Poles were victims, too

The article “Reporter-activist relishes Poland’s Jewish revival,” (Feb. 17) included the line: “[Konstanty] Gebert concluded that Poles have put in a lot of ‘hard work’ to come to terms with their complicity in the Holocaust.” I doubt Mr. Gebert said all Poles were complicit in the Holocaust. Has j. erroneously suggested he did?

A small minority of Poles were traitors to their country and participated in the Holocaust; these included several hundred pogromists of Jedwabne and elsewhere, the snitches who informed on Jews, and the few partisans who murdered them.

But the Holocaust was conducted by Nazi Germany. The overwhelming majority of Poles were not complicit. The Holocaust of 6 million Jews also killed over 2 million Polish gentiles, of whom 50,000 were executed just for helping Jews. These Poles were Holocaust victims.

Poland fielded 1 million troops, including thousands of Jews in Polish uniform, who fought Germany right up to Hitler’s bunker. Grouped by nationality, Poles represent the biggest number of people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. Polish representative Jan Karski requested President Roosevelt help stop the Holocaust of Jews: America ignored the appeal from its ally, Poland.

Now, the questions are whether Jews have done enough to recognize Polish friendship during the Holocaust, and whether Americans have done enough to acknowledge their own indifference.

Harry Poznanski   |   Warsaw, Poland


Unsung hero

As Dan Pine’s article noted (“Quick help for people marooned by Contra Costa JCC,” Jan. 26), there have been many heroes who have aided the preschool children from the CCJCC to find new schools to attend. I feel it is important to give a big thank you to one hero in particular, Jen Paul.

Jen is one of those people in our community who thinks about everyone’s kids, not just her own or even those in her child’s class, but literally every child in the school. She is also the type of leader who never (ever) does the work she does to receive credit, but does it because she is a mensch like no other.

Just thought it was important in the face of a tragic and truly sad situation to give a shout-out to a shining star among us. Thank you, Jen Paul.

Caren Kline   |   Lafayette


Jewish Republicanism

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach announcing his run as a Republican for Congress is a perfect example of Jews embracing Republicanism in pursuit of both reasonable and unreasonable values (“Why I want to be the voice of values in Congress,” Feb. 10).

The evaluations and solutions stated by Rabbi Boteach are very wrong-headed and simplistic. The party whose banner he plans to run under praises unbridled materialism, greed and self-interest. The obsession with abortion and gay marriage is a Republican obsession. Does he really believe that a political party that strongly holds that America is a Christian country will look on public funding of yeshivahs more favorably than funding madrassas (Islamic religious schools)?

The purpose of publicly funded education is to enable people to be ready to participate in American society, not to polarize it into separate factions, which is still allowed but must be funded without taxpayer funds. The GOP’s social conservatism might sound good to a Jewish conservative, but history has shown that increasing the power of the religious majority, which is never Jewish, always results in anti-Semitism, discrimination and worse.

I suggest that the rabbi re-read the Jewish prophets to get a better understanding of Jewish social positions.

Richard Diamond   |   Fairfield


Humor fan club

I found it so pleasurable reading “Lord love a duck!” (Humor, Feb. 10). Trudy’s column was a joy!! I was in business many years ago and received a ton of catalogs, one of which advertised “Jewish Ducks.” I still have eight of them. Anyway, loved the column and look forward to more.

Harry Levy   |   Rossmoor


Selective human rights?

Three years ago, Gaza’s rocket attacks drew an Israeli response: “Operation Cast Lead.” To minimize Arab civilian deaths, Israel warned residents before attacking military sites, resulting in the lowest civilian-to-military casualty rate in modern warfare. Even Hamas conceded the point. Yet in subsequent weeks, Rabbis for Human Rights blasted Israel.

Fast-forward to the present: Syria’s Arab rulers have killed more than 6,000 civilians, pulling the sick from hospitals and dumping their tortured bodies in the street like garbage. Sudan’s Arab rulers have killed a million. Iraq and Egypt have expelled hundreds of thousands of aboriginal Christians. Yet to my knowledge, no rabbi who slandered the IDF has condemned these atrocities. Have Arab civilians no feelings? If an Arab is shot, does he not bleed? Or does he bleed only when the IDF is involved?

When rabbis excoriate Israel while claiming to fear for their jobs, or rail about critical leaflets on their fence, visualize hundreds of thousands of rape and murder victims in Sudan, and ask yourself whether Rabbis for Human Rights cared enough to notice.

Seth Watkins   |   Menlo Park


‘True Renaissance man’

I was saddened to learn of the death of Roman Halter (“Roman Halter, 84, artist and Shoah survivor,” Feb. 17).

To the world, Halter was a Holocaust survivor who became a renowned architect, artist and author. His story was memorialized in British historian Sir Martin Gilbert’s book “The Boys,” and later in Halter’s own memoir, “Roman’s Journey.” Halter’s experiences inspired his paintings and stained-glass works, and he designed the gates of Israel’s Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem.

But to me, Halter was a link to my family. He grew up in Chodecz, Poland, where my grandfather Aaron spent his childhood from age 6 until he immigrated to the United States in 1909 at age 19. Halter’s father and grandfather worked in the town’s timber industry, as did my great-grandfather, Naphtali Zilberberg.

Halter was one of only four survivors from Chodecz’s 800-member Jewish community. His memoir recounts the unimaginable horrors he had to endure. My grandfather’s stepmom, Sura, and his three brothers, Szlama, David and Noech Silberberg and their families, did not survive.

I was fortunate to have corresponded with Halter, who was always kind and generous. A true Renaissance man, he has left a remarkable legacy.

Stephen Silver   |   San Francisco


‘Shameful behavior’

Regarding the haredi public assaults on women (“Women’s rights in Israel moves to the front of the bus,” Feb. 3), the Talmud states that humiliating someone in public is like shedding his blood.

Also, an Orthodox man does not even touch a woman because she may be in ritual impurity. Radical haredi men are guilty of abomination by their public treatment of women.

It would seem that the haredi community, as dedicated adherents to strict Torah law, would resolve this situation themselves. The silence of the haredi community leaders  just encourages this shameful behavior.

Lawrence Weiswasser   |   Vacaville