After The Flames
Like the biblical burning bush,
Beth Abraham Hillel Moses
refused to be consumed.
Of The Pack
Rel ig ious News Se rvice
Edith Stein became a nun in 1921
and was beatified last year as
Sister Teresia Benedicta a Cruce.
David Rothstein points
the way for Rochester Adams.
Is There Honor Only After Death
For Survivors Of The Holocaust?
dith Stein, a Carmelite nun, was
killed in Auschwitz because she
was a Jew. Her beatification by Pope
John Paul II gave rise to a Catholic-Jewish
controversy. I am interested in Edith Stein
because she and I have a great deal in com-
mon. We entered a Catholic religious order
for the same reason, namely, to avoid Nazi
persecution as Jews. We also have in com-
mon the fact that our professed
Catholicism did not prevent the SS from
corning into our sanctuaries in order to
take us to Auschwitz.
There are also significant differences
between us. I was placed in the monastery
as an adolescent, Edith Stein joined a con-
vent in her 40s. The abbot who accepted me
into the monastery in Poland was told that
my parents converted to Catholicism when
I was an infant. Edith Stein became a con-
vert to Catholicism of her own free will at
the age of 31. Last, but not least, when the
SS came to take me to Auschwitz I escaped
and Edith Stein did not. She is "a martyr
of the faith" and I am a survivor.
Had I not escaped, and been gassed in
Auschwitz like Edith Stein, would I, too, be
declared "a martyr of the faith"? I don't
think so. Being taken to my death from the
monastery would not qualify me for this
designation in the eyes of the Catholic
Church since I was not a Catholic. The
story that my parents converted to
Catholicism in my infancy was not true. On
the other hand, Father Robert Kuchar, the
abbot of my monastery, could argue that I
was a Catholic because he baptized me.
Once, when he was conducting holy mass
and I was serving as an altar boy, he
Dt: Tanay is a Detroit psychiatrist.
sprinkled me quite generously with holy
water. Later on he told me he wanted to
make sure that I was a Catholic. My
religious status is a moot issue in this con-
text. I lack the basic qualification to be a
"martyr to the faith" — I am not dead.
To honor the Jews killed by the Nazis,
the State of Israel established a "Heroes
and Martyrs Authority." Those who died of-
fering armed resistance to the Germans are
heroes. The other victims who were killed
are martyrs. Since I am alive I cannot
claim to be a martyr or a hero under the
laws of the State of Israel. Thus, neither the
Catholic Church nor the State of Israel are
prepared to give me any recognition
because I am a victim of the genocide who
managed to avoid being killed.
Does one have to be dead to be honored?
It seems that the answer is yes if you are
a Jewish survivor of the genocide. In 1986
I decided to do something about it. I
established a committee which I called
"Celebration of Survival Committee!" The
purpose was to have a Chanukah party in
1987 in honor of the survivors in the
My friends and community leaders
with whom I shared this idea were less
than enthusiastic. They offered various
reasons why such an activity should be
avoided. In the midst of one such discussion
I exclaimed, "Do you realize that in more
than 40 years since liberation I have never
heard anyone say, 'I am glad you made it'."
I was asking the community to say to the
survivors, We are glad you have made it.
My efforts were not successful. There
was no 1987 Chanukah party in honor of
the living victims of the genocide of the
Jews in Europe. Will there be one in 1988?
One can never be too late with beatifica-
tion of a martyr, but one can run out of time
to honor a survivor.
CARLA JEAN SCHWARTZ
A profile look at
community activist Gary Torgow.
It Will Be Good
David Broza wants to duplicate
his Israeli successes.
Our monthly family pages
celebrate the Purim holiday.
Scared In A2
has Jewish students
at the university
on the defensive.
What's In A Name
PAULA SYLVAN WEISS
A name can take on many
meanings during a lifetime.
32 Inside Washington
40 Life In Israel
February 26, 1988