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October 9, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 9, 2009 PAGE 23A Erred From page 5A Her statement also draws distinctions between the Anti-Israel Left, and the Pro-Israel Left. The Toronto letter was maddeningly one-sided, historically disingenuous, and filled with icky double standards. Worse, it both implicated and undermined the genu- inely pro-Israel Left, whose members care deeply about Israel but differ with others in the Pro-Israel camp over issues like settlements, the pace of peace talks, and the borders of a viable Palestin- ian state. And do you know where you find members of the Pro-Israel Left? In the Israeli film industry. And in the streets and cafes of Tel Aviv. But the original protest letter essentially said to those Israelis, who have been willing to critique their own national narra- tives and acknowledge the aspirations of the Palestin- ians, "We members of the artistic community have reached a consensus, and that consensus is that Is- rael is war-like. Works by other artists, even those on the Left, that suggest the picture in Israel might be more complicated than that detract from this consensus, and thus do not deserve to be seen by a public that is not as discerning as we." In its methods and tone, the Toronto letter wasn't much different from the Goldstone Report, the U.N. investigation of the war in Gaza. It too was madden- ingly one-sided, historically disingenuous, and filled with icky double standards. And like the Toronto letter, it managed to undermine those who support a com- plex understanding of the dynamics on both sides of the Mideast divide, the good and the bad, the saints and sinners. As former Ha'aretz editor David Landau wrote in The New York Times, the report could have led to a neces- sary and honest debate over avoiding civilian casualties when waging war against cynical urban terrorists. Instead, the report accused Israel of deliberately target- ing civilians. "Judge Goldstone has thwarted any such honest debate--within Israel or concerning Israel," wrote Landau. "His fundamental premise, that the Israelis went after civilians, shut down the argument before it began." That's what the Anti- Israel Left doesn't get. The more they demonize Israel, the more they call for boy- cotts, the more they cast the Mideast conflict in terms of black and white, the further they get from achieving a solution, not closer. For two decades now, Israel's Middle has been willing to com- promise, in exchange for security and legitimacy. If Israel has turned to the right in recent years, it is because terrorists undermined that security, and much of the world denied that legiti- macy. And while Israel's critics can point proudly to their boycotts and protests, they can't point to a single Israeli or Palestinian whose life has been made any better by their actions (that is, if you exclude the extremists on both sides). Someone once said, "The Israeli-Palestinian story cannot be reduced to a sim- plistic aggressor-victim re- lationship. In order to fully understand this, one must be willing to come together with an open heart and re- ally hear the narratives of both sides. One narrative sees 1948 as the mass expul- sion of Palestinians from their land. Another sees it as the birth of a nation. Conceivably it was both. Neither narrative can be erased, both must be heard." Actually, it was Jane Fonda. Good for her, and good for the Left. Scene From page 9A children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, they then received the Ten Commandments?" "Yes, David." "And the children of Israel also defeated the Philistines?" "Yes, David, that's also true." "And the children of Israel also fought the Romans and fought the Egyptians and built the Temple?" "Again you are correct, David." "So my last question is, Rabbi, what were the grown- ups doing all this time?" (I love this joke!) One more for the road... It was Victor's birthday in a few days time and his bubbe went out to buy him a present. She found a mens- wear shop that was having a half-price sale and bought a luxurious rollneck pullover for him. Unfortunately, the pullover was for a size 14 neck and Victor was a size 18. When Victor received his present, he immediately tried it on. He then wrote a thank you note to his bubbe. This is what he wrote: "Dear Bubbe, Thanks a lot for the beautiful pullover. I'd write more but I'm all choked up." FAQ From page 12A "becomes a basic introductory volume about Judaism for anyone interested in Jewish life, whether they're Jews by choice, active in the Jewish community or [someone] outside of it who wants to learn about Judaism." "Jewish FAQs: An Internet Rabbi'sAnswers to Frequently Asked Questions About Juda- ism" by Rabbi Daniel Kohn (474 pages, Xlibris, $31.49 hardcover, $21.24 paperback) News From page l lA the monument to the Babi Yar victims and to the memorial of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists victims, accord- ing to the Ukrinform state news agency. Chavez differs with Ahma- dinejad on Holocaust CARACAS (JTA)--Venezu- elan President Hugo Chavez saidhe does not agree with last week as a pulpit to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's criticize the State of Israel, assertion that the Holocaust in an interview Sept. 24 with never occurred. Larry King stopped short Chavez, who used his of condemning the Iranian trip to the United Nations president, whom Chavez has said is among Venezuela's closest allies. "I do not deny the Jewish Holocaust. And I condemn it," Chavez said. "Butin South America, when the Europe- ans arrived, there were close to 90 million Indians; 200 years later, we only had 4 million remaining. That was a holocaust. And the Europe - ans denied this holocaust." Tarantino From page 13A visitto Israel, said he had been anxious to see how an Israeli audience would react. His most recent films--the "Kill Bill" series did poorly here, with "Death Proof" vanishing just a week after hitting the screens. On stage at the premiere at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, the lanky Tarantino pumped up the audience waving his hands and shouting out, "So are you guys ready to kills some Nazis? Are you ready to f-ck up some Nazis? Let's get this mother f-cker started." A Haaretz reporter who attended the premiere said that Tarantino got what he was looking for, with enthu- siastic cheering and laughter throughout and a standing ovation to finish it off. She add- ed, "the excitement level could bejudgedby the fact that there was very little complaining, shouting or seat-shifting--all standards of the Israeli movie- going experience." (http:// spages/1115023.html) Leading the anti-cheering squad has been Schnitzer, the film critic for Maariv. "It's not that 'Inglorious Basterds' denies the Holo- caust. It's not that movies cannot make up history. It's simply that Quentin Tarantino has created yet another slasher film devoid of any morality, and this time he does it while ignoring the Holocaust." Schnitzer, himself the son of Polish Holocaust survivors (and named after a half-broth- er killed by the Nazis), writes that the amoral universe the film inhabits allows for "the creation of a reality where a Nazi is a cultural, polite, grace- ful and royal figure, and the Jews are barbarians, scalping men of the jungle. It's a ruse that [David] Irving could be proud of." In part for budgetary reasons almost all Israeli Holocaust-related films have focused on the stories of sur- vivors after the war, not the real-time action and events of the war itself. "Israelis have avery specific reaction to films dealing with the in what is permissible and what isn't," said Shmulik Duvdevani, the film critic for the website Y-Net, noting the special sen- sitivities here surrounding the Holocaust and its portrayal. "Jews are to be portrayed as victims and movies are to tell stories of extermination, not comic ones, but tragic ones and Tarantino does the opposite, taking everything to the most radical extreme," said Duvdevani. Uri Klein, the movie critic for Haaretz wrote that he pre- ferred Tarantino's approach, absurd and fictionalized as it was, to what he views as the sentimentality of Spielberg's "Schindler's List." It's a film Klein says he enjoyed for its vitality and even the problems it raises, explaining, "Tarantino is not Jewish, and I have a sense he does not know what it means to be a Jew. Maybe this is why it's easier for me to acceptwhat he does in the movie." Perhaps its also part of why the lines to see it are so long at Israeli movie theaters. Hardship From page 14A 80, now serves on the JFCS advisory committee that oversees Clancy's work with survivors. "I survived because peo- ple reached out to me," de Groot says. "So this has been a very important thing for me to do." In the 12 years he has worked with JFCS, he has seen deterioration in the quality of life for many local survivors. No one he knows of is homeless yet; no one is reduced to eating cat food for sustenance. But the struggle is real. "What you see now are people who really have to make decisions between buying their medicine or food, or paying their rent," de Groot says. "The number of clients keeps growing as the survivor population ages, but the allocations don't keep up with that." Friedman has seen the same phenomenon with the clients JFCS serves. She says fundraising for survivors has been a JFCS priority for the last seven years because the need has grown more urgent. "We have several people and lawyers who only work on reparations, getting them the money to which they are entitled," Fried- man says, "and we have several people doing case management, food delivery and social programs." One of those care manag- ers is Brian Brown, who co- ordinates JFCS' Holocaust Survivor Restitution Pro- gram. His caseload includes nearly 200 survivors, some who need occasional moni- toring, others requiring more intervention. "It's intensifying," Brown says. "Whereas a few years ago the needs were social- ization and transportation, it's advanced to more home care and now crisis situ- ations needing hands-on attention." Case in point: German- born Henry Falkenberg. At 82, he is a longtime fixture at Congregation Keneseth Israel in San Francisco. His family joined the syna- gogue in 1942 after fleeing the Gurs concentration camp (in Vichy France) and making it to America. Falkenberg became a diehard San Franciscan, built an insurance busi- ness and later became Mr. Everything at his shul. He has served as Torah/Talmud teacher, prayer leader and even chief cook and bottle washer for Shabbat meals. But after a fire gutted his rent-controlled apartment two years ago, his prayers for help were answered by JFCS. The agency swooped in, helped find him a new apartment, paid the de- posit, furnished it and even bought new linens. When Brown discovered Falkenberg's Holocaust connection, he helped him fill out the lengthy Claims Conference application. "The applications are traumatic, " Brown says. "You go through your ex- perience in the Holocaust, identify the core losses you suffered and the family loss. It's hard for people to do, and some don't want to go through the anguish and pain." Now Falkenberg receives a quarterly check from the Claims Conference. He is grateful for that and for the assistance from JFCS. "If you need help, you need help," he says. "What are you going to do?" Helen Taub asks herself the same question. She grew up in a Czech shtetl, the daughter of ob- servant parents. Though they and most of her ex- tended family died in Nazi gas chambers, she and her two sisters stuck together and survived Auschwitz. Even today she marvels at her resourcefulness. One cold gray morning, when her sister was about to faint during inspection (which would no doubt have led to her execution), Taub bit down hard on her sister's finger to snap her out of her daze. After a few years in a displaced persons camp in Cyprus, she moved to Israel, where she met her first husband, also a survi- vor. But her brother living in Oakland asked that she come visit. That was more than four decades ago, and she never looked back. Though she spoke no English, Taub found work in a toy factory. Divorced and raising her son alone, she saved every penny, and after remarrying, she moved to her Oakland condo. She and her late husband, Maurice, opened a key and lock shop on Park Boulevard. They were active with Congrega- tion Beth Jacob. Eventually, time took its toll. Maurice, 10 years her senior, died in 1999 from heart disease. Her own ailments have worsened, landing her in the hospital three times over the past year. She doesn't drive anymore, relying on rides from friends and neighbors. And then there are those bills: $4,000 for hearing aids. $3,500 owed to Kai- ser. Thousands more for dental work. With all her savings gone, Traub can- not keep up. "I don't have no more money, "she says. "I get $1,200 every three months from Germany. And Social Security. This is my money.,' The stress takes a toll. Taub says she can't even get relief at night. "When we were young," she says, "we never think of [the concentration camps]. Now I am old, I cannot sleep at night, thinking about ev- erything what I go through, when we were in Auschwitz [and] my parents. I say, what's happened to me? Now, my God, every night." She still enjoys baking, and every Friday the aroma of fresh-baked challah fills the condo. She gives them to the neighbors. Some go to her synagogue, Beth Jacob, whose congregants regularly check in on Taub. "The shul is the best in my life," she says. "When I was in hospital last year everybody came. Rabbi [Judah] Dardik is the best in the world. He came here on vacation and sit for an hour with me. I bake a cake for him, a challah for yontif. Every Shabbos I go there. Everybody loves me. I'm not complaining like other people." Love matters, but love alone will not keep Taub and scores of other sur- vivors from fear, illness, isolation and poverty. It requires a firm communal will to provide for those who endured the worst. "It's important for us to honor this population," Clancy says, "and partake in the responsibility of taking care of them with empathy and compassion." Adds the Claims Confer- ence's Schneider: "I often say we judge the genera- tion that came before us. How could they have let it happened? But I think our children will judge us for how we provide for the victims of the Shoah in their final years." Reprinted with permis- sion from j. the Jewish weekly of Northern Cali- fornia,