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December 24, 2004     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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December 24, 2004

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PAGE 14 By Matthew E. Berger WASHINGTON (JTA)--A year ago, being a moder- ate didn't help Sen. Joseph Lieberman. Trying to win the New Hampshire primaries and gain steam in his bid for the Democratic nomination for president, Lieberman was defending his support for the U.S. war in Iraq to Democratic voters angry about the conflict. Fast forward to the present day, however, and the Con- necticut senator's centrist approach has made him an important player in the Sen- ate, and possibly in the Bush administration. As the White House searched for a new secretary for the Homeland Security Department, many eyes are turning to Lieberman. He re- ceived ringingendorsements last week from several of his Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle, includ- ing Sen. Susan Collins (R- Maine), chair of the Senate Governmental Affairs Com- mittee, where Lieberman is the top Democrat. President Bush "said he wanted to reach across the aisle, and this would be a great way to do it," Collins By Carolyn Slutsky KRAKOW, Poland (JTA)--There's much more to Krakow's Jewish history than is depicted in Holocaust films. Indeed, when the city's Temple Synagogue was be- ing built between 1860 and 1862, Jewish life already had been thriving here for over 550 years. A ceremony and concert last week in the synagogue, which was restored in 2000, marked the 700th anniversary of Jewish life in Krakow. The event drew local and national dignitaries who delivered speeches on the historical and cultural significance of Jewish life in Krakow. "Jews helped build this town," said Mayor Jacek Majchrowski. "They were doctors, teachers, and today w i!~ Jews and Poles working b~ ~ ,' her we will ensure that t~ olocaustwill never hap- :,~ thisworld again."The ~achel Pomerance VYOR (JTA)--With Kofi m~,~n's backing, the United Nations appears poised to host its first commemorative ses- sion on the Holocaust. The U.N. secretary-general is sending letters to all mem- ber states asking for their sup- port for a special emergency session on Jan. 24 in honor of the 60th anniversary of tbc liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. A majority of member states, or at least 96, must a :,werwith aletter of support event to take place. "%ny observers expect it to happen. qts a no-cost opportu- said last Monday. "There's no doubt that Joe would provide strong leadership, and he's exceptionally well-qualified for the post. I think he'd be terrific." Lieberman also has been mentioned as a candidate to be the first national intelli- gence czar or U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Several media reports suggested the White House is courting the Jewish law- maker. Lieberman is spend- ing Chanukah with his fam- ily, and his spokesman, Matt Gobush, said he wasn't aware of any discussions with the Bush administration in the past few days. "He's not seeking a posi- tion in the administration, nor has he been offered one," Gobush said, noting that Li- eberman already has started efforts to run for Senate re- election in 2006. Even if he doesn't join Bush's team, Lieberman may get the kind of public exposure as a senator that he was seeking a year ago as a presidential candidate. As one of only a handful of moderate Democrats in next year's Senate, Lieberman may play a leading role as a bridge to the Republican ma- jority, and could be courted by both sides on key issues. exact year of the anniversary was determined by the first mention of Jewish street names in the city's archival records in 1304. Krakow's Jewish district used to be in the center of town near the main market square, near what are today Saint Anne Street and the main buildings of Jagiel- Ionian University. In 1495, Jews were effec- tively expelled from that area and moved to Kazimierz, which was separated from the rest of Krakow by the Wisla River. Jewish life flourished for hundreds of years in Kazimi- erz and in the nearby district of Podgorze, until the Nazis established a ghetto in Pod- gorze in 1940. Jews from all over the city were forced to give up their homes and move into the ghetto. It was liquidated in March 1943, and those who had survived the harsh ghetto life were marched to the nearby Plaszow la- bor camp, or deported to seems nity," said Felice Gaer, di- rector of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Human Rights at the American Jewish Com- mittee. Countries wilt be able to show their opposition to geno- cide without having to look for balancing language on other issues, she explained. The move comes amid a major lobbying effort led by the United States, with the backing of B'nai B'rith International. "We believe that it is impor- tant that the United Nations, an organization that rose out of the ashes of World War II and the Holocaust, mark this impol'tant occasion in a manner fitting its historical "Without people like John Breaux, who has retired, and without much of a southern wing left, there aren't a lotof people who can act as bridges and negotiators" said Stuart Rothenberg, an independent political analyst. "It's pos- sible Sen. Lieberman can adopt that role." Throughout his Senate career, Lieberman has made a name as a centrist on a wide range of issues, and as someone willing to cross party lines. Lieberman first received national attention for part- nering with conservative activist William Bennett to chastise the entertainment industry for excessive vio- lence in the media. He was one of the first Democrats to speak out against President Clinton amid the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He became best known during the 2000 presidential cycle, when AI Gore tapped him to be his running mate. Lieberman's public expres- sions of faith on the cam- paign trail were controver- sial, but he became a popular candidate in a controversial election, and the first Jew in modern times on a major party presidential ticket. However, his 2004 presi- dential campaign didn't get far off the ground, partially because he wasn't seen as liberal enough for a Demo- cratic Party sharply opposed to many Bush administra- tion policies, including the Iraq war But after Bush's re-elec- tion and a growth in Re- publican majorities in both houses of Congress, mod- erate Democrats could be important bridge-builders. A Democrat who speaks the language of faith, as Lieber- man often has demonstrat- ed, may be in even greater demand as Republicans win votes by stressing values. That may be what is at- tracting the White House. After Bernard Kerik with- drew his nomination for the homeland security job two weeks ago, admitting that he hired an illegal as a nanny, Republicans are said to be looking for someone who would be universally praised. "They want someone who is safe, problem-free and full of credibility," said Dan Ger- stein, a former communica- tions director for Lieberman. "No one fits that better than Joe Lieberman." Lieberman authored the legislation that created the Homeland Secu- the Belzec death camp in eastern Poland. Kazimierz lay fallow for some 50 years, a neighbor- hood of iow-income housing and high crime. After the fall of Communism in 1989 and the success of Stephen Spielberg's Holocaust film, "Schindler's List," in 1993, Kazimierz was revitalized: Synagogues were restored and Jewish-style restaurants opened. Today, the area is one of the largest tourist sites in Po- land, attracting Jewish and non-Jewish visitors from all over the world to glimpse the centuries-old history. Poland's new chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, ad- dressed this week's gather- ing. "We thank God for the past 700 years, and for the next," he said. Schudrich followed his remarks with a Hebrew prayer. Franciszek Cardinal Macharski, archbishop of Krakow and head of the province of Malopolska, also attended and spoke. The ceremony was followed by a concert showcasing Jewish cultural life, both old and new:. The Klezmer band KrokeIyiddish for Kra- kow--performed new interpretations of Klezmer classics. They were followed by Leopold Kozlowski, known as the last Klezmer of Gali- cia, who conducted a group of musicians and vocalists singing in Polish and in Yid- dish. Their show energized the audience of Holocaust survivors from Krakow and elsewhere in Poland, other local Krakowians and young Jews. At a reception following the concert, the complicated state of Jewish life in Poland today was on the minds of many guests. Daniel Bertram survived the war in the Soviet state of Georgia, and made his way back to his hometown of Kra- kow after the war ended. to mark lib significance," the U.S. ambas- sador to the United Nations, John Danfor th, wrote in a Dec. 10 letter to Annafi. Annan has lent his own outspoken support for a commemoration of the lib- eration. Six months ago, the United Nations hosted its first daylong conference to address growing worldwideanti-Semitism.An- nan introduced the event and spoke about the concentration camp anniversary. "My friends, next Janu- ary it will be 60 years since the first of the death camps were liberated by advancing Soviet forces. There could be no more fitting time for member states to take action on the necessity of combat- ing anti-Semitism in all its forms," Annan said. He referred to a recent resolution adopted by the Commission on Human Rights to protect Muslims and "Arabs, asking, "Are not Jews entitled to the same degree of concern and protection?" The special session would address the liberation anniversarywith speeches. At the same time, a Holocaust exhibit, sponsored by Israel, is slated to open in U.N. halls on Jan. 24 and will last through early March. Another exhibit of pho- tographs taken by youth who have visited camps will be mounted at the United Nations next month by the HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 24, 200~HER~ rity Department and was a key proponent of the intel- ligence overhaul that passed Congress two weeks ago. And unlike Sen. John Mc- Cain (R-Ariz.), who often crosses party lines to sup- port Democratic initiatives, Rothenberg said Lieberman has not met with animosity from within his own party for doing so. Gerstein and other ana- lysts'say it's unlikely that Lieberman will leave the Senate. For starters, his replacement in the Senate would be selected by Con- necticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican. There would be a great deal of pressure on Lieberman not to increase the Senate's Republican majority. And some believe Lieber- man still harbors animos- ity over the 2000 election, in which Gore and he won the popular vote, while the Florida results--which proved divisive~remained unclear for weeks. Instead, Lieberman likely will become a senior statesman in the Senate, liberated from the politi- cal correctness imposed on national political candidates and able to speak his mind at all times. "When I returned my whole family was gone, 18 people murdered," he said. Bertram found his apartment had been taken over, and when he tried to get a passport out of Poland he was denied. Today Bertram remains in Krakow, near where his great-grandfather lived, and prays at the Orthodox Remuh synagogue. Though the war changed everything, Krakow is still his home, he said. "I'm a native," he said, "I come from an old Kra- kow family." It's difficult to count the number of Jews in Poland today because of the displacement of Jews during World War II and the subse- quent Communist regime, but Schudrich estimated the country that was once home to 3.5 million Jews now has upward of 20,000. That num- ber is growing, he said. Oia Wilczura, head of the Krakow branch of the Polish Union of Jewish Stu- dents, was skeptical about the future of Jewish life in Poland. "Most Krakowian frc International Auschwitz Committee. Along with Danforth's letter two weeks ago came appeals from Canada, the 25 member states of the Euro- pean Union, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. On Monday, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), the only Holocaust survivor in the U.S. Congress, met with Annan to press for the session. Lantos and B'nai B'rith said Arab countries privately had opposed the session. Several calls seeking response from Arab U.N. delegations were unsuccessful. Lantos cosponsored a letter with Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) in the U.S. House of JOSEPH LIEBERMAN "It was natural that was going to evolve role," Gerstein said. he speaks on somethin people listen." AlreadY, Lieberman is workin with Sen. Olympia (R-Maine) to relaunch Centrist Coalition, a of 10 senators who will push for moderate approaches economic, cultural and cial issues. "He's showing he can still have a major influence direction of the country fror~ the Senate, and I think will continue to do so a5 long as he's there," stein said. Jews go abroad to Israel of the U.S " she said. Most Poles with roots come from intermar ried families---a er was hidden or converted, for example, or a father negated his Judaism the Communist era. For these Poles to Judaism is a complex pro cess. They can be by the Orthodoxy of the ficial Jewish in Poland, and many seek alternatives that will allo~ them to embrace their ish roots without a total shift in character. Wilczura noted that Krakow, "the doesn't have young peor Polish and Jewish roots. need education, and it's not so easy." In the midst of th~ celebration, Wilczura consid" ered the present in Polish Jewish life. if there would be an 800t~ anniversary of Jewish life Krakow, she uncertainly. Representatives callin nan to hold a special on the occasion. A similar letter in the Se0" ate was sponsored by George Voinovich and Christopher Dodd Ct.). Both were expected to be sent to Annan last week. For its part, Jewish bying yet on the issue ing countries for their Gaer said. B'nai B'rith is a bit tentative. "We at B'nai Brith attl o n~ for pport not taking any country t~ . . -old./ tie inl~ granted, said Amy t; .i T'" stein, the group's director O] timen.~ U.N. affairs "