Friday, December 21, 2018

Prosecuting Evil: A Conversation on History and Justice with Justice Gabriel Bach  12/19/18

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

You shall converse in the words of Torah and not in other things (Yoma 19b).

The Talmud explains "other things" as referring to idle, meaning less things.

The Hebrew language has words that mean rest, play, relaxation, and pleasant activities, while it has no word for "fun." A "fun" activity has no goal, as is implied in the colloquial expression, "just for the fun of it." In other words, the goal of the activity is within itself, and fun does not lead to or result in anything else.

This concept is alien to Judaism. Every human being is created with a mission in life. This mission is the ultimate goal toward which everything must in one way or another be directed. Seemingly mundane activities can become goal directed; we eat and sleep so that we can function, and we function in order to achieve our ultimate goal. Even relaxation and judicious enjoyable activities, if they contribute to sound health, can be considered goal directed if they enhance our functioning. However, fun as an activity in which people indulge just to "kill time" is proscribed. Time is precious, and we must constructively utilize every moment of life.

Furthermore, since people conceptualize their self-worth in terms of their activities, doing things "just for the fun of it" may in fact harm their self-esteem.

Today I shall ...
... try to direct all my activities, even rest and relaxation, to the ultimate purpose of my life.

Yesterday I wrote about emulating great people. I had the privilege of seeing one live  on Wendesday night when Judge Gabriel Bach spoke at the Begin Heritage Center about his life and his stint at the prosecuter in the Eichmann trial in 1961. Born in 1937 and still with all his marbles and health, he held the audiance spell bound with stories of his life and his experiences of the trial of a lifetime.

Love Yehuda Lave

In this week's Parsha,Jacob calls together his 12 sons and blesses them before his death ... (Gen 49)

May each of your families be blessed ...and may all the blessings we receive from the Alm-ghty, be integrated into our lives and our being ... and remind us to go towards goodness.
And may each of us be for a blessing to one another!
And ...
As you kindle your Shabbat candles, may their light permeate your homes and hearts.

Shabbat Shalom to all

Dec 19th in Jerusalem, Israel: Prosecuting Evil: A Conversation on History and Justice with Gabriel Bach


In 1961, the Eichmann trial served as the most public and prestigious search for a measure of justice following the unprecedented scope of evil that defined the Holocaust.

Even decades later, that trial, and the events that preceded it, continue to transfix our society and remind the world that justice must always be sought out even at great cost and effort – for that is what we owe to the victims of Nazism, their families and indeed a world that promotes freedom and human rights. The trial served as one of the first major events giving the Holocaust survivor community a voice and sense of collective purpose that remains a source of inspiration until today.

On December 19, 2018, a program presented by the Rutgers University Miller Center for Community Protection and Resilience together with The International March of the Living will offer the chance to hear from one of the key remaining figures behind that dramatic trial and better appreciate the process of prosecuting one of the worst criminals in history and what it meant for Israeli society – and the system of justice in a modern democracy.

The program will take place at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. It will begin at 6:00 PM with a reception including light refreshments followed by the presentations beginning at 7:00 PM. Admission is FREE but advance registration IS REQUIRED as space is limited and pre-assigned. To receive your tickets, register HERE or call 011-972-54-659-7795/6



Justice Gabriel Bach, born in Germany and fled with his family to Holland and later Palestine. He served as Deputy Prosecutor in the Eichmann trial before becoming Israel's State Attorney and later a Justice on the Supreme Court. He has written and spoken extensively about his experiences providing a critical voice and perspective on these events which defined Israel in the post- Holocaust period.

The event will be moderated by Richard D. Heideman. Mr. Heideman is a highly-regarded and sought-after attorney whose activities have been instrumental in bringing justice on behalf of victims of terrorism through numerous suits against national backers of heinous acts perpetrated against civilians. A veteran activist on behalf of the global Jewish community and the State of Israel, he currently serves as the President of the American Zionist Movement.

The program will also feature a discussion with Professor John J. Farmer, Jr. and Stephan Kramer on protecting and strengthening vulnerable communities across the world in the face of growing anti-Semitism and extremist violence. Professor Farmer is former Attorney General for the State of New Jersey and senior counsel for the 9/11 Commission as well as serving as an assistant U.S. Attorney. He is the former Dean of Rutgers Law School. Stephan Kramer is the President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution of Thuringia, Germany. From 2004-2014, Kramer served as the Secretary General of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and head of the Berlin office of the European Jewish Congress.

Gabriel Bach

Gabriel Bach (Hebrew: גבריאל בך‎; born 13 March 1927 in HalberstadtGermany) is an Israeli jurist, was a judge of the Supreme Court of Israel and was the deputy prosecutor in the prosecution of Adolf Eichmann.



Bach is the son of Victor Bach, who was the general manager of the Hirsch copper and brass factory, and his wife Erna (b. Benscher) Bach. He grew up in Berlin-Charlottenburg and attended Theodore Herzl School.

In October 1938 the Bach family emigrated from Nazi Germany to Amsterdam, where he continued to attend school. He is the only survivor of his Jewish classmates from this school. In 1940, a month before the invasion of the Netherlands by the German army, the family booked a passage to British Mandate Palestine and settled in Jerusalem. He joined the Haganah in 1943 and attended high school at the Hebrew University Secondary School, graduating in 1945.

After a year of studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he received a scholarship to study law at University College London. After graduating with honors in 1949, he interned in a law office before returning to Israel, where he did military service in the Israel Defense Forces in the Military Advocate General's Corps from 1951 to 1953, and was discharged from active service with the rank of Captain. In his military reserve duty he served as a judge on the Military Court of Appeals, reaching the rank of Colonel.

In 1953 Bach began working in the State Attorney's Office. In 1961 he was appointed as Deputy Attorney General and as the second of the three prosecutors in the Eichmann trial.

In 1969, he was appointed State Attorney. In 1982 he was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court of Israel and retired in 1997. In 1984 he served as the precedent-breaking Chairman of the Central Elections Committee. He was subsequently appointed as the chairman of several senior government committees and fact finding commissions.

He subsequently represented Israel at international conferences.

He lives with his wife Ruth in Jerusalem.


  • 1949: Buchman prize
  • German Federal Order of Merit (10 October 1997)
  • Friend of Jerusalem
  • Honorary Member of the University of London
  • Lemkin Award, Los Angeles (2011)
  • Jülich Society Prize for Tolerance (2014)
  • Mensch International Foundation awarded him as "Mensch" (2014)


  • Genocide trials in Israel, in: Herbert Reginbogin and Christoph Safferling (eds.): The Nuremberg Trials. International criminal law since 1945. International Conference on the 60th Anniversary - The Nuremberg Trials : International Criminal Law Since 1945. 60th Anniversary International Conference. KG Saur, Munich 2005 ISBN 3-598-11756-6Bilingual. Post: pp. 216–223, in English, German summary


  • Gabriel Bach, The Prosecutor and the Eichmann trial by Wolfgang Schoen and Frank Gutermuth, TV Schoen film D 2010 TV Schoen Movie


  • Peter Kasza : Purified he gave himself only from the gallows Süddeutsche Zeitung of 27 January 2007

External links[edit]

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Prosecuting Evil: A Conversation on History and Justice with Justice Gabriel Bach 12/19/18 Introduction

Gabriel Bach was Prosecutor at the Eichmann Trial and is former Justice of Israel's Supreme Court Rutgers University Miller Center for Community Protection and Resilience and The International March of Living Ppresent a special program featuring Gabriel Bach, Eichmann Trial Prosecutor and Former Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court December 19, 2018 at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, Jerusalem Moderated by Richard D. Heideman - International Litigator on behalf of Victims of Terror and Human Right Violations and panel: * Prof. John J Farmer Jr. - Senior Councel for the 9/11 Commission and former Dean of Rutgers Law School * Stephan Kramer - Former Secretery General of the Central Council of Jews in Germany * Irit Kohn - Past President of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists * Elie Honig - Former Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of NY and Prominent Legal CommentatorCategory

Prosecuting Evil: A Conversation on History and Justice with Justice Gabriel Bach - Panel

Gabriel Bach (2009) Interview

On August 8, 2009, Gabriel Bach shared his life's journey with Greg Peterson at Chautauqua Institution. Judge Bach was mostly know as being the associate prosecutor of Adolf Eichmann. He was also on the Israeli Supreme Court. For further information, see

Fifty years after trial, Eichmann prosecutor faces a lost childhood

Gabriel Bach escaped the Nazis when he was 13; two decades later, he prosecuted the architect of the Final Solution By CNAAN LIPHSHIZ29 May 2012,


AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Gabriel Bach knew he was Jewish and that the Nazis were a serious threat, but at 13, leaving his new school and home in Amsterdam proved heartwrenching.

What if, the boy wondered, he could stay just a few more weeks to finish the academic year?

Bach would come to powerfully understand the answer to his query. About two decades later he was the prosecutor in the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the annihilation of European Jewry.

Fifty years ago this week, on May 31, Eichmann was executed in Jerusalem. Bach, 85, completed a series of lectures this month in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United States.

He was invited to Holland by the country's watchdog on anti-Semitism, the Center of Information and Documentation on Israel, and the Arzi foundation for Dutch Israelis. The Israeli Embassy arranged for him to address 200 jurists and judges of the International Criminal Court at the Peace Palace in the Hague.

Bach even managed to swing by his old school in Amsterdam 72 years after leaving. During a visit to the Vossius Gymnasium, Bach recalled his truncated youth in the city.

That tragic chapter of Dutch history leapt back to him while reviewing yearbooks in the rector's office. In Bach's time at the school, one-third of the 400-member student body was Jewish. Fewer than 10 of them survived the war.

The rector, Jan van Muilekom, presented Bach with a small alabaster statue of a fox. Every graduate gets one, the rector explained to the judge and his wife, Ruth.

"You have not taken all the finals exams, but I'm pretty confident you would have passed," he joked.

Now a Jerusalem resident, Bach had immigrated to the Netherlands in 1938 from Germany with his family. Two year later they were in Palestine — just weeks before the Nazis invaded Holland.

Bach remembered being in the car that would take the family to the train station and then out of Holland. Before it started to move, he leapt out and ran upstairs for his dog, Stompi.

"They had to tear him out of my arms," Bach said in a rare expression of emotions outside his old home on Wagner Street. A savvy jurist, he mostly uses facts, figures and principles of jurisprudence in speaking about the past.

Ironically, Bach remembers feeling relieved after making it to Holland from Germany.

"We had been detained and frisked in Germany before crossing over to Holland. We then had to run to the train as it was pulling out," he said. "A German SS officer kicked me in my behind as I was running. I was literally kicked out of Germany."

On the Dutch side of the border, Bach recalled finally releasing his emotions.

"The Dutch customs official wasn't even that nice, he was just correct. But to have someone in uniform address us as human beings … it moved me to tears almost," he said.

Bach eventually became an Israeli Supreme Court justice. He is matter of fact when speaking about Eichmann, an SS Obersturmbannführer responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews.

Eichmann escaped Europe after World War II, but Israel's secret service, the Mossad, captured him in 1960 in Argentina. Eichmann was smuggled back to Israel, convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death by hanging. His execution marks Israel's only state-sanctioned death.

Bach, then a deputy state attorney, had led the prosecution's investigation.

"I believe Eichmann became an expert in Jewish matters because he thought it would be beneficial for his career," said Bach, the only member of the prosecution team who had contact with Eichmann. "When you murder thousands every day, you either go insane or you become an uncompromising idealist. Eichmann became obsessed with the idea of implementing the Holocaust."

In reviewing tens of thousands of documents, Bach says he never once encountered "the slightest concession" on Eichmann's part.

"I think it's because doing so would have exposed him to himself as a common murderer," Bach said. "That's why he was so extremely fanatical in killing every last Jew."

That fanaticism sometimes led to absurdity.

"I recall reading a document which showed how furious Eichmann was over a certain pogrom in which local Romanian militias killed Jews. Eichmann warned this killing of Jews 'interfered with the statistical oversight' of his task," Bach said.

The only time Bach saw Eichmann unhinged was at a court screening of a documentary film about the Holocaust. The images were not what upset Eichmann; he was angry that he had not been allowed to wear his blue suit before being taken into the room.

Nowhere in occupied Western Europe was Eichmann's Final Solution more thoroughly implemented than in the Netherlands. By 1945, more than 75 percent of Dutch Jewry had been murdered — in comparison to 20 percent in Italy, 26 percent in France and 50 percent in Belgium.

For Eichmann, the near total annihilation of Dutch Jewry appeared to have been a source of pride, even playing a decisive role in sealing his fate.

In 1956, while still living incognito in Argentina, Eichmann was interviewed by Wilhelmus Sassen, a pro-Nazi Dutch journalist. Eichmann's family had hired Sassen to write Eichmann's biography for posthumous publication.

Four years later Eichmann was captured, and Sassen sold a manuscript based on the interviews with Eichmann to Life magazine. The prosecution gained the notes from Life — complete with footnotes and corrections in Eichmann's own handwriting.

In one interview, Eichmann told Sassen that the death trains leaving from Holland to Auschwitz were a "marvelous sight."

The conversations were instrumental in discrediting Eichmann's expression of remorse during the trial, in which he called the Holocaust "one of the greatest crimes in human history." But armed with Sassen's notes, the Israeli prosecution was able to show that just five years before the trial, Eichmann's main regret was not having killed more Jews.

When Sassen asked if Eichmann sometimes felt sorry for his actions, Eichmann said, "Yes, I feel sorry that I wasn't hard enough. That I wasn't tough enough, that I didn't fight these damn interventionists hard enough. And now you see the result: The creation of the State of Israel and the reemergence of that race there."

Despite a childhood in the shadow of impending annihilation and a long submersion in the psyche of a mass murderer, Bach has not given up on what he called a "positive outlook" on the future.

"Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism exist," he said. "Yet at the same time, the parliament of each state in Germany devotes a whole day every year to commemorating the Holocaust. I see a genuine determination to prevent things like that from reoccurring and I think that extreme pessimism isn't very helpful.

"So they tell me, 'Oh, Gabi, you always see the glass half full.' They're wrong: I actually see it as three-quarters full."


See you Sunday

Shabbat Shalom

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

2850 Womble Road, Suite 100-619, San Diego
United States


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