VOL 13, NO 17 Q MAY 2, 2014 / 2 IYAR 5774
5 Towns will never forget Community and schools gather for Yom Hashoah
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By Malka Eisenberg The Five Towns turned out in a massive showing of support and remembrance at the annual community-wide Yom Hashoah memorial service for the six million martyrs, on Sunday night at Congregation Beth Sholom in Lawrence. An overďŹ‚ow crowd of more than 1,000 ďŹ lled the main sanctuary, with many standing on the periphery and others watching a live video feed in the ballroom. Event co-chair Dana Frenkel called for no applause, and the audience sat in rapt silence for the entire program. Twenty four area synagogues participated. Sandy Shmuely directed the HALB choir, accompanied by guitar, as they sang Gam ki ailaych bgai tzalmavet, Ani Maamin, and Hannah Seneshâ€™s Eli, Eli. Some of the children stepped forward announcContinued on page 13
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Biz skim downs Grimm No charge in rabbi-linked election cheat By Will Bredderman The Brooklyn Paper
Rambam protests as Jews face new Ukrainian terrors From Rambam Mesivta Students from Rambam Mesivta rallied outside the Ukrainian Mission to the United Nations on Sunday, the eve of Yom Hashoah, to protest overt anti-Semitic attacks directed against that countryâ€™s Jewish community. Over the past few months, Ukrainian
synagogues have been ďŹ rebombed, Jews attacked in the streets, and tombstones desecrated. During Passover, Molotov cocktails were hurled at the main synagogue in Nikolayev and a rabbi, en route to visit the sick, was stabbed. They were calling attention to the reContinued on page 3
Shabbat candlelighting 7:35 pm. Shabbat ends 8:40 pm. 72 min. zman 9:07 pm. Parshat Emor. Yom Hazikaron/Yom Haatzmaut.
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Federal authorities indicted New York Cityâ€™s only Republican member of Congress this week, charging him with 20 counts of tax, insurance, and immigration fraud in connection with a restaurant he co-owned prior to holding ofďŹ ce. Michael Grimm, an ex-Marine and former law-enforcement agent who represents all of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn, has been under federal investigation for allegations that his ďŹ rst campaign in 2010 strong-armed illegal contributions from followers of Israeli celebrity rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, who reportedly funneled $250,000 to $300,000 to Grimmâ€™s campaign, according to the Associated Press. Grimm has denied these allegations, and no charges relating to his campaign ďŹ nancing were brought on Monday. An Israeli businessman who was Grimmâ€™s liaison to Pintoâ€™s followers, Ofer Biton, pleaded guilty in August to an immigration fraud charge. [On Friday, the Feds unsealed charges against Diana Durand, a Texas woman described by her attorney as a close social friend of Grimm, for allegedly making an illegal $10,000 contribution to Continued on page 3
May 2, 2014 • 2 IYAR 5774 THE JEWISH STAR
YOUNG ISRAEL OF WOODMERE
54th Anniversary Dinner Banquet
Shabsi & Julie Schreier Guests of Honor
Averim & Evelyn Stavsky
Rabbi Eliyahu & Adina Wolf
Amud Chesed Award
Amud Torah Award
David & Sarah Casden New Leadership Award
Sunday Evening, May 11, 2014 T H E
S A N D S
A T L A N T I C
B E A C H
To place a reservation and sign up for the Scroll of Honor, go to www.yiwoodmere.org For additional information, please contact the shul office at 516-295-0950 Ext.2
DESIGN BY FRANKLIN PRINTING - 718.258.8588
Special Tribute to Rebbetzin Sarah Lebor, a”h
By Malka Eisenberg They lined up in their blue race shirts on a chilly Sunday, the sky sapphire blue with a few white ﬂuffy clouds, a perfect day for a run/walk in North Woodmere Park. The more serious runners were in front, stretching, warming up, the rest were milling around, chatting with friends and neighbors. At the sound of the horn they were off, coursing through the curving streets of North Woodmere, sneakers pounding the pavement, some running, some walking briskly. And at the end, the two winners were Dmitriy Krasney, 30, of Far Rockaway, who also won in 2012, coming in at a time of 18 minutes and 38 seconds and Stephanie Greenberg, 20, of Cedarhurst with a time of 21 minutes 13 seconds. There were other winners based on age category. The most notable was a racing pair, Irene Hizme of Oceanside, 76, a survivor of Auschwitz and Mengele’s infamous twin experiments, and Yair Saperstein, 23, of Lawrence, a student at Albert Einstein School of Medicine, who pushed Hizme in a wheelchair to achieve a winning time in her age group coming in at ﬁrst place in 30 minutes 27 seconds. “I support the FIDV,” she said after the race. “I’m a Holocaust survivor and (Monday) is Yom Hashoah. We have a country that the IDF is protecting like we didn’t when I was a child.” About 450 participated in the race, less than last year, noted Dr. Isaac Seinuk of North Woodmere, race director and an FIDV board member, likely because it immediately followed Passover. “The 5 Towns 5K is an established community event that brings us all together in support of a very important cause,” he said. “Some years we will have more participants. Other years we will have less. But even with the fewer participants this year we still grossed over $25000 for disabled Israeli veterans and Beit Halochem.” Last year 700 runners raised $30,000 for the Israeli soldiers who, as Seinuk pointed out, “have given up parts of their own bodies in defense of the State of Israel.” He said that other friends organizations all over the world strive to raise funds for the organization and for Beit Halochem, its sports and rehabilitation centers for disabled soldiers in Israel. He noted that the U.S. has sent representatives to Israel to learn from Beit Halochem how to assist disabled American veterans. Ruthy Solomon of Woodmere said that she was walking the race, “to help the Israeli veterans who are disabled. I have a very warm feeling for the Israel armed forces who defend
In past years, as the number of participants has grown, the race has become a community wide event, bringing together all segments of the Five Towns from across the religious spectrum. Seinuk discovered FIDV when he was looking for an extreme bike ride for a charity in Israel. “I wanted to do something to bring more awareness,” he said. “It turned into a project for me.” The race runs the same route every year. He notes that the location, North Woodmere Park, is convenient, with a parking lot, community room for registration, bathrooms and the race ends at the picnic area. The race raises much needed funds and awareness for American Friends of Israel Disabled Veterans-Beit Halochem Centers in Israel. Founded in 1949, after Israel’s War of Independence, the goal of the Zahal Disabled Veterans Organization (ZDVO) was to help the 6,000 veterans physically and emotionally injured in the war. The number of veterans currently using the three centers in Israel has now swelled to 51,000; this includes those injured in terrorist attacks as well. The goal of these centers is to aid them in legal matters, reintegrating them into society, offering physical and emotional support and assistance. The centers run sports programs to aid in rehabilitation to maintain the veterans’ physical ﬁtness and health, and offer social and creative activities. “Whenever something happens in Israel we hope to see that no one was killed,” noted Seinuk. “But for those that were injured, life does not always go on as it did before. That is why Beit Halochem is there. It is a shining example of how we as Jews support each other.” Since last year a plaque has been placed in the Beit Halo$XVFKZLW]VXUYLYRU,UHQH+L]PHZLQV¿UVWSODFHLQKHUDJHFDWHJRU\ chem in Jerusalem honoring the sponsors and the parDV<DLU6DSHUVWHLQVSHHGVKHUFKDULRWRYHUWKH¿QLVKOLQHRQ6XQGD\ ticipants of the 5 Towns 5K for their continuing support of Beit Halochem and disabled Israeli veterans. our country at risk of their own lives.” The New York ofﬁce of FIDV is also promoting two other “I want to raise money for Beit Halochem,” said Rena Dworetsky of North Woodmere. The race is a “good thing. It events, a Vermont bike ride for Beit Halochem and a Courage in Motion Israel bide ride. The Vermont ride, from July 20 brings the community together.” “I’ve done this for the last four years,” said Enid Goldstein, of to the 23 will provide kosher meals, cost $800 and welcomes Woodmere. “It’s an excellent cause and now that I have children non-riding spouses. For more information contact ﬁdvbikin Israel it’s not just protecting everybody else but also protect- email@example.com. The Seventh Annual Courage in Motion Bike Ride will be in Israel from Oct. 26 to 30. For more inforing my grandchildren.” “It’s important to help out the disabled Israeli Veterans,” mation on the Israel bike ride go to www.cycleisrael.com. “I am also helping Kulanu set up a one mile race this fall said Sheldon Eskowitz of Woodmere. ”It deﬁnitely brings chizuk to them and achdus between us in the U.S. and the in North Woodmere park,” said Seinuk. “The next 5 Towns soldiers in Israel and the Israeli citizens to know we are here 5K is Sunday April 26, 2015. Let’s see if we can make this the biggest and best 5 Towns 5K yet.” to help out in any way we can.”
Rep. Grimm indicted…
Rambam protests terror…
Continued from page 1 Grimm’s 2010 campaign. She is charged with collecting money from straw donors and then reimbursing them.] Regarding Monday’s charges that involve the congressman’s restaurant, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said that “Grimm made the choice to go from upholding the law to breaking it. In so doing, he turned his back on every oath he had ever taken.” Grimm vowed to prove his innocence — and to win re-election against his Democratic challenger, former Coney Island City Councilman Domenic Recchia. “I am going to ﬁght tooth and nail until I am fully exonerated,” Grimm said. The Justice Department alleges that Grimm — who held a 45-percent share in the Upper East Side restaurant Healthalicious from 2007 until 2010 — knowingly paid employees in cash to dodge payroll taxes, under-reported the business’s revenue, failed to obtain proper worker’s compensation insurance, hired illegal immigrants, and lied under oath during the investigation. The indictment even claims that he directed a new manager to continue the policies while he was running his successful upstart effort against then-Rep. Michael McMahon in 2010. The New York Post reported that the accountant who handled the payroll under Grimm’s direction at Healthalicious also handled the books for Grimm’s 2010 congressional campaign, a tie that might have brought
Continued from page 1 cent overt, anti-Semitic attacks that have been directed against the Ukrainian Jewish community. Rambam Rosh Mesivta Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman spoke about the responsibility all Jews and freedom-loving Americans have to learn from the past and do whatever is in their power to prevent anti-Semitism and other forms of injustice. His speech was punctuated with chants by the students of “We will not forget!” Ukrainian participation in the Holocaust is another indictment of the attitude of the populace towards their Jewish citizenry. Babi Yar, a ravine just outside Kiev, was the site of one of the largest massacres during the Holocaust —100,000 innocent men women and children were shot and thrown into the ravine. Chants of “Remember Babi Yar!” and “Never Again!” were directed at the ofﬁces of the Ukrainian government across the street. Rabbi Friedman pointed out that Ukraine’s tradition of anti-Semitism far predates the Holocaust. He drew attention to the massacres of 1648-1649 that were perpetrated by Bogdan Chmelnitski, in which tens of thousands of Jews were slaughtered. Students chanted, “Your land is drenched in blood!” Chmelnitski, is a Ukrainian national hero; his monument is prominently placed in the center of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.
the restaurant’s alleged payroll and tax evasion to the attention of authorities. Grimm blasted the investigation as a partisan ploy. “From the beginning, the government has pursued a politically driven vendetta against Congressman Grimm and not an independent search for the truth. Congressman Grimm asserts his innocence of any wrongdoing,” said the pol’s attorney William McGinley in a statement. Democrats were similarly amazed that the U.S. Attorney’s ofﬁce moved against Grimm in the heat of an election year. “They’re usually sympathetic to the political calendar, and would not do it when it would affect the outcome of an election,” said a leading Democrat in the district, who asked not to be named. But other experts disagreed. “I don’t think the U.S. government decides upon when it is going to indict somebody based upon election law calendar in a particular state,” said election lawyer Jerry Goldfeder. “They indict someone when they’re ready to indict.” Meanwhile, Democrats described the scene at Recchia’s campaign headquarters on the night of April 25 as jubilant. “They’re popping champagne bottles over there,” a source said. Grimm made headlines after the State of the Union address in January, when he threatening to throw NY1 reporter Michael Scotto off a balcony inside the Capitol
Turning to the current situation, Rabbi Friedman spoke about the synagogues which were defaced and set on ﬁre, the Jews who were beaten, and the cemeteries that were deﬁled in an ongoing bid to intimidate the Jewish community. He demanded that the Ukrainian government immediately condemn all forms of anti-Semitism and safeguard the Jewish community by providing police protection to all synagogues and Jewish schools. “If they truly are remorseful about their anti-Semitic history, they should express shame for their complicity and ﬁnally put the remaining Ukrainian Nazi war criminals on trial and call for an immediate cessation of the virulent anti-Semitic attacks,” he added. Hillel Goldman, Rambam’s assistant principal, then led the student activists in chanting “Stop the violence! Stop the hate!” Goldman directed his comments to the Ukrainians. “That the waters of hate are once again rising in your country,” he said. “We demand you rise to the challenge and beat back the wave of anti-Semitism drowning your land and condemn these acts.” He concluded his speech with a chant of “Ukraine, you are to blame!” and “Do not be silent!” The rally ended with the boys singing in unison the age-old prayer for Jewish unity and survival, “Acheinu Kol Bais Yisrael,” led by Rambam’s Rabbi Ari Boiangiu.
THE JEWISH STAR May 2, 2014 • 2 IYAR 5774
5 Towns unite at 5K run to support Israeli vets
May 2, 2014 • 2 IYAR 5774 THE JEWISH STAR
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‘Peace’ fail: Who’s fault? ‘T
urns out your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. See, mostly dead is still slightly alive” (Billy Crystal as Miracle Max the Wizard, in The Princess Bride). Last week, the U.S. sponsored talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, which had been MOSTLY dead for weeks, took its last breath. There is plenty of blame to pass POLITICS TO GO around. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton planted the seeds of failure for this round of talks very early in the administration. It was Ms. Clinton who made the settlements an issue. During the negotiations to begin negotiations, approximately ten months ago, the Palestinians agreed not Jeff Dunetz to apply for recognition as a state to various U.N. organizations and Israel agreed to release convicted terrorists in four segments. The problem with this was that each list of prisoners was another negotiation, and a tough one, and in the end it was the negotiation of the last group of prisoners that sent the talks down the road to collapse. As Palestinian President Abbas broke the agreement and went to the UN, claiming that Israel was delaying the forth prisoner release, the truth was (according to Israeli negotiator and “peacenik” Tzipi Livni) that the parties were in the middle of negotiating which terrorists would be released. If Netanyahu was able to offer a settlement freeze instead of a prisoner release, it might not have saved the talks, but it may have made them easier to keep them going. The straw that broke the camel’s back is when after years of failure the Fatah “moderate” terrorists negotiated a reconciliation deal with the Hamas extremist terrorists. While both Fatah and Hamas call for the destruction of Israel, Hamas is more overt in its threats, making them in all languages, and is considered a terrorist group even by the appeasement-prone European Union. Fatah, on the other hand is considered “moderate” because its calls for the destruction of Israel are only made in Arabic.
Fatah Spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi claimed that Hamas had agreed to work toward peace, saying the “terms of the national reconciliation agreement are clear: Palestine honors its commitments, respects international law, and continues its popular nonviolent resistance against the Israeli occupation.” But top Hamas ofﬁcial Hassan Yousef announced that the terror group would not renounce its commitment to violence and the destruction of Israel. Another Hamas leader, Ra’fat Murra, said, “The option of negotiations has failed, Palestinian resistance remains the right option.” After the agreement was announced, Prime Minister Netanyahu said he would not negotiate with a government that includes Hamas unless it renounces violence and terrorism (which is as likely as Nancy Pelosi calling for the repeal of Obamacare). State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said the U.S. was troubled by the announcement, which “could seriously complicate” negotiations to extend peace negotiations. “This certainly is disappointing and raises concerns about our efforts to extend the negotiations,” she said. “It is hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that doesn’t believe in its right to exist.” At the time Israel cut off the talks, Netanyahu had already put on the table a settlement freeze and a willingness to begin the discussion of permanent borders, yet the Palestinians still acted to reconcile with Hamas, a move they knew would force Israel to withdraw from the talks. John Kerry also made mistakes in this process. Perhaps the biggest of which was his naïve belief that the Palestinians wanted to make peace. At the beginning of Obama’s ﬁrst term he put peace talks on the front burner. However, three years later, he had all but abandoned the effort, realizing that the Palestinians weren’t yet ready to make peace. When Kerry replaced Hillary Clinton at Foggy Bottom, he told Obama that Palestinian-Israel peace was one of his priorities and the President backed him up. After realizing the Palestinians were not willing to compromise, Kerry doubled down on forcing Israel to compromise, which they did until the Palestinians demanded that Israel release Israeli Arabs who were not Palestinians, but Israelis, Continued on page 14
Fatah is considered ‘moderate’ because its calls for the destruction of Israel are only made in Arabic.
It’s time to get tough with Mahmoud Abbas ‘I
Abbas certainly gloriﬁes violence, as evibelieve that President [Mahmoud] denced by his embrace of Palestinian terAbbas is sincere rorists past and present, but it’s true that about his willingness to violence is not his preferred method. That recognize Israel and its doesn’t mean, however, that he’s committed right to exist, to recog- to peace with Israel. nize Israel’s legitimate What Abbas wants is to secure internasecurity needs, to shun tional recognition of a Palestinian state withviolence, to resolve out having to make any historic concessions these issues in a dip- to Israel, such as renouncing the so-called lomatic fashion that “right of return” for the Palestinians who meets the concerns of have inherited (in marked contrast to other the people of Israel. refugee populations around the world) refuAnd I think that this is gee status. As Palestinian negotiator Saeb Era rare quality not just akat summarized it in an April 5 memo, “The Ben Cohen, JNS within the Palestinian PLO seeks to achieve an independent and territories, but in the sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borMiddle East generally.” der with East Jerusalem as its capital, with That, in case you didn’t come across it the a just solution to the refugee issue based on ﬁrst time, was what President Barack Obama UN General Assembly Resolution 194.” conﬁdently declared to Bloomberg journalAbbas has, therefore, sought to bypass the ist Jeffrey Goldberg on March 2. Barely two negotiations without explicitly withdrawing months later, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki uttered the following words no less than four times at a press briefing: “It’s hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist.” The “government” Psaki referred to is the one headed by Abbas, which just announced a unity agreement between the Palestinian leader’s Fatah movement and the Islamist Hamas terror organization. Hamas, as is well known, believes that Israel has no right to exist and should therefore be vio- Secretary of State John Kerry with Palestinian Authority Presilently wiped off the map. dent Mahmoud Abbas in 2013. U.S. Department of State There are any number of questions arising from this sorry episode, most obviously how the from them. In doing so, he’s pursued a uniObama Administration got Abbas so spectac- lateralist strategy, which involves securing a ularly wrong. Go back to Obama’s interview seat at the United Nations for a “State of Paleswith Goldberg for conﬁrmation that, in the tine.” He ﬁgures he can achieve that outcome president’s mind, it’s Israeli Prime Minister with the votes of Arab and Muslim countries. Benjamin Netanyahu who is risking the longThat was why, last month, Abbas anterm peace of the region in favor of short- nounced the Palestinians’ intent to join 63 term political gains. The theme of “Israel is international organizations, conventions, blocking the peace talks” will now become and treaties; he has already signed 15 ap“Israel wrecked the peace talks.” plications for such bodies. By embedding In this environment, Abbas has become the “State of Palestine” in the infrastructure adept at strategically placing obstacles on the of global diplomacy, Abbas calculates that a road to peace while portraying himself as a Palestinian state will inexorably emerge. victim of the machinations of others, particuBy announcing that Fatah and Hamas are larly Israel, with more power and resources reconciling—not the ﬁrst time he’s done so than the Palestinian Authority. One important since their brutal civil war in Gaza during reason he’s been able to get away with doing 2007—Abbas can present a facade of Palso is that, as Obama said, he “shuns violence.” estinian unity to the outside world. On one level, it’s a clever strategy, but on another, it’s very risky. There is no guarantee that Hamas and Fatah will be able to overcome their serious differences and work together; Hamas will certainly bristle at any suggestion that it should recognize Israel, even tactically. And in the unlikely event that Abbas is successful, his state will exist primarily on paper, not in reality—the day to day fortunes of the PalVIEWPOINT
Continued on page 14
5 THE JEWISH STAR May 2, 2014 • 2 IYAR 5774
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May 2, 2014 • 2 IYAR 5774 THE JEWISH STAR
Life’s great challenge: Make every moment count T
here is a legend regarding Moses Mendelssohn, the grandfather of the wellknown German composer, who was far from being handsome (long with a rather short stature, he had a grotesque hunchback). One day he visited a merchant in Hamburg who had a lovely daughter named FROM THE HEART Frumtje.Moses fell OF JERUSALEM helplessly in love with her, but Frumtje was repulsed by his misshapen appearance. When it came time for him to leave, Moses gathered his courage and climbed the stairs to her room to take one last opportunity to speak with her. She was a vision of heavenly beauty, but Rabbi Binny caused him deep sadFreedman ness by her refusal to even look at him. After several attempts at conversation, Moses shyly asked, “Do you believe marriages are made in heaven?” “Yes,” she answered, still looking at the ﬂoor. “And do you?” “Yes, I do” he replied. “You see, in heaven at the birth of each boy, G-d announces which girl he will marry. When I was born, my future bride was pointed out to me. Then G-d added, ‘But your wife will be hunchbacked.’ Right then and there I called out, ‘Oh G-d, a hunchbacked woman would be a tragedy. Please, give me the hump and let her be beautiful’.” Then Frumtje looked up into his eyes and was stirred by some deep memory. She reached out and gave Mendelssohn her hand and later became his devoted wife. Sometimes, we have a sense that we have been there before. On our journey through
life, we often experience the feeling that we are not traveling a new undiscovered path, but rather coming back to where we have been. This week’s portion, Emor, contains a Jewish ritual that we ﬁnd ourselves in the midst of: the counting of the Omer. eginning with the second night of Passover, we begin to count the days leading to the festival of Shavuot, which commemorates the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. For seven weeks (49 days), every evening between Passover and Shavuot, we recite the blessing thanking G-d for the mitzvah (commandment) of the counting of the Omer, and proceed to count the ﬁrst night of the Omer, and then the second night, and so forth. The Omer was actually a sacriﬁce of barley (the beginning of the harvest of the grain) offered up in the Temple on the second day of Passover. And it is from the time of this offering that we begin to count the days until the festival of Shavuot, seven weeks later. But even putting aside the actual signiﬁcance of the Omer offering, why do we count the days of the Omer? If we are counting the days till Shavuot, why don’t we just count the days? Furthermore, why are we counting up, why not down? I remember the nightly ritual in the army of one of my veteran soldiers, Chaim Berro, who, like most of the veterans in the unit who were getting closer to the day they would ﬁnish their regular service, had a huge chart
with each day in a box till the last day which was the day he was due to get discharged. Every night, he would gather his buddies and make a big ceremony of marking an X in the box of the day just passed. In fact, he patterned his ritual after the counting of the Omer, and would yell out: “ HaYom Yom…” “Today is 27 days, which are three weeks and six days left until Chaim Berro gets out of Hell!” Why don’t we count down 20 days till Shavuot, and then ten days till Shavuot, building up the excitement at the approach of the day when 3,200 years ago we received the Torah? Why do we count up? The verse in our portion of Emor states: “And you shall count for yourselves, from the day after Shabbat, from the day you bring the waved Omer offering, seven complete weeks.” (Leviticus 23:15) It is interesting to note that the day we bring (and wave before the altar) the Omer sacriﬁce is called here Macharat HaShabbat (the day after Shabbat). Our oral tradition teaches, however, that Shabbat here refers not to the seventh day of the week, but rather to the ﬁrst day of Pesach, also called Shabbat. This is an important point, which was the source of great controversy in Jewish history. What does Shabbat have to do with the Omer, and for that matter with Pesach? The mitzvah of the Omer is all about counting. We are counting days and weeks; but we are really counting time.
A day is a piece of life, but do we really see this? When we fall into bed, do we feel we have lived a piece of life, or have life’s endless trivialities and mundane details actually prevented us from really living?
What does it mean to count a day? We live in an age where the smartphone and Post-it notes have turned our days into a list of “to do”s. We think a day is a project list, but in truth we have lost sight of what a day is really meant to be. Of the expression “time is money” — is this really what a day is? Judaism suggests that nothing could be further from the truth. he Lubavitcher Rebbe once said that time is life. A day is a piece of life, but do we really see this? When we fall into bed at the end of another long day, do we feel we have lived a piece of life, or have life’s endless trivialities and mundane details actually prevented us from really living? There is a beautiful Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) that says that if a person, in the midst of learning Torah, happens across a beautiful tree and interrupts his learning to exclaim Mah Na’eh Ilan Zeh (How beautiful is this tree!), then Mitcha’yev Be’Nafsho (His life is forfeit!). Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch suggests a beautiful idea to explain this teaching: if seeing a beautiful tree is an interruption of a person’s Torah study, then he is missing the entire point. The beauty of nature is not an interruption of my relationship with G-d; it is an extension of it. Changing my children’s diapers, doing the laundry, and cooking dinner are not chores that prevent me from living; they are gifts, which are an essential part of the beauty of life. And this is the secret of the Omer. The Omer offering is an offering of barley, the coarsest of grains. Raw barley is actually animal fodder, and it is symbolic of all the seemingly mundane parts of daily living, which seem, at ﬁrst glance to be a distraction from the joy of life. The challenge of the Omer is to learn how to see all of my “barley,” all the chores and details which seem so insigniﬁcant, as much a part of the meaning of life as the Continued on page 14
Emor / Priestly holiness and its strange ingredients A t the beginning of Parshat Emor, Moshe is instructed to inform the Kohanim of a few important rules for them to follow in order to maintain their taharah (purity) that allows them to serve PARSHA OF the general Jewish soTHE WEEK ciety’s spiritual needs. A Kohen may not come within a certain distance of a corpse, unless it is one of his close relatives (mother, father, son, daughter, brother and never-married sister). The status of his wife makes for an interesting halakhic discussion (based on how Rabbi Avi Billet 21:4 is to be understood), but certainly in the absence of a Temple, a Kohen will typically participate in such a funeral. Kohanim may not create a bald spot in the head, nor shave the peah of the beard (the corner of the head where the skull and jawbone meet at the cheekbone), nor make a gash in the ﬂesh (21:5), for they must be “holy unto G-d and not desecrate His Name” (21:6). There is a group of women whose former relationships disqualify them for a Kohen to marry (21:7).
The underlying reasons given for these rules are because “they present the ﬁre offerings, the food offerings of G-d” and therefore they must remain holy (21:6-8). A simple reading of the procession of 21:56 seems to suggest that the act of not making the bald spot or shaving the peah is a door to achieving holiness (and the holiness achievement is not dependent on the following verse of 21:7). Rabbi Chaim Paltiel noted this (19:3), wondering what to make of Rashi’s principle from last week’s parsha that “whenever you ﬁnd discussions about immorality, you can ﬁnd a possibility for holiness.” What does shaving have to do with holiness? Perhaps we can ﬁnd an answer from the words of the Alshikh. In noting that the prohibition against creating a bald spot is in the context of mourning the death of a loved one, Alshikh maintains that the permission granted to become tameh when in mourning is not an all-out allowance to avoid all priestly rules. The Kohen still has responsibilities, and therefore must remain kadosh. Apparently, participation in full acts of mourning lowers one’s level of kedusha (holiness). Furthermore, their mindset is supposed
to be “for their G-d.” Creating a bald spot or shaving deters from their kedusha because they demonstrate that they are identifying with those who have died and who no longer have that living connection to G-d. Alshikh gives one more interpretation. All of these restrictions placed upon the Kohen — not to become tameh, not to make a bald spot, not to shave the corner of the beard, not to cut the ﬂesh — are examples of “ways of the nations,” speciﬁcally the nations that were idolaters. In other words, all of these warnings are really a form of avoiding tumah (spiritual impurity). All of these deeds would prevent a Kohen from participating in holy acts in the Temple. Or, to put it the way Alshikh puts it, “When they fulﬁll the laws of the foreign gods, G-d removes His G-dliness from upon them.” If they follow these ﬁrst laws, they are called Kedoshim in the plural (21:6). However, when they raise their status up through avoiding the forbidden marriages, each Kohen will have achieved an even higher level and their collective holiness becomes described as the singular “Kadosh” (21:8) Thus, while Rabbi Chaim Paltiel’s ques-
We must always aspire to move closer to kedusha.
tion regarding holiness and immorality is not directly answered, now that we have redeﬁned the act of not shaving with a razor as an act of kedusha, we see that the discussion of kedusha is surrounded by an act of kedusha (not shaving) and an act of immorality (the Kohen marrying a woman forbidden to him). In essence, the Kohen always has the choice. Will he live up to his mitzvoth, maintain his tahara (spiritual purity), always be a model citizen and representative for the Jewish people? Or will he drop it all and say it is not relevant because there is no Temple; will he disregard his charge to model for Jewish men how to shave (with halakhic scissors) and shave instead with a razor; will he say love triumphs over a law he does not understand, and that just because a woman is divorced does not speak about who she is as a person? [On this latter point, he might have a sound logical argument, but it doesn’t trump the Torah’s law. It is not the woman who is ﬂawed, it is her status that is inaccessible to him.] Kedusha (holiness, purity, being a member of the Jewish elite) is something towards which we must always aspire. The Kohen has simple steps to follow to maintain this. He should always be blessed to be strong, to ﬁll his role properly, and to serve our People with honor. Columnist@TheJewishStar.com
The sun did not shine, it wasn’t too cold to play So Jerry and his friends gathered in his dorm room on that cold wintry day. “No school” was declared in YU to the students’ glee and of course a plan was hatched to drive up to Grossinger’s and ski Jerry and four of his cronies crammed into his car What could be better than hitting the slopes at the Big “G” This was more exciting than learning gemarah, by far And so it began, a fun day, innocently enough, But what was to follow, turned out to be a little bit rough.
do love Dr. Seuss, and as my husband Jerry told of yet another of his adventures, I pictured it as a page out of a Dr. Suess book. It was a snowy, wintry day and school was canceled because teachers couldn’t make it in. Jerry and his friends, not knowing they would have the day off until they were up and dressed, decided instead of getting back into bed, they would ﬁnd something to do. Jerry had the brainstorm idea of driving up to the Grossinger’s ski lodge. Makes sense right? Teachers can’t get to school from half an Judy Joszef hour away but these guys were going to travel up to the Catskills on narrow, barely driven roads in snowy conditions. And what’s safer than cramming ﬁve guys into Jerry’s small Camaro sports car with mag wheels, for the journey? And off they went. They got to the lodge, picked up their rental ski equipment and headed toward the ski lift. It had stopped snowing by then and they enjoyed skiing, until the slopes closed for the day. Instead of heading back to the city, being they were exhausted and it started to snow again, it was time for WHO’S IN THE KITCHEN
another brainstorm; this time it came from one of Jerry’s friends. He ﬁgured the hotel would basically be empty since it was a Monday, in the dead of winter and winter break was over, who would care. They walked into the hotel to an obscure part and found a room that was vacated, but not yet cleaned. They entered, locked the doors and spent the night. They ﬁgured the room wasn’t made up yet so it was as if they were just a continuation of the guest who had just vacated. Once morning arrived, another friend said. “Let’s have breakfast in the dining room before we drive back.” Jerry put his foot down. “Absolutely not,” he said. “It’s bad enough we stayed here, let’s leave now and pick something up on the way back.” However one of his friends insisted, “Just act as if you belong and it will work out perfectly.” There were about 50 guests in the hotel and most of the dining room was cordoned off. Two of the ﬁve ventured in, sat at a table and each ordered two or three things on the menu. What they were thinking? Didn’t they realize that each table was assigned a waiter and that the waiter would realize they didn’t belong there? Apparently not! About ﬁve minutes after ordering, the Maitre D’ sauntered over to their table. Just about then, Jerry, having a premonition that things were about to implode, entered the dining room and walked over as the Maitre D’ asked the boys if they were guests at the hotel. Jerry said, “We drove up this morning to ski for the day and thought breakfast was included. My name is Jerry Joszef, my parents Miklosh and Molly Joszef are regulars here. I’m so, so sorry, we didn’t mean any harm.” They all got up and hightailed it out of the dining room and the hotel, grateful that they weren’t arrested. Also grate-
ful that they weren’t escorted out, as Jerry’s car was snowed in and it was obvious that any driving done that morning was only in their dreams. Since that adventure, Jerry and his friends learned their lessons well, redeemed themselves and now walk on the straight and narrow — and I can testify to that, especially in Jerry’s case. A few weeks later, the boys were at Jerry’s house laughing about it, but Jerry’s dad, who was always cheerful and one of the guys, warned Jerry. “What were you thinking?? You’re going to end up on a “list”.... don’t be a na’ar, don’t end up on a “list.” His dad never explained exactly what a list was, but whatever it was, it wasn’t good to be on it. Although Jerry does end up in my article often, he hasn’t been on any lists, thankfully. One of my favorite breakfast choices at Grossinger’s was the thick ﬂuffy pancakes. Here is a recipe that comes close.
Fluffy pancakes Ingredients: 2 cups all purpose ﬂour 2 Tbs baking powder 2 cups milk 6 egg yolks 6 egg whites 1. In a bowl, combine ﬂour and baking powder. Stir in milk and egg yolks until smooth. 2. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in the remaining whites. 3. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan. Pour the batter onto the griddle or pan, using 1/4 cup for each pancake. Cook until pancakes are golden brown on both sides. firstname.lastname@example.org
&ODVVRI &ROOHJH$FFHSWDQFHV &RQJUDWXODWLRQVWRRXUVWXGHQWVRQWKHLU DGPLVVLRQWRWKHIROORZLQJXQLYHUVLWLHV CUNY Scholars Program Dartmouth College Farmingdale College (SUNY) Fashion Institute of Technology George Washington University Harvard University Hofstra University Hunter College Indiana University John Jay College Johns Hopkins University LIM College Long Island University/Brooklyn
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THE JEWISH STAR May 2, 2014 • 2 IYAR 5774
‘Today is your day, so get on your way’
May 2, 2014 • 2 IYAR 5774 THE JEWISH STAR
stars of the show and the center of attention, where they can swim, ride bikes, cook, create art, play and enjoy music, care for animals, learn Torah, daven, bake challah. They enjoy their summer just like any other typical child, teen or adult. And each summer in Camp HASC, over 350 young adults from Jewish communities around the world dedicate their full summer to learn how to care sensitively for others, to empathize sincerely, to put others’ needs before their own, to focus on people’s strengths and not their weaknesses, and to see beyond labels and community divisions. Thousands of Camp HASC young adult staff members have emerged with these crucial lessons and become inspired mothers and fathers, rabbis, professionals, business and community leaders, +$6& FDPSHUV DQG WKHLU FRXQVHORUV OHDUQ VNLOOV and continue to make positive change in the world around DQGJURZWRJHWKHU them. isn’t possible during the year. Many have encouraged Each summer in Camp their own children, students and congregants HASC, campers, no matter to work in Camp HASC, as another generahow severe their challenges, tion of Camp HASC young adults is trained to get to go away for a full sum- engage the world with the positive, personmer, just like their brothers ﬁrst approach that their parents, teachers and and sisters and peers. Their rabbis once learned. In fact, this summer, we intellectual and physical dis- will proudly welcome more “second generaabilities become irrelevant in tion” staff members than ever before! a camp program designed just To learn more contact camphasc.org or call for them, where they are the 718-686-5912.
From Camp HASC Camp HASC is a place where remarkable milestones are achieved each summer. Last summer alone, many campers accomplished great tasks and learned important skills which will permanently enrich their lives. One camper learned to independently use a fork and spoon, thanks to intensive feeding therapy he received during meals in the dining room, forever reducing his dependence on others to feed him during meals. Another took his very ﬁrst steps, thanks to hours of dedicated work by therapists, teachers and counselors. Still another had his Bar Mitzvah in camp, and to the great surprise of his parents and family, showed that he was capable of learning Birchos HaTorah (the blessings on the Torah), wearing Teﬁllin, and performing Pesicha (opening the Ark) in shul — all of which his counselors decided to teach him before his special day. These are but a few of many milestones achieved by the special campers in Camp HASC last summer, and all of their achievements are an endless source of pride to the campers themselves, their parents, families, communities and camp staff. But there are so many other milestones achieved each summer when hundreds of camper parents ﬁnd almost two months to dedicate to their other children, their spouses and their own growth, some for the ﬁrst time. Raising a child or caring for a sibling with severe intellectual and physical disabilities is a responsibility that takes remarkable dedication and intense commitment, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Knowing that their child or sibling is in caring hands for seven full weeks, allows parents and families to focus on recharging, in a way that often simply
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THE JEWISH STAR May 2, 2014 • 2 IYAR 5774
Camp HASC: Where disabled children, mentors grow
May 2, 2014 • 2 IYAR 5774 THE JEWISH STAR
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munity. Gratitude isn’t always our the release of millions of Jews strong point.” when other Jews didn’t even know Halevi’s essay of over 10 years that Soviet Jews were systematiago entitled, “Jacob Birnbaum and cally stripped of their freedom to the Struggle for Soviet Jewry,” warbe Jewish. Birnbaum imagined a Jewish establishment utterly transrants further study by all. formed and energized by his pasLastly, we have the tribute by sion, when the few people who master historian, Dr. Rafael Medoff, gathered thought he was just this in his essay, “50 Years Later,” whereside of daft. But he persevered. … in he goes into some detail as to the “Hundreds of thousands, perhaps communal events leading up to the millions, of people who have never establishment of the Student Strugheard his name owe an incalculable gle for Soviet Jewry, beginning with debt to this unadulterated, unwavthe crucial and brave involvement of ering idealist, this blessed son of the Morris Brafman, uncle to the noted Jewish people, Jacob Birnbaum.” communal leader, Ben Brafman. It According to Gal Beckerman, was his signature organization, the in his tribute, “The Death of a So- 5DOO\IRU6RYLHW-HZU\&RXUWHV\'DYLG6:\PDQ,QVWLWXWHIRU+RORFDXVW6WXGLHV American League for Russian Jews, viet Jewry Prophet,” quoting from that set the ball rolling in New York Natan Sharansky, the most highthat led to the ultimate formation of ute, “A Klal Yisrael Jew,” described Birnbaum proﬁle political prisoner in Birnbaum’s cause as his ﬁrst rebbe, his ﬁrst spiritual leader. the grassroots movement of the SSSJ and, as and now chairman of the Jewish Agency for “It is not surprising that Yaakov’s soul they say, the rest is history. Israel, reached for a biblical analogy to de- departed just before Passover. [He] was the Medoff quotes the following: scribe Birnbaum’s signiﬁcance. “We understood that it was, ﬁrst of all, ﬁrst to insist on the slogan, ‘Let My People He was, wrote Sharansky in an email, like Go’ — that the aim of the protest movement a battle for public opinion,’’ Glenn Richter Nachshon in the Exodus story, the man who wasn’t only the betterment of Jewish life in explained. “Nobody had heard of the issue. bravely jumps into the Red Sea before it has the Soviet Union but mass emigration, which We had to educate the public. The slogans even parted, a sign of his faith. in the 1960s seemed inconceivable. Our early were carefully planned. The students were “Like the scared children of Israel, ‘Jews demonstrations were lead by a mural show- instructed to be on their best behavior. We on both sides of the Iron Curtain stood ing split waters with the words, ‘As the Red were trying to make Soviet Jewry into an ishesitant and were afraid to act. Soviet Jews Sea parted for the Israelites, so will the Iron sue that Americans would take seriously.” feared immediate cruel oppression from the Curtain divide for Soviet Jewry’.” And ultimately they did, big time. authorities, while the American Jewish esNext week will mark the sheloshim day Halevi concluded his tribute with the foltablishment’s leaders feared damaging the lowing sad observation: “And all these years anniversary of the passing of Yaakov BirnSoviet Jews with their public action’.” Yaakov lived in obscurity, with his beloved baum with a focus on the Birnbaum- Carle“But Birnbaum,” noted Sharansky, “had Freda, in the same apartment on Cabrini bach relationship in the struggle to liberate the faith of Nachshon, ready to leap ﬁrst. He Boulevard in Washington Heights, from captive Jewry from behind the Iron Curtain. knew that the sea would part because he had which he ran the movement in its early days. For further study, check out chapter nine in righteousness on his side.” With a few precious exceptions, he re- “Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach” by Natan Ophir. Journalist, Yossi Klein Halevi, in his trib- ceived little honor from the Jewish comColumnist@TheJewishStar.com
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t has been said that for many, their legacy in history comes after death, and, in the case of the late, great Yaakov Birnbaum, his legacy has come. This week’s column will consider several memorial essays devoted to the life’s work of Yaakov Birnbaum, who passed away on April 9 at age of 87, just short of 50 Alan Jay Gerber years from the time that he launched the ﬁrst of many demonstrations against communist anti-Semitism. We begin with a brief review from historian Dr. Adam Ferziger, who quotes one of today’s greatest biographers, Sir Martin Gilbert, who said this about Yaakov Birnbaum: “As a cautious pedantic historian, I am naturally reluctant to call anyone the ‘Father’ of anything … but I have no hesitation whatever in describing Jacob Birnbaum as the Father of the Soviet Jewry movement.” An headline for an editorial in the April 18 Intermountain Jewish News says it all: “Millions who know not his name owe him an incalculable debt of gratitude.” Birnbaum fathered a movement that liberated 3 million Jews from communist tyranny and spiritual destruction. “Jacob Birnbaum was there for the cause, nothing else. For the pain in his gut that saw millions of Jews robbed of their identity and heritage — and forgotten by the rest of the Jewish people … Jacob Birnbaun, and his faithful assistant Glenn Richter, imagined KOSHER BOOKWORM
THE JEWISH STAR May 2, 2014 • 2 IYAR 5774
Letting his people go: Yaakov Birnbaum’s legacy
May 2, 2014 â€˘ 2 IYAR 5774 THE JEWISH STAR
A survivorâ€™s tale LI man recounts horrors of hiding in Polish countryside during Holocaust She and her son headed for the woods, crawling through barbed wire to escape. Amazingly, they had only a few scratches. Once again, they were back on the run.
By David Weingrad East Meadow Herald April 28 marked Holocaust Remembrance Day, with events honoring the six million Jews who were killed by Hitlerâ€™s Nazi regime during World War II. The East Meadow Jewish Center hosted a Yom HaShoah service on Sunday. The synagogue has a number of Holocaust survivors, including Alex Konstantyn, who spent years as a refugee in his own country with his family, roaming the Polish countryside while evading Nazi persecution, and Ruth Mermelstein, a native Romanian who spent time in several concentration camps, including Auschwitz. The East Meadow Herald recently sat down with Konstantyn and Mermelstein, who told their stories of survival.
Heading north again Hannah headed north, toward Varenz, to ďŹ nd a man Alex knew only by his last name, Burka, who used to do business with Baruch. â€œHe was her last hope, really,â€? Konstantyn said. They found Burka in February 1943. He asked Hannah where her husband was, and when she told him, he grew sympathetic. Because he had respected Baruch as a businessman, Burka accepted the last of Hannahâ€™s gold and brought them to a woodshed. On the ďŹ‚oor was a camouďŹ‚aged panel leading to an underground bunker where Burka made moonshine. He told them, â€œYou can stay here as long as the war lasts, but donâ€™t touch that stuff,â€? Konstantyn said. He supplied them with straw, a kerosene lamp and food, and in that dark, underground bunker, a mere three miles from their home, Hannah and Konstantyn stayed for 20 months. At night they climbed into the woodshed for exercise, and Hannah kept Alexâ€™s mind busy by telling him stories. For almost two years, he said, they saw no sunlight.
Leaving home In 1941 the evil of the Nazi regime touched Konstantynâ€™s family. Now 76 years old, he was 3 when he ďŹ‚ed his home in Varenz, Poland. The East Meadow resident of more than 30 years said he recalls much of his journey, and the rest was passed down to him years later by his mother, Hannah who was in her mid-20s when they left home. German troops were en route to the Soviet Union, moving northeast into Poland. Though Konstantynâ€™s small, predominantly Jewish village remained untouched, Jewish refugees wandered through, â€œscared and hungry,â€? he recalled, sharing horrifying stories. They said that the German police, known as the SS â€” short for Schutzstaffel â€” were rounding up Jews and loading them on trucks. â€œAnd they disappeared,â€? Konstantyn said. His father, Baruch, and Hannah opted to ďŹ‚ee their village, risking starvation and cold. They brought as much food with them as they could carry. â€œTo me, I recall that it was an adventure,â€? Konstantyn said. â€œWe had food with us, like we were going on a picnic.â€? They had another important item with them â€” gold. Konstantyn said that his father, a successful grain merchant, would trade whatever money he earned for gold, because he did not trust Polish currency. It was a detail that would play a vital role in Konstantynâ€™s survival. For months they slept outdoors, which Konstantin said was ďŹ ne as long as it was warm. But winter came. â€œAnd then it became a problem to survive,â€? he said. They traded gold for food and temporary shelter. The trio spent a year this way, ďŹ ghting hunger and frigid temperatures. Finally, they realized they needed permanent shelter to survive.
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a week when their host came to visit them, carrying a blueberry pie. â€œHe looks a little drunk, and said he wants to celebrate his birthday with us,â€? Konstantyn recounted. Though Hannah was suspicious, they were too hungry to argue, and began eating. Almost instantly, Alex and his mother started vomiting. The pie was poisoned. Moments later, Baruch collapsed. â€œSurely enough,â€? Konstantyn said, â€œhe tried to get rid of us in the safest way. Kill us.â€? Hannah tried to induce vomiting by putting her ďŹ nger down her husbandâ€™s throat, but it was too late. â€œShe just sat on the ďŹ‚oor, took his head in his arms and she was rocking him,â€? Konstantyn said. â€œI was hysterically crying next to them. And then he stopped moving. And my mother kept rocking him, I remember.â€? Their world shaken, Hannah was forced to act quickly. She grabbed her son and a tool belt carrying her husbandâ€™s remaining gold, and they were back on the run. It was now up to Hannah to protect her son from the Poisoned Germans, which, Konstantyn said, was much In exchange for gold, one man allowed easier than protecting him from hunger. them to stay in his underground bunker, Hannah resorted to begging for food to even though he immediately recognizedz- save their gold to pay for more permanent Baruch as a Jew. They had been there for shelter. But she had little success. She taught Konstantyn to beg, believing villagers might be more sympathetic to a small child. He was able to scrounge enough bread to keep them going. But it didnâ€™t last. The lack of food took its toll. Hannah became so weak that one day, she crumbled to the ground. â€œShe lowered herself along the dirt road, leaned against a tree, took me in her arms, and was waiting to die,â€? Konstantyn said. But then someone tapped on her shoulder. Hannah looked up into the face of a woman who couldnâ€™t tell whether she was alive or dead. Seeing how deprived they were, the woman brought them bread, water and milk. Then, she led them back $OH[ZLWKKLVPRWKHU+DQQDKLQ3RODQGLQ
to her house to rest. They later learned why she was so generous: the woman had a small son, about Alexâ€™s age. One day, he picked up a grenade and pulled the pin. It went off, killing him instantly. After a couple of days, the woman insisted that Hannah bathe. She did, but when the woman told her to give her son a bath, Hannah was reluctant, because Alex was circumcised â€” a giveaway for being Jewish. His mother bathed him while trying to shield his body, but the woman noticed. Within minutes she left the house, and returned with Polish police. â€œUntil today, it takes my breath away to think about this woman, like Jekyll and Hyde,â€? Konstantyn said. â€œHere she is, so kind, and then we are Jews suddenly.â€? Hannah begged for mercy, and the ofďŹ cer said he would take them to a police station, and not to the Gestapo, where, the ofďŹ cer said, â€œThey will let you live a little longer.â€?
A quick escape Their cell was overcrowded with prisoners, but they found a spot in the corner. About 10 minutes after their arrival, an ofďŹ cer asked if any of the prisoners knew how to cook. Despite having no experience, Hannah put up her hand. The ofďŹ cer, suspicious of her cooking skills because of her youth, chose her anyway because she was the cleanest of the prisoners. And to Hannahâ€™s surprise, she cooked well. â€œShe had some talent that she didnâ€™t realize,â€? her son said. The commander of the station, who was German, put Hannah in charge of cooking solely for the ofďŹ cers, and in return, gave her food. Whenever the commander spoke to her in German, she answered in Polish that she didnâ€™t understand. In truth, she knew German, having learned to speak it as a child. The cells grew less crowded by the day. Later, they learned that the ofďŹ cers would take the Jews into the woods and kill them. Hannah overheard the commander speaking in German to another ofďŹ cer, that they had to get rid of the woman and the child the next day. Hannah was desperate to escape, Konstantyn said, and a broken window gave her access to a bar on the outside that kept the prison door locked. She managed to loop a piece of wire around the bar and opened the door.
They heard Russian voices above ground sometime in late 1944. Believing it was safe to leave the bunker, Hannah crept halfway out of the panel, where Russian soldiers converged on her. Hannah, who knew little Russian, shouted that they were Jews, but one soldier hit her hard in the face, and Konstantyn said the soldier was prepared to throw a grenade into the bunker, when another soldier â€” a Jewish soldier â€” stopped him. Realizing that they were Jewish, the soldiers encircled them, staring at the mother and child. â€œThey looked at us like we were some exhibit,â€? Konstantyn said. â€œThey were amazed that we were alive.â€? One soldier grabbed Alex, put him on his shoulders and began dancing. Their ordeal was ďŹ nally over. They had survived. Hannah remarried after the war, and the family remained in Poland for ďŹ ve years before moving to Israel in 1959. Konstantyn said his years as a refugee long haunted his dreams, and the nightmares persisted for more than a decade. The family moved to the U.S. in 1962, and Konstantyn and his wife, Susan, married in 1969. He became a school principal in Kings Park, and he and Susan moved to East Meadow in 1983, where they joined the East Meadow Jewish Center. He was the Hebrew schoolâ€™s principal for 26 years, and Susan has taught there for 29 years. Hannah died in 1996 of Alzheimerâ€™s. â€œAn absolutely remarkable woman,â€? her son said. â€œShe had to be resourceful, courageous and never lose hope.â€? Seven decades later, Konstantyn is still telling his story. He spoke at the East Meadow Jewish Centerâ€™s Yom HaShoah service, and on May 15 he will be honored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Long Island, in partnership with the New York State Senate and Assembly, at Hofstra University. Asked why he believes it is important to educate todayâ€™s youth about the Holocaust, Konstantyn repeated the words he said were once uttered by a scholar: â€œIf you forget the six million, itâ€™s like killing them all over again. â€œThe only way we can stop the onslaught of evil,â€? he added, â€œis to raise our capacity to do good.â€? Ruth Mermelsteinâ€™s story of survival in the Shoah will appear next week.
Continued from page 1 ing their names and the name of Holocaust survivor relatives they are named after. Some were named for those who died in the camps. After participating, the ďŹ fth grade performers were silently ushered out. Excerpts from videos of local survivor testimonies were screened. The six survivors shown were later called up to each light a memorial candle at the end of the program. Frieda Rappaport Fogel survived the war masquerading as a Christian with false identiďŹ cation papers until age 18. She went to America after the war â€œto start life over as a Jew.â€? Fogel called on listeners to â€œappreciate life, make every minute countâ€? that â€œJewish life is very importantâ€? and that not living a Jewish life makes us accomplices to what Hitler did to the Jewish people. Dr. Moshe (Maurice) Katz survived the Holocaust in hiding, separated from his siblings and was liberated by the Russians. Rudy Rosensweig survived labor camps, forced to build barracks and factories for the Germans and after the war escaped from Cyprus, fought in Latrun, worked in Zim lines and later came to New York where he married and raised a family. Harry Engelman spoke through his tears as he recalled his time in a slave labor camp where many died. â€œI had hope,â€? he said, â€œfaith that the Nazis will never succeed, evil cannot succeed.â€? He stressed the need to remember, â€œmost are sick and tired of hearing itâ€? but â€œif we donâ€™t remember the past we will make the same mistakes over again.â€? Rachel Gleitman recounted seeing Mengele as she entered Aushwitz and how she, along with 500 other girls, were herded into the â€œshowers.â€? She looked around her and said that no water will be coming from the faucets. They sat on the ďŹ‚oor and after a
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while they were herded out. There was a â€œmechanical failureâ€? so they â€œdidnâ€™t discharge the gas.â€? She charged listeners to â€œget up in the morning and say a really meaningful Modeh Ani, thank G-d,â€? for granting us time. Frenkel noted that the program was designed to incorporate the different generations, and participants ranged in age from school children to the older survivors. She stressed that the survivors â€œchose to love, live and believeâ€? and that we have to â€œhonor their legacies and pay tribute to them tonight â€Ś for their strength of spirit.â€? She recalled Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman, ztâ€?l, who returned to the European inferno after visiting America in 1939 to be with his students, that the ďŹ re that consumed their bodies would rebuild Am Yisrael, and died saying Shma Yis-
rael. Frenkel emphasized the need to remain vigilant and maintain our Jewish identity. Auschwitz survivor and noted speaker Trudy Englander presented the Fanya Gottesfeld Heller keynote address, recounting her experiences during the war. She was born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia into an extended family but even before the age of four she remembered a woman saying to her â€œwait till Uncle Adolph will come and we will kill you all.â€? Hitler annexed the area the following year and increasing rules and restrictions oppressed the Jews. A woman came in and took over the familyâ€™s business, Jews were forced to clean the streets with toothbrushes, had to wear a Jewish star and were beaten on the streets. â€œWe bend like a stalk of wheat,â€? she
said, â€œbut donâ€™t break.â€? On Yom Kippur night in 1944, the Germans broke down the door of their apartment and marched them to a cargo train station to board cattle cars, 80 people to each with two small windows and â€œtwo buckets for human needs.â€? She vividly recalled the scraping of the doors closed and the metal on metal sound of the lock. After two days they heard screaming and yelling, and the doors opened. Her father told her to stand so he could â€œbentchâ€? (bless) her. She never saw him again. A camp uniform clad prisoner helped Trudy and her mother off the train and when secretly told that she was 11 warned â€œ18 or I kill youâ€? taking his life in his hands by issuing that hazard. She was sent to the right with her mother at the selection; many others were sent to the left and death. They undressed, their heads shaved, showered, given prison garb and wooden clogs. â€œThe worst part for me was being counted,â€? she said. They had to stand motionless, twice a day for two or three hours at a time on pain of death. She and her mother, among others, were then issued meager clothing and sent to work in an airplane factory ďŹ ling pieces of metal into shape, working 14 hours a day, cleaning, sleeping at most ďŹ ve hours a night. Her mother later admitted that Trudy was 11 not 18 when Trudy began breaking down under the workload and her work hours were reduced. She recounted other horrors, surrounded by dead bodies, being transported in open train cars in the rain for days, being liberated on May 6, 1945 by the Americans and trying to return home. â€œWe are a strong people,â€? she said. â€œMy mother remarried, I was blessed with a sister and rebuilt our lives.â€?
HAFTR marks Yom Hashoah From HAFTR It was a dark and somber environment as high school students at the Hebrew Academy of Five Towns and Rockaway (HAFTR) commemorated Yom Hashoah on Monday. At an assembly Rabbi Gedaliah Oppen discussed his recent trip to Poland, which he took with a select group of seniors and faculty members Rabbi Moshe Hubner and Ms. Shira Oppen.HAFTRâ€™s Abraham Scharf zâ€?l Poland Mission was sponsored by the Scharf family. The assembled students were mesmerized as some of the tripâ€™s participants related their personal accounts. Rabbi Oppen spoke about a memorial depicting trees whose branches were cut off, symbolizing the lives of the six million Jews that were cut short. Some of the seniors related examples of anti-Semitism they experienced or heard about that are still occurring today in Poland. â€œListening to our fellow students talk about their experiences was more meaningful than
hearing facts stated about the Holocaust,â€? said junior Daniella Seelenfreund. Dena Gershkovich called their personal accounts inspiring. Renee Frenkel and Jamie Klahr thought â€œthis Yom Hashoah presentation was more relatable because the HAFTR delegation actually went there and talked about seeing concentration camps and other sights with their own eyes and from their hearts.â€? Students heard stories that were truly meaningful, especially one about a man who left his teďŹ llin on a cattle car, escaped, went back for his teďŹ llin, and then he was killed. He could have been free, but it was so important for him to retrieve his teďŹ llin that he sacriďŹ ced his life. Seniors lit candles in memory of resistance ďŹ ghters. The last generation of Holocaust survivors is aging, and it is a legacy to our young people that we all understand and remember the atrocities that occurred during the Holocaust.
The mission to Poland was a life-changing experience for each person who attended, and to share it with the entire student body was a deeply personal and meaningful way to commemorate Yom Hashoah. The seniors who participated in the Poland
trip were Max Borgen, Sara Cherson, Corey Friedman, Sarah Fuchs, Joseph Greenstein, Riana Harari, Amanda Kanefsky, Jenna Kaufman, Eli Kleinworm, Daniel Margareten, Jesse Margareten, Stacie Michael, Lauren Pianko, Gabriella Shimon, and Jaimee Schwartz.
Yom Hashoah event at HANCâ€™s high school By Rachel Canter, Ninth Grader The Hebrew Academy of Nassau County HS marked Yom Hashoah on past Monday in a meaningful program at which they reďŹ‚ected upon the Holocaust. The program featured a ďŹ lm of interviews created by students in the Holocaust Studies class, an essay reading presentation by the recipient of the Moshe Flescher Holocaust Memorial Scholarship, Leora Schwadron, and the presence of one of the survivors in the $W +$1&ÂśV <RP +DVKRDK HYHQW IURP OHIW 0UV &DUROH 7DELQ DVVRFLDWH video, Mrs. Helen Rosenstark. There was also a candle-lighting SULQFLSDO$ODQDQG-XG\(LVHQPDQVFKRODUVKLSUHFLSLHQW/HRUD6FKZDGURQ 5DEEL6KORPR$GHOPDQSULQFLSDO0V7]LSRUDK=XFNHUDVVLVWDQWSULQFLSDO ceremony by grandchildren of survi-
vors in memory of the six million Jews who perished and a presentation of an inspirational piece of artwork created by freshman Jonah Maryles, followed by a heart-warming performance of Ani Maamin and Hatikvah by members of the HANC boysâ€™ chorus. This fall, HANC participated in the innovative Adopt a Survivor Program, which provides students with the valuable opportunity to interview Holocaust survivors and hear their stories. Today, after 70 years, there are many people who deny that the Holocaust ever happened. In 20 years, the deniers
are certain to increase. The students who participated in this program, along with their instructor, Rabbi Aaron Friedler, took several trips to the Holocaust Resource Center in Manhasset and met with Irving Roth, Holocaust survivor, center director and founder of the Adopt a Survivor Program. Students learned that, if the children of their generation do not take on the responsibility of remembering the Holocaust, there will soon be no one to tell the story. It is, therefore, our duty to learn and pass on these stories to ensure they are never forgotten.
THE JEWISH STAR May 2, 2014 â€˘ 2 IYAR 5774
Mideast ‘peace’ fail… Continued from page 4 from prison. That’s when the Jonathan Pollard discussions began. The administration’s other error was being fair to a fault. Every time the Palestinians made a provocative move, they found a way to blame both sides. For example, when Abbas agreed to the recognition with Hamas, the U.S. backed up Israel’s decision to end discussions, but a few days later Secretary of State Kerry told inﬂuential world leaders in a closed-door meeting of the Trilateral Commission, “If there’s no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conﬂict soon, Israel risks becoming ‘an apartheid state’.” Kerry also repeated his warning that a failure of Middle East peace talks could lead to a resumption of Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens. He suggested that a change in either the Israeli or Palestinian leadership could make achieving a peace deal more feasible. He lashed out against Israeli settlement building. And said that both Israeli and Palestinian leaders share the blame for the current impasse in the talks. Thus the failure went full circle: the Palestinians destroyed the talks by going back to the terrorists, and the U.S. went back to blaming Israel for sticking to an agreement it made with the U.S. when Ariel Sharon was Prime Minister. As described by Elliot Abrams, the man who negotiated the deal for the United States: “On settlements we also agreed on prin-
ciples that would permit some continuing growth. Mr. Sharon stated these clearly in a major policy speech in December 2003: ‘Israel will meet all its obligations with regard to construction in the settlements. There will be no construction beyond the existing construction line, no expropriation of land for construction, no special economic incentives and no construction of new settlements.” There is plenty of blame to go around for the failure of the latest round of negotiations. Hillary Clinton made settlements an issue; Bibi Netanyahu should have gone for a settlement freeze instead of a prisoner release, and the Obama administration was naïve in believing Abbas wanted peace, and thought they could get peace by pressuring and blaming only one side. In the end the biggest reason for the failure of the talks lies with one simple fact. The Palestinians don’t want peace. Think about it: Name some of the concessions the Israeli’s have made, from giving up control of Gaza almost nine years ago to the latest prisoner release (on top of all the other prisoner releases). Now try to name some concessions by the “moderate” Palestinians. Have they even stopped inciting their people to hate Jews? While neither the mainstream media nor the Obama administration will recognize the truth, the ultimate blame for killing this latest round of talks should rest ﬁrmly in the laps of the Palestinians. Columnist@TheJewishStar.com
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Continued from page 4 estinians will register no discernible change. What, then, should Israel do? Netanyahu is right to hope that history repeats itself and that the agreement with Hamas falls apart. But we can do more than hope, which is why it’s encouraging that a bipartisan consensus is emerging on Capitol Hill to suspend aid to the Palestinian Authority; given Abbas’s decision to violate existing agreements by romancing Hamas, we should expect no less. In the coming days, there will be much agonizing over whether a two-state solution—which all parties say they want—is achievable. The return of Hamas to the center stage makes that far less likely.
Indeed, following the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt last year, Hamas was actually looking more isolated than ever. Abbas could have used that reality to renounce Palestinian rejectionism once and for all. Instead, he’s doing exactly what critics accuse Netanyahu of doing: sacriﬁcing long-term peace for questionable political goals. Preventing him from doing so—by countering Palestinian unilateralism, freezing aid, and cutting contacts with any Palestinian agency that includes Hamas representatives—is the only appropriate American response. Ben Cohen is Shillman Analyst for JNS.org
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the Jews had to feed their cattle, even in the midst of the Exodus from Egypt. And this, of course, is the essence of Shabbat. Shabbat, more than any other part of the Jewish experience, represents the gift of time, of transforming every given moment in to the beauty of life. Shabbat is the opportunity, every week, to look back at my week, my life, and appreciate all the details. So what is counting the Omer all about? I am offering up my barley, the most mundane aspects of my life, and I am marking life as a whole new experience, a Minchah Chadashah (New offering) which is the result of appreciating the gift of the Omer. And of course, this is why we count up, because the point is that we are growing every day, every minute, as a result of this relationship we can have with our ‘barley.’ Counting the Omer every night is really an enormous opportunity, to consider all the different pieces of “barley” in our lives, and how much these things that seem to distract us from life, are really the essence of the beauty of every single day and every single moment. Indeed, one of life’s greatest challenges is to make every moment count. Rabbi Binny Freedman is rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Orayta in Jerusalem. Columnist@TheJewishStar.com
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Priestly holiness… Continued from page 6 mountain views we love to escape to. Imagine how different my day becomes if, in the midst of changing my children’s diapers, I consider how many families in Israel, with an empty crib where a baby, now a victim of terror, once slept, wish only for the joy and the gift of bonding with a child who needs their diaper changed. How many wives, longing for the husband who isn’t coming home anymore, wish they could be doing his laundry again, with only the dreariness of such a chore on their minds. In fact, this may well be the meaning of the reference to Passover as the day after Shabbat. Because when, in the midst of leaving Egypt we became a free nation, the gift we were really given, was the gift of time. A slave has no concept of the true value of time, because his time is not his own; oly when they became free did the Jewish people rediscover the gift of time. But time is not an achievement, it is a responsibility. Hence, the day after Pesach, we begin counting the Omer. As if to say, in the midst of the headiness that must have accompanied the incredible events surrounding the exodus from Egypt, we understand that life is not just the splitting of the Reed Sea — it is also all the seemingly insigniﬁcant details represented by the barley, the animal fodder
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