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PAGE 26A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 30, 2013 Recalling the Rosh Hashanah 1943 Holocaust escape of Danish Jews By Rafael Medoff JNS.org t As the final minutes of Rosh Hashanah ticked away, 13-year-(rid Leo Goldberger was hiding, alongwith his par- ents and three brothers, in the thick brush along the shore of Dragor, asmall fishing village south of Copenhagen. The year was 1943, andthe Goldberger s, like thousands of other Danish Jews, were desperately trying to escape an imminent Nazi roundup. "Finally, after what,seemed like an excruciatingly Iongwait, we saw our signal offshore," Goldberger later recalled. His family "strode straight into the ocean and waded, through three or four feet of icy water until we were hauled aboard a fish- ing boat" and covered them- selves "with smelly canvases." Shivering and frightened, but grateful, the Goldberger family soon found itself in the safety and freedom of neighboring Sweden. For years, the Allied leaders had insisted that nothing could be done to rescue Jews from the Nazis excepttowin thewar. But in one extraordinary night, 70 years ago next month, the Dan- ish people exploded that myth and changed history. When the Nazis occupied Denmark during the Holocaust in 1940, the Danes put up little resistance. As a result, the Ger- man authorities agreed to let the Danish government con- tinue functioning with greater autonomy than other occupied countries. They also postponed taking steps against Denmark's 8,000 JeWish citizens. In the late summer of 1943, amid rising tensions between the occupation regime and the Danish government, the Nazis declared martial law and decided the time had come to deport Danish Jews to the death camps. But Georg Duckwitz, a German diplomat in Denmark, leaked the in- formation to Danish friends. (Duckwitz was later honored by Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous Among the Na- tions.) As word of the Germans' plans spread, the Danish public responded with a spontaneous nationwide grassroots effortto help the Jews. The Danes' remarkable re- sponse gave rise to the legend that King Christian X himself rode through the streets of Copenhagen on horseback, wearing ayellow Star of David, and that the citizens of the city likewise donned the star in solidarity with the Jews. The story may have had its origins in a political cartoon that appeared in a Swedish newspaper in 1942. It showed King Christian pointing to a Star of David and declaring that if, the Nazis imposed it upon the Jews of Demark, "then we must all wear the star." Leon Uris's novel Exodus, and the movie based on that book, helped spread the legend. But subsequent investig/tions by historians have concluded that the story is a myth. A midnight escape On Rosh Hashanah--which fell on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 in 1943--and the days that followed, numerous Danish Christian families hid Jews from Holocaust persecution in their homes or farms, and then smuggled them to the seashore late at night. From there, fishermen took them across the Kattegat Straits to neighboring Sweden. This three-week operation had the strong support of Danish church leaders, who used their pulpits to urge aid to the Jews, as well as Danish uni- versities, which shut down so that students could assist the smugglers. More than 7,000 Danish Jews reached Sweden and were sheltered there until the end of the war. Esther Finkler, a young newlywed, was hidden, to- gether with her husband and their mothers, in a green- house. "At night, we saw the [German] searchlights sweep- ing back and forth throughout the neighborhood," as the Nazis hunted for Jews, Esther later recalled. One evening, a member of the Danish Un- derground arrived and drove the four "through streets saturated with Nazi storm troopers," to a point near the shore. There they hid in an un- derground shelter, and then in the attic of a bakery, until finally they were brought to a beach, where they boarded a small fishing vessel together with other Jewish refugees. "There were nine of us, lying down on the deck or the floor," Esther said. "The captain covered us with fishing nets. When everyone had been prop- erly concealed, the fishermen started the boat, and as the motor started to run, so did my pent-up tears." Then, suddenly, trouble. "The captain began to sing and whistle nonchalantly, which puzzled us. Soon we heard him shouting in Ger- man toward a passing Nazi patrol boat: 'Wollen sie einen beer haben?' (Would you like a beer?)--a clever gimmick designed to avoid the Germans' suspicions. After three tense hours at sea, we heard shout- ing: 'Get up! Get up! And wel- come to Sweden!' It was hard to believe, but we were now safe. We cried and the Swedes cried with us as they escorted as ashore. The nightmare was over," Esther recalled. 'It can be done' The implications oftheDan- ish rescue operation resonated strongly in the United States. The Roosevelt administration had long insisted that rescue of Jews from the Nazis was not possible. The refugee advocates known as the Berg- son Group began citing the escape of Denmark's Jews as evidence that if the Allies were sufficiently interested, ways could be found to save many European Jews. The Bergson Group spon- sored a series of full-page newspaper advertisements about the Danish-Swedish effort, headlined "It Can Be Done!" On Oct. 31, thou- sands of New Yorkers jammed Carnegie Hall for the Bergson Group's "Salute to Sweden and Denmark" rally. Keynote speakers included /nembers of Congress, Dan- ish and Swedish diplomats, and one of the biggest names in Hollywood--Orson Welles, director of"Citizen Kane" and "The War of the Worlds." In another coup for the Bergson Group, one of the speakers was Leon Henderson, one of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's own former eco- nomic advisers (Henderson had headed the White House's Office of Price Administra- tion). In blunt language that summed up the tragedy-- and the hope--Henderson declared: "The Allied Govern- ments have been guy of moral cowardice. The issue of saving the Jewish people of Europe has been avoided, submerged, played down, hushed up, resisted with all the forms of political force that are available... Sweden and Denmark have proved the tragedy of Allied indecision... The Danes and Swedes have shown us the way... If this be a war for c'ivilization, then most surely this is the time to be civilized!" Dr. Rafael Medoff is direc- tor of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Stud- ies, in Washington, D.C. His latest book is "FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith " COS From page 2A fabricate and install an auto- mated system that controlled the planetarium projector and its audio-visual equipment for the Einstein Planetarium at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. After moving to Florida, he worked on the Space Shuttle at the Kennedy Space Center, and was part of the management team that produced the Patriot Missiles that were deployed to Israel during the first Gulf War. Feldman retired in 2001 as vice-president of an aerospace company in Orlando Last year, Irwin and Rita celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with family and friends. Over the years they have formed many friendships and have worked with many members whose enthusiasm, hard work and commitment have made them proud to be associated with COS. The Kalat B'reisheet hon- oree, Carol Lefkov, Was born in Washington D.C. and grew up in the D.C. and Maryland suburbs. She earned her undergradu- ate degree at the University of Maryland and graduate degree at Indiana University before coming to Orlando in 1972. After spendinga fewyears look- ing for a "synagogue match," she joined Congregation Ohev Shalom in the mid 70s. While continuing to participate in religious and social activities at COS and in the broader Jewish community, she didn'tbecome a "regular" at services until 1996-97 while saying Kaddish forher father. Itwasatthattime thatRabbi Rubinger introduced the Project Ezra study program at Friday night services and Lefkov was "hooked." Since then, she has greatly increased her participation in synagogue life, discovering numerous opportunities to increase her knowledge of Ju- daism and Jewish culture and history. About 10 years ago, Lefkov decided she needed to increase her "brain exercise" and chose Cantor Robuck's Torah reading class. Asa result, she has become a frequent Torah reader (and occasional Haftarah reader). And for the past two years, Lefkov has served COS by coordinating Torah readers, a very detailed and important element of our congregation's Shabbat and holiday observance. When Lefkov retired after working for 32 years forOrange County Schools as a speech/ language pathologist, she had more time to "do whatever I want" and her contributions to Congregation Ohev Shalom have been many. They include organizing the Ahavat Olam (Keeping Faith with the plant) "Green Fair" in 2010, coordinat- ing the Bikur Cholim to notify !'team members" about people who would like to be visited in the hospital, and organizing a guest speaker program with Or- lando Sentinel columnist Greg Dawson. She also volunteers in the Judaica shop, Community Care Team, Ma'asim Tovim, Social Action, and Sisterhood board and is helping to produce the 5774 Yizkor book. Lefkov puts Jewish values into action outside the syna- gogue as well. She is reminded of Maimonides as a devoted volullteer and fouriding board member of the local Ten Thou- sand Villages, a non-profit, fair trade organization which part- nerswithartisans in developing countries to give them a market so they can make a living for themselves and their fami- lies. As a member of Friendship Force International, which fosters interactions and friend- ships among people around the world, Lefkov is reminded of the many references in the Torah to "welcome the stranger." And she shows her interest in the conservation of animals and the environmentthrough member- ships in many organizations including TheAmerican Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (ASPNI). Lefkov's passions include spending time with friends, U.S. and international travel, photography, political cam- paigns, bid watching, raising butterflies, hiking, and camp- ing. A guiding quote is: "Live for today, plan for tomorrow. Expect the unexpected." COS invites the community to join them Simchat Torah Friday morning, Sept. 27, at 9:30 a.m. to celebrate this sig- nificant holiday of continuity and recognize these deserving honorees. Rosenblatt From page 4A the Israel connection" prob- ably was "the most important lesson I learned in New York," he wrote. Nadav Eyal, the Channel 10 editor, said too many Is- raelis see American Jewry as doomed, due to high rates of intermarriage and assimila- tion. He says they are missing the bigger story, that of "the enormous success of the American Jewish commu- nity" financially, culturally and socially, which he sees as second only to Zionism in terms of 20th-century Jewish achievements. "I try to move the discus- sion away from statistics and numbers, like how many marry non-Jews, and more towards involvement in Jew- ish life," Eyal says. He marvels at the many "pluralistic ex- pressions of Jewish identity" in American Jewish life, and what it means to choose to live proud, active Jewish lives in a countrywhere Jews are asmall minority, an d are inyolved vol- untarily, not bound by a chief rabbinate. That's something Israelis don't experience, and therefore undervalue, he adds. He'd like to see Israelis emulate the American Jew- ish element of pluralism and tolerance in terms of religious expression. Jay Ruderman, who made aliyah from Massachusetts in 2005 and is president of the family foundation that sponsored the journalist seminar, has long felt that the Israeli-diaspora conversation is essentially one-sided, with only superficial attention to the diaspora. In a major ef- fort to balance that equation, he announced last week the launching of the first Israeli university program of its kind on American Jewish life. (See "For Israeli Grad Students, American Jewry 101,"Aug. 16.) The Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies at the University of Haifa was made possible by a $1 million grant from the foundation, matched by the university, and will begin this fall with 21 graduate students on a one- year, seven-course master's program. "Israeli universities have all sorts of programs studying Asia, Africa and the Arab world, but no one is studying theAmerican Jewish community, which is probably the most important commu- nity affecting the future of Israel," Ruderman told JNS. org, a Jewish news service. He's right, of course, and hopefully, other foundations and universities will follow Ruderman's lead in recog- nizing the vital importance of American Jewry to Israel, beyond philanthropy and poli- tics. As the visiting journalists noted, there is much for Israe- l is to learn about a community where inclusiveness is avalue, not a sign of weakness. Kamaras From pag 5A What do you do with those fillers? How are they going to work together? "Preparation is huge. Every year we're different. I'm not the same person I was last year. This is the day of judgment. I think every cantor feels a huge responsibility on those days, because we're praying not only on our behalf, we're praying on behalf of the entire congregation. It's a tremendous responsibility, and you go through the text, and you try to figure out: How does it resonate with ' you? What is the meaning of the text? How can you make it relevant to you, to your life, to the lives of your congregants?" Which prayers do you see as the highlights of the H!gh Holidays service? "I think without doubt, Unetaneh Tokef is one of the highlights. First of all, because of the text. [It in- cludes] the description of the process that goes on in Heaven. It gives us an idea of how God examines each case, so to say. From a musi- cal perspective, this is your chance as a cantor to really shine, to show what you can do, especially because the text is so moving. This is your moment to try to inspire people, to really get them to try to feel something. "Number two, there's a prayer called the Hineni. It's the first thing that the cantor says before Mussaf. The cantor is the only one who recites that prayer. And basically it's a prayer for the cantor, asking, 'God, please help me in this task, and don't judge them, my congregation, because of my sins. If I'm doing it wrong, don't let if affect them.' It's really a personal prayer that reminds us cantors that at the end of the day, this is not about how we sing, and the music, and all that kind of stuff. It's about this tremendous responsibility that we have of pleading on behalf of the congregation." What do you remember about the first time you led a High Holidays service? "I was 14. It was a little synagogue in the town where I grew up in Israel, Azor (a suburb of Tel Aviv). I led the services with my dad. Obvi- ously I was nervous, but I felt comfortable because I started leading services as soon as I was bar mitzvahed, so already I led services for a whole year prior to that. So I felt comfortable leading services, and I knew my dad was next to me. "It was a congregation where everybody knew me since I was born, so it felt like [leading the service] amongst your family. It was a very supportive audience. "I did that for a couple of years, and that gave me confidence later on, when I started taking on jobs elsewhere." What advice would you give about how to approach High Holidays prayer? "The service is very long, we have a lot of text. If I have one recommendation to people for the holidays, it's don't take a prayer as something obvious, that we've done every year, and that's it. Take the prayer book, take the machzor, and go over the text. See what it means to you. See what prayers resonate with you. Refresh your memory with some of the tunes. Read the English translation, so you'll know what you're saying. "I can guarantee that if you do some preparation, you will get much more out of the service, and this is regardless of who is leading it."