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November 08, 1985 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-11-08

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16

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, November 8, 1985

SURVIVORS WILL MARK 30TH ANNIVERSARY

CLOSE-UP

Suffering The Pain

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Left to right – Abraham A. Weberman, President; Sonia Popowski, Program chairman and Treasurer; Martin H.
Rose, Past President; Simon Schwarzberg, First Vice President

Shaarit Haplaytah Organization of Metropolitan Detroit — Survivors of Nazi genocide era — will celebrate
its 30th anniversary at a dinner-dance Sunday evening, November 17th at 6:30 o'clock at B'nai David
Synagogue, announced Abraham Weberman, president and Sonia Popowski, programming and cultural chair-
'
man.
Making the announcement Popowski and Weberman pointed out that the underlying motivations and pur-
poses for organizing the group were to assist the survivors in achieving a successful transition and adjust-
ment to the new life after the Holocaust, to effect a gradual synthesis of the old Jewish traditional, reli-
gious,cultural and historic values with the noble heritage of American life, to extend financial aid and free loans
to the needy. to support the State of Israel and perpetuate the memory of the Six Million.
The concern for the welfare, security and destiny of the people of Israel continues to be expressed
through various activities which include State of Israel Bonds dinners, support of Jewish National Fund, Israel
Cancer Association, orphanages, aid for the wounded soldiers, yeshivoth and other charitable causes (includ-
ing some local). Since 1967 Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel's National Emergency Medical, Blood and Ambu-
lance Service became the main recipient of organization's philanthropic efforts. According to Dr. John J.
Mames, Chairman of the Michigan Region, American Red Magen David for Israel, Shaarit Haplaytah contrib-
uted three fully equipped ambulances, sponsored rooms at the First Aid Medical Centers in Ashdod and Haifa,
became the pillar of the new ultra modern National Blood Bonk and Fractionation Center (presently under con-
struction in Ramat Gan) sponsored several MDA Paramedics Training Scholarships — in honor of Raoul Wal-
lenberg and Dr. Franklin H. Littell, and contributed generously towards purchases of emergency medical surgi-
cal equipment and supplies.
The organization received several awards for assisting Magen David Adorn in the far-reaching humanita-
rian and lifesaving programs.
The Shaarit Haplaytah remains deeply concerned with the issue of exposing and teaching the tragic les-
sons of Shoah with all its grave implications, of telling the story and providing a grim warning for all people and
all generations. These messages are consistently conveyed in annual Memorial Academies, in survivors'
periodic visits to schools (public and parochial), colleges and universities, in addressing various groups,
churches, congregations, these concerns are reflected in initiating, organizing and participating in various
symposia, conferences, workshops and programs on Holocaust. The organization cooperates with the greater
Detroit Round Table of National Conference of Christians and Jews — Interfaith Coordinating Committee on
Holocaust with Jewish Community Center and others.
Martin Rose, past president and Sonia Popowski pointed out that the observance of the 25th Anniversary
of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising held in 1968 in cooperation with the Wayne State University (Science of Society,
Monteith College, coordinator professor Otto Feinstein) was an outstanding, powerful event and left an indeli-
ble impact. The commemoration extended over six weeks and included a series of lectures, films, dramatiza-
tions, conferences and exhibits prepared by Shaarit Haplaytah organization. Dr. Mames served as the Re-
membrance Project chairman.
Over 20 years the Shaarit Haplaytah conducts annual High Holidays Services and the proceeds helped to
provide a financial foundation for the Memorial Center. Rabbi Charles H. Rosenzveig, director and Leon Hal-
pern, president of the Holocaust Memorial Center pointed out that the Center originated and founded by
Shaarit Haplaytah Organization with cooperation and support of the local community represents a monumental
realization of the organization's most ambitious project and fulfillment of an old dream.
Dr. John J. Mames, chairman of the department of education and oral history, indicated that the sur-
vivors remain the living testimonials to the unprecedented organized wholesale massacre of innocent people
and the recorded interviews with them (audio and videotaped) will provide valuable historic and resource mate-
rial to educators, researchers, teachers and historians of the Holocaust. The oral history project under the
auspices of Shaarit Haplaytah will help to dispel the vicious, outrageous anti-Semitic propaganda fabricated by
the growing neo-Nazism attempting to convince the world that "Auschwitz is a lie and a myth" and "The Six
Million is a hoax." The Center, with the diversified educational programs will undoubtedly help to sensitize and
highten the awareness of the Holocaust with its devastating consequences; it will serve as a vivid reminder
what had happened and how to recognize and fight the dangerous signs and safeguard the precious concepts
of democracy against totalitarian systems. Survivors are concerned with the new manifestations of prejucice,
bigotry and hatred. "To ignore them means to forget the lessons of the Holocaust" stated Halpern and
Weberman. All survivors (members and non members) are urged to contact Shaarit Haplaytah Organization
through Sonia Popowski, 557-3994, Martin Water 531-6028, Simon Schwarzberg 557-4157 or the
Holocaust Memorial Center 661-0840 for oral history interview appointments.
Rabbi Herbert S. Eskin and Jack Waksberg, High Holidays Services chairmen continue to serve as honor-
ary presidents. Once again the survivors will celebrate the miracles of surviving, of rebirth and reaffirmation
of life after all the degradations, suffering, starvation and terror in ghettoes, concentration and death camps.
The event will also recognize the following past presidents; Arnold Einhorn, Leon Halpern, Dr. John J. Mames,
Martin H. Rose, Rabbi Charles H. Rosenzveig, Simon Schwarzberg, Martin Water (past acting president),
Mike Watzman, Abraham A. Weberman and Sonia Popowski, cultural and programming chairman "for dedi-
cated, untiring services and for contributing to the many organizations achievements during the past 30
years."
Eric Rosenow and his Continentals will provide the music. Sonia Popowski will serve as the master of
ceremonies and will be assisted by Harry Praw, host and Miriam Slaim, co-hostesss. for additional informa-
tions and reservations please call Sonia Popowski 557-3994, Harry Praw 968-1686, Miriam Slaim 357-0069
or Abraham Weberman 626-6903.

Sponsored by friends and supporters of Shaarit Haplaytah

Continued from preceding page
tally ill — anyone who was in
combat. Lucky for me, my wife
has helped me through this."
In 1966, Berkowitz was living
in Southern California, ignoring
everything to do with the draft.
He remembers, "One day my
mother called me. I had received
my draft notice. I said, 'Great, I
won't do anything until I have
the notice in my hands.' Well,
soon after that, the FBI showed
up on the beach. Uncle Sam
wanted me."
"I still get mad when I think
about how I just went. I could
have gone to Canada but my
father said he'd disown me. I
always thought the war was
wrong. The Vietnamese didn't
want us there. I went because I
was told to. I had a job to do."

Berkowitz served in the 101st
Army Airborne Division.
Married, Berkowitz lives in
Oak Park with his wife and
daughters, age six and ten. He
is a driver for a delicatessen
wholesaler.
He remains sensitive to Viet-
nam veteran issues, such as
Agent Orange. "Sixty-five per-
cent of all veterans breathed
that defoliant. Why isn't the
government helping these
people? It's been 19 years," he
laments. "Why not now?"
Mitchell has become active in
the Jewish War Veterans. Last
year he was commander of his
post. He is committed to finding
other young Vietnam veterans
to infuse his post with life.
"Most of my post are World War
II veterans. Their experience
was totally different from ours.
They came home heroes; we
came home pigs. Yet each of us
has survived a war. We have a
lot to share."

teve Hirschberg recounts
his Vietnam experience
with a sad, quiet resig-
nation. In 1970, he was
19 and out of school, a
logical draft selection.
Enlisting in the army, he was
sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky.
From the start, he identified
himself as a Jew and availed
himself of every opportunity to
celebrate. "Judaism gave me
something to keep hold of, to re-
late to. When you first go in the
army, there's nothing you can
relate to."
Judaism offered him a tem-
porary respite and sanctuary.
"In boot camp, I had it pretty
good as a Jew. I got off GI in-
spection Friday night and
Saturday morning. Sunday, I
had the run of the Jewish
Community Center and a nice
brunch."
Hirschberg remembers the
makeshift Pesach seder he cele-
brated in Vietnam. "We had
Manischewitz kosher TV
dinners, wine and matzah. The
newest man in the country said
the four questions. At first, my
unit commander wasn't going to
let me go. But, luckily, my bat-
talion commander was a Jew
and he issued the order. I
thanked him with one of the
salamis my mom used to send
twice a month. Salamis were
worth their weight in gold!"

S

,

Hirschberg flew to Vietnam
on Halloween, October 1970. He
remembers that night. "As soon
as we opened the plane door I
knew I wasn't going to like it. It
was hot, very humid and smel-
led like decay."
Assigned to the Army infan-
try, Hirschberg's job was "sweep
and search." "We lived in the
field four to six weeks at a time,
no shaving, no changing clothes,

Most of my past are
World War II
veterans. Their
experience was
totally different from
ours. They came
home heroes; we
came home pigs."

showers only if it rained. On our
backs we carried a load weigh-
ing 125 pounds. We walked
through rice paddies. Our feet
were constantly wet. The big
joke was that we were part
duck."
Nearly . every day a helicopter
would come down, pick up
Hirschberg's unit and take them
to a new area. There was never
a feeling of advancing or accom-
plishment.
Hirschberg explains, "You
would take a piece of real estate
like a hill, stay on it a week and
leave. A month later, come back
and take that same hill again.
We were taking the same real
estate day in and day out."
His worst experience involved
such a hill. "We were sitting on
a hill and they ambushed us.
They had us surrounded. We
ran out of ammunition. They
had us cold. I don't know why
they didn't kill all of us, but
they stopped. We ran out of
there as fast as we could. Over
half my unit was dead."
Coming home and confronting
others' hostility and disinterest
was difficult. Only 72 hours out
of Vietnam, hungry and tired,
waiting for his last connection
home, Hirschberg was called a
"Babykiller." Once home, no one
wanted to hear about his ex-
periences. He quickly learned to
deal with them the best he
could.
Down-shifting into civilian
life was extremely difficult, as
for most combat soldiers. There
were several times when a civi-
lian event triggered
Hirschberg's combat reflex. One
memory is particularly vivid: "It
was just before midnight on my
first New Year's Eve home, only
two months after I left 'Nam. I
went out to the car to get ciga-
rettes. In Detroit, on New Year's
Eve, people shoot off guns. All
the weapons went off. I'm dodg-
ing in the snow and low-
crawling back to the house. As
soon as the first shot went off, I
was back in Vietnam, concerned
only with staying alive."
Hirschberg is single and lives
in northwest Detroit. He works
as a corrections officer for the

Continued on Page 18

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