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CARMI M. SLOMOVITZ
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Sabbath Scriptural Selections
This Sabbath, the 27th day of Shevat, 5739, the following scriptural selections will be read in our synagogues:
Pentateuchal portion, Exodus 21:1-24:18; 30:11-16. Prophetical portion, II Kings 12:1-17.
Tuesday and Wednesday, Rosh Hodesh Adar, Numbers 28:1-15
Candle lighting, Friday; Feb. 23, 5:57 p.m.
VOL. LXXIV, No. 25
Friday, February 23, 1979
Iran: Learning from the Past
Iran not only captured--..the headlines: it re-
tains them and the entire world is in a state of
uncertainty over that nation's future and the
effects of its rioting and civil war will have both
on the future and on the peoples in that area of
For Jews, there is a repetitive historic lesson
in Iran, with the usual uncertainty of how to
solve matters, how to relate past experiences to
the occurrences of the present time, which way
people who are embroiled in a revolution should
turn for safety from oncoming dangers.
Iranian Jewry is being advised to send its
children to Israel, if they cannot either save
themselves or -choose to abandon their ancient
homeland and adopt the Jewish state as their
place of refuge.
As a matter of fact, Iranian Jews are not
united on the subject of seeking refuge any-
where. Many, perhaps most of those who remain
there, seem bent upon retaining Iranian citi-
zenship. That's the confidence they have in
their country's returning to normalcy. Of the
approximately 10,000 who have left Iran, only
about 1,100 are said to have expressed a desire
- to remain in Israel.
What does this mean, and how can anyone
realistically advise a largecommunity of people
who are torn between being rooted in a land of
their birth and of escaping from what may prove
a calamity for them if they remain.
Like Jews everywhere, Iranians have a loy-
alty to the land of their birth. They trace a
history of more than 2,200 years. They turn to
the period under Cyrus the Great who helped in
Israel's redemption and from whose time there
was a home for Jews in Iran.
But there also were massacres of Jews under
Islamic rule. There were mass conversions of
Jews in Iranian villages when Mohammedans
confronted them with a choice of life as Muslims
or death if they rejected the offer.
Nevertheless, there was a period of calm and
Jews are well established in Iran. Now they face
an Islamic domination which is anti-Israel and
which, while pledging security for Jews and
their institutions, nevertheless is marked by
Who and how are these people to be advised?
Are they to be told that Iran could be like Poland
in the 1930s, when hundreds of thousands could
have saved themselves but chose to remain
where their businesses were in progress?
The record speaks for itself: of the three-
and-a-half million Jews in Poland, about 7,000
old men and women remain, mostly in Warsaw
and Cracow. •
Should the Iranian Jews be admonished to
judge - themselves as the Jews of Germany
should have when Hitler was rising to power?
Of the 600,000 German Jews, some 25,000 re-
main. They, too, would have been listed among
the Six Million victims of Nazism, except for
those with vision who left in time to save them-
selves, even if they had to abandon their pos-
sessions, the homes they cherished, the loyal-
ties they had for the Germany they loved.
Are the Iranians in the same position as the
German and East European Jews who went to
It is doubtful whether this, the Holocaust, can
be repeated now that there is an Israel to wel-
come .the oppressed and the threatened. But
who is to advise Iranian and other Jews to pack
up, to seek transportation if that is available
and to settle in Israel? They have a. homeland
they love, possessions they labored for.
Thus, while history has its lessons, it is dif-
ficult to learn them. It is even more difficult to
apply them. These are the tricks of history.
World Jewry, humans everywhere, `hope and
pray that neither Jews nor their neighbors in
Iran will be tricked into oblivion.
Brotherhood in an Era of Evil
In the 50 years of its activities as the nation's
good-will movement, the National Conference
of Christians and Jews has never been con-
fronted with challenges as serious as the cur-
Never before have as many areas in the world
been involved in as many obstructions to amity
as the present.
Never before have there been as many sus-
picious trends in group relations as the pre-
True: the accomplishments have been im-
mense, progress has been reached in improving
race relations, blacks and whites are in greater
accord. But the suspicions lurk everywhere, in-
citements to hatred have not subsided, people
walk in jitters on public avenues the moment
the sun sets, and neighborliness is lacking the
social kindliness that is normal in a free society.
That is why the call to action for the obser-
vance of the 1979 Brotherhood Week is so vital
and requires so much earnestness in its obser-
President Carter made a good point by stat-
ing, in his Brotherhood Week message:
"Brotherhood and sisterhood begin with re-
spect. And respect was the foundation upon
which the National Conference of Christians
and Jews has built a wonderful reputation for
civic and humanitarian work."
Dr. David Hyatt, the president of the Na-
tional Conference of Christians and Jews, the
parent organization of the Detroit Round Table,
realistically urges that the spirit of good will
should be means for human involvement and
the advancement of the spirit of cooperation
among all elements in the American society on
a 52-week-a-year basis. This also should be a
major aim of the movement that seeks the
abandonment of prejudice and hate. The pro-
gress,. already attained in that direction must be
made the spirit of true American and basic
`King of the Jews' Relates
Tragedy of the Judenrat
Who were the Jewish collaborators with the Nazi rulers in East-
ern Europe? Were they Jewish traitors or did they assist, as many
claimed in the rescue of Jews under their domination?
Judenrat was the Jewish council that functioned under the Nazis
as supervisors of the status of Jews who were to be selected for
shipment to the death camps. They often held the fate of those sub-
jected to their whims under their supreme power. They also had
opportunities to save some.
"King of the Jews" by Leslie Epstein (Coward, McCann and
Geoghegan) is the story of such a Jew. Trumpleman, the personifica-
tion of a Lodz Jew who headed the Judenrat, emerges as a power in
this deeply moving, brilliantly written novel. He began by posing and
practicing as a doctor, in a Jewish village under Nazi rule, he rose to
power as head of the Jewish council and the novelist Epstein from
then on portrays the role of a man who dominated, who was ruthless,
who loved children, but was stern in selecting deportees for concen-
tration and death camps.
The Judenrat portrayal is brutal and is a reminder of one of the
most tragic factors in Hitler's rule, of the Nazi terror that also utilized
Jews as means of performing their devilish purposes.
Trumpleman, however, also is a power unto himself. - His photo
appears on concentration camp currehcy, on postage stamps.
There were heads of Judenrat councils who were driven to mad-
ness. Some committed suicide. The Trumpleman role is unique in its
cruelties: Yet there remains the claims that he, like others, sent
hundreds to their doom in order to rescue thousands. Is this a reason-
able defense of the dictatorships ofJews who served as Nazi agents in
the era of the occupation of horror?
Epstein's "King of the Jews" does more than provide good reading
of a horror story which also is filled with many fascinating incidents of
the power of Nazi rule in Eastern Europe. It kept alive an interest in
one of the tragic chapters related to the Holocaust, the Epstein ac-
count serving to reveal the role ofJews who were utilized by the Nazi
beasts to serve as their means of subduing Jewish resistance and of
submitting to the brutalities.
It is not a new story. Several volumes have been published deal-
ing with the Judenrat. Isaiah Trunk's "Judenrat," a Stein and Day
book, was a National Book Award winner three years ago.
Dr. Trunk's and related books on the subject were historical?
documentary. Now, in Leslie Epstein's novel, Judenrat is as fiction.
Will it inspire further study, to assure acquaintance with facts,
both in the interest of historical truth as well as for an understanding
of the characters who dominated the Jewish councils and were in most
instances humans who resisted the pressures and in others actually
were selfish collaborators who relished being authoritarian and
domineering, power-seeking and indifferent to the sufferings of fellow
The facts themselves are always more valid than the imaginary
or whatever calls for transforming history into fiction. The latter
process has often helped encourage study of the facts. In the case of the
Holocaust, the Resistance, the repulsing of collaborations, one must
insist that facts are more important. As one famous historian once put
it, "History Is Stranger Than Fiction." This is the way to judge the
story of Jewish experience.
Leslie Epstein's is a notable account of a tragic chapter in the
history of Nazi brutalities. It is fiction yet it throws light on the
horrors and inspires additional reading. It serves an impressive liter-
ary and historical purpose.