View stunning SlideShares in full-screen with the new iOS app!Introducing SlideShare for AndroidExplore all your favorite topics in the SlideShare appGet the SlideShare app to Save for Later — even offline
View stunning SlideShares in full-screen with the new Android app!View stunning SlideShares in full-screen with the new iOS app!
AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION
April 30, 2014
IN THIS EDITION
ISRAEL - PALESTINIAN PEACE: A NEW AMERICAN ROLE? –The old one didn’t
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.
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‘
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.
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!
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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,
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
… ―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.
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
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
―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.
See you again in May.
DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted at
Both the American and Germany editions are posted at www.dubowdigest.typepad.com