Yom HaShoah at Ft. Hood (Part Two)

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15 Responses

  1. mb says:

    “By this time, it was apparent that I had the full attention and emotional engagement of the audience.”

    And mine.

  2. Guest says:

    “Every Jew a .22.” I’m sick of the victimhood. I’m sick of the pacifism. I am sick and tired of the Jews with their head in the sand. I am sick of it. The Jews learned NOTHING from the Holocaust. NOTHING. They learned ABSOLUTELY NOTHING from the Holocaust. NOTHING. ZERO. There’s not one lesson learned. NOTHING.

    If the Jews had stopped studying the Zohar & learned how to defend themselves, maybe the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened… Put the books down. Because millions like you went into the gas chambers with the holy books in their hands. Pick up a gun! When are you gonna learn what world you’re living in? Stop with the Zohar! Pick up a gun & learn how to defend yourself!

    Why are you teaching your children to be cowards, and to hide? Why don’t you teach them martial arts? In addition to teaching them how to bend over and pray to G-d, teach ’em how to stand up and beat off an enemy. Its wonderful to bend over and pray to G-d, but its really even better to stand up and punch an enemy in the nose. That’s what you should be teaching your Jewish boys, OK.

    The death camps didn’t originate at the beginning of the Holocaust – they were the terminus of the Holocaust. Do you know the first law that the Nazis passed? It was a very innocuous law. All they passed was a law which said – “Jews cannot swim in swimming pools, only Aryans can”. The Jews said “Ahh, Who cares about ’em anyway? I don’t wanna swim with them. What do I care?” That’s how it started. It started with that little innocuous law…

    When they went around in Germany at that point, and they took Jews out of their houses, they did so quietly. The German wanted order and they didn’t want disorder, and they knocked on the door very politely, and they told the Jews to please pack a bag and come with them, and they complied and went with them. If every Jew had a .22, and instead of going quietly they shot a Gestapo agent in their apartment building, maybe even giving up their own lives, the Holocaust would have been aborted right then and there – because the Germans did not want the average German to know about it. And that is why the refrain “every Jew a .22” came about — which is that, If the government starts taking you out of your house quietly – don’t go quietly into the night.

    BTW speaking of which – You know who the first ethnic group was in Germany that was actually picked upon, it was NOT the Jewish people, do you know who it was?

    The first group that the Nazis went after – were the folks who come around to your neighborhood in black suits and put out these little cartoon-like booklets about religion. You know the guys who walk around in the hot sun in black suits, you know that religion? They were the first people that were persecuted by the Nazis – very few people know that. Do you know the name of that religion?

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses were the first to be picked up and persecuted by the Nazi regime. Just so you understand how this began…and because no one stood up for them because they were such a small minority. They said “Ehh, They’re a bunch of nuts anyway. What do I care?” This is how it happens…

  3. Nachum says:

    I love the last bit, about use of force. What’s the old line? “Violence never solved anything…except slavery, imperialism, fascism, communism…”

    I must take exception to two lines, with full knowledge that R’ Adlerstein knows this “business” far better than I:

    “like Polish intellectuals and priests, Roma, gays, Soviet soldiers and the handicapped who suffered during the Shoah”

    No; they suffered during World War II and/or under the Nazi regime. (Gays, interestingly, suffered under Weimar-era laws. But in my humble opinion, bringing up gays opens a huge can of worms.) Prof. Deborah Lipstadt once wrote me that she limits “Holocaust” to Jews and Gypsies/Roma, and I see her point. (This came up in the context of a review she wrote of a book on Simon Wiesenthal; apparently he made up the “six million Jews and five million others” figure out of whole cloth for understandable but ultimately harmful motives.) To put it simply, you have to stop somewhere; otherwise you can go so far as to include every single person killed between, say, 1931 and 1945.

    My other quibble is with the Catholic woman story. I’m Jewish, and I felt a bit uncomfortable with the idea that the kid was being raised in the “image of the SS.” I can only imagine what a decent Catholic and/or Polish American would feel.

    [YA – 1) I agree with your point, but would draw the line elsewhere: at groups that were rounded up and sent to death camps. 2) I think you missed the point. The mother was Jewish. The remark about retaining an image had nothing to do with who was going to raise him. It had to do with having the child connect to positive parts of his history, or only to the pain and suffering.]

  4. L. Oberstein says:

    Rabbi Lau told this very story about the Rabbi in Warsaw and how his student found the daughter and now the grandson is a Rosh Yeshiva in Israel in Baltimore on Sunay night at the dedicationof the new campus of Bnos Yisroek School. He is one of the best public speakers I have ever heard, he had the audience enthralled. This, despite the fact that his English is not polished . I am sure that he is even better in Hebrew.
    Seriously, I wonder if deep down , this qauestion of G-d in the Holocaust is answerable. Even in the story, there is no defense of G-d, only a decision that Judaism is worth living for and the best revenge is to deny Hitler a postumous victory. I think that deep down, many survivors, even those who are very religious on the outside, are full of doubts and questions. Perhaps that is just the way it has to be.
    I have often asked why some survivors remain frum and others went in the opposite direction. The answers vary but I don’t know how much faith has to do with it, I think it is enviromental and who they married and with whom they lived.
    Since a large percentage of the frum community is made up of descendends of survivors, many did keep the practices and rebuilt their lives along Jewish paths. Those of us who are part of the majority of Amreican Jewry not children of survivors, owe this minority among us a lot of gratitude.

  5. meyer ben-elazar says:

    thank you,
    the hakaros hatov to the 3rd generation of liberators will , we shouldnt need it, keep on saving us.

  6. Chumi Friedman says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein,

    You never fail to move me. Thank you.

  7. dan says:

    Beautiful. Our educational system should produce many like you, Rabbi YA!

  8. Bartley Kulp says:

    This was a great article. Though something in has gotten me to focus on something that is bothering me. Just to quote the part of the article that got me focusing; “There is a continuum between racial jokes, bullying, hate speech, and murder. The power of speech is more deadly than most realize”.

    That the power of speech being more deadly than realized is true. Ok, my problem is that a little over two weeks ago a gadol she b’Yisral called the rest of the human race a pack of sensless thieves and murderers. This would of course would include the members of the US armed forces.

    Rabbi Aderstein, everything that you wrote resonates with me. However there is a major Torah gadol who disagrees with you. This is something that needs discussion. My fear is that this retoric is going to continue until we will be competing with fundamentalist Imams for dominance of insanity,

    If we want to be treated with due respect by the rest of the nations of the world and achieve the major task of being a light unto the nations this has got to stop. We need some serious discussion and introspection.

    [YA – I saw the quote a while ago. I don’t think he meant what people think he meant. (At least I hope not.) The context was our receiving the Torah. He rhetorically asked why HKBH had created the world. Was it for those who agreed to accept the Torah (the answer he wanted), or those whose thievery and murder forced them to spurn it. I think he was doing nothing more than paraphrasing the gemara Shabbos about Yishmael and Esav declining to accept the Torah.]

  9. One Christian's Perspective says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein, what a beautiful narrative given with great wisdom and grace.
    When you began with, “There is no easy way out of the quandary about presenting the Shoah to non-Jews”, I sucked in my breath and held it……….thinking “how can people ask a Rabbi to speak about the Holocaust ‘but’ only within a script he has been given by people whose ancestors did not experience what yours did”. Has political correctness come this far to steal the humanity and emotion of the presenter for the sake of the listener to make HaShoah palatable to their tender ears. Now, I was getting disturbed and more than a little angry. I hung in there and kept reading and I noticed a smile creeping in around my mouth…….and, a bit later a loud “Yes, he did it and he did it with grace !” I don’t know how a Jewish person would define ‘grace’ but a Christian would say something like this: “grace is getting something you did not deserve”. Thank you.

  10. Nachum says:

    “I think you missed the point. The mother was Jewish. The remark about retaining an image had nothing to do with who was going to raise him. It had to do with having the child connect to positive parts of his history, or only to the pain and suffering.”

    Ah, I see. Sorry for misunderstanding- it’s a good point! (It reminds me of the story of R’ Silver and Simon Wiesenthal, among others.)

    [YA – Good analogy!]

  11. Netanel Livni says:

    >I saw the quote a while ago. I don’t think he meant what people think he meant. (At least I hope not.)

    I hope you are right, but his quote was pretty clear. He equates the 8 billion [sic] gentiles of the world with the worst possible evils:

    יש שמונה מיליארדים אנשים בעולם. ומה הם כולם, רוצחים, גנבים אנשים בלי שכל. זה הכל נמצא, אבל מי התכלית של העולם, וכי הקדוש-ברוך-הוא ברא את העולם בשביל הרוצחים האלה? בשביל הרשעים האלה?”

    Of course, he may of misspoke … but when was the last time we saw a clarification from a chareidi Godol. As his statement stands, it is deserving of the utmost condemnation from anyone to whom the sanctity of the Torah is dear. The fact that this is one of the “moderate” Gedolim, is quite frightening as well.

  12. One Christian's Perspective says:

    As I mulled over my brief definition of grace, I felt that something was missing and arrived at the following:

    To give someone grace is as if you have received something from G-d and have given it to
    someone else in love without strings attached – unconditionally; and, to receive grace is
    as G-d has given you something so wonderfully awesome that you are entirely and amazed and humbly grateful but fully aware that you did not deserve it.

    A previous poster wrote about “being a light to the nations”, I think, perhaps, this is the Jewish definition of grace. Rabbi Adlerstein, you were a light.

  13. YM says:

    What lessons have we learned from those who were willing to risk their lives to save Jews? What drove them? Is there a way to educate our youth to be like them?

  14. Shmuel Burstein says:

    Yishar Kochacha Rav Adlerstein for this effective and meaningful treatment, of a angle within an already sensitive topic. You’ve provided for those of us who speak to audiences, Jewish and non, about the Holocaust, yet another path on the road to understanding.

  15. Moshe Schorr says:

    Your last piece, about the use of force struck a chord. Many fault Pres. Roosevelt for not attempting to destroy the death camps. I remember a movie I saw at Yad VaShem where he is being interviewed. He said, the bset way to save Jews was to defeat Hitler. I also imagine he was afraid of America’s enrty into WWII being called a “Jewish War”. There were a lot of influential isolationists in the country. For me, the jury is still out.

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