Tuesday, April 23, 2019

From the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising to the Triumph of Israel

From the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising to the Triumph of Israel
A dramatic reading, with visuals

Based on text by Robert A. Adelson-adapted by Rabbi Norbert Weinberg with material from USHMM and other sources

Thank you to Robert A Adelson for permission to adapt his text for this presentation. For the original text of Haggadah
Hashoah, please go to:https://www.dropbox.com/s/jgq51ooihlj2w2p/HAGGADAH%20HA%20SHOAH%20by%20Robert%20Adelson.pdf?dl=0

This is available as a Powerpoint Slide Presentation. 

Opening Element
Paul Robeson sings the Partisan Song
Paul Robeson was the great operatic vocalist known for his efforts on behalf of African Americans and for social justice. He was also a great friend of the Jews. He paid tribute on June 14, 1949, at his concert at Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, to Jewish Holocaust victims, he reduced his stunned audience to tears by singing Hirsh Glick’s great anthem from the Vilna Ghetto, ‘Zog Nit Keynmol,” also known as “The Partisan Song,” in both Russian and Yiddish. The Politburo was not amused.

Leader: At our Seder tonight we read the Haggadah, the
 “telling” of the Exodus from Egypt and soon partake in our 
festive meal. We meet in confidence. Our lives are secure. 
However, for we Jews, this was not always so.
Reader:We recall now the Holocaust, in Hebrew, Ha Shoah
It was the planned murder of the Jews of Europe between 
1939 and 1945 by Nazi Germany and its leader, Adolph 
Reader: In the 1930s, most world Jewry faced each 
passing year with increasing dread. Fascist anti-Semitic
 regimes ruled most of Eastern Europe.  And worst of all, 
there rose the specter of the most virulent anti-Semitism 
the world has ever known—that of Hitler and Nazi 
Germany. Where the Nazi conquered, we Jews were 
singled out, hunted down, made separate from our 
Reader: We were forced to wear the Star of David. We
 lost every protection of the law. We faced every possible 
indignity.  If you had any Jewish blood or ancestry, you 
were the No. 1 target of hatred by the relentless Nazi state.

Reader: We were forced to give up our businesses and 
our life’s careers. Our possessions and family heirlooms 
were routinely looted. We were forced to leave our 
homes to move to overcrowded ghettos. We were 
systematically starved, subjected to slave labor and 
medical experiments. And when we didn’t die fast 
enough, the Nazis invented their new machines of doom
—the gas chamber and the crematoria.
Reader: By 1945, the Nazis had murdered 6 million 
European Jews. They represented 1/3 of the Jewish 
people: 1 Jew out of every 3 Jews in the world perished 
in the Shoah.

Reader: We were not military people. We had no chance 
to defend ourselves.
Reader: Yet despite everything against them, some Jews 
managed to fight back. We revolted in several of the camps 
and ghettos such as Treblinka and Sobibor. Starting 
Passover night in 1943, with few weapons and no outside 
support, we fought the German army for three weeks in the 
Warsaw ghetto. This is how it began, exactly 76 years ago, 
on the night of the Seder, April 19, 1943:

Reader In April the ghetto was rife with rumors of an
 upcoming deportation. Despite this, the Jews of the ghetto 
continued with their preparations for Passover. Some even 
baked matzot, obtained wine, and koshered their dishes in 
preparation for the holiday. On the 18th of April 1943, news 
arrived that the Germans had stationed an army in Warsaw
 and it seemed that the ghetto was to be liquidated. The 
members of the underground resistance movements went 
into high alert. That night the ghetto was surrounded. Many 
people had already heard of this from the reports of lookouts
 posted as a matter of course on the rooftops.

Reader : In the words of the survivors No one slept that 

night. Everybody spent the time packing the most necessary

articles, linen, bedding, food and taking it down to the 

bunkers. The moon was full and the night was unusually 

bright. There was more movement in the courtyards and 

streets than by day.(Tuvia BorzykowskiBetween Tumbling 

Walls, p.48)

Reader It was Passover eve, 1943, and we had arranged

 everything in the house in preparation for the holiday. We

 even had Matzot (unleavened bread), everything. We had 

made the beds… The policeman who lived with us always

told us everything that was going to happen… He told us, 

"You should know that the ghetto is surrounded – with 

Ukrainians. Tonight will not be a good night." He had heard 

this. We took all our belongings and went into the bunker.

 Why wait?  So we took what we still had at home, whatever 

food we had, everything, and went down into the bunker. 

And waited.(Testimony of Shoshana Baharir, Yad Vashem

 Archive, O.3/5469)

Reader On the 19th of April 1943, Passover eve, the

Germans entered the ghetto. This was the Seder in Rabbi Eliezer Meisel's apartment:

Amidst this destruction, the table in the center of the room 
looked incongruous with glasses filled with wine, with the 
family seated around, the rabbi reading the Haggadah. His 
reading was punctuated by explosions and the rattling of 
machine-guns; the faces of the family around the table were
 lit by the red light from the burning buildings nearby.

Reader: It took the German armies only six weeks to conquer France, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg but it took 28 days to subdue a rag tag army of 1500 armed with pistols and rifles

Reader:The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was nothing less than a revolution in Jewish history. Jews had resisted the Nazis with armed force. The significance and symbolic resonance of the uprising went far beyond those who fought and died. As the leader, Anielewicz wrote: My life’s dream has now been realized: Jewish self-defense in the ghetto is now an accomplished fact.…I have been witness to the magnificent, heroic struggle of the Jewish fighters. (https://www.britannica.com/event/Warsaw-Ghetto-Uprising

Leader: Hitler underestimated the resilience of the Jewish 

people and our ideals. We, the Jewish people, did not 

become extinct . Just as we rebuilt and renewed ourselves 

after the assaults of Pharaoh, Haman, Antiochus, and all

 who would destroy the Jewish people, our ethics, ideals and 

all we stand for, so again we renewed ourselves after the 

Holocaust. We saw the miraculous rebirth of the State of 

Israel on our ancient soil. We saw Israel grow to a strong 

democratic beacon to the world. In this land of America, we 

have built a thriving community, loyal,  productive and 

contributing to a nation that has welcomed us with open 


Together: As we remember the Exodus, so we remember the 6 million. As we were once slaves in Egypt, so tonight ALL of us are survivors of the Shoah. Ani ma’amin: It was the prayer of the camps. Ani ma’amin. Be’emuna shelema: I believe with complete faith in the coming of Justice to this world. With the Torah and the prophets as my guide, I will not give up our quest. I will seek justice and righteousness. I will seek to make this world a better place, for all people, today and tomorrow. To this, in their memory, I pledge myself. Ani ma’amin.
 Am Yisrael chai

Ani ma'amin,
Be'emuna shelema
Beviat hamashiach ani ma'amin
Veaf al pi sheyitmahmeha
Im kol zeh, achake loh
Achake bechol yom sheyavoh
Am Yisrael chai, od avinu chai!


Ben Gurion Declares Independance

Hatikvah: Barbara Streisand

Monday, April 22, 2019

Murder Masquerades as Righteousness

I posted these brief comments on Facebook, the first following the recent multiple bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter ,done in the name of Islam , and the second , earlier, following the mass shooting of Moslems in the name of "white supremacy."

Hatred is not the possession of any one religion, race or nationality. Mass murder is not restricted to one political ideology.  In the name of great ideals, for example, the last century saw the greatest shedding of human blood in all of history, all in the name of some grand goal- not just in the name of the master race, but also in the name of class struggle and the creation of Utopia.

"Our hearts go out to Christians who entered their sacred place on the most sacred day of the year for them, Easter, only to be slaughtered and maimed in the name of God. Just as we condemned the killing of innocent Muslims in the Mosque in New Zealand, we must protest acts of murder against Christians that has been going on in many parts of the world. All of us, Jews, Christians, and Muslims must affirm that we can not allow in our midst, those who preach violence against others. We must all beware of the temptation to masquerade our inner madness in the garb of saintliness and noble causes. The previous century was already bloodied with the tens of millions of dead for the sake of the "class struggle" as well as for "race" "; we can't go down that path again." ( April 22)

This week , in the Jewish calendar, is designated as " Shabbat Zachor." We are called to remember the attack of Amalek who attacked us as we left Egypt, when we were weak and defenseless. Amalek has become the paradigm for those who preach hatred of their fellow human being.
We work for the day when we erase the cause of Amalek, Sinat Hinam, Groundless hatred, of human beings, that it will disappear from among all peoples, of all races, nationalities, and religions.
We as Jews understand this all too well. ( March 15)

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Roots of Anti Semitism-History’s Oldest Hatred

The Roots of Anti-semitism-History’s Oldest Hatred

A renewed anti-Semitism, disguised as the demands of “intersectionalists” against the privileged ( read “Jews”) on the left, with the violence of “White-supremacists” on the other, has once again reared its head.
In this light, I present here rough notes on anti-Semitism in its various manifestations over history, gathered from various sources.
First, on the occasion of my father’s Yahrzeit, I am posting his essay on the roots of modern anti-Semitism. A copy of the original is posted at the end of this post.

This  essay on the topic of anti-Semitism, was published in the National Jewish Monthly of the B’nai B’rith. It is interesting to note, however, that the editorial staff denounced the position my father took on this topic in a sidebar directly adjacent to the column.
The following is a transcript of the article:

Anti-Semitism Is Based On New Factors, Not Religion
By Rabbi Dr.  William Weinberg  c early 1960’s

Neither Hitler, nor the Dreyfusards, nor the anti-Semitic right-wingers who between the two World Wars grouped themselves around the daily “L’Action Francaise,” fought under the faded banner of the church. We must not be deceived by smuggled-in pieties. Nazism’s anti-Jewish ideology was not based on the theological antagonism between the Pharisees and Jesus. The Nazis did not adorn themselves with the symbol of the cross but with the swastika, which stood for many things but not for Christian myths or beliefs. Hitler was not a modern Torquemada, and the gas chambers were not regarded by him as auto-da-fe, a place for burning heretics.
It is wrong in our day and age to identify anti-Semitism, primarily, with religious intolerance, though the words are still used interchangeably, especially by Jews. The religious wall turned long ago into a “paper curtain.” If we are still excluded from some clubs or neighborhoods, it’s not for our disbelief in Jesus. The idea that hostility toward us is, mainly and directly, the result of religious intolerance, is a product of frustration. The seed of anti-Semitism is undoubtedly Christian; the root and branches are not. Creeds are not the insignia of our present-day civilization, and the Christ-killer myth rarely, if ever, pops up in conversations. To the best of my recollection, no Nazi ever threw the New Testament at me, nor did any Russian anti-Semite, during the four years I was a refugee in the Soviet Union. Anti-Semitism is essentially a-religious, thoroughly secularized and materialistic.
We are under a spell and look in the wrong direction. Out of fear of another Holocaust, we have put up a warm blanket of belief that if only the churches got less nasty, most Jew baiting would disappear. And yet I venture to say that if every trace of religious discrimination against us were wiped away overnight, it would have the same effect as a heart operation on a broken leg. In September 1938, Pope Pius stated clearly, “Anti-Semitism is…a movement in which we, as Christians, cannot have any part whatever…. Spiritually we are Semites.” Did this noble statement prevent the Germans, the Ukrainians, the Poles, and Lithuanians from slaughtering Jews? Does the contemporary left- or right-winger pay much attention to church statements? Does the average Catholic study them?
Modern anti-Semitism is primarily a secular movement, and large parts of it are anti-Christian…. We must look for friends who themselves are power factors, for men ready to protect their liberties, law, and peaceful procedures for the redress of their grievances—within the framework of our Constitution.
We need an increased realism and sobriety with which to approach the modern varieties of Jew hatred. This is a job for politicians, political scientists, criminologists, and psychopathologists rather than for theologians.
The Bible is strikingly silent on what motivates us to evil. We are told of Cain and Abel, “Vayomer Kayin el Hevel Akhiv”—“Cain said to Abel, his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose against Abel his brother and killed him.” The Hebrew word Vayomer (and the word said) introduces a quotation, yet there is no quotation. What is it that Cain said to Abel? What did Abel say back to him? What were they talking about? The Bible does not care. It only cares that Cain and Abel were brothers and one brother killed the other.
What mattered to the biblical scribe was not the cause of the quarrel, but the consequence. The world spent years in bloodshed because of this act of Cain against Abel in the twentieth century.

Pre-dates Christianity
The Bible already hints at the problem of a minority in a foreign land. In the case of Jospeh, Potiphar’s wife harps on the tune of “ Hebrew who plays with us”; Pharaoh: “They have become numerous and too powerful, they will join with the enemy against us(and leave us!).
First known case of Jew-baiting-an attack on the Jewish colony at Elephantine, year 400 BCE!
Blood libel- first propagated by Antiochus supporters against Jews-reported by Apion, the first systematic anti-Semitic theoretician, in 1st century Egypt, but much older-Jews capture a  Greek for sacrifice.
Culture clash- Jews spred through Greek and Roman societies- a large number in Rome and Alexandria.  Very popular. Jewish ideas make inroads, 1 in 10 of Roman Empire are Jews-many more are “ Jew-lovers.” But there is a reaction, especially in Alexandria.  Manetho-about 3rd century BC proposes theory of Jews as a nation of robbers and lepers. Tacitus- around year 100- despises Jews.

Religious Anti-Semitism- Anti-Judaism- against an idea, not against a people

Christianity- note-Modern Christians have changed greatly in their preaching , especially the Catholic Church, as well as the major Protestant denominations.
The conflict among Jews between the Jesus people and the bulk of Jews becomes a conflict in which the two sides try to put more distance between them. As the Roman Empire turns on Jews and on Rabbinic Judaism in particular (Deuterosis), the early Christian texts reflect a re-editing, to place the blame, on Jesus crucifixion, from the Romans, to the Jews, “ His blood be upon us and upon our children.” Deicide ( God-killer) and the Jew condemned to eternal wandering become the regnant motif.
The conflict is flamed by the early church thinkers. Church Fathers, such as John Chrysostom, went further in their condemnation John Chrysostom held, as most Church Fathers did, that the sins of all Jews were communal and endless, All Church Fathers applied the passages of the New Testament concerning the alleged advocation of the crucifixion of Christ to all Jews of his day, the Jews were the ultimate evil. John Chrysostom went so far to say that because Jews rejected the Christian God in human flesh, Christ, they therefore deserved to be killed: "grew fit for slaughter."
The split is grounded in Roman law-Theodosius code: In 404, Jews were excluded from certain governmental posts.[5] In 418, they were barred from the civil service, and from all military positions.[6] In 425, they were excluded from all remaining public offices, both civilian and military—a prohibition which Justinian I repeated.
Continued in 1215 Lateran Council  Jews are forced to wear distinct clothes( yellow badge A Moslem practice.) Practices incorporated demeaning to Jews.
BUT- also, defense of Jews rights-  Sicut Judaeis  (the "Constitution for the Jews") was the official position of the papacy regarding Jews throughout the Middle Ages and later. The first bull was issued in about 1120 by Calixtus II  The bull forbade, besides other things, Christians from coercing Jews to convert, or to harm them, or to take their property, or to disturb the celebration of their festivals, or to interfere with their cemeteries, on pain of excommunication.

Islam- Much of Islamic preaching continues in this same path path-Unfortunately for Islam and the world,  it had adopted the tropes of Christianity. Level of out-spoken anti-Semitism is greater by all means, even in countries that had no major Jewish settlement such as Indonesia or Malaysia!

Mohammed- rose to power with Jewish allies- and then, when they fail to back him, he turns on them. What starts as a result of political power struggle becomes magnified into a fight between Islam and Judaism.
Intensified in the Hadith( Oral traditions)-Especially of Al Bukhari, who is considered authority behind most Islamic militants today. This statement is part of the charter of Hamas, for example
The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (the Boxthorn tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews. (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim).Sahih Muslim41:6985, see also Sahih Muslim41:6981Sahih Muslim41:6982Sahih Muslim41:6983Sahih Muslim41:6984Sahih al-Bukhari4:56:791,(Sahih al-Bukhari4:52:177)
Even with Islamic tolerance-limits-
Jizya tax-dhimmi status. 2) Yellow badge 3) Even in Golden Age of Spain-- periods of forced conversion and explusioon- Almohades-forced conversions. Pogroms in Cordoba and Granada
In Shiite regions- extreme intolerance-1) Jews are impure. 2) Exile of Jews from capital of Yemen, Sana-Galut Mauza 1600’s.3) Iran-strong laws restricting Jews, Forced conversion in Isfahan 1600’s, Mashad 1800’s.
On the one hand, Moslem rulers wanted Jews; I e. Sultan Suleiman invited Jews into the Ottoman empire with open hands. On the other hand, as Islamic world interacted with west, anti-Semitism gets stronger and is deeply ingrained- even before the rise of State of Israel.
Current manifestations: both Sunni and Shiite:
The esteemed President of Malaysia:  In a speech made before the Organization of the Islamic Conference shortly before he left office, Mahathir claimed "the Jews rule the world by proxy: They get others to fight and die for them."[80] “We are up against a people who think. They survived 2,000 years of pogroms not by hitting back but by thinking. They invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have now gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power. . . .”(NY Times https://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/21/world/views-on-jews-by-malaysian-his-own-words.html)
Ayatollah Khomeini was obsessed with Jews,in a book he published in 1970: “The Jews...wish to establish Jewish domination throughout the world since they are a cunning and resourceful group of people, I fear that... they may one day achieve their goal.” Hukumat-i Islami (Islamic governance),

Secular anti-Semitism: Modern roots

Economic anti-Semitism: Jews as a relatively successful population are targeted as threat,  not to lower classes, but to upper & middle classes. For example, Jew as money-lender, financier, made it financially worthwhile for English barons to promote expulsion of Jews form England, 1200’s, as way of eliminating debts, taking over Jewish loan against other land owners. Pogroms of 1648 Poland- Jews served as “arenda” superintendents for Polish lords over Ukrainian Cossacks. Russia- end of 19th century- one of largest group pushing for laws against Jews-the merchant classes who could not compete against Jews who could afford to buy/sell lower prices because they lived frugally and saved. Karl Marx- Jew as huckster, as the worst example of capitalism. Persecution of Jews in USSR as corrupt swindlers( Book, Judaism Unembellished- 1962, official Soviet imprimatur)

Nationalist anti-Semitism- especially 19th century- failure of concept of Europe”, “ All Men are Brothers”. Term anti-Semite invented by William Barr to describe his new movement ( it may have been a Jewish scholar who first coined it). The Jew as a distinct and permanently alien nation has no place inside the host nation. European form moves on to rising Arab nationalism, which begins to see the Jew as alien- Farhood in Baghdad. The denial of rights to Jews in the newly freed colonies of North Africa. Albert Memmi-great ideologist of Tunisian independence, colleague of Franz Fanon: “We would have liked to be Arab Jews. If we abandoned the idea, it is because over the centuries the Moslem Arabs systematically prevented its realization by their contempt and cruelty. It is now too late for us to become Arab Jews. Not only were the homes of Jews in Germany and Poland torn down, scattered to the four winds, demolished, but our homes as well. “. . . Never, I repeat, never - with the possible exception of two or three very specific intervals such as the Andalusian, and not even then - did the Jews in Arab lands live in other than a humiliated state, vulnerable and periodically mistreated and murdered, so that they should clearly remember their place.( reprinted in various places).

Judeophobia- The Psychological Basis of Anti-Semitism goes far beyond common xenophobia, the fear of strangers. Hatred of the Jew is psychological phenomenon- Freudian perspective-- Jew as the father figure who must be destroyed.  The Jew as demonic, possessed of supernatural powers- the Jew kills the son of God, drinks blood, poisons wells, controls Empires. The Jewish male has designs on the gentile woman, the Jewish female uses her wiles to undermine government leaders. In the the 20th century, it morphed into the modern racial version of Nazism, its most virulent form, leading to the destruction of one-third of all Jews.
The racial basis of anti-Semitism has its roots in Spain after the Expulsion, when the idea of “Pure blood”, ( Limpieza de Sangre”, became a tool of the Inquisition and of power-players to root out Jews by ancestry.

Left anti-Semitism-

Deep roots, starting with Jewish leaders- Marx himself.
The famous Polish Jewish revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg specifically repudiated any concern with the plight of the Jews in a letter written in 1917, in which she indicated that the exploited of Asia and Africa were “so much closer” to her than the Jews that “I cannot find a special corner in my heart for the ghetto; I feel at home in the whole world.” In “Are the Jews a Race?,” the only book on the Jewish question written by a major Marxist theoretician, Karl. Kautsky, who was also of Jewish origins, criticized Juda ism as the major source of medieval thinking left in the modern world, one which must “dissolve . . . and disappear.” And like Marx, Kautsky wrote about Judaism: “The sooner it disappears, the better it will be, not only for society, but also for the Jews them selves.”
Poland- purge of Jews from major positons-1968, Gomulka, mass arrests, purges form power, expulsion-25,000 left. Similar- Hungary 1950s, Czech during communist takeover.
In Germany, New Left students, in a sickening replay of the behavior of their Nazi predecessors of 192833 (university students were the first stratum in Germany to back the Nazis, giving them majorities in stu dent council elections as early as 1931), chant as they parade: “Mach die Nahe Osten rot; schlag die Zionisten tot” (“Make the Near East Red; smash the Zionists dead”).
Jean Bauberot, former leader of the French Student Christian Association and currently editor of Herytem, a New Left journal, wrote in the MayJuly, 1969, issue that to “demonstrate the intricacies of the Palestine problem” leftists must “use expressions which, taken by themselves, appear to resemble certain lines from ‘Mein Kampf.