THE JEWISH NEWS
Incorporating The Detroit Jewish Chronicle commencing with the issue of July 20, 1951
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• Associate News Editor
Sabbath Scriptural Selections
This Sabbath, the 18th day of Sivan, 5741, the following scriptural selections will be read in our synagogues:
Pentateuchal portion, Numbers 13:1-15:41. Prophetical portion, Joshua 2:1-24.
Candle lighting, Friday, June 19, 8:52 p.m.
VOL. LXXIX, No. 16
Friday, June 19, 1981
POPULARITY OR SURVIVAL
Long before the Israel pre-emptive attack on
the French-installed nuclear reactor in Iraq, Dr.
Chaim Weizmann, first president of Israel, de-
scribed non-Jewish attitudes on Jews as wel-
coming their being in a museum. Then Jews
would always be admired in the memory of na-
tions. The Zionist leader commented in a time
when there was little support for the Jewish
cause and a very minimal amount of assistance
when millions of Jews were under the heels of
The Weizmann definition of the Jewish role is
now termed "popularity versus survival" as a
choice for Israel, as scrutinized by Israel Am-
bassador to the U.S. Ephraim Evron. Golda
Meir used it as an argument at the United Na-
tions and in diplomatic circles when she rejected
an invitation for Jews to be obedient at a time
when they needed to fight for survival.
Menahem Begin said the same thing, even if in
As a matter of fact, this idea was expressed
decades ago in a book by Maurice Samuel which
he entitled "Jews Be Nice," in rebuttal of invita-
tions for Jews not to be protesting and to be
submissive. Samuel's views were widely de-
bated and "Jews Be Nice" was a subject for dis-
pute for a number of years. In Israel, the defini-
tion for th e right to live even if the battle for it
arouses unpopularity was repeated in what re-
sulted in a most sensational military act. The
great military tactics are admired but the act
itself was subjected to many attacks. Both are
understandable. Israel has proven military
genius to be admired and therefore to be envied.
The daring was to be subjected to criticism be-
cause of the Arab powers as oil magnates upon
whom the world is deeply dependent.
The hypocrisy that has evidenced a readi-
ness to condemn Israel, seldom calling her ad-
versaries to task, is repeated all-too-often. It is
not surprising that so many newspapers, and
Israel's traditional enemies, should have joined
in renewed attacks on the Jewish state. Never-
theless, the title of one newspaper editorial, "Is-
rael's Illusion," can be summarized as "delu-
sion." It is not a delusion that Israel is under
threat of being annihilated. Israel's enemies are
a reality and Israel treats them as such.
There is a war in progress. Iraq threatens
Israel's annihilation. They are not empty words.
"Jihad" is a common Arab war slogan. Under
such circumstances the shock caused in Israel
by the suspension of plane shipments is distres-
sing to a friend in need.
The U.S.-Israel friendship will not be halted.
The planes crisis is not even a temporary sus-
pension of amity and respect for the American
sense of justice. When the normal relations are
fully resumed that friendship should be even
stronger than ever. All that is sought is recogni-
tion of fair play on the basis of which the great
republic in the West recognizes the democratic
genius of the friend in the East.
An ever-expanding bookshelf containing the scores of volumes
dealing with the Holocaust acquired another report of the courage
that marked the survival of a family of four. They lived to tell the tale
and the faith that sustained them, the will to live, was an act of great
courage which overcame the horrors that accompanied them at every
"We Lived in a Grave" (Shengold Publishers) is the story re-
vealed by Helen Kotlar who lived to narrate it and to tell how she, her
husband Hersh, her daughters Goldele and Bashka, 4 1/2 years old and
six months, respectively, survived the five-year period of agonies
which commenced in 1940. They lived to tell the tale of being the only
members of the community of 5,000 of Kurov, in the vicinity of
Lublin, who lived to relate what had happened to that Polish Jewish
Mrs. Kotlar's story of the years of wandering, the family's search
for shelter, the survival, in an article-in Yiddish that was printed in
the Yizkor volume of the Kurov community published in Israel. It is
now offered in an English translation from the Yiddish by the emi-
nent Hebrew educator Judah Pilch.
Much of what is related in "We Lived in a Grave" matches other
stories of struggles to survive. In the instance of the Kotlar story it is
the evidence of a woman who held fast to the will to live, who ran with
her family literally from pillar to post, who was able to enlist the aid of
Argentinian Jewish leadership now claims that
friendly Christian Poles while witnessing the acts of many who were
it did not hesitate to concern itself with oppres-
unfriendly and were jubilant over the tragedies inflicted on Jews by
sion, then there remains the right to resort to
The Nazi brutalities are reported in their many details and they
firm action, even if it involves one's own gov-
will horrify the readers. The occasional acts of kindness from non-
Jews provide comfort that villainy is not total in a population domi-
In this country and in Great Britain, Jews did
nated by beasts.
not hesitate to be challenging whenever there
Yet, there is the additional expose of the inhuman factor that
was the judgment of injustice. This applies to all
emerged during the Nazi era and the bestialities in the form of the
other countries. It included Argentina. The ex-
Judenrat, the Jewish councils that were organized by the Nazis to
tended discussions over the Timerman attitude
select Jews for the forced labor services organized by the Hitler hordes
and his attacks on Argentinian leadership will
and the eventual road to the death camps for many.
The indictment of the Judenrat is forceful in the Helen Kotlar
surely be clarified in the process of discussion,
as long as the facts are not being hidden. At any story. There is even the element of Pidyan Shvuyim, of ransom for the
oppressed, in the evidence provided of payments demanded to ease the
rate, Jacobo Timerman's courage in tackling
the issues that affected him and relate to human sufferings of the oppressed and tormented.
While exposing the brutalities of those who sought ransoms and
rights can not be denied, and is in no sense
robbed the victims, Mrs. Kotlar expresses understanding of the Poles
who could not offer help because they were under threat and domina-
tion by the Nazis.
were numerous separations and in the search for sht
Tragic memories sadden the assembly of the there There
were the friendly Poles who themselves risked their lives by
many thousands of survivors from the Nazi
being 'humanly kind to the Kotlars who were together in a final
death camps in Israel this week.
resting place they called "the grave," the "kever" which led to their
Never before have so many with such bitter eventual survival.
recollections gathered under such conditions.
A friendly priest was among the providers of help for the Kotlars.
They were in the hundreds of thousands when
He protected them by retaining the funds they had and releasing it
they escaped. Now they share memories that whenever they needed it.
The arrival of the Russians after they were in hiding in the
carry with _them the declaration that the in-
"kever" for 28 months brought the liberation which ended the family's
humanities are never to be repeated again.
For the many thousands who share the same horrors.
Even during the liberation there were anti-Semitic Poles who
agonies there is also the duty of admonishing an molested
the survivors and Jews in the Russian military came to their
indifferent and forgetful mankind that for an rescue.
assurance of non-repetition of the atrocious
The Kotlars now live in Los Angeles. They financed a monument
barbarities there must be a remembrance of in memory of the Six Million at Temple Beth El in Los Angeles. The
what had occurred. It is with such a weapon that moving story by Mrs. Kotlar adds to the testimony exposing the
mankind mobilizes to prevent the recurrence of bestialities of the Nazis and the horrors perpetrated by their col-
the Nazi terror.
FREEDOM TO PROTEST
Jacobo Timerman was a hero. He defied the
Argentinian system under which many
thousands were subjected to tormenting experi-
ences in jails or house arrests, and many van-
His book depicting his own miseries was
widely acclaimed and its veracity is not being
challenged. Yet, he is now the subject of many
disputes involving charges of Argentinian
anti-Semitism as well as that government's
treatment of the Jewish population.
Primarily, he has become the subject for criti-
cism because he has accused Jewish leadership
of a failure to speak out against existing prej-
, There are many facts that coincide with the
Timerman story and some are under dispute. It
is claimed that Jews are not oppressed and their
rights as -a community are not suppressed. It is
claimed, rightfully, that insofar as anti-
Semitism is concerned there is much of it even
in the United States.
Yet, there remains that basic challenge of
Jewish spokesmanship involvement. Jewish
leaders in Argentina not only deny that they
were silent, they even claim they had a role in
the, Timerman release and his eventual settle-
ment in Israel. Timerman continues to be criti-
cal of leadership not only in Argentina but also
in Israel. This presents a need to evaluate re-
There must have been grave concern over the
position of Argentinian Jewry, and on that score
there may have been hesitancy in speaking out.
That could be subjected to severe criticism. If
Elegy of Surviving Family:
Tragedy Marked by Faith