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April 12, 2013

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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 12, 2013 In Germany, some ck 00ure for the son of survivors First person By Adam Friedman NEW YORK (JTA)--As a child of Holocaust survivors, I have always managed to avoid visiting Germany. Part of my parents' legacy was never to visit the country, with its dark past--not even to own any products in our home that were made in Germany. Despite my reluctance to visit Germany, an opportu- nity arose that I could not forgo. A professional group to which I have belonged for 10 years was holding a meeting in Wiesbaden--the day after Yom Kippur, no less. As the international group of about 40 includes many friends and people with whom I regularly do business, I felt compelled to attend. I also felt that Michael, my German host, would feel slighted if I chose to stay home. After all, Mi- chael is in his 40s and should not be blamed for the sins of his grandparents' generation. I was pleasantly surprised to find Wiesbaden a most beautiful city with many stately buildings dating from the mid-19th century, when it was a popular spa town for the rich and the royalty of Europe. It was a town that showed no visible scars from World War II, never having been bombed. But in fact, there were less visible scars that tarnished the history of Wiesbaden. At the onset of World War II, the city was home to 1,500 Jews who had built a most inspir- ing and architecturally note- worthy synagogue that was destroyed on Kristallnacht in 1938. Subsequently, Wies- baden's Jews were deported to concentration camps, leaving no survivors. In my research before I arrived, I discovered that the town had built a memorial to those victims on the very spot where the synagogue was located. I was determined to visit the memorial, so that this trip, which seemed like a betrayal of my parents' memory, would take on some semblance of deeper mean- ing. I had no idea when I would have the opportunity, as the meeting left little time for anything else. Michael, who was raised in Wiesbaden, is a sophisticated man who spent his younger years living in the United States and London. As part of the meeting's program, he had invited a speaker to discuss German history, and the speaker began with the reign of Charlemagne. Much to everyone's astonishment, when he discussed the 20th century, he never mentioned the Nazi period. We were all deeply offended and at the break expressed our disappointment to Michael, whereupon he stood before the group and apologized with tears in his eyes. Suddenly I realized that here was my opportunity. I suggested to Michael that it would be appropriate for him to invite the whole group to visit the memorial to the Jewish victims. Michael eagerly agreed and Tlater that day, most of the group walked to the memorial, not really knowing what to ex- pect. Appropriately, the site is somber with a gray brick wall inscribed with the names of those who perished. I felt that I needed to seize this moment. I asked my colleagues to gather around while I put on my yarmulke and recited the Kaddish, the Jewish mourner's prayer for the dead. Although the words are in ancientAramaic, somehow the meaning was felt more than understood. In a spontaneous outpouring of emotion, everyone burst into tears, hugging each other. The group included Jews, Christians, Hindus and Muslims, but at this moment we were simply people bound -by our common humanity and the sadness over a ter- rible tragedy. As we stood there, many of the cars that passed by blew their horns in recognition and sympathy. Michael then led us to a house in front of which was embedded a brass plaque in the sidewalk with the name of a Jewish occupant who had lived there and was deported. We all crouched down to read the name in an act of homage, each of us mouthing a prayer in our own way. Later that evening, as we walked back to our hotel, Mi- chael turned to me and said, "We learn all about the Nazi period and the Holocaust in school, and we take trips to many sites related to that time, but as Germans we never talk about it. That is a mistake. We need to talk about it so we won't forget; that's what I learned today." The following day as I rode the train to the airport, I reviewed that simple yet profound event. I realized that coming to Germany was an act of closure for my own personal history. Even my parents would have understood. Adam Friedman is a public relations consultant who lives in New York City. Thatcher remember for her affection for Britain's Jews By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)-- History will remember former British Prime Min- ister Margaret Thatcher for relentlessly facing down communism and helping to turn back more than three decades of socialist advance in her country. But it was Thatcher's embrace of British Jews and insistent promotion of Jews in her Conservative Party that inspired an outpouring of tributes from Jewish and Israeli leaders following her death April 8 at 87. Thatcher, who suffered from dementia in her later years, died peacefully af- ter suffering a stroke, her spokesperson said. Thatcher's tenure as prime minister, from 1979 to 1990, helped thrust Britain back onto the in- ternational stage following its post-World War II years of end-of-empire angst and political turmoil. For the country's Jews, however, the naming of at least five of their number to Cabinet positions and her determined pushback against anti-Jewish grum- bling among the Conser- vative Party's backbench- ers made what once was laughable imaginable: the possibility of a Jewish prime minister. "Lady Thatcher was al- ways extremely supportive and admiring of the ethos of the British Jewish com- munity," Vivian Wineman, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told JTA. Wineman said the mutual admiration was rooted in personal history. In the 1930s, Thatcher's family took in an Austrian Jewish O A K b00_.O NTE AT LAKE MARY The Wait Is Over... Now featuring the Cordova! Brand New Assisted Living and Memory Care Community Oakmonte Village provides a quality lifestyle as a beautiful luxury senior living community in the heart of prestigious Lake Mary. Our campus includes Independent Living apartments, Tuscany influenced villa homes, assisted living and memory care. Oakmonte Village 407-444-0122 1001 Royal Gardens Circle Lake Mary, FL 32746  v.taoa di refugee. In 1959, Thatcher was elected to Parliament representing Finchley, a north London constituency with a large Jewish popula- tion. "She counted a number of Jews among her closest advisers and confidants, and at one point nearly a quarter of her Cabinet were of Jewish origins," Wineman said. Moshe Maor, a Hebrew University political science professor whose expertise is Britain, said Thatcher admired the British Jewish community's self-reliance, an ethos she embraced as she dedicated herself to weaning Britons off public assistance. "Thatcher admired hard work, and the Jewish com- munity was not dependent on the state," Maor said. "It was structured in such a way that Jews help others in their community. That was the culture Thatcher tried to advance." It was one also embraced by Britain's late chief rab- bi, Immanuel Jakobovits, whom Thatcher elevated to the House of Lords. Frus- trated by protests among Christian leaders of the rapid pace of her economic reforms, she increasingly turned for spiritual rein- forcement to Jakobovits, who became widely known as "Thatcher's rabbi." Thatcher's rule coincided with social changes among the country's 350,000 Jews. Once proudly working class, British Jews by the 1980s had become increasingly middle class, more likely to be self- employed and alarmed at the leftward lurch of the leader- ship in the Labor Party. "She got on quite well with Jews," Wineman said. "She said once that she thought she probably had more con- stituents in Tel Aviv than in Finchley." Thatcher never hesitated to advance the careers of talented young Jews in her party--among them Leon Brittan, a secretary of trade; Nigel Lawson, a chancellor of the exchequer; Edwina Currie, a health minister; Malcolm Rifkind, a secretary of state for Scotland; and Michael Howard, a secretary of employment. Rifkind went on to be- come foreign minister. Yossi Zamir/Flash90/JTA British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visiting Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir in Jerusalem, May 25, 1986. Howard became home secretary and then opposi- tion leader, burying forever the notion that a British leader had to come from the country's official faith, Anglicanism. Thatcher's embrace of the Jewish community did not make its romance with the Tories a permanent one. Tony Blair's purges of the Labor left after his 1997 elec- tion helped draw back some Jewish voters. But Howard's precedent helped set the stage for ascension of the current leader of the Labor Party, Ed Miliband, the son of Polish Jewish immigrants. Thatcher also earned kudos for her robust foreign policy and maintaining strong ties with Israel at a time of tension between the Jewish state and other European nations. "She was truly a great leader, a woman of principle, of determination, of convic- tion, of strength; a woman of greatness," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netan- yahu said in a statement April 8. "She was a staunch friend of Israel and the Jewish people. She inspired a generation of political leaders." Thatcher restored the notion of Britain shining everywhere the sun rose when she launched a war in 1982 to keep Argentina from claiming the Falkland Islands. The war won--and the days of Argentina's autocracy of the generals numbered--Thatcher was ready to take on the mantle oflron Lady vs. Iron Curtain. She became President Ron- aid Reagan's indispensable partner in squeezing the life out of Soviet hegemony. In 1983, she told leaders of the Soviet Jewry move- ment that she would do "absolutely everything" to support their cause, which dovetailed with her revul- sion of communism. Thatcher did not shy away from taking on Israeli lead- ers. She tussled with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin over his refusal to deal with Palestinian leaders and the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, call- ing him the "most difficult" man she had to deal with. In the mid-1980s, she worked Shimon Peres, then the head of a fractious na- tional unity government, to reach a peace agreement with Jordan, but it was scuttled by Begin's succes- sor as Likud leader, Yit- zhak Shamir. Thatcher also pressed Reagan to deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization, suasions that bore fruit when the president recognized the group during his final months in office in 1988. Peres, now Israel's president, said Thatcher's strength served as an ex- ample. "She showed how far a person can go with strength of character, determination and a clear vision," he said. Cnaan Liphshiz contrib- uted to this article.