Holocaust History Comes Home

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7 Responses

  1. Douglas S Honig says:

    great article

  2. Raymond says:

    In comparing Europe with America, my overwhelming impression is that it is as if Europeans cannot help but hate us Jews, that somehow such hatred is in their genes, or at least is the default position, whereas here in America, it is the very opposite of that. I am not sure why this is, but perhaps it may have something to do with America being founded and developed essentially by Puritans and their ideological descendants, the Evangelical Christians. The whole purpose of the Puritan movement was to continue Martin Luther’s call to return Christianity back to its Old Testament roots. All this is one of the great ironies of history, since Martin Luther himself was such a terrible antisemite, and yet why would somebody who hates us so much, want to return Christianity back to our Torah? Martin Luther started out liking us, but then turned against us when we refused to become Christians, and yet I suppose such were the power of his original ideas that they have brought something so positive to our world, namely the United States of America.

    Regardless of what the explanation is for all this, what is perhaps the most remarkable part of it is just how much we Jews have influenced the world. Stopping to think about this really helps to put things in perspective. We Jews make up far less than 1% of the world’s population, and yet in a very real way, have had more positive influence in civilizing the world than any other people, no matter how powerful.

    And if I may take this a step further, entering the religious realm, I notice that in the greatest, most influential, most universally recognized book ever written, namely our Torah, that G-d devotes only a very tiny percentage of His book talking exclusively about non-Jews as well as the entire, non-human world, and then proceeds to spend the rest of His Torah talking about us Jews. That is probably a pretty good indication that we Jews are indeed the Apple of G-d’s Eye. No matter how much the world may hate us, they simply cannot ignore us.

  3. Shades of Gray says:

    “It is a reminder that the tzekem Elokim / the image of G-d functions well in many people, giving us something to both respect and to work with.”

    Rabbi Emanuel Feldman writes in “Tales out of Shul” (p. 282), that because the word “holocaust” has become trivialized by some to refer to various other prejudices, “it is clear that a non-Jew, even a well-meaning and sympathetic one, can never fully comprehend its meaning”. Later in the chapter (p. 284), he tells of a student who did obtain a significant understanding:

    “During a college lecture I was giving on the Holocaust, I noticed a Christian girl silently weeping. After class I asked her if she was all right and if I could help her. She told me that she had never realized what the term “holocaust” meant until that moment. All her life she had known about the persecution of the Jews, but only now did she begin to understand what it was about”.

    Ami Magazine also had recently an article about a Polish non-Jew who is dedicated to preserving interest in pre-Holocaust synagogues and cemeteries. There was also concern last year that the new Polish law censoring Holocaust discourse could complicate efforts in arousing interest (see articles in Haaretz , “The Self-appointed, non-Jewish ‘Guardians of Jewish Memory’ in Poland” and in Jerusalem Post, “A Polish Christian Who Preserves Jewish Heritage”).

  4. Bob Miller says:

    In 2002, I was on a business trip to Switzerland and Germany, traveling with a non-Jewish associate. We got to our German hotel early enough to take a side trip to Worms, and specifically the area where Rashi once learned. There was an medieval mikveh, plus rebuilt Jewish buildings (the Germans had demolished the original ones in the Nazi era).
    See https://www.worms.de/en/tourismus/sehenswertes/listen/synagoge-und-mikwe.php
    Other than me, no Jews were around, but they had a small museum with artifacts of Jewish Worms, including a partially burnt Sefer Torah desecrated by Nazis. A movie was showing about former Jewish life in Worms and its sorry end. Groups of German schoolchildren were taken through to get orientation about the Holocaust there.
    Too bad most Germans seem to be oblivious nowadays.

    The highlight came when I realized it was time for Mincha. The rebuilt shul was open, so we walked over and I davened right there in the sanctuary, near a room where Rashi was said to have studied.

    • dr. bill says:

      You bring back memories of my days as CTO. I always felt weird in Germany. Once davening in my room facing a factory, I could only think it was a crematorium. Walking along the river in Bonn, I was transported back to the days of Rishonim who lived there. Traveling first-class on a bullet train and offered alcoholic beverages, I thought of the trains my relatives were on, fifty years earlier. My trivial and meaningless revenge came when sitting in a negotiation during breaks, with the Germans freely speaking German assuming they would not be understood and staying at a hotel in Vienna where Hitler yms was a bellboy and now a Jew was a (hated) guest.

  5. Steve Brizel says:

    I was recently in a hardware store on the Upper West Side that was owned by Israelis that had many pictures of Chayalim . The picture that struck me was that of IAF jets flying in formation over Auschwitz. That image is saved on my phone

  6. Bob Miller says:

    My grandfather A”H came to the US from Bardejov, then in Hungary and now in Slovakia, around 1900. Descendants of the Divrei Chaim ZY”A of Sanz led the chassidic community that our family there belonged to.

    This fine book discusses the Jewish community of Bardejov later in the 20th Century, through its demise at the hands of the Nazis:

    The Jewish communal buildings there are now under extensive renovation, but no Jews remain, to my knowledge.


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