Bulgarian church nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for saving Jews – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Metropolitan Kirill (C), deputy chairman of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, blesses during a Christmas Eve mass in Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Bulgarian-Israeli lawyer Moshe Aloni is seeking support for a campaign to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the Bulgarian Independent Orthodox Church, for protecting the country’s Jewish minority during the Holocaust.

Aloni, head of the Committee for Friendship between the Israeli and Bulgarian Advocates, nominated the church in January for its “brave acts of heroism” including voting unanimously to condemn antisemitic laws during World War II and for going against planned deportation of the country’s 48,000 Jews to Nazi death camps in Europe.

In a letter sent to The Jerusalem Post last week, Aloni noted that while the campaign had garnered support from Europe and the US, he sought to gain awareness from the Israeli public.

A petition launched last year on Change.org in support of this cause had, as of Sunday, gained 740 signatures of a target of 1,000.

The petition notes that while the Bulgarian government was an ally of Nazi Germany, the church showed bravery and leadership by fighting against antisemitic laws. It makes specific mention of two clergymen: Metropolitan (Bishop) Stephan, the head of the Sofian Church, and the highest ranking Bulgarian Church official during the Holocaust, and Metropolitan Kiril, the head of the Church in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv.

The pair was named as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 2001, for vigorously opposing the anti-Jewish policies of the Bulgarian regime, and taking active steps against its policy of deporting the Jews of Bulgaria and handing them over to the Germans.

Kiril is said to have saved the 1,500 Jews of the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, who were set to be deported in March 1943. According to Yad Vashem, Kiril sent a personal telegram to the King begging for his mercy towards the Jews, and contacted the head of the local police, threatening to end his loyalty towards to Bulgaria and to act as he wished. Further testimony claims that he threatened to lie across the railway tracks in order to stop the deportation.

Due to the heroic acts of these two prominent leaders and their willingness to speak up and take action, the deportation of the Jews of Bulgaria was postponed again and again until it was finally cancelled with the end of the war, wrote Aloni in his letter to the Nobel Committee.

Aloni, who was himself born in Sofia, mentions that he and his family are among those are alive today thanks to the “heroism of the Bulgarian church and other brave citizens.”

“The nomination of the Bulgarian Church has most relevance in these days filled with hate and racism and modern day ethnic cleansing,” Aloni concludes.

The petition is sponsored by former minister General (R) Dr Ephraim Sneh and Haifa University law professor Moshe Keshet.

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Bulgarian church nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for saving Jews – Jerusalem Post Israel News

District pulls sponsorship of Holocaust literature trip to DC – Lincoln Journal Star

A semester-long Holocaust literature class taught in several of Lincolns high schools for more than 15 years will no longer end with a one-day trip to the Holocaust museum in Washington.

At least it wont be a school-sponsored trip, and, as far as Lincoln Southeast High School teacher Paul Smith is concerned, that means he wont be able to take students.

To me that says that theyre not going to cover me for a substitute, for liability, period, said Smith, who created the class at Southeast in 2001.

Smith said the classes haven’t gone on trips to Washington for a few years because the airline cost had become prohibitive. But he checks each semester, and found some good deals for this spring.

So he planned the trip, sent information home to parents and told his principal, who said he needed to get permission from the district office.

The answer: the district no longer sponsors the trip.

Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for instruction, said the policy regarding trips was revised in 2014 and district officials determined the Holocaust literature trip should not be sponsored, though the teacher could still take students in a non-sponsored trip.

LPS policy allows principals to approve field trips during the regular school day. It also allows for travel for extracurricular activities such as sports and fine arts.

Nonroutine trips require approval of the district office. Many of the trips taken by bands, swing choirs, dance groups or students in various competitions such as We The People fall into that category.

The policy says nonsponsored school trips — those where the district takes no responsibility — include such things as travel for club sports teams, an out-of-state band trip organized by a booster club or a foreign language teacher taking students abroad during the summer. The trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum now falls under that umbrella in school policy.

They can still take the trip, Stavem said.

When the policy was revised, district officials wanted to be more consistent about making sure all school trips followed district policy. For instance, the policy requires all students have the opportunity to take the trip, even low-income students who qualify for a waiver of student fees, she said.

Among the factors the district considers are the length of absence, the educational value, adequate supervision, alternatives that would be closer to home and the amount of preparation.

The fact that the trip happened in the middle of the week and travel required students be up late, and the lack of extended planning were among the reasons the trip wasn’t approved to be sponsored, Stavem said.

Mark Gudgel, who taught the Holocaust class at Southwest for a decade and now teaches at Omaha Public Schools, said the trip is an experience that cant be duplicated in class.

Frankly it doesnt seem like whats best for kids is being considered at all, he said. In my experience the experiential learning that takes place in one of those museums and outside the classroom far exceeds what I can do in the classroom. Ive witnessed it changing students lives.

Gudgel joined LPS because he wanted to teach such a class. He often expanded the trips his students took to several days to include a visit to New York City.

Today, he teaches humanities classes at Omaha North High School and has loosely modeled similar trips after the LPS Holocaust classes.

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The Holocaust literature class delves into the Holocaust and uses that as a basis to talk about present-day genocides, tolerance, prejudice and discrimination.

Interest in the class grew rapidly in those early years and by 2003, and today, most of the LPS high schools offer a Holocaust literature class.

Smith said in the years when the classes didn’t travel to Washington, he tried to find speakers but there was no regular alternative.

And he said he doesnt understand how a trip like this differs from trips taken by school bands or dance troupes.

You can take a bunch of kids dancing in Orlando for a week, he said. I just want to take them to a museum for crying out loud.

Because of seating limitations on the plane, he said hes had to use a lottery system for the trips in the past. And theres always a waiting list for the class. When they traveled, Smith typically researched the flights and shared the information with teachers at other schools.

You cant put a price tag on the experience kids get at the museum, Smith said.

What we have in our own nations capitol is second to none, he said. The insight you get looking at things through a different lens, survivors who are volunteers, historians. You are getting first-hand experiences, first-hand knowledge — things you cant get from literature, a book or a video.

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District pulls sponsorship of Holocaust literature trip to DC – Lincoln Journal Star

Lorain synagogue epxresses solidarity after vandalism – Chronicle … – Chronicle Telegram

LORAIN Several hundred people attended Saturday services at Agudath BNai Israel Synagogue to stand in solidarity with the congregation after the synagogue was recently vandalized with a swastika and anti-Semitic message.

A day care worker at Agudath Bnai Israel Synagogue, 1715 Meister Road, arrived at work last week and saw a swastika carved into a metal door frame followed by an anti-Semitic statement, We will rise and gas you (expletive), according to a police report.

Many local public officials including the mayor, several city council members, current and former Lorain County commissioners and several Lorain County Court of Common Pleas judges attended.

Zachary Simonoff, a member of the synagogue who also serves on the synagogues board, spoke during a phone interview after the service in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the synagogue.

Simonoff said such an act of vandalism will not scare those like him who attend services at the synagogue. Synagogue officials met with the Anti-Defamation League last Sunday, security has been increased and Lorain police contacted the FBI and continues to investigate the vandalism.

The vandalism at the Lorain synagogue occurred among a backdrop of 122 bomb threats called in to Jewish organizations in three dozen states since Jan. 9 and a rash of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries, as reported by the Associated Press.

Simonoff said Jews have been considered outsiders and persecuted for centuries, and recent acts of anti-Semitism are troubling. However, he said the turnout Saturday reaffirms his belief that although the roots of anti-Semitism run deep, they dont spread far.

The vast majority of people in Lorain and Lorain County are not anti-Semitic, and I think this is really a sign of ignorance, he said.

When hatred appears, the best thing to do is to speak out against it, Simonoff said. People also should educate themselves on different religions and learn about Jewish persecution and the Holocaust as World War II gets further and further from public consciousness, he said.

I personally believe that the moment any anti-Semitism or racism rears its head, youve got to kick it in the teeth as soon as possible so as not to give it a chance to grow, Simonoff said. Were not going anywhere. We are going to continue to practice Judaism as we have in Lorain for more than 100 years.

Lorain police Capt. Roger Watkins attended the service along with other members of the police department including Chief Cel Rivera. Watkins grew up in Lorain and said his father worked at the synagogue as a janitor after retirement and his mother helps out in the kitchen there.

I was really glad to see so many people come out in a show of support to that temple, he said.

Lorain County Commissioner Matt Lundy said the vandalism wasnt the focus of the discussion following the service. Those present were more focused on discussing how to move forward since this has not happened before, he said.

I think its important that we stand together as a community during times like this, Lundy said. I think we need to send a clear message that we as a community reject hate. What happened is not a reflection of the countys values, and many people are disturbed, disappointed and quite saddened that something like this could happen.

Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer echoed those sentiments and said Lorain is united and will not tolerate such hatred.

The freedom to worship is a basic American ideal and we all need to protect it when it is attacked, he said. We really are the International City and we have open arms to multiple races, different nationalities and different religions. We are a community whose strength is built upon the fabric of diversity in many different ways. Todays crowd was just another example of that.

Contact Jon Wysochanski at 329-7123 or jwysochanski@chroniclet.com.

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Lorain synagogue epxresses solidarity after vandalism – Chronicle … – Chronicle Telegram

Synagogue Defaced With Graffiti Proclaiming the Holocaust ‘Fake History’ – Mediaite

Today, a local report out of Seattle indicates that there was a vandalism attack on a synagogue in the citys Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Seattles crime blotter said this:

Around 5 AM Friday morning, an SPD officer working off-duty in the area spotted a spray painted message, describing the Holocaust as fake history, on an exterior wall of the temple in the 1400 block of 16th Avenue.

Fake history is likely a play on fake news by Holocaust deniers. The term fake news rose to prominence after the 2016 presidential election when it was revealed that some writers had been profiting off of falsities posted on sites that looked like legitimate news sources. The term was then co-opted by people who wanted to disparage the media at large for reporting things they didnt like.

This is the latest in a string of anti-Semitic vandalism and behavior in recent months. Swastikas popped up in press pens along the campaign trail during the election, Jewish cemeteries have been defaced, and a family in Arizona had their decorative menorah bent into a swastika shape on their front lawn, to name only a few.

[image: Shutterstock]

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Synagogue Defaced With Graffiti Proclaiming the Holocaust ‘Fake History’ – Mediaite

‘Violins of Hope’ concert teaches about the Holocaust – Cleveland Jewish News

More than 3,000 local students and community members listened to music, learned about the Holocaust and were taught how music can invoke hope even in the most challenging times during The Cleveland Orchestras Violins of Hope concerts encore presentations March 8 to 10 at the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center at The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Cleveland.

The hour-long show consisted of music played by the orchestra, interspersed with eight actors telling the audience about what Jews endured in the Holocaust and how music helped them survive.

The performance was conducted by The Cleveland Orchestras associate conductor Brett Mitchell and featured first associate concertmaster Peter Otto and assistant principal cellist Charles Bernard.

They didnt really realize how successful it was going to be, so immediately when we started it last time everybody I think had this collective feeling that there was something very special and so it would be a shame to just do it one time, Otto told the Cleveland Jewish News. I think even though its not particularly gruesome in its descriptions of what happened, it still gets the major points across and I think even for young kids the message is very uplifting because its ultimately about hope.

The Cleveland Orchestra and the Case Western Reserve University / Cleveland Play House Master of Fine Arts Program in Acting put on the program. It included Simchas Torah(Rejoicing) fromBaal Shem, by Ernest Bloch; Kol Nidrei, Opus 47 by Max Bruch; Overture on Hebrew Themes, Opus 34 by Sergei Prokofiev; and John Williamss music from the film Schindler’s List. The actors played Jewish, European characters, dressed in 1930s and 40s attire, who between songs described the role of music in Jewish life before, after and during the Holocaust.

Music was central to Jewish life, said one of the eight characters, who described when the Nazis came to power and began forcing restrictions on Jews.

The instruments are the voices of the victims, a character said, adding that some Jews survived the concentration camps because they were given jobs playing music. As long as they wanted music, they couldnt put us in the gas chamber.

The first presentation of the program was in December 2015 was attended by more than 10,000 students. For that production, The Cleveland Orchestra played instruments preserved from the Holocaust, which were collected by Israeli violin maker Amnon Weinstein. Although for the 2017 program those instruments were not available, Otto said that the program retains the always-relevant message.

I think its a great educational tool for children and I think ultimately a lot of them dont know anything about it, said Otto, who in the original show played a violin saved from Auschwitz. And in an environment with anti-Semitism on the rise again, I think its never too early to start educating people.

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‘Violins of Hope’ concert teaches about the Holocaust – Cleveland Jewish News

Credit to BGHS for Holocaust program – Bowling Green Daily News

When I was 9, I asked my dad why the tie store man had numbers on his arm.

Daddy took my hand and walked me to the store. He introduced me to Mr. Solomon. This man, who had an accent like my Russian grandma, told me that he had lived in Poland and was sent to concentration camps during World War II. American soldiers freed the camp. I often wished I knew enough to ask more questions.

Over the years, I have read many stories and autobiographies on the Holocaust. My own family had been caught up in that terror. Recently, I attended a very special presentation at Bowling Green High School. The students have studied the Holocaust and expressed themselves in art, poems and skits. They even had some traditional Jewish foods.

Their guest speaker, Mr. Fred Gott, came from Louisville to share his own survival story, “One Step Ahead of Hitler, A Jewish Childs Journey through France.”

He admitted that his four grown sons did not know his story until he wrote his memories. Much appreciation to the faculty who guided the students though this part of history, leaving a lasting impression on all who came. Well done.

As we watch the news of Syrians trying to escape the bombing of their towns, never forget. These students have a lasting impression of anti-semitism and how it affects those around us.

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Credit to BGHS for Holocaust program – Bowling Green Daily News

Asia’s disturbing embrace of Nazi chic is prompting a nonprofit to teach Holocaust history – Quartz

Its a dismaying yet recurring phenomenon that takes place in disparate Asian countries: young people, not known for sympathizing with far-right groups, playing with Nazi imagery in highly public settings.

Examples abound. Last December a school in Taiwan staged a Hitler-themed parade for its anniversary celebration, leading to the principals resignation. A few weeks earlier, Sony Music apologized after one of its girl bands performed in Nazi-looking outfits. Two years before that a girl group in South Korea showed up in similar fashion. Thailand, India, and Indonesia have had their share of Nazi-themed bars, parades, and performances. The list is long and repetitiveand disconcerting.

It isnt just the regions youngsters who fail to appreciate the Holocausts gravity. In Hong Kong last month, after a court verdict condemned seven policemen to jail terms for beating a pro-democracy protester in 2014, their colleagues staged a demonstration during which one of them said that they were being persecuted like the Jews in Germany, to other demonstrators cheers. The German and Israeli diplomatic missions condemned the comparison, and a half-hearted apology ensued.

For the past six years, the Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre, the only organization of its kind in Asia, has used education to counter the recurring use of Nazi chic.

The optimist in me wants to think that this happens just out of ignorance, and that the comparison with something more familiar helps, says co-founder April Kaminsky. With that in mind the center also teaches about regional tragedies like the Nanjing Massacre in China during World War II and the killing fields in Cambodia under the rule of Pol Pot. That makes the topic quite relevant to the region.

Generally speaking, World War II history is present in school curricula in the region, but it concentrates on what happened locallywhen Japanese troops conquered most of East and Southeast Asia, committing countless atrocities that still scar diplomatic relations between Tokyo and its neighbors. As for the way Nazi Germany industrialized the mass murder of the Jewsas well as homosexuals, communists, and Gypsiesits touched upon only vaguely, if at all.

The center organizes exhibitions and brings Holocaust survivors and their relatives to Hong Kong to lecture in local schools. It also encourages young people from Hong Kong and mainland China to join the annual International March of the Living in Poland, and helps to arrange trips.

Its a trip that changes you forever, says Kaminsky, and Im encouraged that the highest numbers of requests to join we have entertained recently have come from [mainland] Chinese people.

According to Martin Chung, a member of the center and a professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, the popularity of Nazi themes in Asia points to a wider problem and presents some intractable issues. Aside from historical ignorance, he says, theres a recurring victimhood envy that makes the Holocaust remembrance a victim of its own success.

There is this general feeling that the Jewish people have certainly suffered, but that others have suffered too, he says. The greatest example of this was Iris Changs book The Rape of Nanking, which was not a scientific comparison, but stemmed from this feeling of unfairness: Why is Jewish suffering remembered so much, and not Chinese suffering?Why is Jewish suffering remembered so much, and not Chinese suffering?

Of course, he adds, it does not make any sense if you are serious about what the special features of the Holocaust were, but it is a desire of being taken seriously as a victim, too.

More surprisingly, Chung suggests, is that the use of Nazi imagerythough it looks like idiocy to outsiderscan sometimes serve in Asia to make an anti-establishment, taboo-breaking statement: This cannot happen through a kind of leftist symbolism, which in the case of Taiwan, for example, would be quite impossible because of the link to [communist] China. So what else are you going to use to be really anti-establishment? What symbols are available that are forbidden? It was a bit like wearing a Mao cap in pre-1997 Hong Kong. It shocked people.

To get through to its audience, the center goes beyond history lessons and stresses the importance of simply being tolerant of peoples differences. That involves telling them the why behind things, in order to teach [them] to be more understanding and accepting of others, says Kaminsky. It starts at the basic level of kids bullying each other. It can end in catastrophes.

But even as they push for greater education, the centers volunteers know its a matter of when, not if, the next Nazi-chic incident will occur in the region.

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Asia’s disturbing embrace of Nazi chic is prompting a nonprofit to teach Holocaust history – Quartz

Holocaust survivor to speak in Spokane Thursday – The Spokesman-Review

UPDATED: THURSDAY, MARCH 9, 2017, 3:50 P.M.

Dr. Jacob Eisenbach was 16 years old when the Nazis invaded Poland. He survived a concentration camp, but 100 other members of his immediate and extended family did not.

Eisenbach, 93, will be in Spokane on Thursday to speak about his experiences during the Holocaust and why what happened should not be forgotten. His talk, hosted by Chabad of Spokane County, begins at 7 p.m. at the Spokane Convention Center.

This is my mission, the mission of my life during my retirement, said Eisenbach, who retired from a 60-year career as a dentist in 2015. Its to spread the word about what happened and stop genocide, so that someday well be able to say with confidence, never again.

Eisenbach grew up in Lodz, Poland, with an older sister, Fala, and two younger brothers. His brother Sam was two years younger and Henry was four years younger.

I grew up in a wonderful family, he said.

Everything changed on Sept. 1, 1939, when the Nazis invaded Poland. They quickly took control of Lodz, the second-largest city. That started a series of unimaginable events, Eisenbach said. We never expected anything like the things that actually happened.

The Nazis fenced off a section of the city to create a ghetto to house 160,000 Jews and ordered everyone inside by May 1, 1940.

Any Jew found outside the ghetto after that date would be shot on the spot, he said.

The border of the ghetto included watch towers every 200 feet equipped with search lights and manned by soldiers with machine guns. Before the gates swung shut, Eisenbachs sister fled with some friends to the Russian part of Poland.

His mother had died of rheumatic fever a year before the war. He and his father, brothers and extended family went into the ghetto. There was no radio, no newspapers, no way to communicate with the outside world. They knew nothing of what was happening.

They gave us a starvation diet, he said. People were dropping dead in the streets of the ghetto.

A typhus epidemic broke out and one day Henry got sick. He went to one of the two hospitals in the ghetto staffed by Jewish doctors. A day later the Nazis took all the patients from both hospitals and stacked them high in the back of cattle trucks.

They transported them directly to the gas chambers at Auschwitz, he said.

His father got a deportation order. Eisenbach said he later found a survivor who was with his father and knew how he had died. They had them carry heavy rocks from place to place, useless work on a starvation diet, he said.

More deportation orders came and trains full of Jews left the ghetto. At first no one knew where they were going, but soon the train employees started whispering about the people who went into the camps and never came out. They could smell the burning flesh in the air, he said.

Then Eisenbachs deportation order came. Alone with his younger brother Sam, Eisenbach refused to go. We already knew what was going on, he said. That was a death sentence.

The two boys went into hiding, but after a month they were discovered. Sam did not have a deportation order, but he refused to leave his older brother.

Im going with you, Sam said to Eisenbach. No matter where you go, I go.

The two were loaded into cattle cars and spent three days and three nights on the train. There wasnt even enough room to turn around.

Eisenbach assumed they would go to Auschwitz, but they were sent to another camp where the Jews were forced to work in a munitions factory that was essential to the German war effort. Both brothers survived and it was there that Eisenbach met his future wife, Irene.

On one January day in 1945, everything changed. All of the sudden the Nazi guards with the machine guns disappeared from the guard towers, he said. The next morning we woke up free.

After the war there was still a lot of antisemitism in Poland, and Eisenbach and his wife left, smuggled out through Czechoslovakia. His brother Sam stayed behind and rose to a high rank in the Polish army and changed his name to hide his Jewish ancestry. But two years after the war ended he was shot in the head by someone who hated Jews, Eisenbach said.

He learned that his sister had died in another Jewish ghetto. One day the Nazis came with machine guns and in three days they killed all 110,000 Jews, he said.

Only a distant cousin managed to survive.

After four years in Frankfurt to study dentistry, he and his wife came to the United States. That was the best move we ever made, he said.

The couple spent nearly two decades in Iowa raising three sons before moving to southern California, where Eisenbach still lives today.

In addition to his story of survival, Eisenbach likes to point to stories of heroism found even in the darkest days. Denmark shipped all their Jewish citizens to Sweden to save their lives. Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish ambassador to Hungary, saved thousands of Jews by issuing them Swedish passports.

There were many humanitarian stories that have to be told, not only the stories of cruelty, he said.

His wife died three years ago and now Eisenbach dedicates himself to giving speeches about the Holocaust. He does not want future generations to have to experience what he did under the Nazi regime.

The reason I do that is because it is so important the story of the Holocuast be told and retold, he said. If we forget it, we contribute to its repetition.

Genocide still exists today, Eisenbach said, and must be stopped.

Good people of goodwill around the entire world are against genocide, he said. We have to work hard to prevent them and eliminate them.

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Holocaust survivor to speak in Spokane Thursday – The Spokesman-Review

Purim and the Challenge of the Holocaust – Algemeiner

Esther and Mordechai writing the second letter of Purim. Oil on canvas, 1685. Photo: RISD Museum of Art, Rhode Island.

In themidrash on Mishlei, we read the following:

All of the festivals will be nullified in the future [the messianic age], but Purim will never be nullified.

This assertion seems to fly in the face of Jewish tradition, which states categorically that the Jewish festivals mentioned in the Torah, such as Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot will never cease to be celebrated.

March 9, 2017 8:24 am

Rabbi Baruch Halevi Epstein, in his famous commentary Torah Temimah on Megillat Esther (9:28), explains this contradictionin the following most original manner:

The miracle of Purim is very different from the miracles mentioned in the Torah. While the latter were overt miraclessuch as the ten plagues in Egypt, the splitting of the Red Sea, the revelation at Sinai and the falling of the man (manna) in the desertthe miracle of Purim was covert. Unlike with the miracles narrated in the Torah, no law of nature was ever violated in the Purim story, and the Jews were saved from the hands of Haman harasha (the evil Haman) by seemingly normal historical occurrences

Covert miracles will never cease to exist, explains the Torah Temimah. In fact, they take place every day. But overt miracles such as the splitting of the Red Sea have come to an end. In light of this, the midrash is not suggesting that the actual festivals mentioned in the Torah will be nullified in future days, since this would contradict Jewish belief. Rather, it is stating that the original reasons for celebrating the festivals, namely overt miracles, will have ceased.

So, one should read the midrash as follows: Overt miracles, which we celebrate on festivals mentioned in the Torah, will no longer occur. But covert miracles such as those celebrated on Purim will never end; they will continue to occur every day of the year. In other words, all the other festivals will still be celebrated to commemorate great historical events in Jewish history, so as to make them relevant and to teach us many lessons for our own lives. Purim, on the other hand, although rooted in a historical event, functions as a constant reminder that the Purim story never ended. We are still living it. The Megillah is open-ended; it was not and will never be completed. Covert miracles still happen.

Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner zl, in his celebrated work Pachad Yitzchak (volume on Purim, chapter 33), uses this idea to explain a highly unusual halachic stipulation related to Purim:During all Torah festivals, the congregation sings Hallel, the well-known, classic compilation of specific Psalms. These Psalms praise God for all the great miracles He performed for Israel in biblical times. Why, then, asks the Talmud, do we not sing Hallel on Purim? Is there not even more reason to sing these Psalms on the day when God performed the great miracle of rescuing Israel from the hands of Haman?

The Talmud (Masechet Megillah 14a) answers kriyata zu hallila the reading of Megillat Esther is in itself praise. When one reads the story of Esther, one actually fulfills the obligation of singing Hallel, because telling this story is the greatest praise to God for having saved the Jews.

Interestingly, one of the most celebrated commentators on the Talmud, Rabbi Menachem Meiri (1249-1315), ponders the need to say Hallel on Purim when one is unable to read or hear the Megillah. In this case, according to his opinion, one should indeed sing the psalm, since one must thank God for what happened. Rabbi Hutner, however, points out that no other authority agrees with his opinion.

Moreover, one often wonders why the story of Purim is still relevant at all after the Holocaust. Not even a hidden miracle was performed to save the Jews from the hands of Hitler, a greater enemy than Haman. Why continue to praise God for a hidden miracle when it seems that even hidden miracles came to an end with the Holocaust?

This question should be on the mind of every Jew who celebrates Purim, and it is not only the Holocaust that should raise this issue. The Spanish Inquisition; the many pogroms against the Jews; and the various forms of exterminating complete Jewish communities throughout all of Jewish history, in which Gods saving hand was absent, allbeg that very question. Shouldnt these events convince Jews to abolish Purim altogether? How can we continue celebrating Purim when six million Jews, collectively, did not see the hidden hand of God, and were left with no divine intervention? Is celebrating Purim not an affront to all those millions who were tortured and died under the most hideous circumstances?

Hundreds of personal stories describe how Jews risked their lives to rejoice in their Jewishness while facing the Nazis atrocities. In the extermination camps, peoplecelebrated Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Pesach and even Purimand they literally had to decide whether to sing Hallel after failed attempts to find a Megillah.

What was it that kept them going? Was it just wishful thinking? No. What they realized then, as never before, was the eternity and indestructibility of the Jews. Perpetuity is the very essence of our people. When Rabbi Moshe Friedman of Boyan, a towering personality and great Talmid Chacham in pre-war Poland, was brought to Auschwitz with a transport of deeply religious Jews during Pesach of 1943, he was asked to undress prior to the shower. He turned to the Oberscharfhrer, grasped the lapel of his Nazi jacket and said to him: Youthe most despicable murderers in the world, dont imagine for one moment that you will succeed in destroying the Jewish people. The Jewish nation will live forever. It will not vanish from the stage of history; instead, you will be erased and disappear.

It was the famous, slightly antisemitic historian Arnold Toynbee who, with great annoyance, alluded to what history has taught us: any nation that stands up against the Jews will ultimately disappear. Such was the fate of the ancient Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Persians and the Greeks, etc.

Jews have been an ever-dying people that never died. We live in spite of peril. Our refusal to surrender has turned our story into one long, unending Purim tale. To this day, a large part of the world does not know what to do with us. We make them feel uneasy because we represent something they cant put their finger on. Jews are sui generis.

More than anything else, it is the existence and survival of the state of Israel that irritates many. Perplexity has morphed into aversion. Where does this small nation, which does not comprise even one percent of the world population, have the chutzpah to play such a crucial role in science, technology and many other areas of human knowledge?

Yet what would the world do without Jews, who are responsible for so many inventions that are vital to the survival of modern society? Great progress and major breakthroughs in the world of medicine, such as the treatment of paralysis, depression, Alzheimers disease, etc., are Israeli accomplishments. What about Windows, voicemail and the most advanced anti-terror systems? All Israeli. Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation, and in proportion to its population has the largest number of start-up companies in the world. It is ranked second in the world for venture capital funds. And the list goes on.

Even if, God forbid, the state of Israel would not survive Iran the Haman of our day every Jew instinctively knows that the Jewish peoplewill still endure, even without their homeland, and will climb the ladder and surprise the world once again. Purim will never cease.

Which Jeweven secular or atheistdares to betray theJewish victims of persecutionby not celebrating Purim? That is the ultimate question that all Jews must ask themselves. Not to do so would be a tragic dereliction of duty.

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Purim and the Challenge of the Holocaust – Algemeiner

New Anti-Semitism Wave On Minds At Holocaust Remembrance Event – New Haven Independent

When he sees headlines about bomb threats at Jewish centers across the U.S., Norman Feitelson has a feeling that hes read this story before.

He knows that it ends after a great battle. In a concentration camp. Where hes fighting to save the few lives that are still left.

Feitelson, a 90-year-old World War II veteran who helped liberate camps and now lives at New Havens Tower One/Tower East senior apartments, told that story Thursday afternoon at a ceremony recognizing and commemorating Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, before it is held next month in New Haven.

Proclaiming that the people of New Haven should always remember … [and] remain eternally vigilant against tyranny, Mayor Toni Harp signed a proclamation declaring April 23 to April 29 not just national days of remembrance, but local ones as well. The proclamation follows a 37-year-old precedent set by Congress.

Hovering over the event was the recent spate of attacks and threats on Jewish cemeteries, community centers and schools across the country, including here in Connecticut. Feitelson and other participants in Thursdays ceremony announced that the rally cry of never forget had taken on new importance.

Drafted in June 1943, Feitelson watched as fellow soldiers, many of them Jewish, died in battle between 1943 and 1945. As the war neared its end, he had one final duty: performing what his superiors called cleaning up in Austria and Czechoslovakia with Company A of the 11th Regiment.

Near the then-Czechoslovakian border, he and his fellow soldiers were taken to Flossenbrg Concentration Camp, where only 1,600 survivors remainedthose who had been too sick to follow the forced evacuation orders (also called death marches) of Nazi commanders in retreat toward the end of the war.

With Holocaust survivor Isidor Juda by his side Thursday, Feitelson recalled walking into the camp and watching a person from the town pass a row of 30 dead bodies, all women, heaped atop one another in the dirt.

A man still in the camp ambled toward Feitelson, recognizing an H that Feitelson said was on his uniform. He weighed no more than 58 pounds.

Bist du a Yid? he asked Feitelson. Are you a Jew?

Feitelson nodded. Im proud to be a Jew, he responded in Yiddish.

He said he remains proud todaybut is also fearful for the Jewish community. Each time he reads a newspaper or sees one of President Donald Trumps Twitter outbursts, he said, hes hit with a sickening sense of dj vu.

Hes said hes heartened by this weeks call by all 100 U.S. Senators for action against anti-semitic threats. He said he wants to see more of a response from the Trump administration. He sees the possibility of history repeating itself each time he hears a Holocaust denier speak up, he said and that seems to happen more frequently.

Ive voted in 18 presidential elections, and I have never seen anything like this, he said after the ceremony.

Never forget the Shoah, he said earlier from a podium at the front of the room, a catch in his throat.

Then he pounded the podium, his left arm striking it with a thud. It can never happen again.

To many who arent Jewish, this rash of defacing gravestones and the threatening to blow up Jewish facilities nationwide, should sadden and shake us all as Americans.

I both sympathize and empathize with the Jewish community as I too am in complete solidarity with their concerns around this scourge.

May God continue to bless the remaining Holocaust survivors and the Jewish community nationwide.

He forgot about the Holocausts forgotten black victims the Rhineland Bastards

Most people know about the Nazi Holocaust, the murder of 6 million Jews and 6 million others: Russians, Gypsies, Slavs, socialists, disabled people and LGBT people.Alongside the big narrative of the Holocaust there are a myriad of small, individual stories and testimonies that help illustrate and shed light on the cruelty and barbarity of the Nazi regime. One such account is the story of what happened to Germanys tiny black population.

http://www.dreamdeferred.org.uk/2014/04/the-holocausts-forgotten-victims-the-rhineland-bastards/

Proclaiming that the people of New Haven should always remember … [and] remain eternally vigilant against tyranny, Mayor Toni Harp signed a proclamation declaring April 23 to April 29 not just national days of remembrance, but local ones as well. The proclamation follows a 37-year-old precedent set by Congress

Will the Mayor sign a proclamation for the African holocaust.

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New Anti-Semitism Wave On Minds At Holocaust Remembrance Event – New Haven Independent

Polish Jews commemorate anti-Semitic campaign of 1968 – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

WARSAW (JTA) Polish Jews held a ceremony commemorating the anti-Semitic campaign of March 1968, when Polish authorities forced several thousand Jews who survived the Holocaust to leave the country.

Golda Tencer, director of the Jewish Theatre in Warsaw, and the Shalom Foundation, organized the ceremony on Wednesday.

Our parents, after the experiences of war, a dozen years later, experienced a second exodus, Tencer said. For me, this station was a symbol of all stations, from where Jews were leaving. They threw us away, but no one could break up our friendship.

Michal Sobelman, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw whose family left Poland in 1969, said that year was a symbol of the end of the thousand-year history of Polish Jewry.

Although its been 50 years, the Polish government did not do one thing. The citizenship, brutally taken away from Jews living in their country here, has never been given back. It seems to me that the time has come to do this, said Sobelman.

The Shalom Foundation has for several years organized events on the anniversary of the expulsion in 1968. Nine years ago, Polish president Lech Kaczynski took part in anevent and promised to restore citizenship to the expelled Polish Jews.

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Polish Jews commemorate anti-Semitic campaign of 1968 – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Amazon UK removes 3 Holocaust denial books from sale | The … – The Times of Israel

The UK arm of Amazon removed three titles from sale because they deny the Holocaust, after requests from Yad Vashem and a UK Jewish group.

The Board of Deputies, the umbrella body of British Jews, had asked the bookseller to withdraw the books which it claimed were highly inappropriate for a reputable bookseller to stock.

The four titles were: Holocaust: The Greatest Lie Ever Told, by Eleanor Wittakers; The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry, by Arthur R. Butz and Did Six Million Really Die? by Richard Harwood. This week, Amazon UK confirmed that these books had been withdrawn from sale.

The request and withdrawal follows an appeal last month from the head of Yad Vashem to Amazon boss Jeff Bezos urging the internet retail giant to remove books which deny the Holocaust. The request specifically mentioned the Harwood title.

We strongly urge you to remove books that deny, distort and trivialize the Holocaust from your store, Robert Rozett, director of the Yad Vashem libraries, wrote in a letter to Bezos seen by AFP.

Yad Vashem said it was concerned that anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial was growing across the globe.

Holocaust denial literature is freely available for purchase over Amazon, Rozett wrote. Many of the items appear with glowing readers reviews and recommendations for further reading in the same vein.

Vice President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews Marie van der Zyl (Board of Deputies of British Jews)

He added that while he was in favor of free speech, Holocaust denial and other forms of hate speech indisputably nurture prejudice and hate crimes.

Marie van der Zyl, vice president of the Board of Deputies, said she was happy the books had been withdrawn.

At a time of record levels of antisemitism, it is very welcome that Amazon has listened and removed the offending titles from their website, she said in a statement. These are not works of historical integrity, they are an anti-Semitic attempt to exonerate the Nazis of their crimes and to stoke the fires of hatred.

The books had previously been removed in countries where Holocaust denial is a crime. Although most countries within the European Union outlawed Holocaust denial in 2001, in the UK it is protected as free speech.

AFP contributed to this report.

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Amazon UK removes 3 Holocaust denial books from sale | The … – The Times of Israel

Lessons from Terezin: Holocaust-themed play educates Georgetown students – Wicked Local Georgetown

Bryan McGonigle bmcgonigle@wickedlocal.com @GtownRecord

In the aftermath of the second swastika-related school incident in Georgetown in a span of nine months, Georgetown Middle High School students were given a live lesson in the horrors of the Holocaust.

The studentswerevisited witha production of “Terezin: Children of the Holocaust” last week to help them reflect on tolerance, bigotry and the very real horrors behind Nazi symbolism.

“The dialogue, everything, was just really profound.The kids in the middle school and the high school … a pin could drop in the room,” Superintendent Carol Jacobs said at a recent School Committee meeting.

Written and directed by Anna Smulowitz of Newburyport, “Terezin: Children of the Holocaust” focuses on a group of six children at Terezin, a concentration camp near Prague, in 1944 over the course of two days before they are taken to be killed at Auschwitz.

Smulowitz is the daughter of Auschwitz survivors. She wrote the play as a student in 1970 to honor the memory of those who did not survive the six children featured in the play represent six million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

“The stories that her mom told her growing up she put together as a tribute to her family and to educate people about the Holocaust,” Jacobs said.

If the play sounds grim, its supposed to. “Terezin” is often used to introduce students to the Holocaust on a more relatable level than textbooks can, as well as show students where the repercussions of evils can lead.

Smulowitz has assembled six teams of six children, and the play is performed all over the country.

“There are a couple kids from Newburyport, a couple kids from Peabody, one was from a charter school and then Katie Lowell [of Georgetown] She was the lead, and she was really, really good,” Jacobs said.

The play has also gone global. “Terezin” actors have performed in Germany, and theyre going to Cuba in a couple ofweeks.

“A lot of local high schools are bringing them in, and they have a very hopeful message about how to be kind and lessons learned from these awful situations that were really hateful,” Jacobs said.

GMHS Principal Peter Lucia said there are follow-up activities planned for the students, to enhance the lessons of “Terezin.” The actors are actually returning to the school to do a workshop with peer leaders. They were going to do that last week after the play, but a snow delay preempted them.

“They have a program, and were going to have our peer leaders work with specifically the seventh-graders in the middle school,” Lucia said.

The”Terezin” performance was the most recent step taken in combatting anti-Semitism in Georgetown schools. Last spring, a 13-year-old student drew a swastika on the Georgetown Middle High School football field, prompting a police investigation and subsequent forum on tolerance and anti-Semitism.

At that forum, many parents and students expressed frustration over what they said was all-too-common anti-Semitic behavior in Georgetown schools. Rabbis and other clergy from all over the region attended, sharing their stories about anti-Semitism and lessons from the Holocaust.

Last month, another swastika was found drawn on school property, this time at Penn Brook Elementary School. Police determined that, like the incident last spring,this was not a criminal matter, but it prompted school officials to step up efforts to teach Georgetown students about the horrors of the Holocaust and the importance of tolerance.

“All people want is to make people feel like we belong in this community, and thats just so, so important,” said School Committee member Pam Lundquist. “We have to have these values. We are our values, and we have to learn how to love others and be kind and act out our values not just have them but act them out.”

More information about “Terezin: Children of the Holocaust” can be found at http://www.terezin.org/.

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Lessons from Terezin: Holocaust-themed play educates Georgetown students – Wicked Local Georgetown

Boone students meet Holocaust survivors, journey into past – Herald & Tribune

ByMARINAWATERS

StaffWriter

mwaters@heraldandtribune.com

The Knoxville Civic Auditorium was filled to the brim with middle school and high school students filing in, making sure not to leave a single blue crushed velvet seat empty. On stage sat a single brown, frumpy leather chair where 87-year-old Eva Schloss would bring the crowd to tears and to its feet. It was here that Daniel Boone students got to experience a firsthand account from one of historys darkest momentsthe Holocaust.

Schloss shared with these students her experience as a 15-year-old girl separated from her brother and father and was forced to hide out in Holland with her mother. Betrayed by a Dutch nurse who turned out to be a double agent, Schloss and her family were shipped to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in 1944. Russians liberated the camp 10 months after Schloss arrived.

Only Schloss and her mother survived.

Schloss is also known for her ties to Anne Frank, her stepsister and also the author of one of the worlds most well-known diaries of the Holocaust. Before Schloss mother wed Anne Franks father, Otto Frank, Schloss and Anne Frank met as young children in Holland. Schloss described for the crowd Franks big personality, interest in boys and her love for talking. She even told a story about how Anne once stood at the top of a staircase just to showcase her ability to move her shoulder in and out of place with a huge grin on her face.

The details of the historical figures personality along with the horrifying insight of life inside a concentration camp was brought to life for the 21 Boone students sitting in their auditorium seats. The Holocaust studies class, led by Major Sessis at Daniel Boone High School, afforded the students the opportunity to hear from someone who was a part of the event about which theyve studied.

Its a big moment for us to step back as a country and as a nation to think why this happened, why people treated people this way, what drove them towards this hatred, and what we can learn from it and not let it happen again, Boone student Emily Walker said of Schloss. I was very honored to be able to witness her to come and to go through such a horrible time in her lifeand be able to have the bravery to come up and speak about it.

This isnt the only survivor students like Walker have had the chance to hear from and meet; many of these students met Polish Holocaust survivor Shelly Weiner in Nashville along with a lawyer who tries people for genocide and a priest who has travelled throughout Europe in hopes of uncovering mass graves from the era.

For Boone student Cameron Felten, the moment he shook the survivors hand is one he wont forget.

It was life changing. From other peoples perspective it would just look like a handshake, Felten explained. But getting to meet someone that was brave enough to share their experience on something that grim, just something that she had a possibility of not surviving, I felt very, I guess important. It felt very important to do it.

Weiner hid in barns, tunnels and holes in the ground on different farmers properties for more than a year during the Holocaust. The survivors experience also served as a new perspective for the students.

She had to hide, so it was a different experience. It really was, Holocaust studies student MaryBeth Sain said. You kind of forget about all the people that didnt go to these camps and what their everyday life was.

Sain was also part of the play I Never Saw Another Butterfly that was set during the Holocaust. She played a teacher in the play that was put on by the theatre arts class at Daniel Boone. And to get into her role, Sain used her experience meeting Weiner to give her added motivation. She also said the experience gave insight to the Holocaust that most students might not have heard about before.

Its a lot of emotional strain to get the character right. Especially with a play like this, we wanted to try as hard as we could to just give some justice to these people. So it took me months to get my character down to where I felt like I could give some type of justice to her, Sain recalled. When I heard Mrs. Weiner, just hearing her story made it more real.

Sitting in the classroom and learning about it is one thing, but being able to hear a first-person account and be able to just see her emotion, and see her strength and see the pain in her faceyet she had enough confidence and knew how important it was to tell it. Just to be able to experience that really did help me with my character development.

For English teacher Sharon Phillips, the combination of students learning about the history and details of the historical event from all of these experiences made their work such as I Never Saw Another Butterfly that much more meaningful. Its also served as a life lesson for them as well.

The students pulled together, Phillips said. And the way they did itI cried every time I watched the rehearsal. Everyone who saw this, they came up to me and said, Man, this play was something so deep. Were not used to this.

I think this experience has helped them get that cultural viewpoint and that historical viewpoint to be able to promote right here in their school to be kind to each other because of differences. So I think thats been a key.

On the overnight trip to see Weiner in Nashville, Phillips said an instance where another kid made a discriminatory comment about another student came about. For the instructor, she felt the lessons the students could learn from the Holocaust are important in this day in age.

That really made me think these kids need to be exposed to this (lesson from the Holocaust), Phillips said. Just some comments another student made about someones difference that really bothered me. And I thought, Theres a purpose. This young man, maybe when he goes to this event, this will help him.

From hearing from not one but two Holocaust survivors to detailing their lives on the stage at Daniel Boone High School, these students have not only learned about this historical happening, but theyre also determined to remember what happened and the weight the event still carries.

Its a big thing for them (the students who heard Schloss speak). There arent many holocaust survivors anymore, Walker said. Now theyre dying off unfortunately and once theyre gone, if this next generation doesnt pass on the story, we cant forget and we never should forget. We need to carry on and pass it forward.

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Boone students meet Holocaust survivors, journey into past – Herald & Tribune

‘Jewish Schindler’ to receive B’nai B’rith citation – Arutz Sheva

The B’nai B’rith World Center and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust (JRJ) will confer their joint “Jewish Rescuer’s Citation” upon Naftali Backenroth-Bronicki, who risked his life saving Jews from deportation and extermination during the Holocaust in Drohobych, Poland. The citations will be conferred at a ceremony on March 7 at Beit Hatfutsot Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Backenroth was born in 1905 in Drohobych, Galicia. Heir to an oil family, Backenroth studied agriculture in France as part of his plan to make Aliyah, but returned home after graduating to help his family cope with the severe economic crisis at the time. Between 1939 and 1941, under Soviet rule, Backenroth was appointed as county agronomist by Nikita Khrushchev, then a regional official.

With the German invasion of Drohobych in the summer of 1941 and the beginning of the destruction of the Jewish population in the town and the surroundings, Backenroth started to systematically organize and employ Jewish workers who were conscripted under the Gestapo orders. Recognizing that if the Nazis became dependent on Jewish labor there was less chance that they would be deported and murdered, Backenroth initiated the establishment of workshops, agricultural farms and a horse riding school for the Germans that provided an excuse to employ Jews and save them from death. The status he attained as “foreman” of Jewish labor in Drohobych allowed him to extract Jews who were detained in a major actzia (mass round-ups of Jews during the Holocaust) in 1942 and bring them back to work. When it became evident that the work permits were only a temporary defense from deportation and murder, Backenroth used the means accessible to him in the workshops to build bunkers, which served as a hiding place for dozens of Jews. They survived the war with his assistance.

In 1943, in a clever ruse, Backenroth was recognized by the Gestapo as an Aryan. Despite the danger to him and to his family from the local population he continued to play, befuddle and confuse the Nazis. His position as an Aryan allowed him to move freely and organize a food supply system for the Jews who survived in the bunkers and hiding places he created. However it endangered him as the war came to a close as he could have been viewed by local Jews as a Nazi collaborator.

Thousands of Drohobych Jews were executed at the Bronitza forest nearby. In memory of them, Backenroth changed his name after the war to Bronicki.

When Backenroth-Bronicki was asked why he does not tell stories about that period of his life he said, “what accompanies me all the time, are not the Jews I was able to save, but the memory of all the Jews I could not rescue.”

The committee’s considerations state that “Backenroth-Bronicki is a symbol of Jewish solidarity during the Holocaust, expressed in surprisingly varied initiatives to rescue Jews from deportation and extermination. The resourcefulness, dedication, wisdom and courage demonstrated by Backenroth-Bronicki against the Gestapo from the moment he realized he could save the lives of Jews, is a marvel of risk-taking and limit-testing on a daily basis. His unique personality, authoritativeness and reliability, made him amenable to both his enemies and friendsamong them two Germans who helped with the rescue operations, and later received Righteous Among the Nations. These rescue operations ensured the survival of dozens of Jews. Therefore the committee decided to honor Backenroth-Bronicki with the Jewish Rescuer Citation.”

The heroism of Naftali Backenroth-Bronicki should put to rest once and for all the notion that the Jewish people didnt fight back, which has wrongly tainted Holocaust historiography for more than 70 years, B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider said. It is very important for Jewish rescuers to be included among the categories of all who rescued Jews.

The Citation will be presented posthumously to Backenroth-Bronickis son Yehuda Lucien, who as a child was complicit in some of his fathers rescue efforts.

Since its establishment in 2011, the Jewish Rescuers Citation has been presented in order to correct the public misconception that Jews did not rescue other Jews during the Holocaust. To date 162 heroes were honored for rescue activities in Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Russia, Lithuania, Poland and Holland.

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‘Jewish Schindler’ to receive B’nai B’rith citation – Arutz Sheva

Purim Rejoicing the holocaust that was averted – Jerusalem Post Israel News

A packed house for the Purim megila reading in 2016 at the Tel Aviv International Synagogue. (photo credit:Courtesy)

Purim has a special significance for me. My parents barely survived the Holocaust, and the rest of my extended family didnt. This special significance reawakens every time I read the Megillah, and in my minds eye I try to translate the words of the Megillah into a realistic, historical picture.

Purim in essence commemorates the salvation of the Jewish nation from a premeditated holocaust motivated by pure, unadulterated antisemitism. It brings to light the roots of antisemitism throughout history and the incredible survival of the Jewish nation over its thousands of years of existence. Antisemitism and Jew-hatred was and still is a phenomenon for which every attempt at a rational explanation has failed. Even more inexplicable is the survival of the Jewish people over the generations.

No one can logically explain how we have survived the unending attempts of strong, established nations to destroy us, whether their methods were brutal and direct, or sophisticated and subtle.

The Megillah reading and the customs of Purim put the holiday into its historical context. The kingdom of Ahashverosh, the stage for the drama of the Megillah, was a global empire. Ahashverosh was an all-powerful king, but also a licentious one whose favorite pastime was orchestrating and indulging in gargantuan feasts. A king lacking restraint, who on the spur of the moment lost his head and executed the queen, despite the fact that thanks to her he became king. Then we encounter the wicked Haman, whose meteoric ascent propelled him to the position of royal viceroy.

Haman proposed the Final Solution annihilation of all the Jews: To destroy, to kill and to wipe out all the Jews, from young to old, children and women, in one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their possessions (Esther 3:13).

The rationale for the genocide: the Jews are inferior, they lack a national identity, they are insular, they dont fit into the society of the Persian Empire, and they are useless. This is antisemitism in its purest form Haman doesnt even try to explain what good wiping out the Jews will do the Persian Empire. In the end the tables are turned thanks to a miracle and thanks to Mordechai and Esthers brilliant political maneuvering. Hamans plot to annihilate the Jews was thwarted, the pursued became the pursuers and the intended victims emerged victorious.

It is difficult to fully appreciate the meaning of the rejoicing over the salvation of Purim since it is difficult to grasp the magnitude of the calamity that was prevented.

Without visualizing the catastrophe as if it actually took place, we cannot comprehend its severity. And since we managed to avert it before it happened, we are hard-put to fully understand its significance.

Today, more than 70 years after the Holocaust, we know the results of the schemes of the German arch-villain and his cohorts to eliminate the nation of Israel. So unfortunately, we can also imagine the totality of the disaster which was prevented in the days of Ahashverosh, and consequently we can understand the joy of Purim.

Lets all get into the proverbial time machine. Were going back 80 years, to the days when Hitler came to power and proclaimed his intention to eradicate the Jews. Now lets imagine that before his machine of destruction began its genocide, the whole plan was stopped, either by diplomacy or by assassination. Wouldnt we have celebrated? Wouldnt our elation have been boundless, leaping from the depths of our hearts and radiating to the heavens? This is the way to relate to Purim today.

It is the wondrous, miraculous story of a holocaust which was nipped in the bud.

And this is the essence of the joy which should accompany us throughout the holiday.

In each and every generation there are those who stand up and try to annihilate us. And the Holy One, Blessed be He, rescues us from their hands (Passover Haggada).

The author, a rabbi and IDF colonel in the reserves, is the rosh yeshiva of the Meir Harel Hesder Yeshiva Modiin Ofakim.

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Purim Rejoicing the holocaust that was averted – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Seeking justice for Holocaust survivors to be discussed – Sun Sentinel

Experts will discuss how the community can seek justice for Holocaust victims whose property was seized and lives were torn apart during the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s presentation of “Stolen Legacy: Nazi Theft and the Quest for Justice” in South Florida.

This free program takes place on March 15 at 7 p.m. at Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus (20350 NE 26th Ave.), in North Miami Beach and also on March 16 at 7 p.m. at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County’s Zinman Hall (9901 Donna Klein Blvd.) in Boca Raton.

During the program, the presenters will discuss the ongoing challenges of restitution and the museum’s resources, including the Holocaust Survivors and Victims Database and the International Tracing Service archive, that individuals have used to research the fate of family members and to build legal cases.

“If you’ve ever wondered exactly how and why families still struggle to reclaim their stolen possessions and their sense of dignity that was stripped by the Nazi regime, then this is a must-see program,” said Sheri Zvi, director of the museum’s Southeast Region. “We are bringing speakers to Boca Raton and North Miami Beach who have firsthand experience with very personal battles for justice and restitution on behalf of their families. They will discuss the challenges that still remain in 2017, and the instrumental resources provided by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.”

Speakers for this event are: Dina Gold, former BBC investigative journalist and author of “Stolen Legacy: Nazi Theft and the Quest for Justice at Krausenstrasse 17/18, Berlin;” Suzanne Brown-Fleming, author of “Nazi Persecution and Postwar Repercussions” and director for visiting scholar programs at the USHMM; and Diane Afoumado, the USHMM’s chief of research and reference.

In her new book, Gold describes the Nazi seizure of her family’s six-story building and her extensive battle to reclaim it and rebuild their legacy. The property served as the headquarters of the H. Wolff fur company, one of the most successful international businesses in Germany. The Nazis forced the sale of the building on Krausenstrasse 17/18. After World War II, it fell in the Soviet sector of Berlin, two blocks from Checkpoint Charlie, and beyond legal reach.

When asked what she hopes audiences can take away from her presentation, Gold responded, “that you can now find information about relatives that were lost and about what happened.”

“It is possible and there are amazing resources to discover information,” she said. “I wrote this book about my legal case to get back a huge building, but what is important is that restitution is not only about property, it’s about recovery of memories and family history. The Holocaust Museum and the International Tracing Service provided me with many documents to fill in the missing parts of the family stories that I had.”

Afoumado said she will discuss the International Tracing Service collection at the museum.

“We have in that collection a lot of information about probably their family, or probably themselves if they are survivors, because we have documents about concentration camps, death camps, labor camps and after the war the displaced persons camps, so we want to make sure people know that we have this collection, which is 200 million pages of documents, and that they can use it, they can contact us and they can do research.”

Following the program, Gold and Brown-Fleming will sign copies of their books, which will be available for sale.

Matthew Kutcher, chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, noted that the JCRC of the Federation is pleased to partner with the museum in order to make the program available to many residents of the community.

“Serving Holocaust survivors and their families is of great importance to Federation, and enhancing their ability to trace their family history is a wonderful opportunity,” Kutcher continued.

Ira Gordon, a lawyer from Miami who has filed two restitution claims, hopes to be able to attend the North Miami Beach event and share his story with other attendees.

Gordon, whose mother was a child survivor and his grandfather was a Holocaust survivor, said, “I want to share my story and share the stories of the other survivors. They’re getting so much older that sadly many die each year and what I think I’m going to get out of it is just being a part of remembering their stories and passing it on to my children and two grandchildren.”

Advance registration is required for this event as walk-ins are not permitted. Contact the museum to RSVP at 561-995-6773 or southeast@ushmm.org. Visit ushmm.org/events/stolen-legacy-boca or ushmm.org/events/stolen-legacy-miami to register online.

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Seeking justice for Holocaust survivors to be discussed – Sun Sentinel

Camborne Science and International Academy pupils learn about … – Cornwall Live

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Pupils heard a harrowing first-hand account of survival against all odds from a Holocaust death camp survivor whose father was murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

History pupils in Years 9 and 10 at Students at Camborne Science and International Academy (CSIA) listened as Joanna Millan, a grandmother who spent two years in a concentration camp in Theresianstadt, near Prague, talked through her harrowing experiences.

“It was such a privilege for us to welcome Joanna Millan to our school,” said history teacher Ella Wasley. “She talks for the Holocaust Educational Trust and having heard her compelling account, we hope our students will be encouraged to learn from the lessons of this devastating atrocity and make a positive impact in their own lives.”

Read more: Man dies behind the wheel of tipper truck near holiday chalet in Cornwall

The 180 pupils heard that Joanna was born Bela Rosenthal in Berlin in 1942. Her father was snatched from the streets and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau where he was murdered on arrival in 1943. Later that year, Bela and her mother were sent to the Theresienstadt ghetto, where her mother succumbed to TB, leaving her orphaned in the camp until she was liberated in 1945.

Pupils Evangeline White, Harvey Angwin, Rhys James and Shannon Clifford with Joanna Millan.

Along with 299 other surviving orphans, Bela was flown to England and adopted by a Jewish couple from London before her name was changed to a less German-sounding name – Joanna. “Years later she was encouraged to research her background and over the past 25 years, Joanna has been telling her story,” said Mrs Wasley. “Our students were captivated and horrified at Joanna’s experiences and totally compelled to listen and share her story. It was clear that they gained a far greater understanding of the Holocaust and the suffering it caused to so many people having listened to a personal account.”

Read more: Heartbroken family warns others after puppy is killed by another dog on beach in Cornwall

Harvey Angwin, in Year 9, said: “It’s been a good experience to meet her, and learn about what happened and how it happened. You can read it in a book but it’s not the same as having someone actually there to tell you about it.”

Rhys James from Year 10, said: “It made me feel quite shocked experiencing her whole speech and how she described it. I didn’t expect so many people to be so willing to end their own lives because of the situation they were in. The way that they weren’t allowed to walk along the pavements along with the German citizens, I thought it was just horrible” said .

Joanna Millan survived the Theresienstadt concentration camp and was adopted by a Jewish couple from London.

Mrs Wasley added: “It’s such an amazing resource for the students and to share those different experiences. With the Holocaust, quite often you can think of one route and one experience but actually nobody’s experience is exactly the same. Joanna’s story is one of incredible courage and our students were given the opportunity to learn where prejudice and racism can ultimately lead.”

Read more: Watch the crazy moment a lorry overtakes four cars and a tractor on the A30 at Roseworthy Dip

Following Joanna’s talk, pupils got to ask her questions to explore the Holocaust further.

Sean and Thea, from Year 9.

CSIA principal Ian Kenworthy said: “It is vitally important that we understand the horrors of the past so that we can all play our part in learning from them – we have a shared responsibility for reducing hatred in the world. Our students were given a live testimony and a human story about how it affected those involved.”

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Israeli President Rivlin: US Can ‘Never’ Change As Safe Place For Jews – Forward

Mark Neiman (GPO)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (left) and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin

The United States should never change as an island of safety for Jews, said Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

Rivlin commented on the spate of anti-Semitic bomb scares and cemetery attacks in the United States, saying that a dark, bad, evil wave of anti-Semitism has struck American Jews.

There is one lesson from the Holocaust: Never Again. Jews must be safe wherever they are in the world, especially, and specifically, in the United States. Let us see none of this again.

Rivlin spoke during a visit to Yad Vashem, Israels official Holocaust memorial, with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who laid a wreath at the Hall of Remembrance.

Rivlin also noted the Muslims standing against anti-Semitism in America.

The fact that so many Christians and Muslims, came to aid the Jewish communities sends the clearest message against racism and hatred, he said. It is a sign of great hope and civil courage.

Contact Naomi Zeveloff at zeveloff@forward.com or on Twitter @naomizeveloff

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Israeli President Rivlin: US Can ‘Never’ Change As Safe Place For Jews – Forward

My Father’s Holocaust Club – Aish

My father belongs to the Holocaust Survivor club. It’s a club full of old people with stories I cannot hear.

My father tries. During the Passover Seder at his home; sometimes he tries to sneak it in during a regular Friday night Shabbat meal when he thinks nobody is listening. But we are, and as soon as he begins, we drown out his stories with whining babies, singing, gossip about nothing.

My father reads books only about the Holocaust. As if he doesn’t know about it. When I wander around his home, I refuse to look at the piles on the shelves. I don’t want to hear about stories that have nothing to do with me. That is why I still am fuzzy about when he was deported, to which camps, and when he fled to Vienna. I don’t know where the story with the horse happened, or when my grandmother hid bread in her boots, flattening them out like pancakes as she walked. I still don’t know how Theresienstadt featured in all this, even if my father was one of only 300 children who survived. I have no idea where his parents were in all this, or his sisters.

I don’t know when the war was over for him, what town he came from, or when the communists came. The details are confused, the times erratic, the narrative jumbled up into little pieces of shattered glass in my mind. When I was young the Holocaust seemed too close and dangerous and so I shut my ears to its horrors. When I grew up and watched my children grow up unafraid, seemingly without danger, I refused to allow the echoes of the Holocaust in.

Ten years ago my six-year-old son, David, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. This ushered in our personal Holocaust. At first, we had strong allies and were on the winning side. The day before the U.S. elections my son was resected for the third time. This time surgery left him with deficits that finally threatened to lose the battle. And then more ineffectual treatment that threatened to end the war. Among the casualties were loss of balance, impaired eyesight, and trouble swallowing.

A few weeks ago, my son was on his way home to us after spending a weekend away at my sisters and choked on the cheese of pizza in the back of her car. David, now 15, was intubated and put into an induced coma.

My sister later told me, Malka, I was screaming and screaming and screaming. I screamed, how will I face my sister and say your son choked to death?

I said, He should have died then. It would have been the most peaceful death had it been in your husbands arms.

No, she said. It was raining. It was dark and cold and bloody all over. It was horrible outside. It wasn’t a way to die.

But I felt differently. The clinical trial drug wasn’t working. Every day for the past six weeks we were waking up to new and terrible neurological deterioration. Each MRI showed rapid tumor growth in his brain and we were in a panicked frenzy of uncertainty and dread. Since that cancer diagnosis ten years ago, we are always choking, always starving for breath.

My husband took my place at David’s bedside and on my way to work, I dropped into my father’s retail store to say hello.

My father did not come visit David. My father, a club member of Death, does not do hospitals. He does denial. So, I came to him.

He looked surprised to see me. There were no words. Instead he tried once more to tell me a story.

Malka, he said, when we were in the lager, in the concentration camps, and the bombs were falling, we did not pray that we would live. We knew that was impossible. We only prayed that we would survive this one bomb. This one hour. This one day.

He spoke steadily. No tears. Matter of fact.

That was the most beautiful story of all. The knowledge of death. The impossibility of life. The prayer for the single second of life. And the most stunning ending.

He lived.

I am his daughter. And my son is his grandson.

Some club we belong to. Holocaust. Survivors. We all are. And will be.

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My Father’s Holocaust Club – Aish