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June 21, 2013

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PAGE 2A By Steve Lipman New York Jewish Week The remaining members of the Ethiopian Jewish com- munity will make aliyah by the end of this summer, and the Jewish Agency educational compound in the northern part of the country that has prepared them for their new lives in Israel will be turned over this month to the Ethiopian government. The compound in Gondar, The last Jews of Ethiopia HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 21, 2013 which earlier was under the auspices of the NorthAmerican Conference on Ethiopian Jewry, "will not be needed beyond July," said Misha Galperin, who heads the Jewish Agency's department of international development. "That's it. There's no more." Galperin said representatives of Israel's Interior Ministry are completing eligibility inter- views with the last of some 2,000 Falash Mura, descen- dants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to the country's dominant Christian religion a century ago. Several thousand Falash Mura, who returned in recent decades to the Jewish community and have sought to immigrate to Israel, are now partofIsraers 120,000-member Ethiopian Jewish community. As part of the end of the Jewish Agency's "Completing the Journey" operation, which the quasi-governmental or- ganization began two years ago to phase out the Gondar compound and the decades- long aliyah of Ethiopian Jewry, participants in two missions two weeks ago--coordinated by the Jewish Agency, and by the Jewish Federations of North America--traveled to Ethiopia to "see the final stages of the operation" and accompany some of the Falash Mura on their flights to Israel. "People are celebratingwhat will be the end of an extraordi- nary chapter in Jewish history," Galperin said. The participants met the Falash Mura at the compound, which is administered in part- nership with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, where the Ethiopian natives learn Hebrew, receive health screenings and take part in other activities that will prepare them to become Israeli citizens. Nearly 70 years after liberation, Some 7,000 Falash Mura are now in Jewish Agency absorption centers through- out Israel. All the eligible Falash Mura will be in Israel by September, Galperin said, and the few still in Gondar after the compound closes will receive off-site as- sistance. Steve Lipman is a staffwriter for The New York Jewish Week, from which this article was reprinted by permission. Holocaust memorials continue to proliferate Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines Groundbreaking of Holocaust memorial May 14 in Des Moines, Iowa, By Gil Shefler NEW YORK (JTA)--No earth was moved last month at the groundbreaking of one of the nation's newest Holocaust memorials. Instead, the gatherers stood silently, symbolic shovels in hand, on the immaculate lawn where the privately funded $400,000 monument will soon rise. A succession of speakers delivered somber homilies remembering one of the darkest chapters in human history. "It was an absolutely un- believable world that I lived in," survivor Fred Lorber was quoted as saying by local media. "It's hard for me to describe, but whatever time I think about it, it's there. It never left my memory." The construction of a new Holocaust memorial' is hardly unusual. But this was By Steve Lipman New York Jewish Week BETHESDA, Md.--Did Pope PiusXII, the leader of the Cath- olic Church during World War II and the subsequent decade, suppress a landmark Vatican document that his predecessor, Pius XI, had commissioned, a document thatwould have un- ambiguously criticized racism and anti-Semitism? And did that document--an encyclical, in Vatican parlance--actually exist? Historians and theologians have been asking these ques- tions for decades. The so-called hidden en- cyclical has played a role-- contrasting the attitudes and personalities of the two popes--since the end of the war. The document and mys- tery surrounding it has helped shape the legacy of Pius XII, an austere, cautious manwhowas praised during the Holocaust for saving many Jews from the Nazis but later came under at- tack for supposed indifference to the fate of the continent's endangered Jews. Peter Eisner, a New Jersey- born author and journalist who lives in this Washington suburb, had not been familiar with the controversy surround- ing the hidden encyclical when, a few years ago, a friend told him about it, and about John LaFarge, the American priest who had written most if it. Eisner, who had earlierwrit- ten a bookwith aWWII theme, was hooked. "This is a natural," thought Eisner, who proceeded to spend CANDLES The CANDLES Holocaust museum in Terre Haute, Ind. Des Moines, Iowa, home to a small Jewish community and an even smaller number of survivors. Just 2,800 Jews live in the capital of the Hawkeye State, among them a rapidly diminishing number of sur- vivors like Lorber. Yet local authorities, along with the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines and Jewish phi- lanthropists, nevertheless felt it important for the city to set aside prominent public space near the state capitol to remember the victims of Nazi persecution and their liberators. "As time went by and as the last survivors pass away, the study of the Holocaust in the school districts began to wane and the Jewish community felt the memory of it needed to be perpetuated," said Mark Memorials on page 19A Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines Rendering of Holocaust Memorial in Des Moines, Iowa. ............. Maps of World A U.S. map representing the locations of Holocaust museums. 'Hidden Encyclical' no longer hidden working in Germany, and then served Pius XI as the Vatican's secretary of state, took a more nuanced, less combative ap- proach than his predecessor in dealing with political is- sues and political leaders. He declined to issue the encyclical out of fear of offending Hitler or Mussolini, claim the pope's critics. As an autonomous Pontiff, he was under no obligation to publish another man's encyclical, say experts on Catholic procedures. Though the 100-page-plus text of the draft was first pub- lished in 1995, in France, it remained a matter of specula- tion for many Catholics. Some defenders ofPius XII continued to claim that the document-- sometimes called the missing encyclical--may be nothing more than a fantasy. They said it was an unsubstantiated rumor, a weapon wielded by his critics to back up charges that PiusXII'sVatican behavior was shaped by pro-German, anti-Jewish feelings. Lacking an actual copy of a draft of the document, no one could prove that it existed, the defenders would say. Eisner has drawn upon/ scholarship that proves Pius XI did commission the docu- ment, copies of which were prepared in German, French and English. In a thoroughness honed during 40 years of reporting, Eisner, a former deputy foreign editor at The Washington Post, traces, through the acts and words of LaFarge, the encycli- cal's genesis, its writing and its eventual disappearance. Relying on Vatican docu- ments, and interviews with people who knew LaFarge (he died in 1963), Eisner paints a picture of strong-willed, high- ranking Church personalities whose positions on the war, the persecution of European Jewry, and the relationship of the Jewish people to the Chris- tian world, were often at odds. The book, centering on Pius XI and LaFarge, isn't about Pius XII, Eisner says. At the same time it's very much about Pius XII, largely to his detriment; a more cautious and more-reserved Pope than his predecessor, Pius XII loses the image battle to the outspoken, aggressive Pius XI, who is little known now outside of Catholic circles. The difference in styles was evident immediately. When Pius XI died in 1938, Eisner says, "The Vatican changed overnight." "The Pope's Last Crusade" describes how LaFarge, a Iongtime editor at America magazine (a national Jesuit magazine published in Man- hattan),wrote a 1936 book,"In- terracial Justice," which called on churches to lead the fight against racism; how the book caught the attention of PiusXI; how the pope summoned the "progressive American priest" to the papal summer residence near Rome in the summer of 1938, and assigned him to write an encyclical that "could be a bulwark against the madness" that was enveloping Europe; how LaFarge, surprised and overwhelmed by the assign- ment, agreed; how he worked with two German Jesuits to produce a draft; how various Vatican intrigues stalled the encyclical and kept it from being issued; how it is unclear whether Pius XI, in his dying days, ever saw the draft. Equally ambiguous, accord- ing to Eisner's book and other accounts, is whether Pius XII knew that the document was being written, and why he de- cided, once he ascended to the papacy, not to issue it. LaFarge, largely silent for most of his life abouthis largely unacknowledged role in the unpublishedencydical,shared his story with some fellow Jesu- its near the end of his life. The priest's recollections, which in large part form the basis for reporting on the subject, remained the stuffofunopened archives, academic books and some writers' footnotes. Till Eisner heard about La- Farge and the encyclical. Eisner approaches the story through a series of "moral choices." LaFarge's to accept the papal charge, and to leave Europe before demanding to see Pius XI once e/t the draft was completed. The choice of various Vatican function- aries to keep the document from the pope. And Pius XII's choice role in ensuring that the encyclical did not see the light of day. "My writing tends to focus on questions of morality," on specific decisions that can illustrate wider moral quan- daries, Eisner says. Topics of his past writings include a fraudulent intelligence letter that buttressed the second two years working on "The Pope's Last Crusade: How an American Jesuit Helped Pope Pius XI's Campaign to Stop Hitler" (William Morrow). "I realized there was an American character in it," he said. In other words, an entry point for U.S. readers into the labyrinth of the Vatican hierarchy. Eisner's book cites new evi- dence-the recent availability of archives that contain the papers of Pius XI and LaFarge substantiates the existence of the encyclical, and of LaFarge's part in writing it--about and insights into Hurnanis Generis Unitas (the unity of the human race, the encyclicai's Latin title). This was the document LaFarge was assigned to write by Pius XI, who died a half-year before the start of WWII. The hidden encyclical was never issued, because Pius XI, in ill health for several years, died before he could issue it, but it became the stuff of legend. Nearly every discussion of Pius XII, whose action, or inaction, during the Holocaust is a sub- ject of continuing controversy, contains a reference to the hidden encyclical. A strident document by the leader of Roman Catholicism would have made a powerful statement on the eve of World War II, casting the Church as irrefutably sympathetic to the threatened Jews and hostile to the anti-Jewish, anti-Christian Third Reich. Pius XII, who was trained as a Vatican diplomat and not as a parish priest, who was Italian but spent several years Bush administration's case for going to war against Iraq; men andwomenwho rescuedAllied airmen from the Nazis during WorldWar II; and anAmerican diplomat who risked his career to save Jews from the Nazis in occupied France. Such questions fascinate Eisner. "I'm not a religious Jew. I'm a Reform Jew," he says, point- ing out that he is a kohein, of priestly lineage. "I come from a long line of people asking questions." One fundamental question: Would a turgid document by a religious authority, even one as respected as the pope, have made any difference to a rabid dictatorwhowas determined to eradicate all of Europe's Jews? Possibly, Eisner says. Hitler, he says, realized the pope's influence. "Hitler considered him an enemy." Hitler relied on his own unchallenged rhetoric to sway the masses. "The Pope was challenging that." Eisner's book speculates about the decisions that the primary actors--among them Plus XII and LaFarge--made, but he intentionally declines to tie up the loose ends; he doesn't give definitive reasons, for instance, why Pius XII did not make the encyclical public or why LaFarge left Europe rather than return to the Vatican to further the cause of the encyclical. "I'm a storyteller," Eisner says. His job, he says, is to present the facts. "I don't want to direct the answers," he says. "The readers can make their own decisions."