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January 2, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 2, 2009 PAGE 15A By Dan Goldberg Jews pay tribute to righfeous Aboriginal elder SYDNEY. Australia IJTA)-- William Cooper's name does not appear on Yad Vashem's list of the Righteous Among the Nations. but the Aborigi- nal elder should be regarded as highly as RaoulWallenberg, Oskar Schindler and the 22,000-plus others who risked their lives for the Jews. That was the message delivered by the Jewish Com- munity Council of Victoria at a Dec. 4 ceremony at State Parliament in Melbourne to recognize Cooper.who in 1938 protested the "cruel persecu- tion" "of the Jews. Some 300 Jewish and Ab- original leadersjoinedAustra- lian government officials and Israel's ambassador in paying tribute to Cooper and the Australian Aboriginal League on the 70th anniversary of their petition to the German Consulate in Melbourme on Dec. 6. 1938. just weeks after the Kristallnacht pogrom. Cooper, then 77. and his delegation were denied entry to the consulate with their petition. But 70 years on, the German consul gen- eral, Anne-Marie Schleich, at- tended the ceremony. Also on handwere Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin and Victorian Premier John Brumby. John Searle. the Jewish Community Council presi- dent, said Cooper understood what itwas le to be a minor- ity and to suffer oppression. "He had long been fighting for his own people, the indig- enous Australians." Searle said. "He was a remarkable man. He could not sit by, watch such oppression and do nothing." At the ceremony, Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem. Jewish National Fund of Victoria president Sara Gold and Kristallnacht survivor Shmuel Rosenkranz pre- sented a certificate to Cooper's grandson. Boydie Turner. stating that 70 trees will be planted in the Martyrs' Forest near Jerusalem to honor the protest. The Israeli Embassy said it will pay for a member of the Cooper family to fly to Israel in April for the tree- planting ceremony. Rotem said Cooper "defied the silence" of the majority of humanity. "Iftherewere more like Wil- liam Cooper in every nation of the world, then perhaps, just perhaps, the Jews of Europe may have defied their fate." he said. "He deserves to be remembered as a hero to the Jewish people and an inspira- tion to mankind. His message is clear: The convenience of silence is as evil as the great- est crime." Rosenkranz, 86. lost 32 members of his family in the Holocaust. "I think back 70 years and recollect that nobody of the so-called Westerfi civilized world raised the voice of op- position against this pogrom." he told JTA. "But in faraway Australia, an ancient people still not recognized by the Western world as owners of the land that they live on raised their voice." It was not until 1967 that the Aborigines were recog- nized as Australian citizens or given the right to vote. even though they trace their origins back more than 40.000 years. "The Jews are an ancient people, too." Rosenkranz said. "We have a long, long memory that recognizes good deeds and help that has been given to us over millennia by Righ- teous Among the Nations, just like William Cooper." One of Cooper's descen- dants. Kooramyee Cooper, described her great-uncle as "a visionary who realized thab others were similar to Aborigi- nes. There was no equality and no justice for Aborigines -at that time. Uncle William knew What was happening to Jews was wrong." Kevin Russell. a great- grandson of Cooper. told JTA. "It's an amazing thing to be acknowledged by the Jewish community. It's remarkable. phenomenal, just fantastic that the Jewish community is putting it out there." Russell, who is helping reunite some of the 100,000 Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their families between 1910 and 1970, said he intends to invite the Jewish community to a ceremony at Cooper's gravesite in his Yorta Yorta homeland to thank them. According to Professor Cblin Tatz. a research fellow at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. the 1938 protest was "quite remark- able, if not astonishing, given that there wasn't a single Jew Peter Haskin Shmuel Rosenkranz (!), a survivor of Kristallnacht and who lost 32 family members in the Holocaust, talks with Alfred "Boydie" Turner, the grandson of William Cooper. involved in the Australian Aboriginal League in those days or in any form of pro- Aboriginal advocacy." Since then, however. Jews have been more active in Ab- original reconciliation. In the - mid-1960s James Spigelman. now the chief justice of the New South Wales Supreme Court, was a leader of the so- called "freedom rides" into rural Australia to highlight the plight of Aborigines. Between 1980 and 1982, the Liberal Party's Peter Baume was the federal minister for Aboriginal affairs. More recently, Jewish mem- bers of the legal fraternity, notably the late Ron Castan. have represented Aborigines. Castan was the senior counsel for Eddie Mabo in the 1997 landmark case in which the High Court of Australia abolished the notion of Terra Nullius--that Australia was an uninhabited land--and recognized Aboriginal land rights for the first time. Today, Mark Leibler, a veteran Jewish community leader, is the co-chair of Reconciliation Australia, the major national organization promoting reconciliation between indigenous and non- indigenous Australians. Leibler called Cooper's ac- tions "extraordinarily defiant and courageous." Noting that Cooper also wrote to then-Prime Minis- ter Robert Menzies in 1940 to protest the "oppression of Hitlerism." Leibler said, "Such acts of solidarity will never be forgotten by Jews in Australia and beyond. "At a time when his own peoples' rights were also being ignored, William Cooper had the generosity of spirit and the clarity of vision to draw connections from the mutual struggles of two persecuted minorities," he said. "By linking the Jewish and Aboriginal plights. William Cooper's legacy will forever extend to the people I belong to." Berlin Chabad celebrates mikvah, rem00err!bers Holtzbergs visitor said. "Even his private apartment is always open." Following the mikvah cer- emony, a memorial service for the Holtzbergs was held here on Dec. 2. A Berlin bank account will be opened for donations to help raise the Holtzbergs' son. Moshe. When "a 2-year- old child cries 'Ima. Abba.' " the whole Jewish community has to come to the rescue, an emotional Rabbi Teichtal told worshipers at the Dec. 2 memorial service. Teichtal told JTA the ac- count for Moshe would be opened earlier this month. information can be found at Speaking at the West Berlin Chabad center shortly after watching the televised funeral for the Holtzbergs in Kfar Chabad. Teichtal reported that the terrorists hadactu- ally spent the night at the Mumbai Chabad center a few months ago. Posing as visit- ing students, they joined the Holtzbergs for a Sabbath meal and then told them. "We have a problem, we have no place to stay," Teichtal said. standing in front of a large photograph of the Holtzbergs affixed to the Torah curtain. The Holtzbergs then put up the strangers, who "used the chance to scope out the place," he said. "The terrorists came into a synagogue in Mumbai in a conflict that has nothing to do with Jews. It happened in Berlin. too." Teichtal said. referring to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany. "But we survived because our life consists also of our spirit." IsraeFs ambassador to Germany, Yoram Ben-Zeev. also spoke at the Berlin me- morial service, which featured psalms and prayers. A condo- lence book lay open on a table outside the sanctuary. Teichtal said that when Chabad lights its traditional oversized chanukiyah at Berlin's famous Branden- burg Gate on the first night of Chanukah, the ceremony "will be dedicated to the Holtzbergs.'" Help Wanted Advel tising Sales Full or Part Time C tll Jeff at By Toby Axelrod and JTA staff BERLIN (JTA)--The dedi- cation of  new mikvah at the Chabad center here was tinged with sadness as par- ticipants remembered two Chabad emissaries killed last month in the Mumbai terror attacks. Shocked members of the Berlin Chabad community shared in somber tones what they had learned from the Jew- ish burial society in Mumbai: Rivkah Holtzberg was shot first; Gavriel apparently man- aged to drape a tallit over her before he was killed. "This is what the chevra kadisha said, but nobody survived to know exactly what happened." said Rabbi Shmuel Segal, the program director at the Berlin Chabad Center who had attended the Brooklyn-based Central Ye- shiva Tomchei Tmimim with Gavriel Holtzberg some nine years ago. In the closely knit yet far- flung Chabad community, the Holtzbergs were known for their warmth and open- heartedness, he said. The couple had guided the Nari- man House in Mumbai since 2003. "When he told us he was going to India, I was not sur- prised," Segal said. "He was one to go the farthest that could be." "It'g hard, it's hard," Segal said. "We don't understand it. It's like there is pure goodness from one side--the schluchim from the rebbe," Chabad em- issaries inspired by the late Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson. "And on the other side there is the maximum evil." Speakers at the mikvah cer- emony insisted on celebrating despite the tragedy. "How should we go on" after what happened? Teichtal asked the crowd in the syna- gogue at the Rohr center. "The answer is this mikvah. The terrorists can only threaten us physically, only materially. But our spirit will live on." Rabbi Yossi Jacobson. the editor of the New York-based Yiddish newspaper the A1- gemeiner Journal, told the guests that the new mikvah for women "is a tribute to the holy soul of Gabi and Rivkah." Guests at the event included U. S. Ambassador William Robert Timken. Israeli Am- bassadorYoram Ben-Ze'ev and several German members of parliament. The mikvah is located in the basement of the Chabad center, and. in fulfillment of the requirement for a fresh source of water, is partially fed by rain collected at the roof, said Leah Teichtal, the co-director of the center with her husband. The rabbi called his wife the "mastermind" of the project. "She said, 'Let's make a beautiful, five-star mikvah,' "he recalled. Funding came from Annie and Pedro Donig, members of the Jewish community. The guests descended a brightly lit staircase to the mikvah rooms, including one with showers and bath, and another with the turqoulse- tiled pool itself, its several steps leading downward into clear, warm water that is fiiltered constantly. The rabbi said the steps are there because "some women ai'e tall. and some are, well. not so tall." He added that the mikvah for men is not yet finished. Mikvah users can get a manicure and pedicure, and c!assical music will be piped in, Lezh Teichtal told JTA. "We want to show the ladies that you are coming to a real spa," she said. An upbeat atmosphere pervaded the upstairs. A film about the mikvah tradi- tion ran on an endless loop, and guests sampled sushi, couscous and other delica- cies from the center's kosher caterer. Outside. securitywas tight: Visitors had to pass between cement bollards and a gaunt- let of police and private security guards. Chabad in Berlin has been the target of a few sensational anti- Semitic attacks. Most recently, Teichtal and several yeshiva students in a van were harassed by men driving in another car. Two arrests have been made. "I am not worried, but we do have to learn from this," Segal told JTA, referring to the Mumbai attacks. "We have to upgrade our security." He said about a month ago, avisitor recounted his experi- ence at the Chabad center in Mumbai. Holtzberg is"likeAbraham: His house is always open," the