“Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This remarkable Ukrainian teen embodies today’s courage and tomorrows hope of the Ukrainian people. “I didn’t have time to be a kid,” she said in this beautiful interview. Watch this clip to see how she is fighting this war back home.
According to the website, “The bibliography includes all works related to Dr. Janusz Korczak that appeared in English (or were translated into English) between 2020 and 2022.” The author, Weronika Szulik, a doctoral candidate at the University of Warsaw, Poland.
This reference is a welcome addition to the scholarship on Janusz Korczak.
In time for Pride Month, a very timely lecture will feature a renowned professor of LGBTQ history, tracing the lethal persecutions of this community to the hopes and threats we see today. According to 3GNY and other websites sponsoring this important event, “Professor Jake Newsome, PhD, will explore how generations of LGBTQ+ activists and grassroots scholars fought against attempts to purposefully silence the stories of the Nazis’ LGBTQ+ victims. In doing so, they reclaimed the pink triangle, transforming it from a concentration camp badge into a marker of resistance, pride, and community, and redefining what it meant to be gay in a post-Holocaust world.”
Over the past year and a half, I got to know a remarkable man, Ken. We enjoyed weekly conversations over the phone on many topics. Though challenged in mobility, Ken’s extraordinary imagination took him to many places. One of Ken’s favorites was the Whippany Railway Museum, a small place with a large collection any train lover would savor. There, he had many friends. As they posted on the museum’s Facebook page, “Ken was as friendly a person as you’d want to know, and he always had a kind word about everyone.”
Aside from trains, Ken’s interests included all kinds of cool (and often little-known) facts from the Guinness Book of World Records, old TV shows, classic rock tunes, and making healthy snacks. Ken also spoke of his earlier hobbies of fishing and photography. At the top of Ken’s favorite TV shows was Seinfeld, and he would quote lines and dialogues from the many episodes. More than anything, this show was a reflection of his extraordinary sense of humor, which brightened many a conversation we had together.
When Ken’s mobility became challenged, he worked hard continuing various exercises, recalling his love for weight lifting in earlier times. During our calls, Ken noted any progress, even if measured in a few steps at time. This progress was sometimes slow, sometimes slipping backward; yet, Ken always felt he was moving ahead. Someday, he hoped, he would be back home, celebrating Christmas with his mom, Jarrett, and brother, Bart. Even if the family exchanged but a single apiece, the greatest gift would be celebrating life together. Over the summer of 2021, Ken experienced a setback; yet, he always kept up the faith with optimism and dignity.
Eventually, Ken’s condition caught up with him; early on a Saturday morning, he passed away peacefully in his sleep. Usually, it is the child who outlives the parent. My phone conversations continue, now with Jarrett.
The express train has left the station. Jarrett said her son is now at peace. As she sees it, he has finally returned home.
Shemitah. The current Jewish year, 5782, is a sabbatical year, meaning one must give the land a rest after having been worked over the past six years. In addition, all debts are forgiven. Over the past two years in particular, racial justice has assumed greater public attention. Two organizations, Institute of Jewish Spirituality and Dimensions Educational Consulting, have created a four-part learning series. “We invite you to join Cycles of Rest, Release and Liberation: Antiracism and Shemitah as Spiritual Practice— a transformative, contemplative learning journey that will combine Jewish text, antiracism teaching, and opportunities to reflect.” The program comprises the following:
Session I: “Shemitah & The Antiracism Practice of Release” Wednesday, January 12 | 6:00 – 8:00 PM ET
Session II: “Shemitah & The Antiracism Practice of Restorative Justice and Repair” Wednesday, February 16 | 6:00 – 8:00 PM ET
Session III: “Shemitah & The Antiracism Practice of Transformational Change & New Beginnings” Wednesday, March 30 | 6:00 – 8:00 PM ET
Session IV: “Shemitah & The Antiracism Practice of Commitment” Wednesday, May 11 | 6:00 – 8:00 PM ET
Veterans Day – In the United Kingdom, it’s Remembrance Day. This came after another day of remembering, the anniversary of Kristallnacht. The genocide against the ethnic Uyghur population in Xinjiang has been well documented. A report the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum keeps the memory of this persecuted population alive. According to the Holocaust Museum,
The report expresses the Museum’s grave concern that the Chinese government may be committing genocide against the Uyghurs, a Muslim community in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of northwest China. The report also details multiplecrimes against humanity that the Chinese government is committing against the Uyghur population. These crimes include forced sterilization, sexual violence, enslavement, torture, forcible transfer, persecution, and imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty.
The Museum’s findings, based on publicly available information, demonstrate that China is failing to uphold its responsibility to protect its citizens from genocide and crimes against humanity. The Chinese government must halt its attacks on the Uyghur people and allow independent international monitors to investigate and ensure that the crimes have stopped. The seriousness of the assault on the Uyghur population demands the immediate response of the international community to protect the victims.
The first half of the report chronicles the state violence against the Uyghur people from 2017 to the present. Included are descriptions of mass surveillance, prohibitions against self-expression, destruction of Uyghur culture and property, mass incarceration, torture and sexual violence, forced labor, and crimes against children.
Next, crimes against humanity, violations against international law, are discussed. The final section, “The Way Forward,” presents the responsibility of the Chinese government, along with steps both the United States and the international community can and should take. States the report:
Given the scale of the atrocity crimes as well as the challenges inherent in confronting crimes committed by a powerful state, the international community needs to coordinate their efforts and prioritize protecting the Uyghur community from these crimes. The impunity with which the Chinese government has been able to commit these crimes thus far cannot persist. The future of a people may depend on swift, coordinated action by global actors. This report should serve as a clarion call for action to protect the Uyghur community.
With its Bearing Witness reports, “the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum seeks to do for victims of genocide today what was not done for the Jews of Europe.” This report documents the efforts of the Chinese Communist Party to forcefully assimilate the Muslim Uyghur population. At this time of year, genocide is very much on our minds.
“Old, dusty, and ripped apart, my story remains untold….” Written by a 10-year-old Jewish child, Andrea Dube, these words reflect the fates of 1.5 million children like her. Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, marks anti-Semitic rhetoric turning into action. On November 9, 1938, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, “violent mobs… destroyed hundreds of synagogues, burning or desecrating Jewish religious artifacts along the way. Acting on orders from Gestapo headquarters, police officers and firefighters did nothing to prevent the destruction. All told, approximately 7,500 Jewish-owned businesses, homes, and schools were plundered, and 91 Jews were murdered. An additional 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps.”
One of those children was Michel Neumann. He was born on September 15, in Paris, France, to Samuel and Suzanne. Aside from this rare photograph, all we know about this precious young life is that he was departed on March 7, 1944, to Auschwitz. Of the 1,501 souls on convoy 69, 1,311were gassed. By 1945, only 14 survived.
“Thump, thump, thump; we heard them banging their fists on our door, shattering windows and knocking down walls,” continued Andrea Dube.
In addition to the Children’s Forest in Israel, one initiative to remember the children of the Holocaust is the Daffodil Project. Their aim is “to build a worldwide Living Holocaust Memorial by planting 1.5 million Daffodils in memory of the children who perished in the Holocaust and in support for children suffering in humanitarian crises in the world today.” Daffodils look like the yellow stars Jews were forced to wear during this dark time. These sunny flowers reclaim that hateful image and bring sunshine into the world, the sunshine of these innocent young lives forever taken away. Across the nation and around the world, these daffodils will become a living “Holocaust Memorial Daffodil Garden.”
For 2021, another event will be “Let There Be Light.” According to the Boulder Jewish News, “…to stand in protest against the rise of anti-Semitic events and hate crimes,” individuals, institutions, and houses of worship to are asked to leave the lights on during the night of November 9, “as a symbol of mutual responsibility and the shared struggle against antisemitism, racism, hatred, and intolerance.” I have made my pledge; I urge others to do the same… standing up to all forms of bias and bigotry, wherever and whenever they are found.
My pledge, to be an upstander, not a bystander.
Genocide, an Academy Award winning documentary from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, takes a harrowing look at life during the Holocaust. Orson Welles and Elizabeth Taylor lend their voices to this heartbreaking historical account. You can watch on The Archive; I recommend it highly.
According to the UBC, “The distinguished lecture series highlights the ongoing work of those who seek to advance children’s rights in Canada and is presented in partnership with the JKA as a way of continuing the legacy of Janusz Korczak.”
Date: Monday, November 15, 2021 Time: 5:30–7:15 p.m. PST
This event is open to everyone and registration is required.
“ It is not proper to be ashamed of any game. This is no child’s play. It is wrong for adults to say – and for the more intelligent of the children to repeat after them ‘Such a big boy and he plays like a baby; such a big girl and she still plays with dolls.’ What matters is not what one plays with, but rather how and what one thinks and feels while playing. One can play wisely with a doll or play childishly and foolishly at chess. One can play with great interest and imagination at being a policeman, making a train, being a hunter or an Indian, and one can read books without any thought or interest.” – Janusz Korczak
The Center for History and New Media published an excellent and detailed review of this catalog. In addition to Yad Vashem, No Child’s Play was exhibited at the Mobile Museum of Art.
Hannah Szenes (1921-1944) was a Hungarian poet and Zionist. Her father, Bela, was a playwright, and her mother, Kathrine, an elegant homemaker. In 1939, Hannah left for the British Mandate Palestine (Eretz Israel). where she studied at the Girls’ Agricultural School at Nahalal. Two years later, in 1941, she became part of Kibbutz Sdot Yam. Afterward, she joined theHaganah, the paramilitary group that laid the foundation of the Israel Defense Forces. She became a member of the member of the a Special Operations Executive (SOE). Hannah was one of 37 brave young souls who parachuted into Yugoslavia, on a mission to assist anti-Nazi forces and, ultimately, rescue fellow Hungarian Jews who were about to be deported to Auschwitz. However, she was arrested at the Hungarian border. Hannah would be be imprisoned. Rather than reveal her secret military codes, she was severely tortured and executed. Hannah’s mother was also arrested. Though Kathrin, too, refused to speak, she survived the war.
Though little known in Hungary, she is a beloved figure in Israel. According to a short biography, “One of the more poignant songs included in many Holocaust memorial convocations held in Israel, is a short poem, set to music, known popularly as ‘Eli, Eli….’ [Hannah’s] short life and death have propelled her into the pantheon of Zionist history.” And, in Israel, her poetry is widely known, and the Yad Hana kibbutz as well as several streets, are named after her.
In 1950, Hannah made a final journey back to the Holy Land, now Israel, where she has been laid to rest, at the Mount Herzl military cemetery. Welcome home, Hannah. Welcome home.
Looking for more information and a bibliography of Hannah Szenes? Read the excellent article in the Jewish Women’s Archive.