Last week there was a tempest in a pot of chicken soup caused by—a spelling bee— that took over the headlines and generated more hype than important news breaking in the Middle East—a cute weapon of mass distraction with a hidden message. The heated and mostly humorous debate over spelling and pronunciation over the Yiddish word for dumpling, or matzoh ball, comes from every segment and denomination of the Jewish people. This proves yet again that we all share a love of Yiddishkeit in common, even if we express that love differently. That ought to lead to a realization that in a post-Holocaust world we can recognize our fellow Jews with respect and not with disdain and dismissal. We don’t have to do as they do—religiously or politically; we don’t have to believe as they do. But we do have to treat each other, and everyone in the community, people from all walks of life, with respect and compassion. We are all kneidlach in the same pot of chicken soup, and when things heat up, we are going to have to stick together...like sticky dumplings...we mean kneydels, or knaidlach, whatever. You know what we mean.
To the Editor:
This past Thursday evening, I had the opportunity along with several dozen others to attend the formal dedication of the Holocaust Collection at Teaneck High School’s Media Center.
This outstanding community resource includes Holocaust-related books from two private libraries of Holocaust survivors and their families – The Friedman-Sieradski Family and the Ores Family. With the support of the Teaneck School District, these collections have been catalogued and placed in a beautiful, sunlit space within the Center by the High School’s Principal, Mr. Dennis Heck. They include histories, biographies, memoirs, memorial collections, art books and more. In the same area is a sculpture by noted Teaneck and New Jersey artist Milton Ohring, who donated it in memory of his grandparents, which evokes the victims of the killing fields in Poland.
As a Teaneck resident, a member of the “Second Generation”, and of the NJ State Commission on Holocaust Education, I am proud to say that Teaneck is again showing leadership in the area of Holocaust education, just as it did almost forty years ago when it pioneered the teaching of this important yet difficult subject in its schools.
Please join me in congratulating all that were a part of this great endeavor and I urge you all to visit the Collection whenever you are able to.
Teaneck, New Jersey
To the Editor:
Regarding the Ehud Olmert interview. There were reactions by two major journalists/columnists/bloggers. Jonathan Tobin of Commentary and Bernard Avishai of Open Zion—the former, a rightwing, and the latter, from the left. Yet it never ceases to amaze me how journalists are more interested in elevating themselves to the ranks of newsmakers than they are in reporting the news. The latest catfight indicates how intelligent professionals are more interested in promoting their ideological agendas instead of simply reporting the facts on the ground.
In recent articles penned by these luminaries of the school of journalism, the one-ups-manship on decrying the new/old Kerry proposals were deemed dead in the water because of the recalcitrance of the Palestinians. Each opinionater posits his version of world events with snarky asides impugning the integrity of the other.
In his own comments on the interview JLBC ran from Tower.org, concerning the Olmert/Abbas peace talks, Olmert made a very important point:
Said Olmert, “There were many reasons, some of which can be understood. You know, I kept saying all the time that when people talk to me about Abu Mazen they said, ‘He’s not serious, he doesn’t mean it seriously, he’s very weak, and so on and so forth,’ I said, ‘Look, everyone within the context of Israel understands that the pressures on Bibi [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] from the right-wing make it very difficult for him to take a decision, and must be understood, and must be, you know, reconciled with…
“But I say, ‘You understand it about Bibi, but you don’t understand it about Abu Mazen? Does he not have [Mohammed] Dahlan who is willing to overthrow him at any minute? What about HAMAS? And what about all of the others in his own party? Do you think that opposition is a creation only of Israeli politics? So he’s got his problems just as well.’”
This is the crux of the problems surrounding “peace talks.” For Abbas to accept any Israeli proposal is to sign his own death warrant. And, as Olmert concedes, Abbas is “no hero.” If this were recognized by one and all, maybe U.S. Secretaries of State would stop hocking everyone a chinik and maybe less trees would die to accommodate world opinionaters intent on making their screeds more voluble than their confreres’.
Past Post Commander
Jewish War Veterans
Post 498, New Milord/Teaneck
To the Editor:
What are Jewish educators thinking when they want to educate kindergarten children about the destruction of European Jewry? How does that enhance Jewish self-esteem and motivate youngsters to embrace their Jewish identity?
For two generations after the Holocaust both secular education as well as Jewish education barely mentioned the Holocaust. Now we are facing a «reaction formation» to undo the silence for lo these many years. At Yad Layeled, a division of Lochamei Hagetaot in Israel, an exhibit and curriculum for three year olds has been implemented. Jewish Day Schools use every opportunity to teach about the Holocaust and read Holocaust memoirs. No one is reading Shalom Alechem anymore, nor are Jewish youngsters exposed to any poetry by Bialik.
As a psychologist, I believe we are raising Jewish children who will be afraid to be Jewish because being Jewish will be equated with victimhood and suffering and having to survive. No matter what spin you put on the Holocaust, including teaching that there were Hasidei Umot Haolam, Righteous Among the Nations of the World, Jews needed rescuers because they were being annihilated.
The goal of Jewish educators, in particular, for kindergarten age, is to provide youngsters with the tools to study Jewish texts and to learn Jewish customs and traditions that are life affirming and joyous; To facilitate a communal atmosphere that one wants to belong to rather than to escape.
It is the smell of baked challah and apples with honey that will ensure the continuity of the Jewish people for generations to come and not the smell of burning bodies in crematoriums of Auschwitz.
I ask Jewish educators to think of what the goal is for a lesson plan on the murder of six million innocent Jews for kindergarten students.
Eva Fogelman, PhD
New York City
Author of Conscience and Courage:
Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust
Writer and Co-Producer Breaking
the Silence: The Generation After the Holocaust
Dr. Fogelman is co-director of The International Study of Organized Persecution of Children, a Project of Child Development Research