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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Yom Hashoah’

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.

Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Memorial Day Starts Sunday Night

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah, will be observed this year starting Sunday evening, April 7, the 27th of Nissan, and going through Monday night.

Israel’s day of commemoration for the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, and for Jewish resistance, was signed into law by then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi.

Many Jews commemorate the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah, but some prefer to remember and mourn the victims of the Holocaust on the 9th of Av and the 10th of Tevet, the two days dedicated to mourning our many national catastrophes by the sages.

In Israel, Yom HaShoah will open at sundown in a state ceremony held at Yad Vashem’s Warsaw Ghetto Square, in Jerusalem. During the ceremony the national flag will be lowered to half mast, the president and the prime minister will speak, the Chief Rabbis will recite prayers, and Holocaust survivors will light six torches.

At 10 AM Monday, two-minute sirens will sound throughout Israel, and people will stand at attention. Ceremonies commemorating the Holocaust will be held at schools, military bases and other community centers.

All places of public entertainment will be closed by law. Israeli radio television will air only Holocaust documentaries and Holocaust-related talk shows, the cable comedy channel will be off, and all flags on public buildings will be flown at half mast.

Thousands of Israeli high-school students, as well as thousands of Jews and non-Jews from around the world, will participate in a memorial service in Auschwitz, in what has become known as “The March of the Living.” The event is organized in the hope of making the Holocaust experience “real” for young Jews born decades after the war.

Jews in the Diaspora will observe this day in their synagogue and community centers. Many Yom HaShoah programs will feature talks by a Holocaust survivors, recitation of psalms, poems and personal accounts, and viewing of Holocaust-related movies. Many Jewish day schools will hold Holocaust-related programs.

Musical Putsch: Balkan Beat Box Gig in Munich on Holocaust Day

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

The Israeli band Balkan Beat Box will continue its successful world tour with a concert on Wednesday evening in Munich, Germany – striking a nerve for some in Israel because it is the start of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. All entertainment venues, from shows to restaurants, are shuttered in Israel on this day.

Band members said they were not aware of the problematic date and location when the show was booked, but after discussing the situation they decided to perform and deliver their message of embracing equality and being against racism.

After the performance, perhaps the band members would like to visit the beer hall where, on November 8, 1923, storm troopers under the direction of Hermann Göring and Adolf Hitler burst into the place, causing instant panic, and Hitler fired a pistol shot into the ceiling, yelling “Silence! The National Revolution has begun!”

There’s a song in there, someplace…

Remembering The Warsaw Ghetto

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

This week the Jewish world commemorated Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, on the anniversary of the fall of the Warsaw Ghetto. A quick search on the Internet showed nearly 10,000 sites with information on the uprising by Jewish resistance fighters who fought valiantly against the Germans in Warsaw. The websites cover a wide range of material including pictures, maps, diagrams and memoirs. Also hidden among the historically correct sights are pages dedicated to Holocaust denial; they are written by people who beyond all evidentiary proof still say the Holocaust perpetrated by the Germans against the Jews during World War II is a myth.


When studying the events of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising it is always best to go to the original sources. There have been many books and movies produced about the uprising, but although based on facts, stories such as “The Pianist,” the story of a musician who survived the war within the confines of the Ghetto, are brought into question as soon as even one small incident is changed for dramatic reasons.


There is a book that tells the story without any literary license and cannot be in dispute. The Stroop Report, is a facsimile edition and translation of the official German report on the day-to-day battle and destruction of the Ghetto. In the Stroop Report we see the forces used by the Germans, as well as the casualties suffered and those inflicted. It gives a blow-by-blow account of each action.


The report is very precise in its information, listing the number of troops assigned to each operation the dates and even times – hourly reports from the men in the field with time stamps. At the end of the report it lists every German soldier and foreign fighter by name, rank and unit that was killed or wounded in the various actions against the Jews. The reports were sent to the German SS general and general of the police, Friedrich William Krueger.


In the final report of May 23, 1943, Stroop, The German commander of Warsaw, said that “Of the total 56,065 Jews apprehended, about 7,000 were destroyed [murdered] directly in the course of the Grand Operation in the Jewish quarter, 6,929 were destroyed via transport to T II [Treblinka II], making a total of Jews destroyed 13,929. In addition to this figure an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 Jews were destroyed in explosions and fires.


The Germans also destroyed 631 bunkers and listed a variety of captured arms including rifles, grenades, home-made bombs and incendiary devices.The report goes onto say that the bombs and incendiary devices were “immediately put to use against the bandits.”


Listed among the booty was “about nine million zloty large amounts of foreign money including 9,200 gold dollars, and a large amount of Jewely (rings, necklaces, watches etc.)


The last notation of the report states, “There are only eight buildings remaining in the Ghetto area being used for administration purposes, and the destroyed buildings would be a profitable source of brick and crushed rock.


The report shows how thorough the Germans were in the destruction of the Jewish community of Warsaw and in their own words how they hunted down every Jew no matter the age or fighting ability, how they counted every stone from which they could make a profit. These pages written in their own hand are proof against all those who would deny the Holocaust.


Another source of the pure truth is the Ringelblum Archives. These archives are a collection of documents hidden during the battles for the Ghetto. They are comprised of German order posters, death notices, accounts written by the Jewish commanders, and even school report cards. The archives show from the side of the Jews how the German attack was fought off, not only with arms but with life. They include reports of a theater group, musical recitals and civility in the face of inhumanity. Dr. Emanuel Ringleblum, who was in charge of gathering the material, wrote before his death that the purpose of this archive is to “Scream the Truth at the World” and deny the lie that the Holocaust never happened.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/remembering-the-warsaw-ghetto/2006/04/26/

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