DuBow Digest Germany Edition April 30, 2014

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An American Jewish - Germany information & opinion newsletter

An American Jewish - Germany information & opinion newsletter

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  • 1. 1 AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION NEWSLETTER dubowdigest@optonline.net GERMANY EDITION April 30, 2014 IN THIS EDITION ISRAEL - PALESTINIAN PEACE: A NEW AMERICAN ROLE? –The old one didn’t work. GERMANY & THE JEWS: A MUST READ – Deep insight. GERMANY: A GIANT SWITZERLAND? – Painful insight. DOGTAGS, THE LETTER “H” & JEWISH IDENTITY – WW II Jewish history. NINE WOMEN RABBIS – Yes! Women! GOOD GRADES – Germany fulfills a responsibility. Dear Friends: I hope you all had a great Easter and/or Passover holiday. Spring has finally begun to show its face here in the Lower Hudson Valley ending (I hope) this terrible cold and snowy winter that we’ve endured. However, it really hasn’t warmed up as yet. Our patience is running out. The recent canonization of Popes had more of an impact on the Jewish community than one would have normally imagined. The papacies of these two men (now saints) had profound effects on the way Catholics began to look upon Jews and Judaism and dramatically reduced anti-Semitism in the Church. My AJC colleague Rabbi Noam Marans noted in an article on the AJC website, ―It is a poignant coincidence that Popes John XXIII and John Paul II will be canonized as Catholic saints on the eve of Yom Hashoah, the international day of Holocaust remembrance observed in Israel and by Jews around the world. These two popes‘
  • 2. 2 personal narratives are inseparable from the Holocaust, and their reactions to the systematic genocide of the Jews played a critical role in the revolution in Catholic- Jewish relations during the last half century. These two popes were integral to the post-Holocaust transformation of Catholic and wider Christian attitudes toward Jews and Judaism. It‘s easy to take this change for granted, but this development moved the church from a force that endangered Jewish survival to one committed to the future of Jews and Judaism. In this past week, as Noam noted above, the Jewish world commemorated the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust with the Yom HaShoah holiday. If you are interested in more details about it you can click here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yom_HaShoah Matters in the contemporary world don’t seem to be going very well. There is not much I can add to what is being said almost everywhere about the dangerous situation in Ukraine. I wonder what Chancellor Merkel and Pres. Obama will be saying about it to each other when they meet later this week. The Middle East peace process has all but collapsed. More about that below. The attempt to solve the Iran nuclear weapon development has seemingly taken a back seat to the Ukraine situation. Isn’t there anything good to report? Well, my NY Mets baseball team has won more games than they’ve lost so far this season. There are times when we have to be thankful for small things. This is one of them. Let’s get on with the news… ISRAEL - PALESTINIAN PEACE: A NEW AMERICAN ROLE? The American attempt to put together a peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians seems to have pretty much fallen apart. The negotiations at the endwere not at all about peace but, rather, about the negotiations themselves and how they could be kept from totally breaking down. From the Israeli side, Pres. Abbas’ move to bring Hamas into his government induced P.M. Netanyahu to announce that Abbas could either choose peace or Hamas, which Israel, the U.S. and the UN consider a terrorist organization. He raised the question of how does one negotiate with a party that is dedicated to wiping you off the face of the map? EU Foreign Affairs High Representative Catherine Ashton has stated that she sees no reason why Israel could not continue negotiations if a new Palestinian government were to be made up of technocrats rather than politicians. Who would be calling the shots? The technocrats? Highly unlikely!
  • 3. 3 Right from the beginning, it was pretty obvious that neither side was enthusiastic about this new attempt and that only Secretary of State Kerry felt that something could be accomplished. He did (and does) have one weapon, that being the possibility of the U.S. making public its own plan which, of course, would inflame both sides – probably the Israelis more than the Palestinians. He noted that without a peace agreement Israel would become an apartheid state. That was a foolish (andharmful) assertion which he had to retract. Whatever faults it might have, Israel is no South Africa. I just wonder whether Secy. Kerry and High Rep. Ashton aren’t more worried about their own reputations than about finding a really workable solution. Unless some unforeseen miracle comes to pass, when the current negotiations end with no result we’ll be right back where we started or worse with the parties each blaming the other for the failure. Is there something else the U.S. could do that might change things? I came across a suggestion that, in my opinion, has some possibilities. It appeared in a column by the Washington Post’s Deputy Editorial Page Editor Jackson Diehl. He writes, ―…it‘s worth pointing out that during the course of the last 25 years the two peoples have made glacially slow but cumulatively enormous progress toward coexistence. In fact, they have traveled most of the path to a final settlement. A decisive majority of Israelis and the political elite have given up the dream of a ―greater Israel‖ and accepted that a state of Palestine will be created in the Gaza Strip and most of the West Bank. That was out of the question in 1990, when Secretary of State James Baker threw up his hands in frustration and advised the parties to ―call us  .  .  . when you are serious about peace.‖ Palestinians have dropped their denial of Israel‘s right to exist and, for the most part, the tactics of terrorism and violence that undid the diplomacy of the Clinton administration. Once racked by suicide bombings and messy military sweeps, Israel, the West Bank and lately even Gaza have been islands of relative tranquility in a bloody region. Israeli troops that once patrolled every major Palestinian town are gone. They are replaced in the West Bank by competent Palestinian security forces whose commanders work closely with their Israeli counterparts — another once-inconceivable development. ―…contrary to the claim of Secretary of State John F. Kerry, the time for a two-state settlement is not running out. In fact, the doomsayers who made that same argument 25 years ago,…‖ Then, Israel was aggressively expanding Jewish settlements. Now, all but a handful of the new housing it is adding is in areas near the 1967 border that both sides know will become part of Israel. Despite all the episodic furors over the settlements, careful studies have shown that 80 percent of their residents could be absorbed by Israel‘s annexation of less than 5 percent of the West Bank — and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted at his acceptance of the principle that the territory could be swapped for land that is now part of Israel.
  • 4. 4 So why isn‘t this progress reflected in the diplomacy? Simple: Almost every positive development in Israeli-Palestinian relations has happened outside the ―peace process.‖ Israelis accepted Palestinian statehood because they realized their country could not keep the West Bank and remain both Jewish and democratic. Palestinians abandoned violence because it failed to end the occupation and was far more costly to Palestinians than to Israelis. Security cooperation works in the West Bank because Israel and the Palestinian authority share an interest in combating Islamic extremists. The United States has helped to advance this process not by holding peace talks but by backing up the pragmatic decisions of Israeli and Palestinian leaders. George W. Bush helped Ariel Sharon make the decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and to carry out the first dismantlement of settlements in the West Bank by endorsing the principle that Israel would retain settlement blocs near its 1967 border. U.S. training and funding has helped create those Palestinian security forces. The Obama administration could have kept the forward movement going by continuing to promote the construction of Palestinian institutions — including a democratic, corruption-resistant government — and by pushing Israel to turn over more security responsibility and remove impediments to the Palestinian economy. Instead it chose to embrace the ever-failing peace process and bet that it could quickly broker a deal between two very reluctant leaders: Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas. The wager not only has foundered, but it also has partly reversed the more organic change that was underway. Freed from pressure from Washington, Abbas forced out his reformist prime minister and repeatedly postponed promised elections. He is now in the tenth year of the four-year term to which he was elected. Big-time corruption in his regime is back, as are serious human rights abuses. Rancor over the failing peace talks meanwhile is causing Israel to withhold cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, which could cause its collapse. The moral of this story is that the United States can‘t produce a Mideast settlement by diplomatic blitzkrieg. It must rather patiently invest in the conditions and institutions that would make a deal possible — and not call a conference until conditions are ripe and leaders ready. By stubbornly refusing to recognize that principle, President Obama and Kerry probably have postponed Palestinian statehood. But the odds are that the evolution toward peace eventually will go on without them. I don’t know about you, but Diehl’s reasoning makes a lot of sense to me. To keep trying to do something that doesn’t work seems absolutely senseless. What do you think? GERMANY & THE JEWS: A MUST READ As I see it, the prime reason for my publishing a "Germany Edition “of DuBow Digest is to provide some insight into the thinking of Jews in the U.S. and Israel on issues that might have some interest and connection to my readers (mostly) in Germany. I usually
  • 5. 5 add a little commentary to each piece I excerpt to help in its understanding and to give you my own thoughts on the covered subject. Knowing full well that most readers will not click on the provided links in order to read the writer's entire article, I try to capture the essence of what the writer has to say in a length that I hope will not be too long. It is not always easy to do that in a very truncated version. However, I try to make each article as concise and to the point as possible. Occasionally I come across a piece that I believe to be so important that it calls for total inclusion. Such a piece is "What Germany Owes the Jews" which appeared in The Times of Israel. In my opinion it captures the thoughts and emotions of many Jews in the U.S. and Israel I think the essence of what David Horovitz has to say is critically important. I hope my German readers will take it to heart. I would be very interested in your thoughts which, if you wish, can be sent to me at dubowdigest@optonline.net WHAT GERMANY OWES THE JEWS This time next year, Israel and Germany will be gearing up to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties — a spectacularly sensitive relationship between the nation whose leadership set about annihilating the Jews and the nation-state whose revival, tragically, came too late to save six million of them. The conventional wisdom is that the Israel-Germany ―special relationship‖ remains both firm and delicate, marked by Germany‘s extraordinary commitment to Israel‘s well- being, as a consequence of that eternally unpayable historical debt owed by the Germans to the Jews. The reality, however, is that while Germany has proved willing to some extent to bolster Israel‘s defense militarily and diplomatically, much of its political and diplomatic leadership is as witheringly and ignorantly critical of Israel as the rest of the willfully blind European consensus. The only real difference is that German politicians and diplomats don‘t generally make public their ill-informed critiques and their facile conclusions. In deference to that special relationship, they don‘t put themselves openly at odds with the Jewish state. German politicians and diplomats will tell you that they are worried about the bilateral relationship. The policymaking elite is dependably empathetic to Israel, they‘ll say. But there‘s a deepening and disquieting disconnect with the German public, which increasingly views Israel solely and without nuance as a brutal oppressor, building relentlessly on Palestinian land, insistently maintaining its rule over the poor Palestinians, whose only crime is to seek independence. The fact is, however, that much of the policymaking elite feels pretty much the same, and unforgivably has not taken the trouble to look any deeper.
  • 6. 6 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s refusal to commit himself to ending settlement expansion in areas that Israel does not envisage retaining under any conceivable permanent accord is spectacularly wrongheaded for Israel and spectacularly damaging for Israel‘s international standing. But the German leadership, of all people, owes it to itself and to Israel to examine the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the modicum of greater sophistication and seriousness necessary to recognize that Netanyahu‘s settlement policies are not the only obstacle, and not even the central one, to Israeli-Palestinian peace. And a modicum of clear-sighted investigation is really all that‘s required. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not jump at the offer made by Netanyahu‘s predecessor Ehud Olmert in 2008 that would have seen the removal of most settlements and would have met just about all of the Palestinians‘ ostensible demands of Israel. He did not so much as negotiate with Netanyahu for the first nine months of the 10-month settlement freeze the prime minister reluctantly approved in November 2009. He demanded the release of vicious, in many cases mass-murdering terror convicts as the first stage of a negotiating process in recent months — not as the final consummating stage of a successful partnership to statehood — and welcomed home these killers as heroes, while channeling international funds to pay salaries to their fellow terrorists still in Israel‘s jails. Critically, Abbas has done next to nothing to confront what is actually the core obstacle preventing meaningful Israeli-Palestinian progress and compromise — the narrative almost universally believed by his public that the Jews do not exist as a people, but only as a religion, and thus have no sovereign legitimacy. These and the other grim realities so complicating peace efforts are obvious to anyone with the will to open their eyes. Recognizing them is central to the goal of improving the lot of Israelis and Palestinians. German policymakers, more than any others on the world stage, because of their particular moral obligation to ensuring the secure future of the Jewish state, have the highest imperative of all to educate themselves and consequently to advance effective policies. And yet, when you scratch the surface and get past the smiles and the formalities, it becomes rapidly clear that the German elites‘ thinking on Israel and the Palestinians is stuck entirely on the mantra that Israel must ―end the occupation,‖ with no serious internalization of the complexities on the ground. Those same policymakers are ruefully starting to acknowledge that their lusty embrace of the Arab Spring as harboring the imminent flourishing of democracy throughout the Middle East may have been somewhat premature and exaggerated. But that nascent reassessment has not extended to any remote reflection that perhaps, just perhaps, Israel might not be merely stubborn, obdurate and paranoid in its reluctance to place all its faith in Abbas and the Palestinians. It has not occurred to many key players in Berlin that Israel might actually have cause to fear that extremists would take over territory it relinquishes, that other dangerous forces in the region might rise to more effectively threaten an Israel reduced to the pre-1967 lines (from which it was existentially threatened in its first 20 years of statehood), and that most of the West Bank Palestinians themselves might not be genuinely interested in co-existence.
  • 7. 7 To be sure, the toxic mix of naiveté and condescension at the heart of German policymaking is not limited to inadequate expertise and wishful thinking on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict alone. Many Germans in high places seem to maintain a blinkered faith in and fealty to the UN despite the fact that this organization‘s noble goals have long since been subverted, and despite its proven, abiding incapacity to protect innocent lives in conflict zones worldwide, with the 150,000 victims of Bashar Assad‘s slaughter only the latest stain. These Germans are similarly misguided, too, as regards the threat posed by Iran. They regard attaining a deal with Tehran on its nuclear program, any deal, as a vital goal, believing that the international community must strengthen the ―moderate‖ President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif against the regime ―hardliners‖ — determinedly ignoring the fact that Rouhani was handpicked by the supreme hardliner himself, Ali Khamenei, and ignoring Rouhani‘s self-acknowledged history of misleading the West for years about the progress of the nuclear program. They think Israel is being unrealistic in demanding that Iran be stripped of any nuclear weapons-building capability, including any enrichment capacity, since they have concluded that Tehran will never surrender to such terms. Israel, in their view, is acting in bad faith, and doesn‘t really want to see a deal. (The smarter approach for all those who want to see Iran‘s weapons drive thwarted, and that ought emphatically to include Germany and the rest of a Europe that is gradually coming within Iranian missile range, would be to use every ounce of political and economic leverage to ensure that Iran is forced to agree to precisely the terms demanded by Israel. Seventeen countries around the world smoothly receive fuel for their peaceful nuclear energy programs from legitimate nuclear powers; it does not require dazzling analytical skills to recognize, therefore, that the Iranians insist upon their own enrichment facilities because their goals extend beyond the peaceful use of nuclear technology.) GERMANY: A GIANT SWITZERLAND? While there is no particular Jewish component to this story, I thought it might be useful for you, my readers in Germany, to see how the New York TimesBerlin Bureau Chief sees how both the NSA and Ukraine situation as they particularly affect Germany. Since the Times is the most widely read newspaper in the U.S. this article, I am sure, will have a major impact on the way at least some Americans will view Germany at this time of international crisis. Alison Smale writes, "If there are two qualities prized by modern Germans, they surely are Ruhe (peace and quiet) and Ordnung (order). So the past few months have been profoundly unsettling. First, the United States — the very power that helped Germany to its feet after 1945 and instilled democracy in the ruins of Hitler‘s Reich — was found to be a less than transparent ally. The National Security Agency, riding roughshod over concepts of privacy and individual freedom treasured by Germans, had collected huge amounts of electronic data from ordinary citizens and had even spied on the chancellor, Angela Merkel.
  • 8. 8 Even as anti-Americanism surged, however, the Germans faced a second, more profound shock: The crisis over Ukraine proved that Russia, the giant to the east that Germans know so well from centuries of doing business and waging war, was no longer playing by what Berlin considered the established rules of the 21st century. By replacing the currency of modern diplomacy — global cooperation, a wariness about using force, a shared trust and belief in agreements — with the swift, forced annexation of Crimea, Russia threatened the very foundation of Germany‘s modern power. As mighty as its economy — the largest in Europe — may be, Germany does not, unlike the United States, Britain and France (or Russia, for that matter), have the military clout of a conventional power. ―If push comes to shove,‖ Ulrich Speck wrote in the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Britain and France ―could defend themselves. Germany could not.‖ ―Germany needs a world order in which basic principles are respected by all key players,‖ he added. ―The attack on Ukraine is an attack on the very order that underpins Germany‘s freedom, security and prosperity.‖ …hours of more conventional diplomacy in Geneva produced the first agreement between Russia and Ukraine since protesters drove Ukraine‘s pro-Russian president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, from power in February. Germans‘ relief was audible. Finally, said Sabine Rau, a prominent commentator on the country‘s most watched state television channel, Mr. Putin was being rational and was ready to talk. The foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who has traveled and talked ceaselessly since the Ukraine crisis erupted, weighed in from an Easter vacation in northern Italy to caution that the Geneva talks were just ―a first step, and many others must now follow.‖ But, he emphasized, diplomacy at last had a chance. Germany was back on familiar terrain As Mr. Steinmeier acknowledged, if violence in Ukraine did not subside, the pressure on the West to impose much tougher sanctions on Russia would rise. But behind the scenes, diplomats say, there is a wariness to act, perhaps because of strong German business ties to Russia — but also because of popular ambivalence. While Mr. Putin, a former K.G.B. officer in Dresden, is unpopular here — 65 percent of Germans view him as dangerous, according to a survey conducted this week by the Allensbach Institute — 68 percent view Russia as a world power, up from 38 percent when Russia intervened in Georgia in 2008. Detailed questioning of 1,006 people polled by telephone on March 31 and April 1 showed that those from the former East Germany — but also young, educated
  • 9. 9 Germans in the west — supported negotiation over sanctions, and were inclined to think Germany should steer clear of the whole imbroglio in Ukraine. Nonetheless, the twin shocks from Washington and Moscow to the German political elite are tangible, and will leave a trace. Norbert Röttgen, the chairman of Parliament‘s foreign affairs committee, argued in The Financial Times last month that the only people who seemed not to realize that Germany was at the center of the Ukraine crisis were ―the Germans themselves.‖ Subsequent reaction suggested that ruhe and ordnung were perhaps too firmly embedded in German political culture. People want to live, he said, in ―a giant Switzerland.‖ The Alison Smale piece certainly casts Germany in a less than positive light. One might say that it shows the Federal Republic as wishing that everyone should act as peaceful adults when the national interests of Russia and the U.S. are seen by their own leaders in a different light. To think that Vladimir Putin will be satisfied without going further in Ukraine and that the U.S. is about to give up its perceived need for intelligence is to have one’s head in the sand. Dealing with the U.S. will certainly be easier than with the Russians. Eventually some sort of a deal about intelligence gathering can and will be worked out. Obviously, this problem is not of the same importance as the one the Western World has with Mr. Putin. Things would have to deteriorate dramatically before any sort of a shooting war could begin. The battlefield of today is economics and sanctions. More muscular sanctions than the ones so far proposed would require the EU to participate, perhaps causing its members a high degree of pain. I think it’s a legitimate question as to how far Germany would be able to go before all the rationales kick in about Eastern Ukraine really being Russian, etc. Of course; a takeover of Eastern Ukraine by the Russians would not stop them there. So, perhaps it’s time for the EU countries and, especially, Germany to start asking itself about how far it would be willing to go on imposing sanctions or would becoming a “Giant Switzerland” be its answer to Russian aggression. Time will tell! DOGTAGS, THE LETTER “H” & JEWISH IDENTITY I am including this piece in DuBow Digestfor historical reasons. During World War II many American Jews fought in Europe against the Nazis. It was no secret to most (all?) the sort of treatment Jews, even American Jews, might get if they fell into German hands. How they might be identified as Jews is what this article is about and what they thought (and did) about it. It was not written so much as history but rather as a treatise on an aspect of Jewish law. I’ll stick to the history but I’ll provide you with the link for you to read it in its entirety.
  • 10. 10 What are “dog tags?” Well, they don’t have much to do with dogs. Perhaps, originally the term came from the sort of identifying tags people don’t around the necks of their dogs so that they could be returned if lost. However, during World War II the identification tags that American soldiers wore hijacked the term. Normally that wouldn’t be of interest to you my readers; however, during that awful war these tags also carried a letter indicating their religion. [Rabbi] Akiva Males writing in Mosaic, explained, ―During the Korean War, my father served in the US Air Force for four years (1951–1955). I grew up enthralled by the stories of his two years spent in Texas followed by another two years just outside Anchorage, Alaska. As a boy, I was particularly interested in one detail of my father‘s dog-tag, the letter ―H‖ impressed on the tag‘s lower right hand corner. That ―H‖ stood for ―Hebrew,‖ the religious classification assigned to Jewish servicemen at that time. As my interest in halakhah [Jewish law] and US history increased, I learned that this simple ―H‖ had been a source of great concern to many brave Jewish GIs during World War II. During World War II, approximately 550,000 self-identified Jews served in the US Armed Forces.8 As per US military regulations, each of those Jewish soldiers/sailors/marines/airmen would have been issued dog-tags with the letter ―H‖ stamped on them. While being identified as Jews may not have been a concern for those fighting the Japanese in the Pacific Theater, that one simple letter could have meant the difference between life and death for Jewish GIs serving in the European Theater. After all, during WWII, the Nazis were on a maniacal campaign to murder all Jews. As such, Jewish American soldiers had good reason to fear being taken prisoner byNazi forces and identified as being Jewish. Jewish GIs, fearful of being identified as such by their Nazi captors, were left with the following options: 1) Have no letter of religious preference stamped on their dogtags. 2) Make the ―H‖ stamped on their dog-tags illegible. 3) Discard their dog-tags completely prior to being taken captive. 4) Have a letter signifying a different religious preference stamped on their dog-tags. In the course of researching this topic, I discovered that during WWII, all four of these options were, in fact, employed by Jewish GIs.
  • 11. 11 Rabbi Males includes a few remembrances from former W.W. II soldiers including: … a field medic when he was captured in France after being knocked unconscious by an artillery blast. A quick thinking non-Jewish member of his unit broke Brenner‘s dog-tag in half, burying in the snow the part which had the ―H‖ for his religion engraved upon it. When their capturers asked why Brenner‘s dog-tags were broken, the buddy said it was because they had been engraved with the wrong blood type and were expected to be replaced. The lie may have saved Brenner‘s life. Unaware that he was a Jew, the Germans decided to use his training as a medic to treat fellow prisoners at Stalag 5-A, which they reached after a 14- day forced march ‗without food or water‘.‖11 Earlier in that same article, the author writes of Sam Kimbarow, who … threw away his US Army dog-tags identifying him as a Jew before he was captured by German soldiers during World War II‘s famous Battle of the Bulge. Later, at a camp for prisoners of war, he was in the middle of a crowd when a German officer asked if there were any Jews among the prisoners. About five American soldiers stepped forward, but Kimbarow was not among them. He watched as they were led away to uncertain futures. Kimbarow added, … ―What we did was to deny our mothers and fathers,‖ he said. ―It was a terrible mental thing.‖ … He recalled that ―a guy wrote a letter in a Jewish newspaper that he still has nightmares because one of the other (Jewish) guys met him years later and told him ―you walked away and let me take it.‖ Those who were separated went through hell; most of them died in the camp. And those of us who survived had a tremendous guilt feeling . . .‖ One cannot change history. What happened, happened. I do think it’s close to amazing that today almost 69 years after the war American soldiers (including Jews) and those of the German military are serving shoulder to shoulder in NATO. To read Rabbi Males’ full article click on the attached link. http://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/2014/04/h-is-for- hebrew/?utm_source=Mosaic+Daily+Email&utm_campaign=0eb9df2615-
  • 12. 12 2014_4_8&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0b0517b2ab-0eb9df2615-41169781 NINE WOMEN RABBIS Recently The Forward (actually The Jewish Daily Forward) ran an article titled, America‘s Most Inspiring Rabbis: 28 Men and Women Who Move Us by Devra Ferst and Anne Cohen. They wrote, “In the year since the Forward published the first profiles of America‘s Most Inspiring Rabbis, the road signs along the path of Jewish continuity have grown more menacing. The Pew Research Center‘s survey of American Jews codified what many feared: A shrinking number of Jews belong to synagogues, care about religious life and identify strongly with the larger Jewish community. The rabbinate as a whole continues to struggle, as synagogues close or merge and expectations of clergy grow too exaggerated to fulfill. That‘s why I love this project. It is a powerful, authentic antidote to the troubling signs, an affirmation that despite the worrying mega-trends, our spiritual leaders are connecting with Jews and strengthening communities across America. This year we received hundreds of nominations from readers everywhere. After a careful process of reading, sifting, tabulating and fact-checking, we chose 28 men and women whose stories are most telling and compelling. These rabbis range in age from 28 to 81 years old, encompassing all major denominations and then some; they work in established synagogues and in new ones; in hospitals, universities and day schools, and one served in the military. The fact that there were hundreds of nominations did not surprise me nor did the fact that 28 stood out among the others. What did shock me was that 9 of them were women. That came as quite a surprise. The surprise was, of course, was occasioned by the fact that at my advanced age, now in the 80’s, I have yet to grasp the fact that women rabbis have achieved so much so quickly. It has been only 42 years since the first woman was ordained here in the U.S. Maybe to some 42 years (1972) seems a long time. To me 1972 seems like yesterday. I grew up at a time when the thought of women rabbis was, well, not a thought. I can’t remember anyone even suggesting that such a thing could come to pass. I’m glad it did as American Jewry is all that much stronger because of it. Please take the time to click on the link below. You will find the pictures of each of the 28 and the reasons why they were chosen. It will be worth your time to see why they were selected. http://forward.com/specials/americas-most-inspiring-rabbis-2014/?
  • 13. 13 GOOD GRADES Let’s end with some positive news. JTA reported, ―Germany and the United States earned praise for their Nazi-hunting efforts from the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Sweden, Norway and several other European countries continue to fail miserably, however, according to Efraim Zuroff, the organization‘s chief Nazi hunter. The center‘s 13th annual Status Report on the Worldwide Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals, released Sunday in advance of Holocaust Remembrance Day, gave A grades to Germany and the United States for ―taking a proactive stance on‖ prosecuting the last living perpetrators of the Holocaust. Norway and Sweden were given F‘s because, though both countries lifted the statute of limitations against prosecuting war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in recent years, the new rules don‘t apply retroactively. Several other countries — Austria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia and Lithuania — also received F‘s for failing to apply their existing strong laws, Zuroff said. ―In a certain sense it is worse,‖ he told JTA, ―because they are able to do it, they have the legal framework but choose not to.‖ Germany stepped up its efforts as a result of the 2011 conviction in Munich of John Demjanjuk as an accessory to tens of thousands of murders in the Sobibor death camp. The conviction, which was on appeal when Demjanjuk died in March 2012, opened the door for murder prosecutions for those proven to have been a death camp guard. Since then, several alleged guards have been arrested. Trials are being prepared in some cases, while in others the individuals have either died or been deemed unfit to stand trial. ―The new German initiative is the most dramatic development in the hunt for Nazi war criminals in several decades,‖ Zuroff told JTA. It is ―a very welcome step in the efforts to achieve maximum justice while it is still possible to do so.‖ The center‘s findings covered the period from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014, and awarded grades ranging from A to F to evaluate more than three dozen countries that were either the site of Nazi crimes or admitted entry to Holocaust perpetrators after World War II. In 10 years or so the problem of hunting down and prosecuting Holocaust perpetrators will be relegated to the history books as those presently remaining will be dead and gone. I think the German efforts in the last number of years will be recorded on the positive side of the ledger showing that their responsibilities in this area have been taken seriously and fulfilled.
  • 14. 14 **************************************************************************************************** See you again in May. DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted at dubowdigest@optonline.net Both the American and Germany editions are posted at www.dubowdigest.typepad.com