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August 11, 1978 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-08-11

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


12 Friday, August 11, 1918


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The book shelf of every
Jewish home can now be en-
riched by the authentic and
exciting biography of a
Jewish hero of our time, the
heroic rabbi of Nazi Ger-
many, Rabbi Leo Baeck.
Although the title of
Leonard Baker's book is
grim, "Days of Sorrow and
Pain — Leo Baeck and the
Berlin Jews," (Macmillan)
the content is stirring and
Many a rabbi in Jewish
history became a martyr,
gave up his life "Al Kidush
Hashem"— for the sanctifi-
cation of the name of God.
Rabbi Baeck, however was
not a martyr. He lived for
his people and thereby gave
the gift of life to thousands
of Jews. So powerful was his
personality that he was able
to defy Hitler. The Nazis
were afraid to touch him.
He was the kind of Jew
Hitler had never known
or imagined — a man
unmistakably German,
speaking and writing in
the purest German style,
yet carrying his Jewish
identity proudly and with
dignity. He survived the
concentration camps and
the Holocaust unscathed.
He kept the promise he
made at the beginning of
the Nazi regime "I will go
when I am the last Jew
alive in Germany."
His supreme courage and
astute statesmanship made
it possible for more than a
third of the Jews of Ger-
many to escape the gas
chambers and find new lives
in America, in Israel and
elsewhere. Other, younger,
rabbis left their doomed
fatherland with his bles-
sing. He stayed. While there
was a single Jew left in
Germany who might need
him, he stayed.
On a visit to Germany in
1929, I met Rabbi Leo
Baeck. I was having lunch

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with my friend, Morris
Waldman (whom many
readers will remember as
the founder of the Jewish
Welfare Federation of De-
troit) in one of the great re-
staurants of Berlin, when a
tall, distinguished looking,
dark haired young man
came in. Everybody in the
place seemed to recognize
him. He was already at the
time chief rabbi of Berlin.
Waldman beckoned him
to our table and introduced
me. Rabbi Baeck was glad to
meet a young rabbi from
America, and he offered to
show me his favorite
synagogue, the Progressive
Synagogue called, the
Fasanenstrasse Synagogue,
the Pheasant Street
Synagogue. It proved to be a
memorably beautiful
example of the new type of
synagogue architecture for
which Berlin had become
famous. I especially ad-
mired its double dome.
Many years later I was
to see it again — as the
ruin which Hitler's Storm
Troopers had made of it
on Kristallnacht, "The
Night of Broken Glass,"
that night of Nov. 9, 1938,
when Hitler carried out
his first physical assault
upon the Jews of Ger-
many, ordering his Storm
Troopers to break into
Jewish owned shops and
to destroy all
In the spring of 1957 I was
in Germany again at the in-
vitation of the Federal Re-
public of West Germany to
witness the rebirth of Ger-
man democracy and the new
conditions of Jewish life in
post-Nazi Germany. I was
walking along that sparkl-
ing shopping avenue of
West Berlin, the Kur-
fuerstendam, when my eye
was attracted by a cross
street sign
Fasanenstrasse. It rang a
bell in my memory. Instinc-
tively I turned to walk along
that street until I came
upon a magnificent ruin —
the Pheasant Street
Synagogue, Leo Baeck's
favorite synagogue. I recog-
nized the double dome even
in the ruins
When I returned to my
hotel that day, I found a
telephone message from
Heinz Galinski, the director
of the Jewish Community
Office in Berlin. He invited
me to appear at the site of
the Fasanenstrasse
Synagogue ruin to partici-
pate in the ground-breaking
for the new Jewish com-
munity center and

synagogue which the Berlin
government was building.
This was part of a West
German reparations plan
for the rebuilding of all the
Nazi-ruined synagogues of
Germany and of Europe.
The architect's design
for the new building cal-
led for the inclusion of
some of the surviving
elements of Baeck's
synagogue in the new
structure — a living wit-
ness to the shame of
Nazism and the beauty of
democracy. The spirit of
the heroic Rabbi Baeck
lives in that new center
which I visited on a third
arrival in Germany,
again at the invitation of
the German government.
No Jew should regard his
tour of Europe complete
without seeing that re-
markable monument to
the rabbi as hero, Rabbi
Leo Baeck. I am person-
ally proud to have
touched that great man's
life, even if ever so

I have to admit that the
early chapters of the book
which delineate the pulpit
career of a scholarly young
German rabbi may appear
to be too uneventful for the
average reader, but when
this story of Rabbi Baeck
arrives at the Nazi period,
the book comes alive, be-
comes a thrilling story, and
even the average lay reader
cannot put the book down
until he has finished it. This
biography of the ideal rabbi
turns out to be one of the
finest examples of the epic
literature of the Holocaust.

Teacher Training
for Russian Jews

Twenty young Soviet Jews
will enter Brooklyn College
this fall, benefitting from
the collaborative efforts of
school and Board of Higher
Education officials, and Un-
ited Jewish Appeal-
Federation of Jewish
Philanthropies Joint
Campaign-supported agen-
The 20 entering freshmen
will begin a unique, new
Russian offering in Brook-
lyn College's bilingual
teacher-training program.
Teacher training pre-
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bilingual education at the
elementary school level. A
second bilingual package,
as yet only in the early
stages of development, is
slated to offer students pre-
paration to teach in junior
and senior high schools.

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