Judaism Israel and the World: 73 years after the Shoa.

Screen Shot 2011-12-19 at 3.28.34 PMThought: Words: Action:

Today is Yom Hashoa ve Hagvura – The day Jews both mourn and celebrate. They mourn the destruction of more than six million innocent men, women, and children, hunted down for the sole reason that they were Jews (the Shoa) and the Gvura (courage and heroism), they celebrate the courage of  all those who fought to survive. Every moment of continuing life every day required courage everywhere during this period and great courage was required and offered by many, many who died and many who survived: all of them fought to defeat the enemy and some lived to see the defeat of the vicious enemy –  Nazi Germany and her vicious antisemitic policy.

This day always comes shortly after celebration of the Passover holiday, commemoration of the miraculous Jewish liberation from slavery three thousand years ago. Regardless of whether you believe the exodus from Egypt actually happened or not, we have to acknowledge with the reader of the Passover Hagada that “if we had not been freed, we and our children and our children’s children would still be enslaved: but tonight we celebrate as free men and women.”

Last night I attended the annual shoa commemoration project of the Montreal community. Every year, six survivor families are chosen to light a candle and to share their story. Each survivor, flanked by their families, tell their story on a short prerecorded video. No matter how often one attends these programs one is consistently awed by these stories of survival and redemption.

When I returned home I saw two programs on PBS  ((Public Broadcast Station). One program (Nova) visits the city of Vilna/Vilnius to attempt to find the underground traces of the Great Synagogue of Vilna over which a school has been built. This documentary tells the story of the destruction of the culture of Vilna, which was also known by Jews as the New Jerusalem, and the murder of the 70,000 Jewish residents of Vilna, and the heroic survival of 8 of the 80 last Jews of Vilna – 76 men and 4 women who were tasked with burning the bodies of their brethren, while imprisoned in a deep pit over several months,  just before the arrival of the Russians. These 76 men and four women who realized that they too would be executed at the end of their task, succeeded in creating a secret underground tunnel which led from the pit in which they were imprisoned into the forest for a last ditch effort at escape. Only eight of the eighty persons survived this escape through the tunnel. And the whole episode became a legend which survived only as a “tale” told by the survivors.  A group of scientists returns to the site and succeeds in uncovering the remains of the tunnel thus verifying their story. At the end of the show, we see the eight survivors, now living in various parts of the world, reunited with each other.

The next program was a 90 minute production called GI-Jew, which told the story of the 500,000 Jewish American men and 20,000 Jewish American women who enlisted and fought in the American army to destroy the Nazi scourge and to save whoever could be saved from the Nazi onslaught. Among them were 1,000 Jewish American Rabbis who served as American army chaplains. Throughout the war they accompanied the troops and organized services for soldiers, and upon liberation for survivors. And victory was not at all assured over 5 long years of war in Europe and the Far East.

Whether you believe in the G-d of Israel or not, something has enabled the Jewish people to survive every attempt at destruction and to continue to thrive for the last three thousand years. I believe what has enabled them to survive and to thrive is the ideology of the Torah, which lays out a vision of justice and compassion for all living beings, individually and in community, and for the planet itself.

Yes, I was born a Jew to parents who lived through the terrible time of the Shoa in Europe. I have struggled with the issues of the Shoa (Holocaust in Hebrew) my whole life. What have I learned from this over the course of my lifetime? The lesson I take away from this is that the ideas of Torah are mightier than the sword. What are these ideas? First, the idea of a G-d interested in humanity, who has “an eye that sees and an ear that hears”. It is a G-d who prescribes rules for communal living, which include prohibitions against murder and theft, and also legislates that one is not to covet the goods and assets of one’s neighbor, including his wife. Also one where individuals and communities struggle with the right path that will conform to this G-d’s ideas of truth, justice, and compassion. And in this Jewiish world, there is  also room for human error and correction without resorting to violence. The torah prescribes economic principles as well as how to deal with murderers and those who may kill accidentally. It prescribes a code of behavior for the common man, for the King and for the priest and it tells us how to regulate time, weekly, monthly, and by the year. The laws of Sabbath and  dates of the holidays are thus prescribed. And the Torah does this while also giving us a narrative history of the Jewish people from their beginnings as a family to the creation of the nation in the dessert following the exodus and laws for dealing with the settlement of the land of Israel, whose boundaries are also described in the Torah.

We see that those who have missed out on the precepts of truth justice and mercy described in the Torah and who revel in the power of the sword, have repeatedly been doomed to the ash bin of history. This is evident in the demise of the powerful empires that did not know G-d or mercy or justice, such as the Assyrian Empire, the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, the Spanish Empire, The French Empire, the German Reich, the Soviet Empire, etc. What is the remedy to all this fighting and destruction? One thing and one thing only: for every one to lay down their arms and to acknowledge that life, liberty, and happiness can only come to those who lay down their arms and struggle to improve the lot of their human compatriots. This is the most powerful idea, and the idea of redemption prescribed by the Hebrew prophets.  It is what we pray for at the end of the seder – for everyone to lay down their arms and to acknowledge the rule of the G-d of justice and compassion. Jews of course are aware of vengeance but we are admonished to leave retribution and vengeance up to the Almighty alone.  Our duty is to get on with our lives in a productive way. We leave vengeance to the Almighty as is discussed in this blog regarding Jewish views on vengeance. blog.

…The prophet rehearses the classical Jewish teaching that even a merciful and patient God will ultimately wreak powerful, unanswerable retribution upon the enemies of His chosen people.

 Following Torah prescriptions would work much better than war crimes trials, and better than hollow statements often made by politicians and human rights activists regarding peace and “never again”. Only organized actual disarmament by all rulers and civilians and working towards improving the lives of all, as prescribed in the Jewish Bible (Torah) will bring us to a just world where violence is renounced and the lion can lie down with the lamb as detailed in the biblical book of Micah chapter 4 verses 2 and3

verse 2: Many nations will come and say,
“Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD
And to the house of the G-d of Jacob,
That He may teach us about His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For from Zion will go forth the law,
            Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

verse 3; And He will judge between many peoples
And render decisions for mighty, distant nations.
Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they train for war.

Redemption lies in getting the agreement of all peoples to lay down their arms in the name of justice and compassion and the rule of the Transcendent Law:  And I believe that the amazing thing is that this actually lies within our power today but we do have to start the ball rolling:  the right hashtag? – the right call  to all leaders and to all individuals to lay down their arms? to embrace love between man and man via the amazing instrument of the internet ? Is it possible?  I am envisioning setting a date in the near future for this to happen at the same moment all over the world – Like New Years Day during World War one when both sides spontaneously lay down their arms on the battlefield and celebrated together – “Peace on earth good will to men”. The Rabbis have said that if all the nations were to observe one Sabbath, at the same time, it would be a signal that the Messianic times had arrived.

Who will join me in this project?  How long can we all continue to deal with the effects of hatred, war and destruction? Wouldn’t a world focused on feeding the hungry and clothing all of the poor be a much better kinder world for all of us!

As i shared this post with my friends, many responded “its too idealistic, it will never work”. I believe that it can work and will work. Who could have dreamed seventy years ago that we would have a Jewish State that is not only able to defend itself but has become the strongest nation in the Middle East and a powerhouse for agriculture, water purification, medicine, pharmacology, technology, and humanitarian aid, – truly  “a light unto the nations”.

And here is another post which I discovered today illustrating the “gvura” heroism of those who took action and resisted the Nazi onslaught:With Eternity in their Hearts, Daniel Seaman

The story of young women at the outset of their lives who, when challenged by history, responded with remarkable courage. The Jewish “Couriers” who were real life “Wonder Women”.

 

The three couriers (from the left) – Tema Sznajderman, Bella Chazan, Lonka Korzybrodska (Photo – Ghetto Fighters House Archives)
 

During the Holocaust, Jewish resistance groups employed women as messengers to communicate with the world outside the ghettos. Daniel Seaman tells the story of three daring young women—Tema Schneiderman, Lonka Kozybrodska, and Bella Chazan—who risked their lives to help their people:

In December 1941, Tema, Lonka, and Bella were. . . invited to the Christmas party at Gestapo headquarters in the then-Polish city of Grodno, disguised as Polish Catholics. . . . [Before the war, all three had been] members of their local chapters of the [Zionist-socialist] He-ḥaluts Dror Jewish youth movement. . . . Once the war broke out, the youth movements, with their elaborate network of connections, proved to be an unexpected asset for the Jewish communities in Eastern Europe that were deliberately isolated [from one another] by the Germans.

Tema, Lonka, and Bella, like several other female members of the youth movement, were the natural choice to serve as the link between the communities, known as the “couriers” (k’shariyot in Hebrew). Disguised as non-Jews, they risked their lives to move from ghetto to ghetto, traveling through treacherous territory, transporting documents, papers, money, ammunition, and weapons across borders and into ghettos. . . .

Not long after that evening, the dangers of the tragic era would inevitably catch up with them and their luck would run out. First Lonka, who in June 1942 was caught at the border crossing at Malkinia. She was interrogated as a member of the Polish Underground, [her captors not realizing that she was a Jew], and held in the [notorious] Pawiak prison in Warsaw. When she failed to arrive at her expected destination, Bella set out to look for her. She too was captured at the same border crossing and also sent to Pawiak. Bella and Lonka never revealed their identities, never broke, never exposed secrets though tortured severely. They never broke character either, [maintaining the ruse that they were Polish Gentiles].

Of Tema’s fate, it is known that she was transferred to the Treblinka extermination camp after being captured in the Warsaw Ghetto on January 18, 1943, during one of her many daring excursions to the place. She most likely perished there.

While Lonka died in Auschwitz, Bella survived and lived to the age of eighty-two in Israel.

And this was a comment posted following this article by Nancy Rexin Evans who shares the story of her own Mother who also had risked her life and joined and underground movement.

Nancy Rexin Evans says:

  • This article was heart-wrenching and brought tears to my eyes as I read about this brave young woman and brought memories of my own mother, a 19 year-old non Jewish woman with a huge Jewish heart and a lot of ‘chutzpa getting angry at this ‘new fangeld upstart Adolph and his brown-shirts, a group of thugs going about, beating up people and going after Jews, her own friends included. She and others joined an underground movement where they started to print and distribute anti fascist flyers. She was caught after being betrayed by her best friend and room mate, arrested and interrogated for several months yet never gave away any names. Subsquently, she was sent to Ravensbrueck, outside of Berlin, afterwards to a labor camp from where the Americans liberated her. One of the soldiers became my dad. Two things stayed with me when Grandmother told me that the Jews were God’s chosen and to always remember that. The night before she died she made me promise to never forget the Jews and always stand up for them and Israel which we visited shortly before her passing, overwhelmed how beautiful Israel was. She would speak to schools, churches, the media, etc. about what happened and how survivors rebuild their home land. “Am Yisrael Chai” indeed.
    May we always remember! Never Again!. Thank you for this article and the bravery of those young women who should make us ashamed whenever we complain about little inconveniences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emil Fackenheim’s Thought: CIJR Conference

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 4.13.41 PMRecently I attended and filmed the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research Conference on  “The Jewish Thought of Emil Fackenheim” in Toronto (Sunday, 25 October 2015). Emil Fackenheim  (1916-2003) was a German-born Jew who went on to become a  philosopher in his own right, a Professor of  Philosophy at the University of Toronto and, after making aliyah, a professor at the Hebrew University as well. He was not only a philosopher but also an ordained German Reform Rabbi. Emil Fackenheim became known for  probing the antisemitic dimensions of German Idealist philosophy, for studying the impact of the Holocaust on Judaism and on secular modern thought, and for demanding that Philosophy address the Holocaust. In this context he analyzed critically  the secular philosophers, including Hegel,  Nietzsche,  and  Heidegger  (who espoused the Nazi   movement).

Bringing a Jewish perspective to Fackenheim’s thought, Professor David Patterson, Hillel A. Feinberg Chair of Holocaust Studies of the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies, University of Texas at Dallas, presented a paper: A Jewish Philospher’s Critique of Philosophy: Emil Fackenheim’s Response to the Holocaust. Emil Fackenheim asks the question: What does philosophy have to do with Auschwitz?

Professor James A. Diamond, Joseph and Wolf Lebovic Chair, Jewish Studies, University of Waterloo, compared the writings of the Warsaw Ghetto Rebbe, Rabbi Shapira, with Fackenheim’s teachings in a paper titled God’s Infinite Pain: Encounter between Emil Fackenheim and the Warsaw Ghetto Rebbe. Professor Sally Zerker, Professor Emeritus York University, spoke on the subject Emil Fackenheim and Post Zionist Jewish Intellectuals.

Over lunch time, we were treated to a keynote address by Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, President Emeritus, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. Rabbi John Moscovitz, Rabbi Emeritus Holy Blossom Temple, spoke about Fackenheim’s ideas of Tikkun Olam and Mending the World.

Many of Fackenheim’s students and friends, spoke about Fackenheim’s impact on them. Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Laureate, a  colleague, and  personal friend, sent a brief video greeting.  We were fortunate to have Fackenheim’s son, Joseph Fackenheim, now a theater director living in Toronto, share some thoughts about his father. Joseph feels that he is carrying on his father’s legacy by bringing the Jewish Theatre Aspaklaria to the Toronto stage.

Peter Margo, National Board Member of CIJR, who had known Fackenheim as a young immigrant in Montreal shared: The Young Fackenheim in Canada: a Personal Reminiscence.

Professor Edward Alexander, Professor Emeritus of English, University of Washington sent a Letter on Emil Fackenheim, which was read by Professor Krantz.

Several of Fackenheim’s students were present. Professor Sharon Portnoff, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Connecticut College, and a student of Fackenheim’s, presented a paper, Emil Fackenheim’s Moral Seriousness in the Art of Living. Professor MIchael Morgan, Grafstein Chair in Philosophy and Jewish Studies, University of Toronto,  examined Fackenheim’s Legacy. Professor Paul Merkley, Professor Emeritus of History, Carleton University, also a student of Fackenheim’s presented: Emil Fackenheim: The Perspective of a Christian Realist. And another student, Professor Victor Shepherd, Professor of Theology, Tyndale University College and Seminary, presented a spirited tribute: Emil L.Fackenheim: Gratitude for the Gift He Was.

And academic scholars of philosophy also presented these papers:

Professor Kenneth Green, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto presented on Emil Fackenheim and the Political Theology of Diabolical Evil, while Professor David Novak, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto, spoke on Emil Fackenheim and Heidegger.  Professor Martin Yaffe, professor of Philosophy and Religion, University of North Texas presented a paper: After 50 Years: Emil Fackenheim on Hermann Cohen.

CIJR (Canadian Institure for Jewish Research) is planning to publish these papers and to post the videos of the lectures.

In the meantime below is a video of Professor Emil Fackenheim himself, presenting his ideas during a conference at the University of Oregon entitled Ethics and the Holocaust: He gave a paper entitled:  Holocaust  as a Persistent Threat to Thought.
Emil Fackenheim’s talk begins at 8:46 minutes and he speaks for an hour. But you will appreciate this, I am certain,  for the originality, the erudition and the passion of his presentation.

Anti-semitism? in the middle east?

Anti-semitism is a very unsexy subject. No one wants to be considered an anti-semite, a Jew hater; especially in the West. It is as unsexy as racism – taboo. So why has ISGAP, the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism, presented over 100 speakers on this subject and posted all of them to Vimeo?

To really understand the deep seated anti-semitism of the current leadership in the middle east I suggest that you watch one of the ISGAP speakers, Edwin Black’s recent talk for ISGAP speaking about his book: The Farhud: The Arab/Nazi alliance and its lasting effects.

He points out that the Arab Jew-hatred did not start with World War II, but preceded it, and the Farhud, the Arab governing organization of the time, allied with Hitler, whose need for oil coincided with the Nazi and Arab Arab desire to eliminate the Jews. Few people are aware that Palestinian Arabs fought alongside Hitler all over Europe and in the Middle East: while England pandering to the Arab presence blocked any Jewish immigration to the area then known as Palestine, now known as Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria as well as the area currently known as the West Bank and Gaza. Edwin Black removes the veil of ignorance about a nasty and unpleasant topic, the anti-semitism of the Arab world from 1850 to the present, which we ignore at our peril. He has researched a book on the subject and here lectures about it to a University audience. After listening to this talk, you will never again be able to close your eyes to the anti-semitism that pervades the middle east today and you will understand why there is no peace there now, nor will there be peace in the near future as long as the current Islamic leadership persists in their anti-semitic, anti-Jewish beliefs that have been inculcated for years:

And this is not to say that Jews and Islam have never been able to co-exist or that all Muslims hate Jews just that the road to peace between Israel and its neighbors needs to address these issues head on and so do the do-gooders in the West.

Hitler et La Filette: Youth confronts the Holocaust

catherine shvets 2 Experience the Holocaust through the eyes of a young girl

Sonia Sarah Lipsyc interviews Catherine Shvets about her book “Hitler et la fillette” that brings us into the moving experience of the holocaust through the eyes of a young girl.

See it at : jQmtl Interview / Entretien avec Catherine Shvets sur « Hitler et la fillette », a 12 min video in French with English subtitles.

 

At the tender age of fifteen, Catherine Shvets was writing about the Shoah through the memories of her survivor grandmother. She addressed the important actions of nameless rescuers who saved a little girl, the theme of Shvets’s recent oeuvre , « Hitler et la fillette », éd Flammarion/Québec, 2010.

Catherine Shvets, born in Quebec of Russian Jewish heritage, is today twenty-one years old and a second-year student in philosophy of education at McGill University.Carherine shvetz-gf

 

Lessons from Henry Morgentaler and Carlos de Soussa Mendes

Rabbi Kruger and Aristides de Sousa Mendes

Rabbi Chaim Kruger and
Aristides de Sousa Mendes, 1940

Yesterday, a full auditorium at the Jewish Public Library, in Montreal, watched the film about Aristide de Sousa Mendes, Disobedience, made for French television, and we all listened to the moving discussion by the panel, one of whom was Louis Philippe Mendes, the grandson of Aristide Sousa de Mendes, who grew up in and happens to live in Montreal.

This is how the movie, created by French television, is described in a recent post:

Joel Santoni’s powerful drama is a vivid retelling of the moving true story of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese Consul General stationed in Bordeaux, France, during World War II.  His government had issued strict orders to all its diplomats, in a document called Circular 14, to deny visas to Holocaust refugees seeking to escape Occupied Europe through Portugal.  Sousa Mendes defied these orders and issued Portuguese visas to an estimated 30,000 people in May and June of 1940 in an operation described by the Holocaust scholar Yehuda Bauer as “perhaps the largest rescue action by a single individual during the Holocaust.” Sousa Mendes’ defiance of government’s order was harshly punished by Salazar, ally of Hitler, the dictator of neutral Portugal.

As Louis-Philippe reminded us last night: Aristides de Sousa Mendes’s act of conscience consisted in defying the direct orders of his government and exhibiting courage, moral rectitude, unselfishness, and self-sacrifice by issuing visas to all refugees regardless of nationality, race, religion or political opinions.

The movie shows how all of his heroic work was done over a period of several days with the help of his male secretary, and a certain Rabbi Kruger, pictured above from the archives of the Jewish Public Library, a man introduced by a letter from a friend who Aristide welcomed into his home along with his four daughters at that very time, and his eldest son. Aristide de Soussa Mendes was the father of 14 children and his mistress was also expecting at that very time.

What I really loved about this “you are there” movie recreation were the little vignettes that one witnesses such as the opening which starts with de Soussa Mendes conducting a small orchestra made up of his children playing a compostion by “me, Aristide de Soussa Mendes”: glimpses of his relationship with his wife, and his mistress, his relationship with his son, with Rabbi Kruger, with his loyal male secretary, and with his twin brother. The other reason that it is worth watching this movie is for the glimpse into the process of totalitarian power: the glimpse of how Salazar, the dictator of Portugal, thinks and acts, how he deals with “insubordinationan”, and glimpses of the others who carry out Salazar’s orders.

A moving and gripping story that is a lesson for all humanity and for all time.

The same day, I listened to the Gian Gomeshi interview with Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, son of the late abortion rights advocate Dr. Henry Morgentaler, following his father’s  recent death at the age of ninety.

The outpouring of interviews and reviews unleashed by the death of Dr. Henry Morgentaler, were intense and worldwide, but hearing about him from his son was special. As his son explained, Henry Morgentaler, grew up in Lodz, Poland, facing local antisemitism there, and then at the age of eighteen endured the Nazi invasion which led him and his family first to a ghetto and then being transported to Auschwitz. After losing both his parents and surviving a slave labour camp, Henry Morgentaler, arrived in Montreal, became a doctor, married and had children, and in the course of his work championed medical abortions for women in Quebec and Canada, at a time when the Church considered that sinful, and the laws of the land supported that stance. He went to jail more than once for upholding his values, and eventually won for women the legal  right to a safe, medical abortion in Canada.

Two stories that Abraham Morgentaler, the son, shared struck me as poignant. He shared a story from his childhood. He was perhaps nine year old at the time. He and his friends were arguing about who was the best hockey player in the world, “Rocket Richard or Richard Beliveau”. Eventually, all the kids ganged up on him: one kid said “we all believe that it’s Rocket Richard, so you are wrong!” He was telling his father about this when his father was putting him to bed, and he recalls his father saying very clearly, “It is possible for everyone in the world to say that you are wrong and for you still to be right.”

The other wonderful image was Gian Gomeshi asking Abraham Morgentaler, “What is your favorite memory of your father to which he responded that he would always remember his Dad, at family celebrations addressing the family, and then singing either a Yiddish song or one of his favorite Edith Piaf songs. And I am thinking perhaps, “Rien de rien, je ne regrette rien”?

Just to let you know that although, Aristides de Sousa Mendes died in poverty and struggling to clear his name, since the death of Salazar, his heirs have banded together with community members to share his story. You can read all about it on the site of the Sousa Mendes Foundation. The movie has been shown at many Jewish Film Festivals and private screenings. Currently, the movie can only be seen via arrangement with the Sousa Mendes Foundation.

The following appears on the website:

For information on hosting a film screening, please contact us at info@sousamendesfoundation.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowing he would face harsh consequences for his actions, Sousa Mendes decided to act in accordance with the dictates of his conscience and Catholic faith.
For this adherence to his sense of humanity, Aristides de Sousa Mendes was rendered helpless in a society which no longer recognized his diplomatic status and forbade him from practicing law to earn a decent living and support his family. He spent the rest of his life pleading his case and being ignored time and again by the Portuguese dictator Salazar and his political machine.

 

The same day I heard
http://www.cbc.ca/q/2013/06/10/authenticity-and-politicians-willem-dafoe-henry-morgentalers-son/

Anti-semitism Anyone?

Recently I received the following posts with anti-semetic, despicable comments. The first was a response to a Youtube video about the Delegitimation of Israel:

“Jews have been kicked out of EVERYWHERE THEY GO – BECAUSE of WHAT Jews DO. Jews create the hostility and fury in others. Jews have EVIL, vicious beliefs. Judaism is SICK and HATEFUL, and grotesquely racist. It’s not Gentiles that are the problem – it’s JEWS.”

– ThusSpakeDenise

The second, a facebook post which a friend sent me asking if I could comment on.

“I’m fed up with the jews constantly reminding us of what happend to them, like they are the only ones who have suffered. Look at what israel is doing now- trying to take control of the whole world through evil means like 911. as far as i am concerened they got there money back and more. they own the usa film industry and lie to us on a daily basis. slavery was worst and we still haven’t been compenstated for the crimes committed against us and still have to exist with this evil lie as being less human than white people. yet between 12 – 18th century we had black kings running europe- bet you dont know about that. i’m glad the west is falling because not one of you care or think about the lives of african people. the west’s wealth exist because of africa yet you still keep africa and its people imprisoned in poverty. shame on all of you- TIMES ARE CHANGING-WE KNOW THE TRUTH. bottom line you cant build a civilization on lies and expect something long lasting and good to come out of it. YOU ARE ALL RACIST…SO SHUT UP ABOUT THE JEWS- they do not walk on water and their claim to israel is false they are desendants of russians, who by the way are not part of this global debt…”

– Liz Ejuone

I share them with you because none of us are prepared for this vicious outbreak of Jew hating, anti-semitism by individuals, which at times is still being sanctioned by NGOs and governments.

January 27th has been declared International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is the day the death camps in Europe were liberated by the allies 65 years ago.

This article in the Huffington Post details the rise of Anti-semitic events in countries all over the world, including Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The biggest reason to worry about this, is the silence of you and me, and at times the support offered by state authorities to anti-semitic policies. In another recently published article, In the Shadow of Wansee, we see the secret plan that the legitimate Nazi government devised to list every Jew in the world and to exterminate each one. The document was was marked Top Secret, and only 30 copies were ever produced. Most of the documents were destroyed but copy #16 of 30 of the Wansee protocol still survives. It is worth looking at. Interestingly, the author notes:

“All genocides have been couched in euphemism and their memory, after the fact, subject to political and mendacious assault. The victims are thus twice murdered, first physically and again as their name is erased from history – a phenomenon I have called memoricide.”

Apparently the perpetrators, although convinced of the rightness of their efforts, still want to hide their deeds, and maintain some shame about their efforts.

The Nazi engineered Holocaust exposed anti-semitism, Jew hatred for the dangerous racist creed that it is. Everyone now knows about anti-semitism. Its current rise and contemporary implications must be squarely addressed by individuals, institutions and governments. We all have to do our part, and we can only do this if our eyes and ears remain open.

I invite your comments regarding your experience, wherever you are, and what you are doing about it where you are.

Tatiana de Rosnay, Author of Sarah’s Key, in Montreal


Last week I had the opportunity to see Tatiana De Rosnay speak at the Jewish Public Library about her newest book, Rose. The room was full as the audience eagerly anticipated her talk. Many in attendance are fans of Tatiana’s previous book Sarah’s Key, and have also seen the movie, which tells the story of a family in France during the Holocaust. Tatiana de Rosnay, born in Paris, is not Jewish but researched the story that she depicts. She shared that two survivors of the val d’hiv round up became her dear friends. One of them said to her, “How did you know that that’s exactly how I felt?”

The book focuses on the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup. In 1942, French police in Paris, rounded up 13,152 Jewish emigres and refugees and their French-born children and grandchildren, who were then shipped to Auschwitz where most of them perished). Sarah’s Key focuses on a young girl during and after the war. The book vividly illustrates the willingness of French soldiers and the French government in helping the Nazis in their mission to eliminate the Jews. Only recently have the French come to grips with this shameful episode of the French government’s collaboration with the Nazi extermination of Jews during WW II. The book also tells the story of a farmer’s family and their efforts to help Jews by hiding them from the authorities.

The talk by the author, Tatiana de Rosnay, is part of a series of events planned this month at the Jewish Public Library as part of Jewish Book Month which occurs every year. This month features authors such as Aubrey Davis (In a Nutshell: The Worlds of Maurice Sendak), Deborah Lipstadt (The Eichmann Trial), Kim Echlin (The Disappeared), Rebecca Margolis (Jewish Roots, Canadian Soil: Yiddish Culture in Montreal, 1905-1945) and others. Check out the Jewish Book Month Events Calendar.

 

An Evening with Deborah Lipstadt, Holocaust Scholar and Activist

The capture, in Argentina, of SS Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann, chief architect and commander in charge of the Nazi death camps, his transportation to Israel, and videotape coverage of his trial in 1961, in an Israeli court, in Jerusalem, electrified the world. It is now fifty years later. Long enough for most people alive today, not to be aware of it. The public debate it prompted at the time, regarding the nature of Nazi crimes against humanity and also where, how, and by whom, Nazi war criminals should be brought to justice, was a watershed moment in how the civilized world found the means to deal with the legacy of the holocaust. Genocide on a scale that had never been seen before. Deborah Lipstatd’s new book, The Eichmann Trial, infuses a gripping narrative with historical perspective and contemporary urgency.

Monday Oct. 31, 2011, Deborah Lipstatd spoke at the Jewish Public Library in Montreal.

This brief video captures the importance of Deborah Lipstatd’s work and her contribution to our time and place. Deborah Lipstadt, an American historian, is herself a courageous figure who was sued by David Irving, an English historian, for libel, in a London court. David Irving, also a historian, claimed that Deborah Lipstatd was “libelling” his work, his historical books that deny the historical facts of the Holocaust. After a three month trial the Judge vindicated Deborah Lipstatd.