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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Yom Hashoah’

The Three Little Kosher Pigs

Monday, April 28th, 2014

It is always amusing to see the look on the faces of fellow American Jews when they discover that I am a Republican. Lacking originality, they typically say, “A Republican Jewish woman? Now that’s an oxymoron!” Well no, not at all.

Sadly, Israel has become a partisan issue. But it is the Republicans who are her staunchest supporters. Yet ironically, the vast majority of American Jews, whose progressive values are flaunted with elitist moral authority, have found a home in the Democrat party — the one whose members boo any mention of God and Jerusalem and whose policy makers formulate plans and strategies that are simply dangerous for Israel.

As we finish celebrating Passover during which time we remember our peoples’ exodus from bondage in Egypt to a life of freedom in Israel and observe Yom Hashoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day — it is an appropriate time to reflect on the state of Jewish Zionism in America.

What does it say about a people who align themselves with  political organizations that at best feign support for Israel for fundraising purposes but in reality take measures that could possibly harm that country’s long-term survival? In the face of existential dangers including growing Islamic fundamentalist death threats that are ignored around the world (including in the UN, EU and US) and growing apathy of Jews in the diaspora, perhaps a brief history of the Jewish peoples’ struggles against anti-Semitism is worth a revisit.

A modern version of Jewish history can be analyzed through the lens of the Three Little Pigs. In the Jewish version of this fable, the Jewish people are the three pigs (the kosher version, of course) looking to build a home to live as Jews in peace. The anti-Semites are the big bad wolf (of which there is no shortage) intent on ripping the pigs from their homes and destroying them.

The Jews in ancient times built houses of straw that were blown awayby anti-Semitic wolves during the Roman Empire, the Spanish Inquisition, and centuries-old pogroms. By the time they reached the shores of Europe in the later part of the 20th century, Jews built wooden homes believing themselves safe to practice their religion among the wolves in sheep’s clothing. We all know how that ended.

In the Jewish version of the story, the third pig represents two brothers that I’ll call Cain and Abel. Abel smartly moved to the land of Israel. The Jews in Israel learned their lessons of history, recognized their responsibility as God’s Chosen People, and built homes of bricks. And every time the big bad wolf attempted to climb down the chimney and destroy them, they further fortified their cities with concrete walls and missile defense systems. After thousands of years of wandering the global desert, they understood the gift – and obligation – bestowed upon them by God. To call these Jews survivors would be an understatement.

Cain moved to the U.S. and presents quite a different story indeed. American Jews have not learned the lessons of history and ignore their responsibilities to God and the Jewish people as a whole. Instead of building houses of bricks they have chosen to build a “big tent.”

They emulate their European ancestors who focused so intently on assimilating into society that they could not see the fires of the Holocaust burning around them. They worship false idols and pray at the Torah of abortion rights, environmentalism, and socialism much the way the Jewish people fell for the golden calf while waiting for Moses to descend Mt. Sinai with God’s Commandments.

Like their ancestors, American Jews may find themselves forced to wander a desert of secular empty activism in the hopes of one day returning to their homeland if they do not wake up to the dangers surrounding them. A big tent is no way to survive when big bad wolves are looking to destroy you.

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.

God Bless You Baroness Ashton for Leaving my Zeidi Alone

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

The Jewish media are very upset this week (Is there like a memo that goes out alerting everyone what to be mad at now? And how come no one let’s me in on it?), on account of the Baroness Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, making a statement in honor of Holocaust Memorial Day and not mentioning the Jews even once.

If you ask me, that’s a very good thing. I don’t want the world to commemorate my Holocaust. I don’t want the State of Israel inventing its own Holocaust commemoration day. I don’t want the ashes of my grandparents to be used by any politician, anywhere.

Look at the dates picked for Holocaust Memorial Day and Yom Hashoah. The former, being international and all, picked the Auschwitz day of liberation, because that’s when the allies finally got around to saving the Jews; and the latter, being Israeli, falls on the Warsaw ghetto uprising, meaning, we liberated ourselves, thank you very much. It’s so obviously political in both cases, it’s cynicism incarnate.

I don’t care at all about what the gentiles have to say about my murdered family. And I don’t care at all what President Shimon Peres or any other Israeli politician has to say about my dead zeidi, either. Why should I even consider what these people, most of whom feel and act in ways that are incomprehensible to me, have anything meaningful to say about the core loss of my life?

What does it mean to me when half the Knesset is flying to Auschwitz to walk among the ashes and look sad? I don’t think they know what they’re doing about the living, why should they be expected to do anything meaningful about the dead?

Every Yom Hashoah, the Israeli press catches a Haredi guy who dares to continue walking while the country stands at attention in honor of the siren permeating the April air from Eilat to Metula. And I secretly applaud this guy who is brazen enough to show the world what he thinks about their commemorations. I’m a coward, so I stay at home, in my seat.

I do honor the Israeli Memorial Day, on the eve of Independence Day. It’s a legitimate event. But the Holocaust cannot possibly be a matter of states and organizations. Which is why I applaud the fact that Ashton has done so much to remove the Jewish aspect of her memorial thing.

There are two dates in which I participate in our national commemoration of the killing of my family. One is the Tenth of Tevet, which the Israeli Rabbinate innovated to be the Kaddish day for the Shoah victims whose date of death is unknown. And so I stand up in shul and say Kaddish for my holy grandfather, grandmother, six aunts and uncles and their children. I feel connected to them on that day, and I’m also pretty sure they can hear me. In my head I hug every one of them (we were Ger Chassidim, but we weren’t so makpid on negiah-touching), and tell them how much I miss them, and how sorry I am for the horrors that ended all their lives.

Then, on the Ninth of Av, I spend the entire day screaming at God for allowing my loved ones to be murdered. I tell Him just how angry I am at Him. I even show him my anger by not putting on Talit and Tefillin until Mincha. What were You thinking? I cry at Him. You took the people who loved You so much and just let them be devoured by pigs? How could You?

Auschwitz Center to Buy Home of Last Local Jewish Resident

Monday, April 8th, 2013

The Auschwitz Jewish Center launched a fundraising campaign to rescue the house of the last Jewish resident of Oswiecim, the Polish town where the Auschwitz concentration camp was built.

The center plans to transform the home of Szymon Kluger into a cafe that also will serve as a meeting place for local residents and visitors.

As part of its fundraising, the center launched a Kickstarter campaign on Monday to coincide with Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Before World War II, Oswiecim had a majority Jewish population.

Kluger died in 2000, the year the Auschwitz Jewish Center was opened. His house was next to the center, which includes a restored synagogue, a museum and educational facilities.

“According to the recent expert inspection, the retaining wall, which stabilizes our synagogue, is in danger of landslide due to extreme erosion,” said the center’s director, Tomasz Kuncewicz. “Without support for this badly needed renovation, we could lose the Kluger House and the synagogue.”

Kuncewicz said the center will establish a vegetarian cafe called Oshpitzin — the Yiddish name for Oswiecim — in the Kluger house that will serve as “a place of intercultural dialogue for residents and guests from all over the world.”

“We want to respect the town’s heritage by offering local products and promoting local artists in Cafe Oshpitzin. By reinforcing the Kluger house and its retaining wall, the synagogue’s future will also be secured, so that visitors to Auschwitz can continue to have a Jewish haven for reflection in the town.”

‘Memories in the Living Room’ Replacing Holocaust Memorials

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Memories in the Living Room is a relatively new way in which many Israelis participate in commemorating the holocaust on the official memorial day, in an innovative, meaningful and respectful way which is also very real.

The idea was born three years ago, when Adi Altschuler, 27, realized that it was Holocaust Memorial Day only after listening to a traditional memorial song on the radio, and understood she hadn’t had a clue that Yom Hashoah was starting that evening.

The next day, while watching a conventional memorial ceremony, she understood that there was a need for different ways for young adults to find their place in the day’s commemoration.

The following year, she organized the first Zikaron Basalon (Memories in the Living Room) event held in her house. The success of this first meeting inspired several of the participants to design a format which would enable them to spread the idea, and easily hold an evening in several homes at the same time.

Last year, Zikaron Basalon was held in dozens of homes, and in 2013 it expanded even beyond Israel’s borders.

A typical evening would consist of a conversation with a holocaust survivor, followed by an artistic interlude (reading, singing, watching a short video), and then an open, intimate group discussion.

Nadav Ambon, one of the original organizers, told The Jewish Press that last night, his event included a talk by one of the twin siblings which the Nazi Josef Mengele experimented on in Auschwitz. The talk was followed by a few songs with a guitar and then a very lively discussion of the phenomenon of “Holocaust Humor,” including the question of whether or not no-Jewish comedians, such as Ricky Gervais, should be allowed to do Holocaust jokes – as opposed to Seinfeld, who is part of “the tribe.”

According to the organizers, the number of invited guests should be large enough to allow a diverse and fertile discussion, but not too big so the desired intimacy would not be lost. We recommend inviting friends from various social groups to initiate a diverse conversation.

The Memories in the Living Room folks invite people to gather with their friends in a familiar atmosphere, to participate in a conversation with a holocaust witness, and to find connections between memories from that dark period to our communal and personal lives.

They also invite individuals to host or join a Memories in the Living Room event next holocaust memorial day. Check out their website.

Peres: Holocaust ‘Cries from the Prayer Shawls’

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

The Holocaust “cries from the prayer shawls the hair, the shoes that we see with our own eyes, resonates as we step on the stones of the ghettos, [and] it floats like a ghost in the barracks of the camp, President Shimon Peres said at the beginning of Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day Sunday night.

“The noise of those murderous trains which have ceased stills rings in our ears, said the president in the presence of IDF officers, Knesset Members, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the Quartet’s Middle East envoy Tony Blair and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, John Baird,

“The Holocaust will not sink into the dark hole of history. It is here with us, burning, real,” President Peres continued.

“Nothing can remove the greatest darkness that mankind has known The 74 years which have passed are more biography than history. Millions of names are still missing, of parents and children, of whole Jewish communities who were murdered….

The Jewish people are a small nation in number but large in spirit. That spirit cannot be burned in the ovens. From the ashes of the Holocaust rose spiritual redemption and political rebirth. We rose and we built a state of our own….

“The Holocaust is an orphan with no comfort and a moral responsibility without compromise.

“Not all the flames have been extinguished. Crises are once again exploited to form Nazi parties, ridiculous but dangerous. Sickening anti-Semitic cartoons are published allegedly in the name of press freedom.”

Chief of Staff, Son of Holocaust Survivor, Visits Auschwitz

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

IDF Chief of Benny Gantz, whose mother survived the Holocaust, wrote in the visitors’ book at Auschwitz Sunday that “the IDF will make sure that a horror [like the Holocaust] will not happen again.”

It has been said the true revenge for the Holocaust is to bring more Jews into the world in Israel and to return to the Nazi chambers with head held high to show the world who were the eventual and eternal victors over evil.

Gantz will fulfill that concept Monday as the first Israeli Chief of Staff to lead the “March of the Living, when he will lead 10,000 Jewish youth from around the world from the site of the Auschwitz death camp to that of nearby.

“On a clear, cold day, it is hard to understand or sense the gap between the silence all around and the horror that took place here, among the camp barracks, and inside of them, ” Gantz wrote. “The State of Israel is the security that an atrocity like this will not happen again. The IDF is the shield for the national home – the safe haven for the Jewish people….

“I am proud to stand at the head of the army and the delegation that, with great humility, seeks to bow its head in memory of the deceased and respect for the survivors, and to shoulder the responsibility of learning lessons from the past and ensuring future security.”

Israel began to mark Holocaust Memorial Day Sunday night at the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial.

Most of the nation will stand in silence when the one-minute siren wails Monday morning in Israel.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/chief-of-staff-son-of-holocaust-survivor-visits-auschwitz/2013/04/07/

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