Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Freedom photos of Jews and The Anti-Semitic Hungarian Politician’s Bris and Sacks on our tragic loss

Soft Reply

King Solomon says: "A soft reply turns away anger." (Proverbs 15:1)

Think of some incidents when you wisely used a soft reply. Now resolve to apply this in the future.

Love Yehuda Lave


 Jewish Rally In The US, 1937
For some reason, we don't usually hear about American Jewry during World War II, so you may be heartened to know that in 1933, American Jews organized a nationwide boycott of Nazi-Germany. Such a show of support, in so united a way, is displayed beautifully in this picture from a rally in 1937.

Baking Matzos In Hiding, 1943

This amazing photo has made the rounds recently as well. It depicts Jews in hiding during Passover in Poland, baking matzos, their faces alight and happy. May we be strengthened by their resolve. Image originally found in the Yad Vashem Archives.

A Light In The Darkness, 1943

This incredible image depicts Jews, not in hiding, but within a transit camp in Holland lighting a Menorah on Hanukkah. You can see just how packed this room is.

A Gift For Hitler, 1944/45

This image is of a man in the Jewish Brigade, a segment of the British Army that fought the Germans in Italy in 1944. The rocket says "Hitler's Gift".

Liberation And Its Consequences


Taken in Buchenwald just after its liberation by the photographer Margaret Bourke-White, this image is so powerful not just because it shows the pure joy of liberation, but because it turns these men who we have almost turned into mythic creatures into normal folks. The kind that celebrate with champagne and cigarettes.

Shabbat In Buchenwald, 1945

This photo has made the rounds after the recent passing of Rabbi Herschel Schachter, depicted leading this Shabbat service shortly after the liberation of Buchenwald . There is something beyond moving about this image that shows the prisoners, still in their garb, still in their prison, but liberated and celebrating the most important day of the week.

Release, 1945

This once in a lifetime image depicts Holocaust survivors at the moment of realizing they are liberated. This is such candid, raw photo you would think it was taken on a cellphone at the spur of the moment.

Beauty Liberated, circa 1945

A woman at the moment of her liberation, her face is aglow and alive, as if she was never imprisoned.

Justice? circa 1945

This is actually a cleaned up version of a photo posted by u/FTZ on Reddit. It depicts his grandfather, recently liberated from the Holocaust, aiming a gun at a Nazi soldier. It's hard to know just what is happening in this photo or what happened afterwards, but it starkly depicts another side of the liberation of the Jews. Whether this photo inspires or depresses, it shows us just how complicated the idea of justice can be, and how Jews have still struggled with it so many years after the Holocaust.

Moving Forward

Buchenwald Survivors Entering Israel, 1945

From Italy To The US, 1944

This image, taken by the photographer and writer, Ruth Gruber, depicts a group of Holocaust survivors attempting to enter the United States on a ship called the Henry Gibbins that was being hunted by the Nazis. These were the only refugees to be sheltered by the United States throughout the war. Some notable passengers went on to do great things, such as: "Dr. Alex Margulies, who became a distinguished radiologist and contributed to Cat scan and MRI technology; Rolf Manfred, instrumental in developing the Minuteman missile and Polaris submarine; Leon Levitch who became a composer; and Dr. David Hendell who became a dentist and pioneered the bonding of teeth."

Brothers On Their Way To Britain, circa 1946

A Survivors' Marriage, 1946

Taken in Rishon Lezion, Israel, this image depicts two Holocaust survivors at their wedding. The bride (center) is named Chana Keller, and she survived a 800 km (500 mile) death march. I can't even image the happiness being depicted in this picture.

Singing In The DP Camp, 1946

This image of an unknown teenager singing in a DP Camp (where they held Holocaust survivors for a while) is just so beautiful. There's something special about seeing an image of so many survivors in one picture, smiling, and with this girl in the center looking absolutely joyous.

A Survivor Performs Songs He Composed In A Camp, 1965

Aleksander Kulisiewicz, a Holocaust survivor, composed 54 songs while he was in a concentration camp, and performed them for fellow inmates in secret gatherings. He later went on to perform these songs in the 50's and 60′s.

A Survivor Hits A Skinhead, 1985

A group of skinheads demonstrated in the streets of Växjö, Sweden in 1985. This woman, a Holocaust survivor, was one of the first to rush in and attack these men. Moments later, thousands of angry citizens swarmed the men and chased them until they finally locked themselves in a bathroom in a train station and had to be rescued by police.

The Next Step

A Beautiful Couple, circa 1970's?

Here's a beautiful description of their journey in his own words: "They actually found a Rabbi to marry them in the camp when they learned they were getting separated. The next day they were split up to different camps and didn't know if the other was alive for the remainder of the war. They found each other in 1945 and the rest is history."

Looking Into The Future, circa 1990s…

This image, showing a Holocaust survivor looking into the eyes of her granddaughter, went a bit viral on Facebook.

…And The Future Looks Back…

Perhaps one of the most gorgeous photos ever taken at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. This image shows a young religious Jew looking up into the Hall of Names, an exhibit in the museum.

A Holocaust Survivor Skydives For 85th Birthday

The moment I saw this image of this Holocaust survivor who went skydiving in San Diego with his grandson (not pictured), I knew this was the image I had to end this post on. Nothing better depicts the unlimited future for Holocaust survivors and their descendants. Nothing better encapsulates the true freedom we can have when we use our past to grow instead of hold us back. Nothing is more beautiful than a man once in bondage in a world of total freedom. May we all realize how we're also flying through the sky.

The Scroll

The Anti-Semitic Hungarian Politician's Bris

Former right-winger gets 'really serious' about his unexpected Jewish heritage

By Stephanie Butnick |June 10, 2014 4:45 PM

Csanád Szegedi. (Wikipedia)

What happens when a member of Parliament representing Hungary's notorious far-right Jobbik Party, known for its members' fascist and anti-Semitic sentiments and statements, finds out he's Jewish? For Csanád Szegedi, who discovered his maternal grandparents were Jewish in 2012 and was promptly dropped by his political party, it's meant embracing his unexpected heritage, the AP reports—visiting Israel, adopting a kosher diet, speaking to Hungarian students at Auschwitz, taking on the Hebrew name David—and getting circumcised.

Last year, he sought out a young rabbi in the local Orthodox Jewish community. After a period of intense religious instruction, Szegedi was circumcised last June, a year to the day after he broke with Jobbik. Today he takes Jewish religion classes with his wife, who is also converting to Judaism.

"I am just as Hungarian as until now, but I have expanded my own identity with the Jewish identity," Szegedi, 31, told The Associated Press. "I have two tasks ahead of me — to teach and to learn. I want to be a bridge."

Szegedi, admittedly, had a lot of work to do to embrace his growing identity. His just-published manifesto, I Believe in Hungary's Resurrection, was filled with pages of the anti-Semitic rants characteristic of his public speeches and writings. So he got ahold of several thousand copies and burned them. He advocated for stronger ties with Israel in Parliament. He met regularly with Rabbi Boruch Oberlander, the director of Chabad in Budapest.

Still, it took Szegedi going under the knife to prove his commitment to his newfound brothers in faith.

After his circumcision, Oberlander added, "some Jews said, 'Ah, now we see that he is really serious.'"


In memoriam Eyal, Gilad and Naftali


This past Shabbat we read the parsha of Chukkat with its almost incomprehensible commandment of the red heifer whose mixed with "living water" purified those who had been in contact with death so that they could enter the Mishkan, symbolic home of the glory of God. Almost incomprehensible but not entirely so.

The mitzvah of the parah adumah, the red heifer, was a protest against the religions of the ancient world that glorified death. Death for the Egyptians was the realm of the spirits and the gods. The pyramids were places where, it was believed, the spirit of the dead Pharaoh ascended to heaven and joined the immortals.

The single most striking thing about the Torah and Tanakh in general is its almost total silence on life after death. We believe in it profoundly. We believe in olam haba (the world to come), Gan Eden (paradise), and techiyat hametim (the resurrection of the dead). Yet Tanakh speaks about these things only sparingly and by allusion. Why so?

Because too intense a focus on heaven is capable of justifying every kind of evil on earth. There was a time when Jews were burned at the stake, so their murderers said, in order to save their immortal souls. Every injustice on earth, every act of violence, even suicide bombings, can be theoretically defended on the grounds that true justice is reserved for life after death.

Against this Judaism protests with every sinew of its soul, every fibre of its faith. Life is sacred. Death defiles. God is the God of life to be found only by consecrating life. Even King David was told by God that he would not be permitted to build the Temple because dam larov shafachta, "you have shed much blood."

Judaism is supremely a religion of life. That is the logic of the Torah's principle that those who have had even the slightest contact with death need purification before they may enter sacred space. The parah adumah, the rite of the red heifer, delivered this message in the most dramatic possible way. It said, in effect, that everything that lives – even a heifer that never bore the yoke, even red, the colour of blood which is the symbol of life – may one day turn to ash, but that ash must be dissolved in the waters of life. God lives in life. God must never be associated with death.

Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were killed by people who believed in death. Too often in the past Jews were victims of people who practised hate in the name of the God of love, cruelty in the name of the God of compassion, and murder in the name of the God of life. It is shocking to the very depths of humanity that this still continues to this day.

Never was there a more pointed contrast than, on the one hand, these young men who dedicated their lives to study and to peace, and on the other the revelation that other young men, even from Europe, have become radicalised into violence in the name of God and are now committing murder in His name. That is the difference between a culture of life and one of death, and this has become the battle of our time, not only in Israel but in Syria, in Iraq, in Nigeria and elsewhere. Whole societies are being torn to shreds by people practising violence in the name of God.

Against this we must never forget the simple truth that those who begin by practising violence against their enemies end by committing it against their fellow believers. The verdict of history is that cultures that worship death, die, while those that sanctify life, live on. That is why Judaism survives while the great empires that sought its destruction were themselves destroyed.

Our tears go out to the families of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali. We are with them in grief. We will neither forget the young victims nor what they lived for: the right that everyone on earth should enjoy, to live a life of faith without fear.

Bila hamavet lanetzach: "May He destroy death forever, and may the Lord God wipe away the tears from all faces." May the God of life, in whose image we are, teach all humanity to serve Him by sanctifying life.