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February 16, 1990 - Image 20

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-02-16

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Continued from Page 1

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American Heart tu,

Christians also must bear
a special burden for the
murder of more than 6 mill-
ion Jews because "the spiri-
tual contempt Christianity
breeds for Jews made it
possible for them [the Jews]
to be isolated." Almost 90
percent of the Jewish
population was killed in
Poland, where the church
encouraged keeping Jews in
the ghettos, he said.
Whereas in Denmark, where
Jews were part of everyday
society, 5 percent were
This Christian attitude
toward Jews made it possi-
ble for a soldier to murder
hundreds of human beings
on one of the holiest Chris-
tian days of the year, Rabbi
Greenberg said.
He told the story of a group
of Nazi soldiers ordered to
hurry and finish shooting a
group of Jews so their work
wouldn't interfere with the
celebration of Christmas.
Dec. 24 arrived, and there
were still Jews who had to be
killed. So early the next
morning, a soldier rounded
up the rest of the Jews and
shot them all; he finished his
job in time to return home
and enjoy the holiday.
Rabbi Greenberg said he
often hears the question,
"Where was God during the
"Where would you expect
God to be when His people
are being starved, beaten,
degraded and burnt alive?
It's obvious God was in
Auschwitz, also being starv-
ed, beaten, degraded and
burnt alive.
"And He gave a message
to you and me: 'You stop the
If 50 years ago Jews or
Christians had demanded
the Nazis be stopped, mill-
ions of Jewish lives could
have been saved, he said.
"That is the lesson from
the Holocaust: if those who
are good will not take up
power, they are col-
laborating in genocide."
Citing a report in which
Nazi death-camp guards, to
save half a penny per child,
began throwing children
directly into the ovens
rather than shooting them
first, Rabbi Greenberg called
the Holocaust the greatest
"denial of God, faith, hope
and redemption."
That denial contrasts
directly with the message of
Judaism and Christianity:
"the triumph of life," he
Judaism teaches that "to
be in the image of God [to be
human] bestows an intrinsic
dignity,' Rabbi Greenberg
said. And this dignity

carries three fundamental
First: an image of God is
invaluable. A painting of a
clown by Picasso sold for $51
million. "If the image of man
is worth $51 million, what is
the image of God worth? "
Rabbi Greenberg said. "The
answer is obvious —it is in-
Second: no preferred image
of God exists. George Wash-
ington's picture on a bill
implies that piece of paper is
of less value than one with
Andrew Jackson's image.
But in Judaism, God is a
warrior and a comforter and
all roles are equally
Third: the image of God is
by definition unique.
Human beings make a mold
for a coin, and every coin

The Holocaust was
the greatest denial
of God.

produced looks the same.
But the Talmud teaches that
"the Divine Artist made just
one mold: Adam and Eve,
and not a single one of their
children resembles the
other," Rabbi Greenberg
These rights should be
guaranteed to all; but in
fact, whites live better than
blacks, and men live better
than women, he said.
Judaism supports the idea
of "a partnership of God and
humanity," Rabbi Green-
berg said. And that means
"human power has an im-
portant role to play in
perfecting the world."
Like a teacher who knows
the answers but wants his
student to learn for himself,
God waits for man to help
him build an equitable
world. To do that, one must
live as though everyone is
equal, he said. And the
Torah says the place to begin
treating everyone with
goodness is with one's fami-
"It's hard," Rabbi Green-
berg said. "But work at it.
It's easy to love humanity.
It's my first cousin I can't
From one's family one
should expand to other
relatives, "until you em-
brace all humanity and all
the earth," he said. And he
advised: don't try to feed all
the poor tomorrow; start
with one person, or two or
"We must dream bravely,
but we must have the
courage to work at it one
step at a time. How fast
should you go? As fast as you
can." ❑

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