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February 9, 2018

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 9, 2018 PAGE 15A From page IA would open an "immediate dialogue" over the legislation. Eight U.S. members of Congress signed a joint letter on the legislation to Duda. The American lawmakers point out that Poland was one of the countries that suffered the most during World War II, and recall the merits of many Poles who, despite the threat of the death, saved Jews. "However, many cases have also been documented where Poles--directly or indirectly-- assisted the Nazis in murder- ing innocent Jews. Punishing anyone for talking about these facts would be an injustice," the lawmakers wrote. Patryk Jaki, the author of the legislation, said during de- bate in the Polish Senate that "Polandwas the only occupied country in which no local SS group was active, there was no institutional cooperation with Hitler, which there was in stronger countries." Jaki said that Polish citizens tried to sue German newspa- pers for use of the term "Polish death camps," but the courts refused because citizens did not have the right to appear on behalf of the state. In January, a German court in Koblenz issued a verdict ordering ZDF television to apologize for using the term "Polish death camps." The station had been sued by for- mer Auschwitz inmate Karol Tendera. The court in Koblenz found that there had been a violation of Tendera's personal rights and ordered publication of the apology. ZDF may ap- peal the judgment. Jaki wants the Poles to show their successes in saving Jews and talk about heroes, such as Witold Pilecki, who informed the world about Auschwitz, and publicize the Righteous Among the Nations who saved Jews and the Polish people who helped in deciphering Nazi code. Jaki said that no one could have predicted Israel's reac- tion to the legislation. "No one was aware that Israel would protest at all," he said. "There was no signal over that last year that there would be a protest against this law. How could we know? The ambassador's task was to sig- nal if she has any comments. Let us assume that if there is a dispute, Poland is not always guilty. Let's lookatwhatwords Israeli politicians are using towards Poland now." Jaki said he was meeting intensively with Israeli Am- bassadorAnnaAzari, but they were mainly talking about reprivatization of Jewish property and assets. Jan Dziedziczak, secretary of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the new law is part of a struggle for Poland's reputation on the international stage. "Our country always stood on the side of the weaker: We first said 'no' to Hitler and did not collaborate," he said. The Polish Underground State un- ambiguously decided to save Jews. We know it, but now the world has a different picture." Dziedziczak dismissed comments by Israeli law- maker Yair Lapid, the son of a Holocaustsurvivor, who said there was complicity by Poles in the Holocaust. "This is the proof that this law is essential," said the Pol- ish official. The deputy speaker of the Senate, Bogdan Borusewicz, filed a proposal to reject the new law. He said that Jewish organizations in the U.S. sup- ported Polish efforts to join NATO and "fought with the term 'Polish camps' with us." "This is our most im- portant ally. Now we are entering into conflict with the United States," he said. "This law makes the seams of anti-Semitism that are in the Polish nation come to the surface. The Polish govern- ment is responsible for this." Senate Speaker Stanislaw Karczewski said the legisla- tion was written "to look after the good name of Poland." "We want the Jews to be our friends. We will meet, debate, talk," he said. The U.S. State Department on Wednesday criticized the Polish legislation, which it said "could undermine free speech and academic discourse." According to the State Department's state- ment, the bill "could have [repercussions] on Poland's strategic interests and rela- tionships-including with the United States and Israel. The resulting divisions that may arise among our allies benefit only our rivals." Meanwhile, a demonstra- tion of Polish national orga- nizations planned Wednesday in front of the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw did not take place. The organizers canceled the event after officials issued a ban on closing streets near the embassy. The ban is valid until Feb. 5. Nationalists said they would meet on social me- dia instead of at the embassy. Lawmaker Robert Win- nicki, who heads an ultra- nationalist organization in Poland, in a news conference in the Sejm on Wednesday said that "Poland has been subject of attack by the Is- raeli elite and Jewish circles in the world for many days." He said making it impossible to organize a demonstration next to the Israeli Embassy is to limit the "voice of citizens who wanted to defend Polish dignity." Winnicki called the decision "scandalous and unacceptable." "It's false that we had an excellent relationship with Israel," he said. "We really had a unilateral unrequited love of the Polish political class to Israel." The lawmaker urged the Polish government to "rise from its knees in its relations with Israel." Winnicki also said he re- sents that an amendment to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance was reviewed with the Israeli ambassador. He also called Poland a "hostage" to the United States. "We have a lot to do with Arab countries," he said. "It is not our business to stand by Israel's side. We must behave with dignity." The 35 From page 5A The battle lasted all day and it's believed that the Jewish soldiers were trying to hold out until night when the Arabs would have to retreat for rein- forcements. But they ran out of ammunitionandwere outnum- bered by the hundreds, so much so that they took to defending themselves with stones. The following day, when the bodies were recovered by then-occupying British forces, they noted that some of the Jewish soldiers died even with rocks in their hand. Many of the men's bodies were mutilated beyond recognition as part of the Arab "celebra- tion" of their victory. Eulogizing the 35 brave soldiers, David Ben-Gurion who would become Israel's first prime minister said, "'If there exists a Jewish Jerusa- lem, our foremost thanks go to the defenders of Gush Etzion." Even Sheikh Ibrihim from the Arab village of Jab'a who took part in the battle praised the 35, "If I am to die, I want to die like these heroes." While the battle was a tremendous physical loss and diminished morale, the battle had a tremendous psychologi- cal effect on the Arabs. They resisted attacking the Jewish communities further citing fear that more Jewish soldiers would be coming to provide reinforcements, and noting that based on how heroically the 35 men fought, the Arabs would never be able to win. The Israeli communities were able to hang on until they were overrun by well- trained Jordanian forces along with the Arab irregulars. On May 13, the day before Israel declared independence, all but a handful of the final defend- ers of these communities were viciously slaughtered. After the 1967 Six Day War, Israel was able to reclaim Gush Etzionwhere these communi- ties had thrived, and have now been rebuilt and thrive again. Recently, after a long case, Israel's Supreme Court af- firmed that the land on which these communities were founded and reestablished are privately owned Jewish land, undermining claims that they are somehow "occupied" or Jews have no historical pres- ence there. It's incredible to live in this part of the Land of Israel where literally we follow in the footsteps of our biblical ancestors and modern day heroes. There's a wonderful book that chronicles much of the history of the life and, ul- timately, destruction of these communities called "Siege in the Hills of Hebron." Please be in touch and come visit and be inspired yourself. Jonathan Feldstein was born and educated in the U.S. and immigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six. He has a three- decade career in nonprofit fundraising and marketing and throughout his life and career, he has become a re- spected bridge between Jews and Christians. He writes regularly on major Christian web sites about Israel and shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel. He can be reached at FirstPer- From page7A Simon Wiesenthal Center, said his group might also oppose Marcus on discrete issues, but his position at the forefront of a signature issue for the center--advancing a definition of anti-Semitism that includes some anti-Israel postures--made endorsing him a no-brainer. "The problems that we have with the history of the [Education Department's] civil rights division is its failure to in any way, shape or form take seriously kids when they come with complaints of anti-Semitism," Cooper in an interview. "Ken Marcus is uniquely qualified to fill that gap." Marcus' extensive ex- perience combating anti- Semitism also led to his endorsement by B'nai B'rith International. "We've communicatedwith Education Department offi- cials in recent years and had to spend a certain amount of time explaining the problem, identifying manifestations of anti-Semitism and explain- ing that some things they see as political dispute" are ant -Semitism, said Eric Fus- field, the group's director of legislative a fairs. "With Ken Marcus, thtre's no need to have that discussion because he authorecthe book on anti- Semitism." (Notably, Jewish Women Internatioml, which is an offshoot of Fnai B'rith, has joined with other offshoot, BBYO, in eveloping anti- harassment) rograms.) Marcus s a conserva- tive; he wcked in similar civil rights apacities for the George W. Eush administra- tion. An array of right-wing Jewish groups wrote to the committee urging his nomination, among them the Zionist Organization of America, Americans for a Safe Israel and CAMERA. Decades ago, conservative or liberal credentials would not be a barrier to bipartisan approval. Lawmakers once agreed that a Democratic or a Republican president's choices should be considered based on their qualifications and only in rare instances ideology. In those days, the AJC's Stern said, opposition to school integration might disqualify a candidate, but little short of that. The officials at centrist groups that have endorsed Marcus, like the AJC, the Wiesenthal Center and B'nai B'rith, decried the polariza- tion that frustrated their efforts to increase bipartisan support for Marcus. (The Anti-Defamation League declined multiple requests for comment on the Marcus nomination.) Stern likened liberal opposition to Marcus to a conservative swell against Trump's decision to extend the appointment of Chai Feldblum to the Equal Em- ployment Opportunity Com- mission. Feldblum, who is gay, angered the right by backing LGBTQ anti-discrimination measures. The NCJW's Williams said coalitions matter and some- times one heeded allies in decrying what they see as an assault on basic rights. "As a civil rights commu- nity we stand together," she said. "It is not enough that Marcus would protect the civil rights of one community and not another." From page 10A want--after college, his father told him. His first two years at Queens Borough Community College, Vazquez studied liberal arts with a self-admitted minor in "looking for girls." By his junior year, however, Vazquez realized that he was interested in religion. A Catholic raised in a community of Jews, he completed a bachelor's in theology. Over the next few years, he was involved in missionary work and even did some Pentecostal tent revival meetings. In between all of this, he got his certificate in Cosmetology from the State of New York under an ap- prenticeship program. He soon met Cindy Peguero, a transplant from Florida who also had a cosmetology de- gree. The two of them opened two salons in Five Towns, Woodmere and Bensonhurst (Ragtime Brooklyn). Theywere also professors at Academy of Career Training and used their expertise to become platform artists and educators around the world--including Paris, England, Italy, Japan Thailand, South and Central America. In their shops in Wood- mere, Vazquez and Peguero catered to their modern Orthodox clientele. Vazquez became an expert at cutting the hair and beards of the Orthodox men. He knew how to follow the Jewish rules on shaving, which were based on Leviticus: "You shall not round the corners of your head, neither shall you mar the corners of your beard" (19:27). This involved very specific guidelines on how to shave the back of the neck and under the chin. Although most of the men didn't wear payot, the long sidelocks, the hair could not be cut above a certain spot on the cheek- bone. Vazquez could not work on the women's hair ("That was a shand!" he said). That job fell to eguero, worked with the wmen to cut their natural hair nd fix their wigs. Ten year: ago, Vazquez's parents retied and moved to Kissimmee,Florida. Ruben, and Cindy nd their two children spending more and more tin in Florida. The visits increa.'d when Ruben's mother wa iagnosed with cancer. The asquez' decided to move souh to be close to both their fmilies. Ruben's mother passd away in 2010. Ruben's faher has since remarried. In 2016, indy and Ruben opened up Bdissimo's, a salon down the steer from a 55+ community.They no longer are taking c re of the modern Orthodox, btt people from So- livita--man ofthem Jewish-- have becometheir customers. "Baruch HaShem!" said Ruben Vazquez. With G-d's help, my business will con- tinue to grow!" From page 13A They later joined the Bielski partisan brigade and were able to survive the war. He was the youngest leader of the Jewish Committee that governed the Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp, the largest Jewish DP camp in Germany and a major center for the rehabilitation of 50,000 survivors of the Holocaust, as well as the flightand rescue op- erationsin Europethatbrought survivors to then-Palestine. He met and married his wife of 69 years, Lilly Czaban, in the DP camp, from where they immigrated to the United States. Bloch served as president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants; presi- dent of the World Federation of Bergen-Belsen Survivors Associations; chairman of the Advisory Council of the Foundation for World War II Memorial Sites in Lower Saxony, Germany, and served as a member of its board. In 1981, Elie Wiesel, then- chairman of the U.S. Ho- locaust Memorial Council, appointed him as chairman of the council's Board of Advisers as well as a member of its Development, Days of Remembrance, and Content committees. Bloch was appointed by then-New York Mayor Ed Koch to the commission that created the Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. As chair of the Jewish section of the Swiss Hu- manitarian Fund, he assisted in distributing $180 million to needy survivors. He continued to serve on the board of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany until his death. He published 30 volumes of Holocaust memoirs, his- tory and poetry, in English, Hebrew and Yiddish editions, as editor of the Bergen-Belsen Memorial Press, and edited numerous significant docu- mentary volumes. "Sam was a giant, one of the last of what was truly the 'Greatest Generation' who emerged from the devastation of the Shoah not with bitter- ness and hatred, but with a determination to create new families, and rebuild Jewish life, all the while devoting his energies to perpetuating Ho- locaust memory and strength- ening Jewish identity," said Menachem Rosensaft, Bloch's son-in-law, who himself was born in the Bergen-Belsen DP camp and was the founding chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. "He was a lifelong Zionist who dedicated himself to the unity of the Jewish people with the State of Israel at its core." He is survived by his wife, two daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren.