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November 08, 2012 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-11-08

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frontlines >> letters

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Confessions From
The Killing Fields
Father Patrick Desbois is coming to
speak at the Holocaust Memorial
Center Dinner to honor Henrietta and
Alvin Weisberg 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov.
11, at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in
Southfield. I saw him speak at his last
visit here in 2009.
The horrify-
ing secrets held by
thousands of elderly
Ukrainians had been
kept hidden from the
world for 60 years.
Soviet secrecy and
anti-Semitic apathy
Fr. Patrick
buried the other side
of the Holocaust in
the same deep, dark
holes in which more than 1.5 million
Jews were killed and shoved into the
The killing fields have been slowly
and meticulously uncovered since
2002, thanks to the French Roman
Catholic priest who simply wanted
to understand what his grandfather
meant when he said that, "for others
[in Rava-Ruska, just outside of Poland]
it was worse."
When Father Patrick Desbois visited
the town in 2002, he asked the mayor
where the 18,000 Jews who had been
killed in Rava-Ruska had been buried.
The mayor said he did not know.
A year later, the new mayor of Rava-
Ruska took the priest to a forest where
more than 100 villagers had gathered,
waiting to tell their secret stories and
help uncover the graves buried beneath
their feet. Thus began the priest's travels
into the heart of the- killing fields and
his journey to find every mass grave
hidden beneath the Ukrainian earth.
Many Jews have for years wondered
about their Ukrainian Jewish ancestors,
trying to imagine how they had lived
and died.

Jewish Organizations Raise
Funds For Storm Victims
The Jewish Federations of North
America (JFNA) umbrella has opened
its Hurricane Relief Fund for donations
toward recovery and rebuilding from the
devastation Superstorm Sandy caused
on the East Coast.
More than 100 U.S. deaths have been
blamed on Sandy, which made landfall
in New Jersey on Oct. 29. The storm
left millions without power or mass
Here are some of the groups that are
collecting donations for storm victims:

The answers are devastating. In the
first six years that the priest criss-
crossed the Ukraine countryside, he
had uncovered more than 800 mass
The priest and his team listened
without judgment as hundreds of
eyewitnesses told them what they
remembered. After reading Soviet and
German documents and asking ques-
tions to try to understand the details of
the mass killings, he listened to stories
about Jewish neighbors, acquaintances,
friends and even schoolmates who
were killed publicly in front of swarms
of onlookers. They were murdered bru-
tally, individually, and often publicly,
near their homes, shot into pits or in
open fields, sometimes buried alive,
and often within sight of the children
who were condemned to remember
such atrocities.
Some 887 Ukrainian witnesses, who
had been forced as children to dig
graves, carry Jews, step on Jews and
sell their clothes had been traumatized
as children and when asked, wanted to
reveal everything before they died.
They had seen thousands of slayings
by the Einsatzgruppen, mobile kill-
ing squads composed of SS and police
personnel. I am still haunted and will
never forget the overwhelming image
that Desbois heard over and over. So
many women and children and elderly
men were each shot by a bullet in the
back of the head, fell or pushed into
graves, some without bullets and buried
beneath others, then covered with dirt.
Here is the memory mentioned often
by these witnesses that sears the soul:
The oft-repeated image of Jews alive
and dead, buried together — how the
"earth moved for three days."
We hear them weeping loudly and
clearly now.
And we will never forget them.

Arnie Goldman

Farmington Hills

• So far, the JFNA has sent $500,000
to New York and New Jersey federations.
JFNA said it raised more than $245,000
in less than a week.
Donations can be made at www.jfeds.
• B'nai B'rith International has also
opened a Disaster Relief Fund to help
the victims of the hurricane.
"B'nai B'rith has helped disaster vic-
tims since 1865 — each disaster we help
with has its own unique challenges," said
President Allan J. Jacobs.
Donate online at bit.ly/T1IKWa
or mail a donation to: B'nai B'rith

Ovshinsky's Legacy Will
Inspire Future Inventors
Our community is saddened to learn of
the recent death of Stanford Ovshinsky
("The Jewish Edison:' Oct. 25, page 1).
His brilliance as an engineer, physicist
and inventor left an amazing legacy,
including the almost 400 patents he was
awarded in his lifetime and the compa-
nies he founded.
Stanford and Iris Ovshinsky's achieve-
ments are featured prominently in the
new Gallery of Innovation exhibit open-
ing to the public at the Detroit Historical
Museum on Nov. 23. It is our honor to
permanently memorialize Mr. Ovshinsky,
and it is our hope that telling his story
educates and inspires visitors of all ages
and stimulates future innovations that
will benefit Metro Detroit and the world.

Lois Shaevsky, trustee

Detroit Historical Society, Detroit

B'nai Israel Synagogue Event
Celebrates 2nd Anniversary
Last week's letter to the editor regard-
ing Eagle School stated, in part, "
Congregation Mestiva, before purchasing
B'nai Israel ... " This is not quite accurate.
The B'nai Israel "congregation" was
not "purchased." Only its building was
bought. The congregation, itself, moved
down Walnut Lake Road to share space
in its new home at Temple Kol Ami.
In the spirit of our growing, egalitarian
Conservative synagogue, we would like to
extend an invitation to those on both sides
of the Eagle School issue to join us for
our two-year celebration dinner honoring
Rabbi Eric Yanoff at 6 p.m., Sunday, Nov.
18. Call (248) 432-2729 for tickets.

Ask Attorney
Ken Gross

'in retired. My credit
card debt and housing
costs are too high. Do
I keep paying?!

If you are elderly,
retired and living on
a fixed income and
your obligation on your credit
cards and housing costs
leaves you no money for food, -,1',
transportation and living, you
can and must do something tcYl.
fix the problem. You can't
keep paying until you are
broke. There are solutions
that will get rid of the credit
card debt and trim your
housing costs - so you have
money to live and enjoy your
retirement - but you need to
take action.

Frank Ellias, vice president,

B'nai Israel Synagogue, West Bloomfield

(See a related story on page 14.)

. In "Captured on Paper" (Oct. 11, page 8),
Lonna Kletter's name was misspelled.

Disaster Relief, 2020 K St., NW, 7th.
Floor, Washington, DC 20006.
• The United Synagogue of
Conservative Judaism is taking
contributions at its website, uscj.org .
• Another organization involved
in relief in New Jersey is Minnesota-
based Nechama — Jewish Response to
Disaster. Its website is nechama.org .
• The Shul in West Bloomfield is col-
lecting a busload of supplies, including
garbage bags, paper towels, cleaning
supplies, bleach, gloves and gently used
clothing that will be sent by bus to New
York City. (248) 788-4000.

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November 8 • 2012


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