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August 03, 1973 - Image 33

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1973-08-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Lashon Kodesh

By DR. SAMUEL J. FOX

(Copyright 1972, JTA, Inc.)

The Hebrew language is
referred to as "Lashon Ko-
desh" (the Holy Language).
A number of reasons are
offered for this. Some say it
is because Hebrew is the
language of pr a y e r and
prayer is a holy experience
because it is a means of com-
munication with the Al-
mighty. Maimonides (Guide
to the Perplexed 3:8) dem-
onstrates that there are no
original formal names for
the sex organs in the Hebrew
language, evidently because
the Hebrew language is a
-language of holiness. Thus,
round-about, indirect expres-
sions are used ins t ea d .
Nachmanides (in his com-
mentary Exodus 30:13) ex-
plained that Hebrew is a holy
tongue because the scrip-
Ires were revealed by the
almighty in this language to
the people of Israel and their
prophets. In contrast to this
opinion, it is interesting to
note that there are some who
claim that the revelation at
Sinai was given simultane-
ously in 70 languages. Since
the Hebrews received it in
Hebrew, the Hebrew lan-
guage is a holy tongue to
them.

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Masters' Biography of Hannah Senesh:
Powerful in Describing Heroine's Life
Story and History of Nazism in Hungary

Anthony Masters proves a
master researcher and a
good reporter in his biogra-
phy of Hannah Senesh pub-
lished by St. Martin's Press
under the title "The Summer
That Bled." Utilizing all
available data about the her-
oine of the last war who vol-
unteered to be a parachutist
in an effort to assist the un-
derground in Hungary, Mas-
ters has added historical
data. Actually, his biography
is as much a history of the
horrors that were perpetrat-
ed by the Nazis and their
collaborators in Hungary as
it is the story of the brave
and idealistic young girl who
was executed by the brutal
Hungarian prison squad just
before Hungary was liberat-
ed from the Germans by the
Russians.
Masters made much use
of "Hannah Senesh — Her
Life and Diary," translated
by Marta Cohn, published by
Schocken, reviewed in The
Jewish News March 31, 1972.
The heroine's own world, the
poems she had written, the
data that accompanied these
creative literary products of
a brilliant young girl, guide
a biographer towards his
goal.
The biographer did much
more, however. He contacted
the associates of Hannah,
her mother, people in the
Zionist movement who were
acquainted with her efforts.
He compiled facts about Hun-
garian Jewry and the terror
into which they were sub-
jected.
Thus, "The Summer That
Bled" is a history of the
events that marked the de-
struction of a community
that had grown to 1,000,000,
nearly all of whom were
murdered by the Nazis in
the death camps to which
they were deported.
It is this deportation pro-
cess that becomes vital in
the Masters' story of Hannah
Senesh. The new biography is

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Sophie Ruskay's Reminiscences

Sophie Ruskay is a re-
markable woman. She has
played many roles in Jewish
life. She has written delight-
ful stories. Now she relates
her impressions of her home
city of New York, the ex-
periences in the early years
of this century, her family
life.
In "Horsecars and Cobble-
stones" published by Barnes
she tells about the life of
New Yorkers when there
were the cobblestones — and
the horsecars. She relates a
lot more — about the influ-
ence of wholesale parental
environment, the children,
the people she met, the man
she married and for a mar-
riage that resulted in her
abandoning her studies at
Barnard College.
The man she married,
Cecil B. Ruskay, illustrated
this interesting book, and he
adds immensely to the in-
terest her stories will arouse.
Mrs. Ruskay had written
an earlier volume that was
published by Barnes—"The
Jelly Woman" — in which
she incorporated a number
of wholesome stories.
Autobiographically, she re-
constructs the Jewish scenes
in New York more than 50
years ago. Her Hebrew
studies which she com-
menced at the age of 6, the
books she read, the impres-
sions that were left by the
Dreyfus Case and many his-
toric events — all relate to
a life so dedicated to Jewish
issues that Mrs. Ruskay

naped by the anti-Semitic
Arrow Cross, Miklos Kalley
defied the Nazis in their de-
mands that Jews be aban-
doned to the fate of Nazism.
Admiral Miklos Horthy sim-
ilarly resisted Nazi pres-
sures.

HANNAH SENESH

an alternation — it keeps
turning from Hannah to the
roles that were played by
the Hungarian Jewish Coun-
cil, Joel Brand and
Kastner. It gives a full ac-
count of the Kastner trial in
Israel, his exoneration, his
assassination, and the details
of their activities in Hun-
gary in behalf of their peo-
ple are especially vital.
Thus, drawing especially
upon the record compiled by
A'..: Weissberg under the
title "Advocate for the Dead:
Story of Joel Brand," and
other available data, Masters
keeps relating the frustrated
position of Brand who was
detained by the British in
Cairo after he had gone to
Turkey in the effort to make
a deal initiated by Adolf
Eichmann for the barter of
Jews for trucks and materials
to be given the Germans;
and the paralleled activities
of Kastner within Hungary
in the continued negotiations
with Eichmann and his lieu-
tenants.
That is why the Senesh
story becomes a review also
of the Eichmann case, the
Nazi mass murderer's chief
prosecutor Gideon Hausner
being quoted frequently; a
reference to all the tensions
and the horrors that were ex-
perienced as lorry after
lorry of Jews was being sent
to Auschwitz.
Masters' biography gives
an account of Hannah's early
life, her adoption of Zionism
as her life's goal, her settle-
ment in Palestine and her
craving for action which
leads her into volunteering
for service with the British
as a parachutist emissary to
her native land.
The tragic meetings with
her mother after she was ar-
rested when her mission fail-
ed as she was leaving Yugo-
slavia where she had landed
with fellow-parachutists. Her
mother's arrest and suffer-
ing and eventual escape —
after her daughter was exe-
cuted — is part of a deeply
moving dramatic chapter in
the struggle for freedom un-
der Nazism.
Hannah's brother George
had come to Palestine the
day before she left on her
futile mission. With his
mother he now lives in Is-
rael and they are living tes-
timony to the most moving
story of loyalty to Zionism
and martyrdom f o r the
cause.
Masters' story exposes the
Hungarian collaboration with
the Nazis. But there were
also the resisters, those who
refused to assist in deport-
ing Jews to the death camps.
As prime minister, until he
was disposed and later kid-

Compiling data regarding
efforts also injected into his
story the role Saly Mayer
who conferred with) Nazis
from Switzerland, in behalf
of the Joint Distribution Com-
mittee, and on occasions, on
the Swiss-German border, to.
gether with Kastner. Regret.
tably, this story is incom-
plete in Masters and hardly
corresponds with all the
facts. There is a rebuke to
Mayer that does not fit into
actual data regarding the
Jewish spokesman's role.
There is an inaccuracy
when Masters refers to a
Stettinus as a head of the
American State Department,
and in the index he is listed
as Swiss Minister. Could he
have meant Edward Reilley
Stettitinius who was U.S.
secretary of state at the
time?

Hannah's fellow parachu-
tists, especially Reuven Daf-
ne, who later rose to high
rank in Israel's diplomatic
service, and Yoel Palgi, are
important in the cast of
characters in the Masters
biography.

earned well the description
of being one of the notable
Jewish women of the cen-
tury.
Her interest in Zionism is
among the impressively
idealistic devotions ascrib-
able to her.
Mrs. Ruskay's "Horsecars
and Cobblestones" is a truly
delightful collection of rem-
iniscences well worth reading
as a chapter of merit in New
York Jewry's history.

The Hebrew University
In the depths of our hea - %.
we shall feel that the pur-
pose of this university is to
express our soul and to look
out onto the world from our
own point of view, conveying
to it the fruits of our own
particular c ultur e. — Dr.
Chaim Weizmann, address at
inauguration of the Hebrew
University, 1925.

We can plant wheat every
year, but people who are
starving die o n 1 y once. —
Fiorello LaGuardia.

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Anthony Masters is em-
phatic in his indictment of
the world powers as having
shared guilt for the death
of millions of Jews under
Nazism. While criticizing
Rerso Kastner at the same
time giving due credit for
sincerity to Joel Brand, he
showed that the Allies were
aware of what was happen.
ing.

Throughout the biography,
he provides evidence of the
Allies' indifference towards
the Jewish position and the
obstacles that were placed
in the path of seekers of
escape from the horrors. An
instance is the sinking in
1941 of the Struma with 769
aboard — only one surviving.
There are inaccuracies in
the Masters story, yet it is
filled with so many details
of what happened that it
serves a very valuable pur-
pose in assuring an interest
not only in the heroine he
depicts but also in the hor-
rors he exposes. "The Sum-
mer That Bled" thus con-
tains power as biography
and as history. —P.S.

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