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May 02, 1986 - Image 76

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-05-02

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



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76 Friday, May 2, 1986

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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,COUMAY
INTERIORS
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. Orchard lake N. of Maple

Continued from Page 73

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The moving, true story of a small Jewish
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volume in English, Hebrew and Yiddish
contains their personal testimony, ez
cerpts from diaries, documents, memoirs,
native folklore and humor. To get your
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Brown St., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11235.

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and hallow these acts of the
righteous. Which code of
Jewish ethics argues that
evil be allowed to eclipse the
good? Which perverse logic
holds that we obliterate the
memory of man's nobility so
as to preserve the memory
of his degeneracy? In un-
earthing the crimes of vil-
lainy, the virtues of humani-
ty must not be buried.
., Do the number of non-Jew-
ish heroes involved in such
rescue behavior during the
Nazi period warrant such
study and celebration? No
one knows or will ever know
the extent of rescue activity
of this nature unless the
search is made. Altruism,
courage, moral heroism are,
by definition, rare. For the
sake of 36 righteous, the
world is sustained; for the
sake of 30 righteous non-
Jews, the Talmud declares,
the nations of the world con-
tinue to exist; for the sake of
10 good men, Sodom and
Gomorrah would be spared;
for the sake of two righteous
women — Naomi and Ruth
—the Rabbis say, the na-
tions of Moab and Ammon
were spared. Who measures
righteousness by number?
What of the purity of mo-
tives? Do we know the moti-
vations of the altruistic per-
sonality? The behavioral sci-
ences have long studied the
bigot, the twisted soul filled
with hostility, the authori-
tarian personality, the anti-
Semite, anti-Negro, anti-
Catholic. But little compar-
able empirical study has
been done for the altruistic
personality. And what a
tragic oversight! In study of
rescue behavior lies a unique
opportunity to understand
the altruistic conscience ex-
pressed in action in every
European country contamin-
ated by Nazi, conquest.
What factors—psychologi-
cal, social, political, econom-
ic, moral, religious—entered
into the making of their self-
sacrificing decisions? Is there
A typology of the altruistic
personality to, be discov6red
here? Who kno
ws, .a priori,
what mine of information
about human relationships
may be found by such a
study? And who knows what
material such an inter-
disciplinaryicientific
tigation can furnish moral
educators, theologians, writ-
ers and artists concerned
with the creation of a new
moral atmosphere in which
men can live? What knowl-
edge can be derived from

-

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._ .

March of Dimes

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140. -4,••

Righteous Legacy

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such a scientific investiga-
tion for the training of moral
character and the transmis-
sion of positive moral traits?
Study aside, why is so lit-
tle taught of the righteous
gentiles in our religious
schools? Why so little knowl-
edge of the whereabouts and
circumstances of the right-
eous gentiles within our com-
munity? A profound cultur-
al bias stands in the way of
our tracking and celebration
of gentile altruistic be-
havior. Among the Greek
sophists (e.g. Callicles,
Thrasymachus); in the Aug-
ustinian view of man "foul
and crooked, sordid, bespot-

The world needs
heroes of flesh and
blood, human heroes.

ted and ulcerous"; in the
counsel of Machiavelli and
the suspicion of Hobbes and
Nietzsche, the character of
altruism is besmirched.
That bias against man runs
counter to the pervasive
religious humanism of Ju-
daism which we teach our
children and which is ex-
pressed in that audacious
Biblical claim: the human
being is created in the image
of God. Human beings who
fall and fail are endowed
with a capacity for change.
This God-given talent lies at
the heart of Jewish prayer
and Teshuvah (turning).
My children are not well-
taught. Preparing for a
paper on Anne Frank, they
turn to the Encyclopedia,
Judaica to find a full page of
her story but a bare sen-
tence referring to "friendly
gentiles" who hid, sheltered
and fed families in a Dutch
attic. They remain. anony-
mous. They who know the
name of Hitler, Himmler
and Mengele do not know
the name of these Christian
rescuers, or their fate in con-
centration camps after they
were discovered by the Ger-
man police. Ask my: children
who Koophuis and Kraler
were, what happened to
them, how they manage to
live today. It is as if it never
was: It is as if Jews are only
betrayed, only hated. It is as
g there are only conspiracies
fa do evil against Jews, but
no conspiracies to do good,
to save Jewi. What they are '
left with is the never-ending
curse 'of anti-semitism and
the conviction that what
was will, ever be— "ever

again." That is not the prac-
tice of good history or of
Jewish memory. To perpetu-
ate the memory of the wicked
done and to erase the mean-
ing of the righteous is a
dangerous perversion. It is
the sin of omission which de-
moralizes our children, iso-
lates them from the non-Jew-
ish world, paralyzes their
energies to find non-Jewish
allies in the struggle against
anti-Semitism and racism.
We Jewish parents and
Jewish educators have a
double witness to offer: to
testify to the unspeakable
pain and death which human
beings visited upon in-
nocents, and to offer testi-
mony of the heroic acts of
ordinary human beings who
protected and cared for vic-
tims, not of their faith or
family, at the risk of their
lives. We are doubly man-
dated: to pursue the surviv-
ing predators who crippled
and ruined millions of lives,
and to seek out the surviv-
ing savers who remain, to
care for their health and
well-being in their declining
years. They are in our midst,
many have fled their native
countries where anti-semites
persecuted them for being
"Sew lovers."
The late Philip Friedman
in his pioneering work, Their
Brother's Keepers, informs
us that, in 1946, the Jewish
Committee of Bialystok
aided 180 Christian families
who were being persecuted
by RightiSt groups because
of their generosity to Jews
during the evil time of Hit-
ler. The Polish beggar, Karol
Kicinski, bidding good-bye
to two Jews he had hidden
in hiS pleads with
them: "Please don't tell
anyone I saved you; I fear
for my life." They are in our
midst, many of them sick
and impoverished.
They who risked their lives
sheltering our brothers and
sisters deserve a final end.
FOr their sake, for our chil-
ren's sake, they must be sus-
tained with dignity. They
must _be_sought out and
helped. Under the auspices
of the Astituts•
Righteous Gentiles a few tit'
us have launched a Foundd '
tion • to Sustain the Right.
eons Gentiles to identify and •
help support these moral help . "
• acts have been,
verified.Ne pall on the Jew-
ish community for support, I

-

Rabbi Schtdieeis is the sit?, '
itual leader of Valley Beth'
Shalom, in'Encino,

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