahu’s Free History Lesson Offer

Saturday, May 7th, 2016

The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, on Saturday angrily refused an invitation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to attend his lecture to the world organization on Jewish history. The PM’s offer came in response to a UNESCO resolution that ignored completely the Jewish history of key spots in the Old City of Jerusalem, most notably the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. According to UNESCO, both sites have always been Arab, and only Arab.

“I was shocked to hear that UNESCO adopted a decision denying any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, our holiest site,” Netanyahu said in a statement, adding, “It is hard to believe that anyone, let alone an organization tasked with preserving history, could deny this link, which spans thousands of years.”

As a measure of correcting “this historical ignorance,” the prime minister, whose late father was a prominent professor of history, offered to host a special lecture on Jewish history for all UN personnel in Israel.

Mladenov appeared deeply offended by the PM’s suggestion that his staff were uneducated. “If someone wants to issue invitations they should be sent to Paris and addressed to the ambassadors of the member-states of UNESCO there,” he said in a statement. “UN staff in Jerusalem know the history of the region, its people and religions all too well.”

It should be noted that after Israeli officials had hit the ceiling in reaction to the insulting UNESCO resolution, the organization’s chief Irina Bokova issued a statement acknowledging that “Jerusalem is a Holy Land of the three monotheistic religions, a place of dialogue for all Jewish, Christian and Muslim people.”

Perhaps Netanyahu could ask Bokova to give that free lecture.


‘Amalek’ Comment More an Expression of Shas Despair than Hate

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Saturday night has been for years an opportunity for the Sephardi Haredi party Shas’ spiritual leader, Rav Ovadia Yosef, to make headlines with some outrageous statements. In fact, as the Israeli media began to carry those statements, making them the focal point of many a Sunday morning conversations (Sunday is Israel’s Monday).

Initially, those statements were mostly against the Arabs, most notably the Palestinians, most emphatically the late Chairman Yassir Arafat. But as of Israel’s most recent elections, during the campaign and especially as it was becoming clear that the Jewish Home national religious party was going to be inside the coalition government while the two Haredi parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, were out—the great spiritual leader started frothing at the mouth cursing out his rivals.

He called them “Goyish Home,” he accused them of fighting and desecrating the Torah, he ridiculed their notion of being religious—how could they possibly be religious when they conspire, along with Yair Lapid’s burgeoning middle-class party Yesh Atid, to force thousands of yeshiva students into military conscription.

This past Saturday night, in Rav Ovadia’s synagogue in the Bucharim neighborhood in Jerusalem, a member of the Shas Council of Torah Sages, Rav Shalom Cohen, dean of the Porat Yosef yeshiva, compared the national religious in Israel, whose noted symbol are the knitted yarmulkes—kippot srugot—to Amalek.

Just before Purim, many divrei Torah are said about the true identity of Amalek. Some say it is a real nation, whose goal in history is to negate whatever it is Jews are doing, because Amalek are the enemies of God, while we are the children of God. They see Amalek in every great enemy of the Jews, culminating in the Nazis and Ahmadinejad. Others talk about the Amalek within us, that fascistic component of our personalities that has no problem stepping on others, brutally if need be, just to get its way.

In that context, Rav Cohen’s note was blood curdling. Whether he had had too much of the glass of havdala, or truly believes it, he made the following clever spiel: “It says God does war against Amalek. So long as Amalek exists, the throne—kess is not complete. KS is an acronym for Kippa Sruga—knitted yarmulke. When will the throne-kess be whole? When there’s no longer a kippa sruga… Are these really Jews?”

Haredi journalist Israel Gelis says Rav Cohen’s poor choice of words should not be taken seriously. It’s part of a particular culture where heated expressions are thrown out with little consideration of their impact. Gelis says that on Shabbat he ran into Rav Cohen at the Kotel, and the latter said to him with a huge smile: “Did you see the name of the chief of the tribe of Naftali (as in Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett)? It’s Achira (Num. 1:15),” literally “brother of evil.” And he was very pleased with himself, adds Gelis.

Those things shouldn’t be taken seriously. But the total failure of Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri to deliver on any of his promises, says Gelis, bears far more serious ramifications for the Haredi Sephardi party that relies on thousands of knitted yarmulke voters.

Having lost out in the coalition building wars to Bennett and Lapid, Deri has forged an alliance with leftist Meretz and the Arab parties, to the point where he is more likely to vote with them against the Zionist coalition government than not. His rival in the Shas leadership, deposed chairman Eli Yishai, is a regular secret visitor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chambers—so secret the entire Haredi world knows about it. Yishai has been a reliable, steady partner to Netanyahu and other secular, right-wing leaders. At this point he is waiting for his nemesis to sink deeper in the political mud.

Life in the opposition is murder on a party like Shas, which used to utilize its government ministries to favor its Sephardi sector. Now, unable to bring home the paella, Shas is standing to lose much of its support to the new powers that be in the ministries they used to control: Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home.

Add to that the fact that Maran Rav Ovadia Yosef is not getting any younger, and you’ll understand the Shas angst.

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/amalek-comment-more-an-expression-of-shas-despair-than-hate/2013/07/15/

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