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April 03, 2008 - Image 43

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-04-03

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"Let all who are hungry come and eat...

Leo Frank's Name
Must Be Cleared

Help ensure that everyone in our community
have a fulfilling Passover.
Join us in helping feed Jewish families.
Yad Ezra and Moies Chetim will use your donation to
purchase Passover food to distribute to those in need.



- •


fealty the fewnWr


an angry mob. The National Guard had
to be called out to protect the governor's
eo Frank was innocent.
home in Buckhead. Under the cover
Those four words have eluded
of darkness, Frank was spirited away
polite conversation in Atlanta
to serve his term at the Georgia State
for 95 years. Frank, the superintendent
Penitentiary in Milledgeville.
of the National Pencil Co. factory, was
On a hot August night 95 years ago, a
accused of murdering Mary Phagan, a
prestigious group from Marietta planned
13-year-old employee, in 1913. Phagan
to abduct Frank from the penitentiary.
took the trolley to midtown Atlanta on
They drove all night on small country
Confederate Memorial Day to
roads to break Frank out
collect her paycheck. She was
of the prison. Frank was
never heard from again.
abducted from his cell in an
Her lifeless body was
act that writer Steve Oney
found at the bottom of an
calls "state-sponsored terror-
elevator shaft in the factory.
The last man to admit seeing
They drove Frank to
her alive was Leo Frank, who
Marietta and lynched him
hailed from Brooklyn, N.Y.
about a block from the Big
At first the police arrested
Chicken on land owned by
a half-dozen men who they
the sheriff of Marietta. The
Rabbi Steven
thought had committed the
lynch party was planned
crime. Lacking any evidence,
and orchestrated by a for-
they released all of the
mer Georgia governor, two
accused. Without a suspect,
Georgia state representatives
they turned their gaze on
and various judges.
Frank. The Jewish New Yorker was a sus-
In 1986 the Georgia Board of Pardons
picious outsider.
and Paroles finally pardoned Leo Frank,
Frank had an alibi, and there was
based on the fact that the state did not
no forensic evidence to tie him to the
protect him in prison.
crime. There were no witnesses to the
But what has never been truly
ostensible murder until Jim Conley, the
acknowledged is Frank's innocence of
factory janitor, claimed that he saw Leo
any guilt in the murder of Mary Phagan.
Frank with Mary Phagan.
Over the years I have interviewed judges,
The prosecution produced female
prosecuting attorneys and policemen. All
witnesses who claimed that Frank had
have concurred that were Frank's trial to
once ogled them. Many of the witnesses
be held today, the case would be thrown
eventually recanted. The trial and its
out of court. There was no evidence, no
appeal dragged through the courts for
real eyewitness, no confession.
two years. The case went as high as the
In 1995, on the 80th anniversary, I
U.S. Supreme Court, where three of the
affixed a plaque to the building nearest
judges, the minority report, argued to
the site of the Frank lynching. It read
release Frank.
"Leo Frank — wrongly accused, falsely
Finally, Frank was scheduled for
tried, wantonly murdered:"
execution in 1915. Behind the scenes,
On March 7, more than 92 years
the lawyer for Jim Conley, William Smith, after the Frank lynching, the Georgia
came forward and declared that it was
Historical Society finally erected its own
his own client and not Frank who was
plaque. I advocated for the historical
guilty. Hundreds of Protestant ministers
marker for a number of years. It was a
came forward to proclaim Frank's itmo-
long time coming, but the time is n t.
cence, but nothing was done.
Almost a century later it is time for
Finally, the most courageous politician Georgia to acknowledge one simple fact,
of his era, Gov. John Slaton, commuted
four words long.
Frank's death sentence to life in prison to
Leo Frank was innocent.
give the lawyers more time to argue for
his innocence.
Rabbi Steven Lebow is the spiritual leader of
As soon as he commuted the Frank
Temple Kol Emeth in East Cobb, Ga., about four
sentence, Slaton's life was threatened by
miles from the lynching site.


p - til

Passover Food Facts...

■ Over 1,300 families will receive a holiday package.

■ Packages include all the food items needed to celebrate a Seder.

■ Over 150 volunteers give their time to sort, package and deliver

food packages.

❑ 1 case of chicken
❑ 1 case of tuna fish
❑ 1 case of matza
❑ 1 case of coffee cake mix
L:1 1 case of gefilte fish
❑ 1 case of soup/matza ball mix
❑ 1 case of macaroons
❑ 1 case of horseradish
❑ 1 case of oil
L--1 1 case of eggs
1 .3 1 case of grape juice


❑ A Seder Package for a family of five
❑ Seder packages for 25 small families


❑ 1 case of matza meal

Your contribution is eligible for a 50% Michigan Tax Credit.

(subject to certain limitations)

Enclosed is my check of $
cases of Passover food
as a tax-deductible contribution to Yad Ezra to help feed vulner-
able families.




phone: (



Checks should be
made out to and
mailed to:
Yad Ezra/Moies
Chetim Appeal
1 2850 W. 11 Mile Road
Berkley, MI 48072

Or, you may charge your contribution to your VISA/MasterCard
or Discover. (Suggested minimum donation for charges - $18.00)

card number:

exp. date:


(please print)

name on card:

You can donate online too - check out www.yadezra.org


April 3 • 2008


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