It’s Hard to Be a Jew
Even as we take the fight against antisemitism seriously and offer a smart approach, our primary aim should be to demonstrate how amazing it is to be a Jew.
This is where we all have a role to play… because we are all in positions to let people know that we will have none of it.By Keith Krivitzky, Managing Director
Jewish Federation of Ocean County email@example.com
www.jewishoceancounty.org www.jewishoceancounty.org/donate 732.363.0530
Shver tsu zayn a yid. That’s the Yiddish phrase.
And that’s what people said when faced with the hardships of Jewish life… in the Old Country and when faced with the challenges of settling in a new land, the “golden medina” of America. Unfortunately, for many this phrase has again become relevant.
Antisemitism has reared its ugly head and keeps increasing. And, sadly, New
Jersey is near the top of the list for incidents and hate crimes. Many today again feel that it is hard to be a Jew.
With all our progress in society, I don’t think this is the world we hoped to see. Social media, the 24/7 news cycle, complex challenges like COVID and climate change ALL exacerbate the ease with which people can troll, doxx, attack, bully, persecute, and malign others.
People make a choice when they decide to spread hate. They often do this because they think they will feel better…or look better in the eyes of others. And leaders send signals to those primed to express these sentiments, creating safe space for them to share hate without disapproval or consequence.
Did you Know?
Our Jewish Federation is focused on encouraging people in our community to be UPSTANDERS – letting their voices be heard when they see incidents of hate or bigotry especially when it is happening to others. It’s not enough just to fight or focus on antisemitism; if we want to combat antisemitism we need to be the first to raise our voices when we see racism or homophobia or discrimination. Hopefully then, vice versa, this will encourage others to stand up when Jews are attacked.
That is why we convened more than 400 students at our Leadership Conference, in partnership with the Ocean County Culture & Heritage Commission, and why we honored five exceptional local Heroes Against Hate.
But…this isn’t the main point of this column.
If fighting antisemitism is the sole focus, or even the primary focus, of who we are or what we do as a community – then we’ve already lost the battle.
We need to be able to show why embracing our Jewish identity and continuing our commitment to the Jewish people is worthwhile in order for this fight against antisemitism to be worthwhile. Focusing on how hard it is to be a Jew doesn’t offer much of an incentive, especially for a younger generation that is less knowledgeable and can opt out of being a part of Jewish tradition and affiliation.
Even as we take the fight against antisemitism seriously and offer a smart approach, our primary aim should be to demonstrate how amazing it is to be a Jew. This means investing more in Jewish education and engagement…and not overemphasizing the horrors of the Holocaust or overplaying its usefulness in combatting hate. We need to embody Jewish pride and not shy away from what makes the Jewish people unique…even though this may serve as catnip for the haters.
To say that it is hard to be a Jew is a lousy rallying cry for the Jewish people; at best, this only recognizes that something valuable and truly special doesn’t always come easy.
It's Hard to be a Jew (Yiddish: Shver tsu zayn a yid) is a 1920 Yiddish-language comedy play by Sholom Aleichem about the difficulty of Jewish-Gentile relationships in the Russian Empire. It was premiered at The Yiddish Art Theatre, Second Avenue, New York on October 1, 1920, and revived in 1949. The play was adapted at the Eden Theater in 1973 with new melodies by Sholom Secunda. (source: wikipedia)
Here is a synopsis (source: museumoffamilyhistory.com). The name of the actor or actress who portrayed the particular role in the 1920 production is listed in parentheses.
Ivanov (Moony Weisenfreund, later known as Paul Muni) and a group of his Mohilev gentile students are making merry in a cafe following his graduation from gymnasia for the university. Schnyrson (Misha German) a Jewish student, who is sitting apart, is asked by Ivanov to come and join them. Schnyrson declines, saying that he does not belong to the group, being a Jew. Ivanov pooh-poohs the idea, but Schnyrson tells him that he does not know what it means to be a Jew, and that to be a Jew for even one year is very hard. Ivanov, in a sporting spirit, takes him up on it, and they finally agree to change identities for one year.
Iconic Menorah from Photo with Nazi Flag Lit at Hanukkah Event in Berlin
Jewish life in Germany after the Holocaust a “miracle,” noting that there were now menorahs glowing in “tens of thousands of windows” across the country this Hanukkah. “This light is a strong societal symbol against hatred,” he said, symbols that were “bitterly necessary” due to “growing antisemitism.”
“Each of us must stand up against every form of antisemitism,” he said. “No one must look away. And our state, our authorities must be vigilant, and relentless in prosecuting crimes.”By AFP December 20, 2022 timesofisrael.com
BERLIN (AFP) – A Jewish heirloom at the center of one of the most searing images of the Nazis’ rise has returned to Germany, as political leaders pledged on December 19 to combat a resurgence of antisemitism.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier joined in the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum used during the so-called Festival of Lights, which belonged to the Posners, a German Jewish family.
In 1931, a rabbi’s wife, Rachel Posner, photographed the family’s brass menorah on their windowsill in the northern port city of Kiel. Opposite their apartment was the Nazi party’s regional headquarters with a large swastika flag hanging menacingly from the facade.
On the back of the snapshot Rachel wrote an inscription: “The flag says ‘death to Judaism,’ the light says ‘Judaism will live forever.’” The image came to stand for the looming threat to Europe’s Jews –six million of whom would perish in the Holocaust – but also Jewish resilience
Steinmeier said at the sundown ceremony at Berlin’s Bellevue palace that the lighting of the menorah filled him with “deep gratitude and humility and above all, happiness.” He thanked the Posner family for their “generosity” in sharing their family history on what was certain to also be a “painful” visit to Germany from Israel.
Yehuda Mansbach, the couple’s grandson, wept openly after lighting the two candles. Steinmeier called the rebirth of
Germany in May reported a new record in the number of politically motivated crimes last year, including a nearly 29-percent jump in anti-Semitic offenses to 3,027. The vast majority – 2,552 – were attributed to the far-right scene.
The Posners’ granddaughter, Nava Gilo, 68, told AFP it was a “big honor” to be welcomed by the president, calling the event “very moving.”
“It’s complicated (to be in Germany),” she said. “We came because it is an educational mission for us. We are very glad that we came, to meet all the good people. Many people in Germany, like us, want to make sure that something like the Holocaust never happens again.”
In 1933, just months after the Nazis came to power, Rabbi Akiva Posner, Rachel and their three children Avraham Chaim, Tova and Shulamit fled Germany for Palestine, taking their menorah with them as they built a new life. Years later they loaned the relic to Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial with the proviso that the family could use the candelabrum each year for Hanukkah.
More than 90 years on, the descendants brought the menorah back to Kiel on a trip sponsored by the German Friends of Yad Vashem, a grassroots remembrance group. It was displayed in a local museum for three days last week before the family brought it to Berlin.
Rachel’s photograph only came to international attention in the 1970s when a Kiel museum put out a call for relics recalling Jewish life in the city. Since then the image has served as a chilling symbol of the horrors to come but also the Jewish community’s defiance and will to survive.
Also on December 19, Chancellor Olaf
Scholz celebrated Hanukkah for what he said was the first time with children, at a Jewish school in Berlin that is also hosting young refugees from Ukraine.
Scholz noted that Germany’s Jewish community with about 200,000 members was the “third largest in Europe” – a fact he also described as a “miracle.” He thanked its leaders for their support of the Ukrainian newcomers, and German pupils for “making them feel welcome”.
Jewish Holiday Family Photos
At Hanukkah Event, Biden Slams “Venom” of Antisemitism, Unveils White House MenorahBy AP December 20, 2022 timesofisrael.com
WASHINGTON – US President Joe Biden on December 19 expressed alarm about growing antisemitism in the United States and around the globe and vowed to fight back against the scourge.
Speaking to guests gathered for a Hanukkah reception at the White House, Biden said, “silence is complicity,” and added that it’s imperative that hate, violence and antisemitism are condemned by the nation.
“This year’s Hanukkah arrives in the midst of rising and emboldened antisemitism at home – and quite frankly, around the world,” Biden said. “I recognize your fear, your hurt, your worry that this vile and venom is becoming too normal.” The president added: “I will not be silent. America will not be silent.”
The holiday celebration comes during a spate of antisemitic episodes. Former US President Donald Trump hosted a Holocaust-denying white supremacist at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. The rapper Ye expressed love for Adolf Hitler in an interview. Basketball star Kyrie Irving appeared to promote an antisemitic film on social media. Neo-Nazi trolls are clamoring to return to Twitter as new CEO Elon Musk grants “amnesty” to suspended accounts. “Today, we must all say clearly and forcefully: Antisemitism and all forms of hate and violence in this country have no safe harbor in America,” Biden said.
The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group, tracked 2,717 antise-
mitic instances of assault, harassment and vandalism last year, a 34% increase over the previous year and the highest number since the New York City-based group began tracking them in 1979.
Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, recently hosted a White House discussion on antisemitism and combating hate with Jewish leaders representing the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox denominations of the faith. At the event, Emhoff, who is Jewish, said he was “in pain right now” over rising antisemitism.
Among those invited to the White House Hanukkah event were Holocaust survivor Bronia Brandman; Michele Taylor, who is US ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council and the daughter of Holocaust survivors; and Avigael Heschel-Aronson, the granddaughter of Jewish theologian Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.
Also present was a rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, who managed to usher his congregants to safety during a synagogue hostage crisis earlier this year. He credited security training that his suburban Fort Worth, Texas, congregation had received over the years for getting him and the other three hostages through the traumatic, 11-hour ordeal.
At the White House celebration, he noted that antisemitism was a growing problem in America but expressed thanks that many Americans – including Biden – are speaking out. “Antisemitism may be on the rise but thank God that people are standing by our side,” said Cytron-Walker, who is now a rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
A menorah has been added to the White House holiday collection this year, lit nightly during the eight-day Jewish festival of Hanukkah. White House carpenters built the menorah out of sterling silver candle cups and wood that was saved from a Truman-era renovation.
While the White House has borrowed menorahs of special significance in the past, Biden said the addition was nee-
ded. “This year we thought it was important to celebrate Hanukkah with another message of significance, permanence,” Biden said. “The very promise of America is that we all are created equal and
to be treated equally throughout our entire lives.”
Temple Beth Or
Celebrating Chanukah in Our Community
Beth Am Shalom, Lakewood, Chanukah Dinner
Chabad of Jackson Hosted Multiple Chanukah Events
Approximately fifty guests enjoyed a fabulous Chanukah dinner before Shabbat services at Beth Am Shalom on Dcember 16. The dinner was prepared by Robert and Madelyn Dunn and Sharon Ehrlich and included brisket, salmon croquettes, chicken, and vegetables. Dessert of donuts followed dinner. Rabbi Stephen Gold and Cantor Jon Sobel led the prayers of kiddush and hamotzi.
Or, Brick, Menorah Lighting with the Mayor
On Monday, December 19, Temple Beth Or celebrated Chanukah at the Brick Township Municipal Building. Pictured for the inside event is (l-r) Brick Mayor John Ducey and TBO Rabbi Robert Rubin. Other parts of the event included the lighting of electric menorahs in the building hallway and on the outside lawn.
A record number of participants joined Chabad’s annual Public Menorah lighting, this year at Johnson Memorial Park. Ice carvers sculpted a six-foot Menorah constructed entirely of ice blocks. Onlookers watched the intricacies of ice sculpting, while enjoying live music, hot latkes, sufganiyot, and other refreshments. Children enjoyed multiple crafts, and each child went home with a warm beanie that was airbrushed by an artist on the spot. In a unique Chanukah celebration promoting holiday awareness, a Car Menorah Parade departed from County Line Road. The menorah-topped cars traveled to many local assisted living centers, spreading the light and joy of Chanukah to the local seniors. The parade culminated in a joyous Chanukah party at Chabad.
Temple Beth Or, Brick, Chanukah Celebration
Chanukah at the home of Estera and Brad Singer
Beth Am Shalom, Lakewood, Hosting Blood Drive
Many congregations are conducting prayer services and classes online which may be accessible from a computer or a telephone. Contact each congregation for further information to access these events. See page 29 for contact information.
On Sunday, January 29, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Beth Am Shalom is hosting a Blood Drive with the American Red Cross. One single pint of blood can save three lives. Sign up to donate to make a difference today. All donors who give blood in January will be entered to win a trip for two to Super Bowl LVII in Arizona. Beth Am Shalom is located at 1235 Highway 70, Lakewood. For an appointment, please visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). For information about the congregation, call 732-363-2800.
Thank You, Hadassah!
Freehold Family Health Center
597 Park Avenue
Freehold, NJ 07728
Dear Ladies of Hadassah,
I am writing to thank ALL of you for your generosity, for the blankets you make for our Maternity patients and the awesome gifts you have given to the children of our facility.
Most of our patients are low income, uninsured and many living below the poverty level. So, your gifts are a blessing to them. From angels they have never met. I wish you could see the smiles that fill their faces when we offer them your blankets. Many don’t have much to give their newborns and their fathers have even become moved by your kindness.
We give them the letters, explaining who you are and your cause and they are grateful. The children light up with pure joy to get a gift for Christmas. Many may not have a gift at Christmas. I have often fought back tears, witnessing this.
I am grateful to you for this experience, as it brings me great joy to witness it. We are having our monthly staff meeting on December 7 and I will announce the gifts you have given and we will begin distributing the joy! Please know how much these gifts will be appreciated and your humanity!!
The world needs more people like you, who care without boundaries, who give to others in need and share of themselves. May you all be blessed for your spirit of giving and pure acts of kindness. Have a joyful holiday and thank you so much for all you’ve done for the Freehold Family Health Center.
Sincerely, Sonya Stevenson, LPN
Bat Shalom Hadassah Wins AwardBy Ellen Keller
Bat Shalom Hadassah, in Jackson, is so proud of winning the Alice L. Seligsberg Award for Excellence in Jewish Education 2022, awarded by the Education and Advocacy Division of National Hadassah.
During the pandemic and during 2021, we continued to provide Jewish education to our members. We had a Zoom event featuring Congregation Ahavat Olam Rabbi Emeritus Michael Klein who spoke about famous Jews you never heard of. We also had a Zoom event from Israel featuring Shira Lankin Sheps of the Layers Project. During this presentation, we met three brave Jewish women whose struggles with abuse, mental illness, and other difficulties were discussed. Westlake’s own Susan Addelston spoke about 100 years of Jewish genius in Europe in
2021, one of her many, many interesting lectures. We had ethics discussions about many issues, some of which touched on religion. We also read six books on different types of Jewish topics, including Israel and the Holocaust.
These were some of the reasons why Bat Shalom received this award, named for Alice Seligsberg, who helped found the American Zionist Medical Unit and served as Hadassah's president from 192123. She helped found Junior Hadassah, serving as an adviser until her death.
This is the second national education award; we received honorable mention in 2016 for the Hannah Goldberg award. As a retired teacher, I am always eager to impart knowledge in a fun and exciting way. So, this award is very meaningful to me.
Auschwitz Survivor to Share her Experiences in Jackson Township
Itu Lustig enjoyed an idyllic childhood until the Holocaust shattered her family. She grew up the oldest of seven children in the small Romanian village of Stramtura, where her father was a respected Rabbi. Her world came crashing down in 1944 when German soldiers marched into Stramtura and rounded up its Jewish residents. Along with scores of other Jews, her family was stuffed into a cattle car. They were sent to Auschwitz, the largest and most notorious Nazi concentration extermination camp where more than 1.1 million people were killed.
Then fifteen, Lustig was forced to learn quickly how to survive amid the camp’s starvation and death. Her mother, grandmother, and five younger siblings disappeared the first day and were sent to the gas chambers used to kill prisoners. After the war, she learned that her father had also died in the camp. Itu and her brother were the sole survivors of the entire family. The bluish tattoo on Lustig’s arm is a permanent reminder of the horrors she endured. It is also a reminder of her miraculous survival against all odds.
After Auschwitz was liberated, she was sent to a refugee camp in Sweden. In 1947, she emigrated to America, where she met her husband, Mayer, who had
come from Hungary years earlier. They married and had three children. Today, she is a great-great-grandmother with numerous descendants around the world. Since her husband’s death about twelve years ago, she has been traveling around the country speaking to audiences about her experiences during the war.
Itu Lustig will speak at the Jackson Public Library, 2 Jackson Drive, Jackson on Thursday, February 2 in an event sponsored by Chabad of Jackson. Doors open at 6:00 PM and the lecture starts at 6:30 PM. The event is open to the public age 12 years and older. Register at ChabadofJackson.com/Survivor. Suggested donation is $18. For more information, please contact Chabad of Jackson at 732-5235112 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Giving Back: Ocean County Law Enforcement Agencies Join Forces to Spread Holiday CheerBy Chaplain Yaakov Wenger, Co-founder National Chaplains Association December 15, 2022
As part of its mission to instill light and joy in the communities they serve this holiday season, Ocean County law enforcement officials gathered on December 14 at Steals & Deals in Toms River to collect holiday gifts to be distributed to needy children across the county.
Arranged by the National Chaplains Association, a nonprofit organization that works tirelessly around the country to cultivate relationships between communities and their local law enforcement agencies, the toy drive brought together officials and members of Ocean County Department of Corrections PBA 258, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department, all of whom had one mission: sharing happiness and love with the communities they cherish.
The toys were sponsored by Steals & Deals proprietors Dave Rothenberg and Nechemia Figa in a tribute to Ocean
County and the people that call it home.
“There is so much to love about Ocean County and there is nothing more rewarding than being able to bring our dedicated law enforcement officers closer to our communities,” Mr. Rothenberg said.
“The opportunity to spread love and joy this holiday season was one which we didn’t want to pass up,” added Mr. Figa.
“Even a single child in need being benefited by this sponsorship would make it all worth it.”
Law enforcement officers and officials attending the toy drive at Steals & Deals exhibited near childlike exuberance as they loaded their vehicles with thousands of dollars’ worth of toys and gifts for underprivileged children. Among them were several members of the
Ocean County Department of Corrections PBA 258, whose ceaseless efforts to safeguard the community is often unknown to the communities it serves. “The work of the Department of Corrections to keep our communities safe is almost always unseen, so it is deeply helpful and appreciated when officers are given the opportunity to be in direct contact with the communities they serve, especially in such a positive and joyful way,” said Ocean County Department of Corrections PBA 258 State Delegate Rebecca Roth.
“It is truly exciting to be able to be a part of this, and it is heartwarming to see the community come together to assist those who can use a helping hand,” said Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy.
“This toy drive is a perfect representation of the relationship between our officers and the community.
“Every child deserves a present during the holidays, and every child deserves to feel the wonder and cheer of the season. This is just one aspect of our work to spread that cheer around,” said Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of Detectives Anthony U. Carrington. “We are deeply grateful to the generous owners of Steals & Deals for bringing this toy drive to reality. Giving back to the community is a core tenet of their business philosophy, and their dedication to it truly shined today,” said Ms. Rose of the National Chaplains Association.
“Beyond the hundreds of children and families who will be thrilled by these gifts, this toy drive shines a light on the incredibly positive work of the men and women in uniform,” added National Chaplains Association co-founder Chaplain Yaakov Wenger. “Bringing law enforcement and residents together today will bring a brighter tomorrow for us all.”
JBMDL hosted their annual Chanukah party on Wednesday, December 21, the fourth night of Chanukah. The party was co-hosted by the JWVs of New Jersey. The New York State JWV Commander also attended with his wife. The party started with a welcome by Rabbi Berdugo, the Deputy Joint Base Chaplain, who introduced the Base Commander Colonel Wes Adams who welcomed everyone to his base and thanked the chaplains for all that they do for the spiritual and moral welfare of the troops. Chaplain Miller (our IMA Rabbi) then gave a brief Chanukah message.
Afterwards Chaplain Berdugo sang the blessings with the lighting of the Menorah which was lit by Bernie Passer, the oldest JWV member present. After the singing of Maoz Tzur, everyone was invited
Temple Beth Or, Brick, Chanukah Toy Drive
Temple Beth Or collected toys for Chanukah to donate to Chai Lifeline whose services meet the unique emotional, social and financial needs of families living with serious illness or loss. Pictured (l-r) is Rabbi Mordechai Gobioff, Chai Lifeline National Director of Client Services and Rabbi Robert Rubin of Temple Beth Or and the assortment of toys and games. New unwrapped items may be brought throughout the year to Chai Lifeline, 5 Airport Road, Lakewood.
February 21 6:30-8:00 PM TOMS RIVER LIBRARY 101 WASHINGTON ST. Green Room THE BLUEST EYE will be discussed.
PJ Library Chanukah Coloring Contest Winners
Elsie - 8 years old
Harry - 3 years old
Isaac - 6 years old
We invite our community members to submit original poems, stories and essays (500 words or less) to the Jewish Journal. All submissions are subject to our editorial review, and we do not promise that all will be published. Email your submission to email@example.com.
Temple Beth Or, Brick, to Hold Tu BiShevat Seder
The community is invited to a Tu BiShevat Seder for the Jewish New Year for Trees. Celebrate our connections to God, Nature, the Land of Israel and the Environment. Enjoy many fruits, four cups (grape juice), readings, songs and socializing. The Seder is being held on Sunday, February 5, at 2:30 PM at St. Thomas Lutheran Church gym, 135 Salmon Street, Brick, and the event
is sponsored by the Sisterhood. There is no charge. Voluntary donations to TBO Sisterhood are appreciated. Reservations are required by January 30. For information and to make a reservation, call 732458-4700 or email templebethorbrick@ gmail.com. Tu BiShevat is on the Jewish date of 15 Shevat which this year comes on Sunday night-Monday, February 5-6.
Street Mural Project Honors Unknown “Righteous Among the Nations” in their HomelandsBy Matt Lebovic December 9, 2022 timesofisrael.com
In the year ahead, buildings around the world will be festooned with elaborate murals that celebrate “Righteous Among the Nations” who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.
In the initiative launched by the group Artists 4 Israel, the first two murals were installed earlier this year on buildings in Portugal and Greece. Fundraising pending, the group’s vision is to celebrate hundreds of additional heroic “upstanders” with murals around the world. “The purpose of the project is to force people to interact with the Holocaust, to learn and to find pride in fighting against antisemitism,” said Artists 4 Israel’s CEO Craig Dershowitz. “The beautiful murals are a psychological trigger,” he said.
In addition to people who see the murals in person, millions are reached through social media platforms curated by famous street artists enlisted for the initiative, said Dershowitz. “With the ‘Righteous’ mural project, we have the opportunity to educate via positivity, by celebrating the heroes of a nation and giving citizens the chance to emulate their actions,” said Dershowitz.
Until this new “Righteous” project, in its more than decade of operation Artists 4 Israel has concentrated on bringing hundreds of artists to Israel, where they have painted bomb shelters in the south and created tattoo art on the bodies of wounded veterans and terrorism survivors. “It is always important to look past the art and at what message the art is communicating,” said Dershowitz.
“Putting it in their faces”
When German forces landed on the Greek island of Zakynthos in 1941, the local mayor was ordered to supply a list of the Jewish population for deportation. Mayor Loukas Karrer, in coordination with church leader Archbishop Dimitrios Chrysostomos, instead devised a scheme to rescue nearly all of the island’s 275 Jews.
While Chrysostomos went to negotiate with the Germans, Karrer burned the list of Jews living on Zakynthos and wrote his and the archbishop’s names on a piece of paper. Karrer then joined the meeting with the Germans and handed the paper to the archbishop, who in turn passed it to the Nazi administrator.
“Here are your Jews. If you choose to deport the Jews of Zakynthos, you must also take me, and I will share their fate,” said Chrysostomos, who was under gunpoint for much of the encounter. After the confrontation, the mayor and the archbishop immediately warned the island’s Jews. Most of them went into hiding in villages and were able to survive the Holocaust with assistance from neighbors.
To celebrate the rescue of the Jews of Zakynthos, Artists 4 Israel commissioned artist Kleomenis Kostopoulos to honor the rescuer duo on the side of a building in Patras, Greece.
“Murals are one of the most important forms of contemporary expression and communication in public spaces,” said Kostopoulos of the project, completed in March. “Today, more than ever, we must revisit our history in Greece by bringing it to the streets and putting it in their faces,” said the artist.
Called “Memory for Blessing,” the Patras mural blends portraits of Mayor Karrer and Archbishop Chrysostomos alongside images of the island’s Jews.
In Greece, at least 80% of the Jewish community – some 70,000 people – were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau and other killing sites. The wartime story of Zakynthos contrasts starkly with – for example – the Greek island of Rhodes, where only 151 Jews survived the Holocaust from a community of 2,000.
‘I saw myself saving lives’
Also earlier this year, Artists 4 Israel worked with artist Mr. Dheo to commemorate diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes with a mural near Porto, Portugal.
“A New Memory Across the Portuguese Skyline” depicts Sousa Mendes, Portugal’s consul-general in France during the war. In that role, he defied his government’s orders by issuing Portuguese visas for up to 30,000 Nazi refugees, including 10,000 Jews.
“I remember as soon as I spoke with my father about this project, straightaway he mentioned Sousa Mendes as a hero and he told me that everybody here – it’s going to be unanimous – everybody will like the project, will like the wall, especially the older generations,” said Mr. Dheo. “They know what he did.”
After rumors of Sousa Mendes’s actions made their way to Lisbon, he was dismissed by the Portuguese government and left destitute with a large family to support. “If thousands of Jews are suffering because of one Christian [Hitler], surely one Christian may suffer for so many Jews,” said Sousa Mendes after his dismissal.
In 1966, Sousa Mendes was the first diplomat recognized as “Righteous” by Yad Vashem. But not until 1988 – 34
“We are all Jews here,” Edmonds told the Nazi commandant, after which he threatened to have the Germans prosecuted for war crimes. By rallying his soldiers against German orders, Edmonds is credited with saving up to 300 American-Jewish soldiers in the POW camp.
The second mural planned for the US will honor Irene Gut Opdyke, a Polish rescuer who hid Jewish families and later relocated to southern California. When 12 Jews she was hiding were discovered by a German officer, Opdyke agreed to become his mistress in exchange for not turning them in.
“You must understand that I did not become a resistance fighter, a smuggler of
years after his death – was he granted total rehabilitation by the Portuguese government.
Dershowitz said Artists 4 Israel has two murals lined up for United States locations in 2023, pending funding. The first
Jews, someone who defies the SS and the Nazis, all at once,” wrote Opdyke in her memoir. “One’s first steps are always small: I had begun by hiding food under a fence.”
Years after moving to California with her American husband, Opdyke wrote about her positive interactions with Jews as a child and how her daydreams became reality after Germany’s occupation of Poland. “In my fantasies, I was always caught up in heroic struggles, and I saw
In Fighting Antisemitism, Jews Can Be Our Own Worst Enemies
We should recognize that self-defense starts with self-love and self-knowledge – and Jewish literacy isBy Jonathan A. Greenblatt December 22, 2022 timesofisrael.com
JTA – Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks, and even if you’re not Jewish, you can’t miss the fact that antisemitism is back in the news again: Kanye West, Kyrie Irving, Nick Fuentes; extremists returning in droves to Twitter; President Donald Trump kowtowing to antisemites over dinner at Mar-A-Lago; “Saturday Night Live” opening with a monologue trafficking in antisemitic tropes; members of the Black Hebrew Israelites intimidating Jewish fans coming to Barclays Center, and an endless feedback loop of antisemitism coursing across social media.
Coming at a time when antisemitic incidents already had reached the highest point in recent memory, this is the kind of mainstreaming of antisemitism that we haven’t seen since the 1930s.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned as CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, it is that when it comes to the Jewish people, hatred doesn’t discriminate. When Kanye says Jews control the music industry, he’s not talking about rich Jews or conserva-
tive Jews. He’s not singling those who may support Likud or those who back Meretz, two Israeli political parties. He’s not calling out Orthodox Jews versus Reform Jews. He’s talking about us all.
Same with the white supremacists who are circulating Great Replacement conspiracy theories about Jews conspiring to bring more people of color and immigrants into America to “replace” white people. They don’t care if you are a die-hard MAGA voter or a card-carrying member of Democratic Socialists of America. It doesn’t matter: If you’re Jewish, you are in their crosshairs.
Another unfortunate example is the Mapping Project, an insidious campaign that ostensibly accused pro-Israel Jews
of conspiring together in Boston. However, it didn’t target only Zionist organizations. They targeted all Jewish organizations, from a nonprofit helping the disabled to a Jewish high school.
And yet, while our enemies see us as one, the Jewish community too often seems riven by discord and infighting.
We are divided around religious practices and beliefs. We are deeply riven by politics. We do not see eye to eye when it comes to the State of Israel, and at times we can’t even agree on the definition of antisemitism itself. At times, absurdly, some Jewish leaders seek to tear down other Jewish leaders even as it tears apart the community, as Steven Windmuller, a retired professor at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, recently documented.
I point this out not to diminish the value of debate and dissent – these are fundamental to our tradition. But we need to be mindful of when debate descends into division.
Indeed, when viewed by those on the outside, these internecine divisions within our community can lead to misunderstandings and confusion. Why can’t Jews agree on anything? At best, hostility makes us look petty, mean and foolish. At worst, it allows antisemites to see within us whatever it is that they hate the most.
Usually in the aftermath of antisemitic attacks such as we saw after the Tree of Life shooting or the hostage situation in Colleyville, Texas, Jews from across the political spectrum set aside our differences and come together in a show of unity. We lock arms, proclaim we are one, call on our policymakers to do more, put up our defensive shields and hope for the best.
love for our fellow Jews. We ferociously can disagree internally while standing completely united to external hate.
We are our brother’s keeper, and any Jew suffering from antisemitism is ultimately our responsibility. We must come together, despite our differences, and fight those who hate our people.
How can Jews stand together against antisemitism while respecting our ideological divides?
First, this isn’t a moment to try to win each other over. This is a moment to declare that every Jew matters and is worth protecting. We may disagree on many things, but we can appreciate that difference doesn’t have to equal division. We cannot allow the toxic partisanship that has seeped into so much of our society to poison our communal spaces. There are no “Tikkun Olam” Jews. There are no “Trump” Jews. There are only Jews, and we need to remember the dictum — you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
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But at a time when a celebrity with a cult-like following, Kanye West, or Ye as he now calls himself, is using his platform of 38 million-plus social media followers to spread hateful tropes about Jews – the kinds of unhinged and hateful canards, such as Jewish control and power, that have led to antisemitic attacks throughout history – I would argue that the locking-arms response, while effective in the moment, does not have the staying power that we could achieve if we had a more unified and close-knit Jewish community.
What does have staying power? In this uniquely fragile moment, we must choose to embrace our differences, or at least accept them and lean into Ahavat Yisrael, the
Second, we should recognize that self-defense starts with self-love and self-knowledge. Jewish literacy is essential to our long-term survival. Many like to remark how Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel prayed with his feet – but he did so in part because he wrapped tefillin with his hands. This is not to say that we all need to observe our faith in the same manner. There are plenty of Jewish people who opt out of ritual entirely, and yet their connection to our peoplehood is as strong and as valid as those who daven, or pray, every day. But shared values that emanate from Torah still bind us as a people – we need to redouble, not just our efforts to pass on these values to our children in ways that relate to the next generation, but we also must relearn these values ourselves.
Third, we must never allow our ideological blinders to gloss over or ignore antisemitism from those who are generally our political allies. We must be morally firm and call out antisemitism where we
We must come together, despite our differences, and fight those who hate our people. … We may disagree on many things, but we can appreciate that difference doesn’t have to equal division.
Continued from page 12
see it, and not just when it is convenient politically. We must be equally fierce in the political circles where we belong, where we ultimately have more influence and clout, as in simply calling out hatred by pointing to those on the other side.
During his lifetime, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson shared his wisdom about the fact that while every Jewish person is a unique individual, as a people we share a “basic commonality that joins us into a single collective entity.” The Lubavitcher Rebbe understood that this unity has sustained the Jewish people throughout history.
If we look to our ancestors, we can see examples of how holding together at times of strife has made our community stronger. It’s quite possible that we may be living in one of those difficult periods again. I hope we can meet the moment.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media or of The Times of Israel. Jonathan A. Greenblatt is CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League.
Combat Holocaust DenialBy Ron Kampeas January 27, 2021 jta.org
(JTA) – People who search for information about the Holocaust on Facebook will now be prompted to visit a website on the genocide curated by the World Jewish Congress and UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Starting in 2021, users will see a box labeled “Learning About the Holocaust” when they search Holocaust terms. Similar boxes with resources pop up after searching about things such as the COVID-19 pandemic and U.S. elections.
“The Holocaust was the organized persecution and killing of 6 million Jewish people, alongside other targeted groups, by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II,” the box reads. “Learning about the Holocaust can help prevent future genocides and other acts of hatred based on religion, ethnicity or other differences.” There is a link to aboutholocaust.org, a joint WJC and UNESCO site.
WJC President Ronald Lauder said the new tool could help counter Holocaust ignorance among the young. A study in Fall 2020 on Gen Z views on the genocide found a widespread lack of subject on the subject – 11% of respondents thought that Jews caused the Holocaust. “It is saddening and disconcerting that 75 years after the end of World War II, roughly 50 percent of the world does not even know that the Holocaust occurred, or that Jews were targeted for genocide in Europe,” Lauder said in a statement.
Another factor spurring the prompt is the proliferation of hate speech on social media. Facebook has come under fire in recent years for not adequately stemming hate speech, incitement and disinformation. In July 2020, a campaign sponsored by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany produced videos of Holocaust survivors urging Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to take forceful steps to erase Holocaust denial content from the site.
Facebook now works to removes hate speech, including Holocaust denial. “At a time of rising hate and intolerance,
taking time to read and reflect on what happened to Jews and others in Europe is more important than ever,” said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who is Jewish, in a news release.
Monica Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of content policy, spoke on a panel jointly organized by The Paley Center for Media and the Claims Conference, entitled “The Media’s Role in Combating Holocaust Denial, Misinformation and Anti-Semitism.”
“We’re thinking not just about removing hateful content; we are now removing anything that denies or distorts the Holocaust,” Bickert said on the panel, whose speakers also included Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss and Sara Bloomfield, the director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. “A really important part is using technology. We need to make sure we are harnessing the very positive power of social media to educate.”
Lakewood Community Services Corp. is currently requesting proposals for its Kosher Meals-on-Wheels Program and Weekend Home Delivered Meals Program for ready to eat meals with home delivery for the year 2023. A daily average of 205 meals will be delivered. Meals shall conform to kosher standards (as defined by LCSC), current dietary guidelines for seniors that provide a minimum of 1/3 DRI, in addition to meeting the health and environmental standards required by the regulations of this program, including NJAC 8:24-1, “Chapter 24 Sanitation in Retail Food Establishments and Food and Beverage Vending Machines .”
Proposals must be submitted no later than 12 pm on January 20, 2023 to firstname.lastname@example.org
LCSC reserves the right to accept or reject any and/or all proposals, or accept the proposal that it finds, in its sole discretion, to be the most advantageous. LCSC is an equal opportunity provider.
Israel Knesset Election Update
The process was completed, finally, just in time.By Rabbi Robert Rubin
Israel’s November 1 Knesset election resulted in the distribution of the 120 seats of the Knesset to ten political parties that made it into the Knesset by receiving more than 3.25% of the national vote which is the minimum needed in order to gain Knesset seats.
The electoral results, along with descriptions that are generally used, are: (Ultra-Orthodox/Charedi) Shas – 11, United Torah Judaism – 7 (Right) Likud – 32, Religious Zionism – 14, Israel Beiteinu – 6 (Center-Right) National Unity Party – 12 (Center-Left) Yesh Atid – 24 (Left) Labor – 4 (Arab) United Arab List – 5, Hadash-Ta’al – 5
Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu was chosen by Israeli President Isaac Herzog with the task of forming a ruling majority coalition of 61 or more Knesset members and was given the normal four-week deadline (December 11). By December 11 he was granted a ten-day extension until December 21.
At about 20 minutes to midnight on December 21 (the deadline), Netanyahu informed President Herzog that he had indeed formed a coalition consisting of 64 seats – Likud (32 seats), Religious Zionism (14 seats; now split into three parties: Religious Zionism (7 seats), Otzma Yehudit/Jewish Power (6 seats) and Noam (1 seat)), Shas
(11 seats) and United Torah Judaism (7 seats).
The new government was sworn in on December 29. It took almost two months from November 1 until the end of the process. Now governing has begun.
Keep up with news from Israel to stay informed about this very special country.
Street Mural Project
Continued from page 11
myself saving lives, sacrificing myself for others. I had far loftier ambitions than mere romance,” wrote Opdyke.
“Before Artists 4 Israel started the Righteous Among the Nations Global Mural Project, I was familiar with only a few of the more famous ones,” said Dershowitz. “But as this program continues, I am learning of hundreds of heroes each more brave than the next.”
Community of Caring Heroes Against Hate
Jewish Federation Community of Caring Special Event Held on December 19
Jewish Federation of Ocean County held their annual Community of Caring event on Monday, December 19. As part of this year’s Community of Caring Celebration, JFOC honored individuals and an organization in our community who are upstanders, Heroes Against Hate.
When it comes to hate, bigotry, and discrimination no one community stands alone. And the way to counter hate is to stand up for others. JFOC recognizes those in our community who are upstanders and encourage more to stand up, to speak out, and to make a difference.
This year’s Heroes Against Hate honorees are:
Exit 82 Theatre for their work on behalf of the LGBTQIA+ community
Trevor Kalb, a student, for starting a banned book club
Ian Rosenzweig, a student, for his effort confronting antisemitism in his school
Chief James Riccio and Sgt. James Kelly of the Brick Police Department for creating the “Cops and Clergy” program
JFOC made a donation in honor of the honorees to the nonprofit organization of their choice.
The Community of Caring celebration was held at The Barn in Whiting, home of the Joel E. Perlmutter Memorial Food Pantry, one of the organizations JFOC supports with grants to combat food insecurity. Pat Donaghue spoke about the services they provide. Attendees at this event brought non-perishable food to donate to the Food Pantry.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billheimer and Keith Krivitzky, Managing Director of JFOC, both spoke about the growing problem of hate in our com-
Ocean County Prosecutor’s Message Against Hate munity. Krivitzky said, “People make a choice when they decide to spread hate. They often do this because they think they will feel better or look better in the eyes of others. And this is where we all have a role to play, because we are all in a position to let people know that we will have none of it. This is why the Jewish Federation’s focus is on encou-
raging people in our community to be UPSTANDERS – letting their voices be heard when they see incidents of hate or bigotry – especially when it is happening to others.”
The evening’s program also highlighted the dedication of the Federation’s Jewish Journal committee: Anise Singer, Rabbi Robert Rubin, and Shelly Newman.
The Heroes Committee chairing the event were: Fran Gimple, Annabel Lindenbaum, Shelly Newman, Lauren Gordon, Lauren Rosen, Elinor Goldberg, Rabbi Stephen Gold, and Michael Berman. Information on the event can be found at www.jewishoceancounty.org/communitycaring.
(photo credits for pages 15-18: Keith Krivitzky, Brandon Leventhal, Jorge Rod and Susan Rubin)
Community of Caring Heroes Against Hate
Community of Caring Heroes Against Hate
Community of Caring Heroes Against Hate
Ex-concentration Camp Secretary Convicted in Potentially Last Ever Holocaust Trial
the northern town of Itzehoe.
She had tried to abscond as the proceedings were set to begin in September 2021, fleeing the retirement home where she lives and heading to a metro station. Furchner managed to evade police for several hours before being apprehended in the nearby city of Hamburg and held in custody for five days. Her lawyers had called for her acquittal, saying the evidence presented in the course of the trial “had not shown beyond doubt” that she knew of the killings.By Celine Le Prioux December 20, 2022 timesofisrael.com
ITZEHOE, Germany (AFP) – A German court on December 20 handed a two-year suspended sentence to a 97-year-old former Nazi camp secretary over complicity in the murder of more than 10,000 people.
In one of the country’s last Holocaust trials, presiding judge Dominik Gross read out the verdict for defendant Irmgard Furchner for her role in what prosecutors called the “cruel and malicious murder” of prisoners at the Stutthof camp in occupied Poland.
Furchner sat in a wheelchair in the courtroom, wearing a white cap and a medical mask as the verdict finding her guilty of thousands of counts of accessory to murder was read out. She was the first woman in decades to be tried in Germany for Nazi-era crimes.
The accused had expressed regret as the trial drew to a close this month, breaking her silence for the first time on the accusations. “I’m sorry about everything that happened,” she told the regional court in
“Last of its kind”
The defendant was a teenager when her crimes were committed and had therefore been tried in a juvenile court. An estimated 65,000 people died at the camp near today’s Gdansk, including “Jewish prisoners, Polish partisans and Soviet Russian prisoners of war,” prosecutors said.
Between June 1943 and April 1945, Furchner worked in the office of camp commander Paul Werner Hoppe. According to the case against her, she took dictation of the SS officer’s orders and handled his correspondence.
Public prosecutor Maxi Wantzen late last month had asked the judges to hand down a two-year suspended sentence –the longest possible without jail time. “This trial is of outstanding historical importance,” Wantzen said, adding that it was “potentially, due to the passage of time, the last of its kind.”
Furchner sat impassively in a wheelchair throughout the proceedings in which several Stutthof camp survivors offered wrenching accounts of their suffering.
Wantzen thanked the witnesses, many of whom also served as co-plaintiffs, saying they had told of the “absolute hell” of the camp. “They feel it is their duty, even though they had to summon the pain again and again to fulfill it,” she said.
Time running out
The prosecutor told the judges the defendant’s clerical work “assured the smooth running of the camp” and gave her “knowledge of all occurrences and events at Stutthof.” Moreover, “life-threatening conditions” such as food and water shortages and the spread of deadly diseases including typhus were intentionally maintained and immediately apparent, she said.
Although the camp’s abysmal conditions and hard labor claimed the most lives, the Nazis also operated gas chambers and execution-by-shooting facilities to exterminate hundreds of people deemed unfit for labor. Wantzen said that despite the defendant’s advanced age, it was “still important today to hold such a trial,” and to complete the historical record as survivors die off.
Seventy-seven years after the end of World War II, time is running out to bring to justice criminals linked to the Holocaust. In recent years, several cases have been abandoned as the accused died or were physically unable to stand trial. The 2011 conviction of former guard John Demjanjuk, on the basis that he served as part of Hitler’s killing machine, set a legal precedent and paved the way for several trials. Since then, courts have handed down several guilty verdicts on those grounds rather than for murders or atrocities directly linked to the individual accused.
Zelenskyy, “Modern-day Maccabee,” Invokes Candle-lit Christmas in Speech to CongressBy PJ Grisar December 21, 2022 forward.com
Delivering a historic address to Congress entirely in English, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine spoke stirringly Wednesday night of his country’s fortitude, holding forth the besieged city of Bakhmut as a kind of Rock of Ages stronghold against occupiers.
But when it came to moving metaphors of light fighting against the dark, Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, did not mention that
it was the fourth night of Hanukkah, instead grabbing for lower-hanging seasonal fruit. “We will celebrate Christmas,”
Zelenskyy said of Ukraine. It “may be candle-lit,” he added, “not because it’s more romantic, but because there will be no electricity – millions won’t have heating or no running water.”
He was resolute that the celebration would happen regardless of Russian airstrikes. “Even if there is no electricity, the light of our faith in ourselves will not be put out.” Meanwhile on Twitter, many Jews posted pictures of their Hanukkah menorahs and said they were lighting them in honor of Zelenskyy.
The Ukrainian president, who doesn’t
often discuss his Jewish background, has been frequently called a “modern-day Maccabee.” But given his primarily Christian audience, it’s no surprise that he did not delve into Jewish antiquity. Perhaps, too, given he grew up in the Soviet Union when robust Jewish education was not always available, he is not fluent in the history himself.
The Maccabees did not go unmentioned in Washington on that day however. At a joint news conference with Zelenskyy before the speech, President Joe Biden pointed out that the visit came at “a time
To Save Jews and Keep Nazis Away, these Doctors Invented a Fake Infectious Disease
many difficult Italian names and places. “He walked in, and it’s not an easy gig. It’s Fatebenefratelli Hospital, Adriano Ossicini, Giovani Borromeo, Vittorio Sacerdoti, all the Roman names, plus all the German names, all this vocabulary,” Edwards said. “And he was such a fun guy to work with, super-funny, top-level pro, profane, lots of F-bombs, we were just laughing, we were having a ball… we were just so sorry to lose the guy.”
and archived interviews with more than 55,000 testimonies now archived at the University of Southern California.By Stephen Silver August 20, 2022 timesofisrael.com
JTA — How the subject of his new documentary, “Syndrome K,” has largely escaped public attention is a mystery to filmmaker Stephen Edwards. “It’s the greatest elevator pitch in Hollywood,” he said. “The story of three doctors, one of them Jewish, practicing with a fake identity, that fool the SS with a fake disease that saved Jews from certain deportation.”
“Syndrome K,” which hit digital and VOD platforms after some Jewish film festival showings, tells that little-known, surefire story: how three doctors at a hospital in Rome shielded a group of Jews from the Nazis in 1943 and 1944 by inventing a fake infectious disease called Syndrome K. The prospect of catching the disease kept the Nazis, who were occupying Rome following the fall of Mussolini, away from the hospital. The Jews there hung on until the Allies liberated the city in June of 1944.
Edwards, who has spent most of his career as a composer, is not Jewish – he was raised Catholic – but grew up among the large Jewish community in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he got the idea for the film when he saw a meme about the “Syndrome K” story on Facebook and was shocked to discover that no one had ever made a documentary about it before.
Fatebenefratelli Hospital was located very close to the Jewish Ghetto in Rome. The three doctors were Vittorio Sacerdoti, Giovani Borromeo, and Adriano Ossicini. Sacerdoti was Jewish, while
the other two were Catholic. Borremeo, who, among other things, protected the family of one of his Jewish mentors, is recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial authority.
Jews were kept in hospital rooms designated as dangerously infectious. “The Nazis thought it was cancer or tuberculosis, and they fled like rabbits,” Sacerdoti told the BBC in 2004. The exact number of Jews saved, according to the film, is unknown, although various historical accounts have placed the number in the dozens.
“That’s why I think it’s such a secret story – the doctors didn’t crow about what they did, or talk about it a lot,” Edwards said. He added that the Syndrome K story is so obscure that the late historian Robert Katz’s “The Battle for Rome: The Germans, the Allies, the Partisans, and the Pope, September 1943–June 1944,” which is considered a definitive book about the Nazi occupation of the city, does not mention it.
When Edwards first began working on the film in 2018, he learned that Ossicini was still alive at age 98. Reaching out through an Italian-Jewish journalist named Ariela Piattelli, Edwards and his producer went to Rome and interviewed the doctor. On that trip, he also talked to a pair of brothers who survived the hospital as children, and Pietro Borromeo, the son of Giovani Borromeo. Both Ossicini and the younger Borromeo passed away within a year of their interviews.
For interviews with the others featured in the film, Edwards utilized the USC Shoah Foundation, which has collected
That archive included an interview with the Jewish doctor Sacerdoti from around the year 2000, made shortly before his death and believed to be the only one he ever gave. The physician never married or had children, and there is no record of where he is buried.
Edwards was full of praise for the Shoah Foundation, founded by Steven Spielberg, for including a system of tagging in their archive that allowed them to find interviews with survivors of the hospital of whom the filmmakers were previously unaware. “We have no film without Sacerdoti,” Edwards said. “If I meet Spielberg at some point, I’m going to thank him.”
Ossicini and Pietro Borromeo are not the only voices featured in “Syndrome K” who have since passed away. Ray Liotta, the famed actor, provided the voiceover narration for the film. He died on May 26, at age 67, while shooting a film in the Dominican Republic.
Edwards said that he had gotten to know Liotta a bit when their daughters went to school together throughout their childhoods. He had reached out to the actor to gauge his interest in narrating the film, and “two weeks later, he’s in my studio.” Liotta recorded the entire narration in three hours, on a single day in late 2019.
(Edwards added that on the day of Liotta’s arrival he joined his editor and writer to watch the first 30 minutes of “Goodfellas,” Liotta’s best-known role, in which the actor performs a voiceover narration that the director calls “top five all-time.”)
Edwards, who holds Italian citizenship through his late mother, especially appreciated Liotta’s ease with the story’s
The director had always been a World War II buff, and two of his uncles fought in the war. But he remembers very well first learning about the Holocaust. “When I was probably 12 or 13 years old, I was watching TV on a Saturday morning… when I saw one of these documentaries about the Holocaust, where it showed all the atrocities and horrors. And I was just horrified – I had no idea. I hadn’t gotten to that history lesson in school yet.” He asked his father, who explained it to him.
The Holocaust, of course, can be a weighty and depressing subject, especially when one is immersed in it for a lengthy period of time. How did Edwards handle the burden?
“The story itself was more about the threat of atrocities,” he said, noting that 80 percent of Italian Jews survived the Holocaust, a very different percentage than in most of Europe. “This is a story about people being their very, very best, in the face of people being their very, very worst, and that’s what really attracted me to it.”
In addition to the documentary, Edwards said that he has brought a team together to try to make a feature film version of the Syndrome K story. In the meantime, he appreciates the irony of the timing of the documentary’s arrival. “You can’t make that stuff up,” he said. “Making a movie about a fake disease in the middle of a pandemic is just so ironic.”
Mark Aguilar-Aasted and his family moved to Howell in June, 2021 from Monroe, NJ and he subsequently joined Congregation Ahavat Olam. Around January 2022 Mark was asked to join the CAO Board of Directors and in July 2022 he became President of the Board. Mark was born and raised oversees and at 17 years of age moved to the USA to pursue a Bachelor's Degree in International Business with a minor in Political Science. Mark developed a Sales career over two decades in high-speed optoelectronics and in 2020 transitioned to the Military & Defense Industry. Mark is presently a Senior Director of Business Development at a US subsidiary of an Israeli Defense Contractor.
Mark's objective as President of the Board of Directors is to have more members enjoy the warm and inviting community of Ahavat Olam, for prayer, comfort, social gatherings and to develop friendships. "Synagogues today have a particular challenge of growing membership and nancial wherewithal during a period where younger, non-Orthodox individuals, have left religious participation for a myriad of secular activities." While this trend is a challenge to any Conservative Synagogue's longevity, Mark remains optimistic that opportunities will present themselves which will allow CAO to continue to grow. Mark is a big proponent of working with other Jewish organizations to further this cause.
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They Loved Me in Buchenwald
tand – they loved me in Buchenwald!”
The singer, who had changed his surname to Clary, took gigs all over Paris, working full time, dancing with socialites and prostitutes (“I remember one in particular. She was tall and looked like Joan Crawford … a very good jitterbugger. We had a ball on the dance floor.”) He performed in blackface. He made friends with Charles Aznavour. He relocated to the south of France and worked around the clock.
and cafes … [which] led to an engagement at Olympia Hall in Paris, and his career had begun.”By Peter Theroux July 14, 2022 tabletmag.com
Aweek after Patton’s Third Army liberated Buchenwald, on April 19, 1945, the inmates gave a concert for the soldiers who had freed them. Fourteen Czech, German, Dutch, Belgian, and French musicians made up the band. The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles has the fading typed program on exhibit: There were sax, brass, and rhythm sections, and a sole vocalist – a Frenchman, Robert Widerman, who sang “In the Mood,” “A Tisket, A Tasket,” and “Honeysuckle Rose.” He also performed both roles in a Mickey and Minnie Mouse skit of his own creation, which had been a hit with the Nazis and kapos.
“We performed on the stage, in our striped uniforms, exhilarated by our new freedom, and gave the greatest show of our lives which hundreds of GIs and inmates applauded and shouted,” he noted in his memoirs. They closed the set with a “walloping version of ‘Tiger Rag.’”
A few weeks later, back home in Paris, the boyish but indefatigable Widerman, age 19, opened at the legendary Olympia on the Boulevard des Capucines, then one of the many Parisian venues requisitioned for American soldiers’ entertainment. He was the fourth on the bill, in an unenviable slot right after a performing dog act that always thrilled audiences. His first number was “Flat Foot Floogie,” followed by “Daisy Venez Avec Moi.” The audience wasn’t buying it. He was distraught at the perfunctory applause. “I had two more numbers to do, and I was having flop-sweat. I didn’t unders-
Then, in 1947, American musicians went on strike. U.S.-based record producers scoured Europe for talent and one of the shrewdest A&R men, Harry Bluestone, visited France and immediately took to Clary, who was then touring on the Riviera. Thanks to Bluestone, lightning struck. Clary recorded a few songs which, a world away and unbeknownst to him, became hits in the U.S. His rendition of “Put Your Shoes on, Lucy” sold half a million copies and he charted on Billboard.
Offered a residence visa to move to the U.S., Clary did not hesitate, and manfully worked through the tearful adieus in France to a stay in New York and then Los Angeles. Meanwhile, his beloved sister Nicky, his family’s only other death camp survivor, had married a Texan and began what would be a long and happy life in suburban Dallas. (Clary would later visit there and serenade this sister and an overflow audience of Pepsi executives, including Richard Nixon, their lawyer, and Joan Crawford, wife of the CEO, on the eve of President Kennedy’s assassination, and continue to perform at the venue into mid-November, to predictably paltry audiences.)
The Kennedy assassination shocked but did not devastate a man who had spent years falling asleep next to death camp berth mates who would become corpses by the morning. But he had made a firm decision to veil his tragic youth in the past. Instead he faced the future, aspiring to music and comedy. His albums, a mix of ebullient French- and English-language standards, sold well.
“Robert Clary began singing as long ago as he can remember,” read the prim liner notes of the 1955 album Meet Robert Clary. “Just as he was hoping to begin on a singing career, he was uprooted by the war and sent to a prison camp for the duration. With the coming of peace, he made the rounds of French radio stations
In LA, Clary rented a small apartment on Orchid Avenue behind Grauman’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. Clary made the rounds of agents and producers, appeared on talk shows, and occasionally splurged on dinner at the Pig n’ Whistle or Musso & Frank’s. Used to French meals consisting of several small courses, he was puzzled by the way Americans served a huge platter of “too much food” all at once. He felt fortunate that he had no French friends, as he was forced to focus on improving his English.
Far from dissuading Clary from probing his painful memories, the experience confirmed his educational mission and … he quickly resumed his speaking activities, particularly at high schools.
“I always loved ‘À Paris’ by Yves Montand,” Clary himself notes in his own contribution to the Meet Robert Clary liner notes. In fact, he and Montand burst onto the heady American scene at about the same time. While Clary hit Broadway in the musical revue New Faces of 1952 with, among others, Eartha Kitt, Alice Ghostley, and Paul Lynde (he crushed on both women but would recall Lynde as “cruel” and “antisemitic” especially when drunk), Montand starred in his own musical show. Both entertainers were thrilled by exuberant postwar America. The spell the New World cast extended even to the lefty Simone de Beauvoir, who marveled in her travel memoir America Day by Day that Los Angeles was “the size of the whole Cote d’Azur” and that LA martinis were “to martinis in Paris what the ideal circle is to the circles drawn on a blackboard.”
On visits to New York and Montreal, Clary maintained his friendship with Aznavour, but French Hollywood at the time consisted largely of the chic wives of actors and was difficult for him to break in. Meanwhile, Montand and his wife, Simone Signoret, made their social debut in LA, as Signoret wrote in her autobiography, thanks to “the three French
ladies of Hollywood” – Anne Douglas, Quique Jourdan, and Véronique Peck. Kirk and Anne Douglas gave the Montands an introductory party to meet Judy Garland, George Cukor, Dean Martin, and Walt Disney (Montand bugged Disney about unanswered fan mail he’d sent him at age 13). At the time, Clary was still learning English and playing joints but would soon eclipse nearly all of them in popularity.
Clary befriended nascent Hollywood insider Merv Griffin, who introduced him to Eddie Cantor’s daughter Natalie, whom he would eventually marry after more than a decade of being best friends. Griffin loved to joke about Clary’s first experience, at Griffin’s mother’s house, with corn on the cob, of which he knew nothing except that French farmers fed it to their animals. He adored the taste, though, and – in Griffin’s probably apocryphal telling – handed the bare cob back to his hostess for her to rekernel for a second helping.
In an innocent American age when it seemed everything French was sexy, cute, and chic – Bardot, Warner Bros.’ romantic skunk, Bob Hope’s ooh-la-la jokes about the Place Pigalle, the crêpes suzettes in fancy French restaurants American couples aspired to in every 1960s sitcom, from I Love Lucy to Pete and Gladys – Robert Clary stood out as French par excellence. He starred in New Faces of 1952, the musical revue turned film release by Twentieth-Century Fox, the first musical shot in Cinemascope. It was a hit, and Clary’s first real break, leading to his next and definitive big break.
Clary initially resisted the French stereotype, at first refusing to sing the crowd-pleasing song “Lucky Pierre” in New Faces, though he would eventually go along with it and succeed beyond his wildest dreams. In his latter acting years, in the 1980s, on The Young and the Restless, Clary rejected the producer Bill Bell’s suggestion that his nebbishy character be called “Frenchy.” “That’s a no-no. Please do not call me Frenchy,” Clary pleaded. He’d had enough of cliches. Funnily enough, they settled on the character being named “Pierre.” He wrote in his autobiography that “I have a huge stamp on my name. it says in big letters ‘TINY FRENCHMAN.’”
Then came the pilot for the sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, set in a Nazi POW camp,
"For the Lord thy God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, and grapevines, figs and pomegranates; a land of oil olives and date honey."
The Jewish Federation helped to build Israel. Today, we help keep it strong.
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Contact Sharron at the Jewish Federation of Ocean County at 732-363- 0530.
December 9 – January 12
In Honor of Holocaust survivors by Stanley Mansbach
Dr. William Schulman’s retirement
In Memory of
Mom Sonia Shifra and Uncle Itzik by Carol Berg Nathan Cohen by Maxine Friedman Teddy Kurtz by Josephine Kurtz
Martin Margolies by Richard Margolies
Michael Perlmutter by Richard & Diane Gaines
Edward and Thelma Scher by Judy Howard Singer, January 22, 2012 by Anise Singer and Family Susan Wymisner
PJ Library Photos with Children
Do you have a photo of your child reading or holding a PJ Library book? We would like to publish some of them. We omit the names of children. The names of any adults in the photos could be included or omitted based on the guidance of the adult submitting the photo(s). Email them to JFOCeditor@ocjf.org
Here is How You Can Support Our Holocaust Survivors and Seniors
Please contribute to:
• Friends of JFCS
• The Holocaust Survivors’ Special Fund
• The Seniors Lunch Program
It is easy to donate a little each month, to make a big impact!
• Go online to www. jewishoceancounty.org
• Send a check, use your credit card, transfer stock.
• Call the office and talk with our staff.
• Bring in your Tzedakah box. We will count it for you.
• Consider making a monthly gift to support your community.
Jewish Federation of Ocean County
1235A Route 70, Lakewood, NJ 08701 732-363-0530
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Foods of Tu BiShevatBy Sarah Rochel Hewitt Jewish Treats by NJOP
Today, Jews around the world celebrate Tu BiShevat, the new year of the trees. Tu BiShevat is often celebrated with the 7 species for which the Torah praises the land of Israel: “A land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey (from dates)” (Deuteronomy 8:8). This year, Tu BiShevat (15 Shevat) occurs on Sunday night-Monday, February 5-6.
Wheat (chitah): The Sages noted the importance of wheat in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers 3:21): “Where there is no flour, there is no Torah. Where there is no Torah, there is no flour.”
Barley (seh’o’rah): At Passover time, the Omer offering (a measure of barley from the new harvest) was brought to the Temple, symbolic of the start of the spring harvest.
Grape (gefen - literally grape-vines): The transformation of grapes into wine reflects humankind’s ability to choose to uplift itself or debase itself depending upon how they use the grape.
when Jewish people around the world, President Zelenskyy and many families among them, honor the timeless miracle of a small band of warriors fighting for the values and their freedom against a much larger foe and how they endured and how they overcame.”
Biden, who hosted a White House Hanukkah party Monday, also noted how “the flame of faith with only enough oil for one day burned brightly for eight days. The story of survival and resilience that reminds us on the coldest day of the year, that light will always prevail over darkness.”
The parallels in the two men’s metaphors were striking. But comparisons between the Maccabees and Ukraine are somewhat strained. Zelenskyy, while resisting invaders and beating the odds, proved himself to be quite an assimilated Jew in his invocation of Christmas.
Fig (t’aynah): “... All the figs on one tree do not ripen at once, rather a few each day. Therefore, the longer one searches in the tree, the more figs one finds. So too with Torah: The more one studies, the more knowledge and wisdom one finds" (Eruvin 54a).
Pomegranate (rimon): According to the Midrash, the pomegranate has 613 seeds equivalent to the number of commandments in the Torah.
Olive (zayit): “...Just as the leaves of an olive tree do not fall off either in summer or winter, so too, the Jewish people shall not be cast off--neither in this world, or in the World to Come” (Menachot 53b).
Date (tamar): While the Torah uses the word d’vash, honey, it is understood as referring to date-honey because the date is frequently boiled to make a type of honey. “The righteous shall flourish like a date-palm tree” (Psalms 92:13), for those who act holy are sweet in God’s eyes.
(For other “Jewish Treats: Juicy Bits of Judaism, Daily” and many other Jewish resources visit www.jewishtreats.org and www.njop.org.)
Menorahs and Tableware Hidden from Nazis: Polish Builders Uncover Jewish
Glass cosmetic containers, cigarette holders and hundreds of other items found under Lodz building; local Jewish community lit a restored menorah on HanukkahBy AP and TOI Staff January 8, 2023 timesofisrael.com
WARSAW, Poland – About 400 items believed to have been hidden in the ground by their Jewish owners during World War II have been accidentally uncovered during home renovation work in a yard in Lodz in central Poland.
History experts say that the objects found in the city’s Polnocna Street include Hanukkah menorahs and items used in daily life, TVN24 reported. Another Polish media outlet, o2.pl, said that perfume bottles and cigarette holders were also found in the trove, located some 70 centimeters underground.
The stash was found in December, and two of the menorahs were lit on December 22 during Hanukkah celebrations organized by the city’s Jewish community. Some of the items were found wrapped in Polish, Yiddish, and German language newspapers, which were dated to around October 1939, Israel’s Ynet news site said.
An item found under a Lodz apartment building, January 3, 2022. (Facebook/Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments in Łódz; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Jewish Federation of Ocean County is now on Facebook
The anti-assimilationist Maccabees, with guerrilla warfare and makeshift weapons, were on their own. There was no great power they appealed to (or spoke the language of) to win out against the Seleucids.
Yet it’s the courage of Zelenskyy – who, mercifully, seems not quite as violently zealous in his battle for self-determination as Judah Maccabee – that shines through. Fighting for his people, he argued that the world we live in is interconnected, that his fight is not his alone. If this doesn’t reflect the stakes of the Hanukkah story, it may well be a sort of update that better tracks with our values and our reality now.
Maybe that’s what people mean when they call him a “modern-day Maccabee.”PJ Grisar is a Forward culture reporter.
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The items are mostly silver-plated tableware, menorahs and glass containers for cosmetics, according to the regional office for the preservation of historic objects.
The office’s experts said on Facebook last week that the objects will be handed over to the city’s archaeology museum. “The discovery is remarkable, especially the quantity,” said Agnieszka Kowalewska-Wójcik, director of the Lodz Municipal Investments board. “These are extremely valuable historic items that testify to the history of the inhabitants of this building,” she told Polish media.
After restoration and cleaning, items found in the trove will be handed over to the Museum of Archeology and Ethnography in Lodz, where researchers will try to determine the identity of the items’ owner.
The address at 23 Polnocna Street, where the objects were found, was just outside the perimeter of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto that the occupying Nazi Germans es-
A hanukkiah, or menorah, found under a Lodz apartment building, January 3, 2022. (Facebook/Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments in Łódz; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Silver cups found under a Lodz apartment building, January 3, 2022. (Facebook/Provincial Office for the Protection of Monuments in Łódz; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
tablished in Lodz in February 1940 and which, until August 1944, held about 200,000 Jews from across Europe. Most inmates died there or in concentration camps. The building is more than 100 years old.
changing lives... JEWISH FAMILY AND
The Transition from Teenager to Young AdultBy Rita Sason, LCSW, Director Jewish Family & Children’s Service
As we move into the new year, college applications need to be completed and decisions made about what is next – college, gap year programs or work. This transition is a major life event, but it need not be a stressful or difficult one. The difficult and often stressful challenges of the transition – independence, time management, and the search to find one’s own way – present students with not just challenges, but opportunities as well. Young adults must be prepared to handle these challenges in a positive way in order to avoid the pitfalls that often plaque young adults.
Independence can be a blessing or curse because it can lead to organized success or to chaotic failure. In order for young adults to take advantage of their newfound freedom they must not only assume a mindset of responsibility, but actively practice responsibility and make it a part of their routine.
A simple way of practicing responsibility is to create daily or weekly to-do lists and to not end a day or a week until those tasks are completed. Such a practice will imprint responsibility and gradually increase an individual’s ability to withstand the often chaotic and disorderly atmosphere of independent living.
Time Management is perhaps one of the most important skills for young adults to
learn in order to thrive and avoid common pitfalls. The best way to manage time is to prioritize your list of responsibilities based on due date, time, and difficulty. Get started right away on the tasks that are due soon, take the most time, and are the most difficult. This simple and effective strategy ensures that students will allocate their time in the most effective way possible, get their work done, and make their lives easier and less stressful.
The search to find one’s own way is perhaps the most elusive and hard to define. Young adulthood is a time of changes and personal discovery. Woodrow Wilson had a maxim about this phenomenon – “The purpose of a university should be to make a son as unlike his father as possible.” That maxim still rings true today. How can young adulthood deal with the enormity of this task of self-discovery? The best way to maintain a balance between keeping an open mind and remembering that true and meaningful self-transformation is best not undertaken all at once. Change takes time. It is a journey, not a revolution.
The active practice of responsibility, prioritization of tasks, and embrace of a mindset of gradual transformation will help to ensure that young adults handle the travails of this transition with success, confidence, and even a self-assured calmness and sense of enjoyment. The young adult years should be educational, enlightening, and even fun, but they can only be so with the right mindset and life skills. Good luck!
Together with the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) and a grant from the State of New Jersey, the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of the Jewish Federation of Ocean County has been providing the sacred obligation of pikuach nefesh (saving a life in jeopardy) to Holocaust Survivors for many years. We realize that unless you are impacted directly, you may not fully appreciate how important this work is.
Every dollar you contribute will be matched 25 times!
International Holocaust Memorial DayBy Sarah Rochel Hewitt Jewish Treats by NJOP
Speak of the Holocaust and the first word that many think of is Auschwitz. It was, and is, the most infamous of the concentration camps established by the Nazis. In fact, Auschwitz was not one camp, but rather several. Some sections were labor camps, other parts were specified for (non-Jewish) prisoners of war, and then there was Birkenau (also known as Auschwitz II), which was the Jewish death camp.
On January 27, 1945, the Soviet army arrived at the gates of the already notorious death camp. Nothing could have prepared them for the horrible conditions, the malnourished prisoners or the unimaginable horrors they discovered.
When the Red Army arrived, there were less about 7,000 prisoners in the camp. Over 50,000 other prisoners had been removed from the camp by the Nazis and sent on the infamous death march. Many died on the road, too weak to march.
The liberation of Auschwitz was an incredibly momentous event. In recognition of that fact, January 27 is now the
official date of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, as sanctioned by the United Nations in November 2005, by General Assembly Resolution 60/7.
The resolution, which was initiated by the State of Israel, came after the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, perhaps as a recognition that in a decade or so, the aging survivor community would no longer be able to share their experiences. Resolution 60/7 honored the memory of the Holocaust’s victims, rejected Holocaust denial, called for the preservation of the historical sites that verify the atrocities and pushed for educational programming.
It should be noted that since 1953, Jews have observed a special Holocaust memorial day on 27 Nisan in the Jewish Calendar, Yom Hashoah. Many traditional Jews mourn those who perished in the Holocaust on Tisha b’Av, the ninth of Av.
(For other “Jewish Treats: Juicy Bits of Judaism, Daily” and many other Jewish resources visit www.jewishtreats.org and www.njop.org.)
CHABAD JEWISH CENTER OF JACKSON
645 Cross Street Lakewood, NJ 08701
Rabbi Shmuel Naparstek 732-523-5112
Email: email@example.com www.ChabadofJackson.com
CHABAD JEWISH CENTER OF TOMS RIVER
2001 Church Road Toms River, NJ 08753
Rabbi Moshe Gourarie 732-349-4199
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.chabadtomsriver.com
CONGREGATION DOV “V” SCHMUEL
1143 West County Road Lakewood, NJ 08701
CONGREGATION SONS OF ISRAEL
590 Madison Avenue Lakewood, NJ 08701
Rabbi Shmuel Tendler 732-364-2230
Chazan Zelig Freilich
CONGREGATION SONS OF ISRAEL 401 Park Ave. Lakewood, NJ 08701
Rabbi Baruch Ber Yoffe 732-367-3116
SHABBAT CANDLE LIGHTING IN LAKEWOOD
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Please contribute to:
• Friends of JFCS
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• The Seniors Lunch Program Special Fund
CONGREGATION AHAVAT OLAM
106 Windeler Road Howell, NJ 07731
Rabbi Cantor David Amar
Rabbi Emeritus Michael Klein 732-719-3500 email: email@example.com www.cao-nj.org
CONGREGATION B'NAI ISRAEL
1488 Old Freehold Road Toms River, NJ 08753
Rabbi William Gershon
Cantor Jacob Greenberg
Rabbi Emeritus Richard Hammerman
Cantor Emeritus Daniel Green 732-349-1244
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TEMPLE BETH OR
P.O. Box 789 Brick, NJ 08723
Rabbi Robert B. Rubin Rabbi Emeritus Dr. Robert E. Fierstien 732-458-4700
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BETH AM SHALOM
1235 State Highway 70 Lakewood, NJ 08701
Rabbi Stephen D. Gold
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JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER OF LBI 2411 Long Beach Blvd. Spray Beach, NJ 08008
Rabbi Michael Jay 609-492-4090
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Blessed are You, Ad-nai our G-d, Sovereign of the universe, who hallows us with mitzvot, commanding us to kindle the light of Shabbat.
It is easy to donate a little each month, to make a big impact!
• Go online to www. jewishoceancounty.org.
• Send a check, use your credit card, transfer stock.
• Call the office and talk with our staff.
• Bring in your Tzedakah box. We will count it for you.
• Consider making a monthly gift to support your community.
Jewish Federation of Ocean County 1235A Route 70, Lakewood, NJ 08701 732-363-0530
They Loved Me
and his career-defining character as a tiny Frenchman, Louis LeBeau, who was not only a valiant little prisoner of war but also a gourmet chef (naturally). Some episodes featured him wearing a French chef’s white toque instead of his usual béret Basque. Successive seasons gave Clary more to do as his character developed, and his memoir, titled, like it or not, From the Holocaust to Hogan’s Heroes – dwells on issues he had to contend with, with growing impatience, over the decades: No, he did not mind playing a prisoner of the Germans. The Germans in the sitcom were Luftwaffe and not necessarily Nazis, and a stalag observed the Geneva Convention and was not a concentration camp. The actors who played Colonel Klink and Sergeant Schultz – German Werner Klemperer, son of conductor Otto Klemperer, and Austrian John Banner – were Jews and he adored them as his “best friends” during the making of the show and as they aged together companionably in Los Angeles.
Ivan Dixon, who played Kinchloe, was a brilliant performer who had already made the intense black-and-white movie Nothing but a Man in 1964; he would be the only cast member to quit the series for more ambitious work acting and directing. The only hint of tensions was with Bob Crane, who was the sole Republican.
Hogan’s Heroes, Clary notes, would remain a global hit for decades to come, even in Germany, under the name A Cage Full of Heroes.
Clary’s third act, after the daytime dramas, was a quiet one. His reticence about the Holocaust ebbed in the 1980s, when he was horrified by the soft and overt antisemitism of Patrick Buchanan and David Duke in the television news in the 1980s, and he started to speak out about his experiences. This was “the best thing I did in my life” he told the Hollywood
Reporter in 2015. His nightmares about the Holocaust, common since the 1940s, finally stopped.
There had been a time when it was common enough for World War II refugees to run into each other at parties, in major European and American cities, including Los Angeles, and in Clary’s telling, these encounters had always been low key. Where were you in the war? Prisoner? Me too. Where? Ah, you were in a camp, which one? Buchenwald. Ravensbruck, Treblinka ... How long? Right. And the subject was dropped in favor of current events, gossip, or sports.
But a much fuller catharsis came when Clary attended the World Gathering of Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust in Jerusalem in 1981. He instinctively took to Israel, Jerusalem, and the survivor community, connecting with the now aged, paunchy Israelis he had known as skinny young Parisians. He visited Yad Vashem and gave an interview for a documentary, where, for the first time, he broke down weeping uncontrollably. He could not stop, or explain to the interviewer, Dr. William Rader, why he was crying, except finally to speculate, a few minutes later, “Maybe I should have died.”
Clary’s Polish, Orthodox Jewish father, Moishe Widerman, had emigrated to France but never really learned French despite his marriage to a Frenchwoman. Moishe was a distant parent, but his mother, Baila, doted on her children. Robert’s idyllic childhood in the large family ended with detention at Drancy, and being trucked through Germany, where the truck bed of terrified children drove past young Germans to laughter and taunts of “Dirty Jews!”
On arrival at the camp, he narrowly missed instant selection and murder due to his apparent youth (“I was 16. I looked 12”). His mother’s last word to Robert in the death camp, before they were separated, was “Behave.” She knew that one wrong word from her quirky, loudmouth
son could condemn him to the gas. Both parents were murdered within a week of arrival, which cost Clary his religious faith for good.
In Jerusalem, Clary’s sadness deepened, not only because of the memories being unearthed, but due to the logistics of the conference itself: “My depression was a culmination of everything – being bused to Tel Aviv, being in this big place, and feeling that I was back in the camp taking orders (go to door G, not H; stay in line; wait your turn; stand up; sit down; salute; sing; stop; applaud; cry). All these things got to be too much for me.”
Far from dissuading Clary from probing his painful memories, the experience confirmed his educational mission and once back in California he quickly resumed his speaking activities, particularly at high schools, on behalf of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He also resumed his hobby of painting.
Two years ago, I reached out via Tablet contributor Noah Pollak and Rabbi Abra-
Jewish Journal Editorial Committee of the Jewish Federation of Ocean County
Anise Singer, Chairperson Annabel Lindenbaum
ham Cooper to ask to interview Clary, who is now 96 and lives in Beverly Hills. The answer was an extremely polite no, saying he was not giving any more interviews. His final public conversation was with the Television Academy Foundation (he stated in that interview that it would be his last: “No more talking, no more yak-yak-yak! I’ll whistle, and dance, but no more talk.”)
“Everything I did,” he responded to a question about his proudest achievement. “To have people liking me. It’s rewarding. I loved the theater.” When his interviewer began to tee up “a last question we like to ask” he recoiled at the word “last” and mugged clownish sobbing at the prospect of the conversation ending.
“What! Last?!” His comically drooping mouth and Looney Tunes whining would have done Mel Blanc credit. At the actual question, though – How would you like to be remembered?” – he turned serious.
“I don’t care. I really mean that. I really don’t care. They will remember me as a nice person? Fine. Remember me as a dirty Jew? Fine. I don’t care because I won’t be here. I’m not going to worry about it. … When I’m dead, I’m dead, who cares? I’ll never know. Nobody’s gonna tell me, not even God. Is God going to tell me, ‘You know what they’re talking about you?!”
Peter Theroux is a Los Angeles-based writer and translator.
Jewish Federation of Ocean County, a nonprofit corporation, publishes The Jewish Journal 12 times a year. Views expressed by columnists, in readers’ letters and in reprinted opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Journal, the Jewish Federation of Ocean County or any agency of the Jewish Federation of Ocean County. Submissions of copy and .jpeg photos may be sent to Editor (jfoceditor@ ocjf.org) or mailed to the known office of publication. All copy or photos submitted to The Jewish Journal shall become the property of The Jewish Journal and the Jewish Federation of Ocean County. All submissions of text or photography may be changed and printed at the discretion of the editor without notice to the submitter. The Jewish Journal reserves full discretion to decide what will be published. No material will be accepted which is considered against the best interest of the Jewish community. Acceptance of advertising neither endorses advertisers nor guarantees kashrut.