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March 4, 2015 / 13 Adar , 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘World Jewish Congress’

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Recalling The Voice

   Kudos to Jason Maoz for his wonderful Oct. 27 front-page essay “A Voice to Make Men Weep,” about Chazzan Moshe Koussevitzky, a”h. The article brought back memories going back more than 50 years when I and a group of friends would attend Temple Beth El in Boro Park on Shabbos Mevorchim, staying until one or two o’clock in the afternoon to listen to one of the greatest voices of the 20th century.

   My grandfather, Samuel Marinbach, zt”l, was one of the founders of that shul in the early 1920′s. For a short while I even sang as an alto in the Ben Friedman choir until my voice changed. I remember the chills running down the spine, the flushing, the rapid heartbeats that occurred when Moshe would hit the high C. The windows would rattle, and the voice carried nearly a block away.

   Despite the fact that Moshe’s voice was recorded on low-tech, monophonic sound, the clarity, the power and the sweetness have been preserved until this day.

Bertrand Agus, MD

(Via E-Mail)


Knowledgeable Reporter

   My wife and I attended the meeting in Czestochowa that Shmuel Ben Eliezer reported on in his Po-Lin columns of Oct. 20 and 27. The material he presented represents only a small fraction of his knowledge and understanding of the places and people covered.
   While in Czestochowa, when I found out who he was, I started asking Shmuel questions after davening or in the sukkah. After checking out some facts, I realized I had encountered an encyclopedic authority. He was also very kind to escort us on a walking tour of the Warsaw Ghetto area (the past) and a verbal tour through the maze of institutions and personalities that currently exist in Warsaw (the present).
   I hope it is as satisfying to your readers as it was to me to learn that this reporter is deeply familiar with his topic and not merely a superficial observer.

Alan M. Ganz

Scarsdale, NY


Pollard’s Bad Fortune
   The editorial “Jonathan Pollard Revisited” (Oct. 20) got me thinking about an issue that seems to lurk just beneath Pollard’s personal plight. As you noted, Ronald Montaperto got three months for passing “highly classified” information to Chinese military intelligence officers while Pollard got a life term for passing along to Israel classified information about Russian arm shipments to Syria.
      We, the public, are not aware of precisely what information was stolen by Montaperto and Pollard, nor do we know the true costs to U.S. interests in either case. And we certainly do not know the sentencing standards that might account for the great disparity in the sentences.
   What we do know is that future potential spies for Israel will surely not be any less deterred by the prospect of, say, a ten-year sentence than they would by a life term. (And had Pollard been released ten years ago, would the interests of the United States have somehow been compromised?) But of what possible deterrence is a three-month sentence?
   It becomes more apparent with each passing year that Pollard was frightfully unlucky that his arrest and sentencing occurred while a man like Caspar Weinberger was this country’s secretary of defense.

Harold Walkowitz

(Via E-Mail)


Fairer Organ Allocation


   Re “Hooked Up and Waiting For My Angel” (op-ed, Nov. 3):
   Over half the 93,000 Americans on the national transplant waiting list will die before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate about 20,000 transplantable organs every year. Over 6,000 of our neighbors suffer and die needlessly every year as a result.
   There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage – give organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die. This will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren’t willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.
   LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. They do this through a form of directed donation that is legal in all 50 states and under federal law. Anyone can join for free at www.lifesharers.org  or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. LifeSharers has 6,277 members, including 289 members in New York. More than 600 of our members are minor children enrolled by their parents.

David J. Undis

Executive Director

Nashville, TN




Defending FDR: Robert Rosen
Responds To Critics
      I want to thank The Jewish Press for giving me the opportunity to reply to the letters to the editor (Nov. 3) criticizing my book Saving The Jews: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Holocaust. Readers can find my positions stated more fully on my website, www.SavingtheJews.com.
      It appears that neither Harvey Herbert nor Shelly Chasan read my book. Mr. Herbert claims I omitted the report given to Henry Morgenthau entitled “The Acquiescence of the United States Government in the Murder of the Jews of Europe.” In fact, I address this report and Secretary Morgenthau’s discussion of the report with President Roosevelt at length (pages 337-64).
      In my view and in the view of most scholars, Secretary Morgenthau and his brave assistants at the Treasury Department, upon their discovery that State Department officials were refusing to help those refugees who could be rescued, presented this report to the president – who immediately ordered the creation of the War Refugee Board. Mr. Herbert mentions “true heroes like Raoul Wallenberg.” Mr. Wallenberg was sent to Hungary by the Roosevelt administration with funds from the U.S. government and the Joint Distribution Committee.
      Ms. Chasan writes that she is presently reading the book Stella by Peter Wyden, who claims that 200-plus Jews on the S.S. St. Louis were “returned to Hamburg and the mercies of the Nazis.” Mr. Wyden did indeed say that. Unfortunately, he was incorrect, as I point out in my book on page 629. (Mr. Wyden also claimed there were 1,107 passengers on the S.S. St. Louis instead of the correct number, 937.)
      My views on the St. Louis have been reinforced by a recent book by Sarah A. Olgivie and Scott Miller of the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum titled Refuge Denied, which reaches the same conclusions I did – namely, that two-thirds of the passengers on the St. Louis survived the Holocaust and that no one on the ship went back to Hamburg in June 1939.
      Rabbi Haskel Lookstein and Dr. Rafael Medoff apparently did read my book. In Saving the Jews I took issue with the rabbi’s book, Were We Our Brothers’ Keepers? Rabbi Lookstein does not dispute that he described American Jews as follows: “But the American Jew of late 1938 could not stand up proudly and publicly his natural posture was bowed and bent” (p.79). He does dispute that these words mean American Jews were cowards. If more proof is needed, Rabbi Lookstein wrote on page 206 of his book: “The American Jew of 1938-1939 was a cowed figure, who was destined to remain in that state for most of the war years.” He criticizes American Jews for their “timorousness” (206) and their “frightened reaction” (208).
      I will leave it to the reader to judge whether Jewish leaders who were “bent and bowed,” could not stand up straight, were “cowed” and “timorous,” does not equate to their being cowards. My opinion is that it does.
      Like Rabbi Lookstein Dr. Medoff unfairly blames American Jews for their alleged timidity. But Jewish leaders were not timid. They were just not in favor of killing fellow Jews at Auschwitz by dropping bombs on them when victory appeared to be near.
      In June 1944, the Jewish Agency Executive in Palestine voted 11-1 against the bombing of Auschwitz because, as one member said, “It is forbidden for us to take responsibility for a bombing that could very well cause the death of even one Jew.” This is consistent with the Talmudic teaching that Jews have no right to take innocent life. (Yesodei Hatorah 5:5; Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 74a.)
      There was no question but that the bombing of Auschwitz would have resulted in the killing of hundreds if not thousands of Jewish prisoners, many of whom survived the war.
      Dr. Medoff attempts to minimize the opposition of the World Jewish Congress to the bombing by claiming that “only one official of the WJ Congress, A. Leon Kubowisky, said that the Allies should attack the camp with paratroopers rather than bombing from the air.” But this is inaccurate.
      I spent several days at the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati looking at all of the records of the World Jewish Congress including voluminous letters, minutes, and reports. The World Jewish Congress and its many members were officially committed, in writing, to opposing the bombing of Auschwitz.
      Kubowisky wrote to both John Pehle, executive director of the World Refugee Board, and John J. McCloy, assistant secretary of war, on several occasions expressing the adamant opposition of the officers and membership of the WJC. He even underlined the sentences in which he expressed the WJC’s opposition.
      Dr. Medoff quotes from a letter written by Nahum Goldmann of the WJC in June 1944 that the World Jewish Congress “discussed with the War Refugee Board the idea that the Russian and American governments be asked to look for a way to destroy these camps by bombing or other means.” They did discuss it. And they rejected the idea. The letter cited by Dr. Medoff is dated June 4, 1944 and predates numerous letters in July and August 1944 in which the WJC adamantly opposed the bombing.
      The World Jewish Congress was not alone. Virtually every major American Jewish organization was represented at a meeting on August 16, 1944 with John Pehle of the War Refugee Board. The minutes of this meeting are at the Yivo Institute and what they reflect is that the Jewish representatives all agreed with Pehle that Auschwitz should not be bombed.
      While Dr. Medoff claims the Jewish Agency did not have all the facts in June 1944, it was well known at the time that Hitler was exterminating the Jews of Europe. Indeed, President Roosevelt vigorously denounced “the cold-blooded extermination of the Jewish people in Europe” back in December 1942. Surely the Jewish Agency was aware of that.
      Had the World Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith, Hadassah, the Jewish War Veterans, leaders of the Orthodox, Conservative or Reform movements, rabbis, community or political leaders believed that it was morally correct to drop bombs on the Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz and kill them in a futile effort to stop the Holocaust, they could have easily said so.
      But no telegrams or letters demanding the bombing of Auschwitz from major Jewish organizations or the Jewish Agency Executive exist because no one of any consequence thought it was a good idea. This is a fatal blow to the argument that “Jewish leaders” demanded the bombing of Auschwitz and were turned down by a cold-hearted FDR.
      FDR’s critics have labored for forty years to besmirch his reputation, the reputation of American Jewry, and indeed the reputation of the American people. In the end, they will fail because the facts tell a different story.

Robert Rosen

Charleston, SC


Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, December 8th, 2004

Our Shameful ‘Leaders’

A wave of nausea overcame me as I read that ‘more than 70 prominent Jewish religious and communal leaders, with direct ties to leading organizations … have sent a letter to Secretary of State-designate and current National Security Adviser Rice effectively urging her to pressure Israel into concessions’ (‘The Pressure to Pressure,’ editorial, Dec. 3).

As if that weren’t sickening enough, these ‘leaders’ have now joined the growing anti-Semitic chorus by linking U.S. pressure on Israel with greater international support for U.S. Mideast policy. ‘There are many challenging paths to achieving our country’s objectives in Baghdad and, we believe, one of them runs through Jerusalem,’ they stated to Dr. Rice.

There is nothing inherently wrong with Jewish leaders differing on how to best solve the seemingly intractable problem between Israel and the Arab Palestinians. However, it is reprehensible to read proposals from leading members of the Jewish community that could easily have been written by the most virulent anti-Semites.

We must all finally admit that there is a serious mental illness infecting our community, even though this illness is not manifested by traditional symptoms. When communal leaders are willing to serve themselves up on the altar of appeasement, and do not deem themselves worthy of claiming their biblical/ historical inheritance, it really is time to take a serious collective accounting.

Christian Zionists have absolutely no hesitation in loudly proclaiming the rightful claims of Jews to their homeland. Jewish communal ‘leaders,’ on the other hand, are ready to throw their inheritance to the wolves. They should hang their heads in shame.

Adina Kutnicki
Elmwood Park, NJ

Extra-Shameful Edgar

In his Dec. 3 Sedra of the Week column, Rabbi David Hollander referred to Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress (impressive-sounding credentials). When Mr. Bronfman publicly expresses an opinion concerning Jewish issues, even one that is harmful and wrong, that opinion carries unwarranted weight and exerts unfortunate influence owing to his self-appointed position of prominence.

In the commercial world, there are copyright laws that are rigidly enforced, and for good reason. For example, if Mr. Bronfman started printing a newspaper for the World Jewish Congress bearing the name The Jewish Press, I am certain he would receive a rapid court-ordered infringement notice.

According to my understanding, the only accurate definition of the word ‘Jewish’ refers to people who identify with and follow the teachings of the Torah – because Torah is the essence of Judaism. Unfortunately, the word ‘Jewish’ is not registered and protected by copyright, and that is why it is so widely misused, abused, and misunderstood.

I believe The Jewish Press and Rabbi Hollander understand the desperate need to restore the proper distinctions necessary to promote the accurate use of the term ‘Jewish’ in the world today. Rabbi Hollander’s use of humorous sarcasm was a most effective double dose of preventive medicine. Like pride, the rebuke may be a bitter pill to swallow, but Mr. Bronfman would gain in wisdom and under-standing if he could bring himself to take it.

Norman Shine
Brooklyn, NY

Fighting Academic Treachery

As a New York City elected official, I would like to answer the question posed in your editorial “Columbia University Scandal: Where Are Our Friends?” (November 26, 2004). Fortunately, the Jewish community has friends at the New York City Council.

When the initial reports in the media exposed the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic environment at Columbia, I joined with Council members Michael Nelson and Lewis Fidler to visit Columbia University’s campus to hear first-hand accounts by students who had suffered intimidation and reproach from professors for expressing pro-Israel views. As a former professor at Queens College, I was outraged that such academic treachery could exist on this or any campus, and stated so publicly in the Daily News.

Subsequent to our visit, I arranged for Council members to view at City Hall the revealing documentary “Columbia Unbecoming” by Rachel Fish of the David Project. This film documents the anti-Israel bias and climate of academic intimidation that has been reported in the media.

My Council colleagues and I have investigated this problem – and Columbia’s response to it – and are formulating an appropriate response from the Council to this abhorrent situation. Council member Nelson and I are currently drafting a resolution denouncing the climate of academic intimidation and harassment, and calling for the termination of professors Joseph Massad and Hamid Dabashi.

Although this endeavor may seem to some to be far afield from our usual legislative duties, we cannot in good conscience remain silent in this shameful episode. I thank The Jewish Press for calling upon other elected officials to speak out as well.

James F. Gennaro
NYC Council Member
24th District, Queens

Torah-Observant Liberal

Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt’s Dec. 3 op-ed article, “Confessions of a Republican Rabbi” (December 3), was well-written and articulate. Yet some of its arguments point out weaknesses in the conservative political position.

Rabbi Rosenblatt writes: ‘Goodness is when you tell an inner city or immigrant child that things may be tough for her but that she can overcome the challenges by working harder than other kids and producing better results. Goodness is a government that provides loan applications, not grants.’

The problem with this position is that it severely restricts the number of people you can help. Say you tell a large population of inner city students that by working harder than other kids they can overcome the challenges. Some will respond, but most probably won’t. If you stop there, you won’t be able to help them.

The same problem is with loans versus grants. Loans are fine for people for whom there is a realistic expectation that they will repay the loan, but they make no sense for all the others. If you restrict government assistance to loans, you are restricting yourself to creditworthy people, just a small portion of the population who need help. Direct cash grants, on the other hand, have their own problems, like fostering dependence.

Other forms of assistance may be more useful, but they still will need to be funded by taxpayers.

While I respect Rabbi Rosenblatt’s position and have strong differences with the social policies of secular liberals, my insistence that government come to the aid of all in severe distress keeps me a Torah-observant liberal.

Michael H. Klein
Brooklyn, NY

What Really Matters

I picked up The Jewish Press last week as I do every Friday night after candle lighting. I noticed the front-page essay ‘To Repair An Unhinged Heart’ and started to read. I knew it was Shabbos and that one is supposed to be happy and not cry, but the tears did not stop.

I put the paper down for a little while to gain some strength to continue. I can only imagine how much strength it takes for someone who loses a child to go on each day. I finished reading the article and was amazed at how Mr. and Mrs. Avrech created something so wonderful and special after losing their child. We all should appreciate what we have and take nothing for granted.

Life is too short for silly disagreements or pettiness, and I specifically address this to the person who at a recent parent-teachers conference refused to allow another person back on line after she stepped away for a few minutes and I allowed her to go in front of me. Your only remark was, ‘It’s not fair.’

No; what’s not fair is seeing so many people with such terrible tragedies and realizing that so many of us refuse to learn any lessons from this. What really matters in life – being first or being kind and considerate to others’ I hope and pray that most of us can learn a very important lesson from Mr. Avrech’s article and from the actions of Mr. and Mrs. Avrech – obviously two very special people.

Shanie R. Stern
Brooklyn, NY

‘Insubordination Cannot Be Countenanced’

Recent calls for insubordination, in the event that the Israel Defense Forces be employed to implement a planned withdrawal from the Gush Katif area, are deeply disturbing and dismaying. If heeded, such calls may potentially undermine Israel’s basic interests. They would erode morale and discipline, endanger purposive unity, engender internecine strife, and embolden our enemies.

Moreover, the calls are objectionable on principle. Regardless of one’s view of the proposed withdrawal itself, selective insubordination cannot in this case be countenanced on either moral or halachic grounds. Policies initiated in the hope of enhancing long-term national security can clearly be sanctioned as pikuach nefesh, saving lives. The right and the duty of judgment as to the likelihood that this prospect will indeed be realized is vested in properly constituted governmental authority.

May the spirit of comity and mutual responsibility prevail so that, with God’s help, Israel will be safe and realize its dream of peace both internally and with its neighbors.

Rabbi Norman Lamm
Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein
Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron

A Teacher Learns A Life Lesson

December 1, 2004, might have been a birthday for some, a regular day for others. For me, it was the day that inaugurated a new outlook on life.

It all began with a visit to Luke, a 3-year-old boy in my pre-school class, who is in the midst of his battle with stomach cancer. I had never seen a young child with this disease, and when I asked to go visit with him I was anxious and overwhelmed with fear.

The elevator door opened and I found myself looking at young children plagued with this awful disease. Suddenly, I couldn’t catch my breath. To my left was a young boy connected to a machine, watching cartoons. I would never have known this was Luke had his uncle not told me so. I excused myself for a moment so that I could compose myself. While I withdrew to catch my breath, I was able to see all of the sick children, and that’s where it happened – like a bolt of lightening, my mind was racing with so many new feelings and emotions.

How do I have the right to be reluctant to visit a child who is sick and looks different, when I am staring at young brave children with bald heads, connected to various machines, playing and laughing?

Before going back in to see Luke I knew I had overcome my fear, and by the time my visit was over that fear had been replaced with a sense of utter gratitude for the life I experience. Too many moments are filled with thoughts of what isn’t ok in my life or what isn’t ok about me, and while those thoughts help promote growth and change, after visiting with Luke I recognized how much I need to appreciate the many blessings in my life.

People get angry and question God when they confront the horror of a child with cancer. While these questions and frustrations lie within us all, I can honestly say that observing the consequences of cancer upon both the patient and the family has brought me greater understanding and compassion. It opened my mind and heart to something I have never been exposed to before and it created within me the desire to do good.

I left the hospital with an odd feeling – a feeling of greater motivation. Instead of moping my way out of that hospital, I actually felt invigorated. I plan to donate toys in honor of Chanukah to every child in that center. I went home and I looked in the mirror and uttered a silent prayer of thanksgiving.

During this festive time, we celebrate eight days filled with presents and festive foods. After my experience on December 1, I plan on celebrating each day with an immense appreciation and the purest thankfulness for being so blessed to be me – and for all that means.

Yael Mosberg
(Via E-Mail)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor-85/2004/12/08/

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