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Letters to the Editor

Mr. President: Get it right about the Holocaust

As Rabbi for Trump I have constantly fought for Mr. Trump.

I have been attacked for this and won’t back down. There is no need for him to be repeatedly asked about anti-Semitism; he is certainly a dedicated friend to Israel and I believe to the Jewish people. A religious reporter, in my opinion, recently asked a rambling incoherent question regarding anti-Semitism. Mr. Trump has repeatedly answered this question and should merely have answered that he supports Israel and the Jewish people.

One issue which disturbs me greatly is the statement the White House released regarding Holocaust Remembrance Day, in which Jews were not mentioned in reference to the Holocaust. When the vice president visited the Dachau concentration camp recently, at least he mentioned the Jews. President Trump, you need to do the same. I understand that in the light of the world’s problems there are other significant issues. But for me, an immigrant and refugee born in a displaced person’s camp, the child of Holocaust survivors who lost their entire families in the Shoah, this is a fight I must continue. I grew up as an only child in Kansas City, Missouri, and knew most of the Holocaust survivors there. Most, including my parents, are now deceased. I edited “Echoes of The Holocaust: Survivors and Their Children and Grandchildren Speak Out Volume II,” published in 2015, to keep the memory of these survivors alive.

I was one of the first to complain about the presidential statement that omitted mention of the 6 million Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day. There are some who believe the term Holocaust is all inclusive. They are wrong. I predict within a few years after the death of the last Holocaust survivor the term Holocaust will be integrated with the term genocide. 

I petitioned the White House asking that President Trump tweet a message stating that Holocaust means 6 million Jews. I don’t know why Jared Kushner remains silent nor why the White House won’t correct their statement. 

If you are satisfied with the term Holocaust meaning any genocide, remain silent. Most teachers of Holocaust studies are not Jewish and most programs dealing with the Holocaust, in order to receive state funding, must broaden their teaching to include other genocides. It is obvious the revisionists, KKK, neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers are focusing on this. They can state that even the U.S. president cannot be convinced to specifically mention 6 million Jews in reference to the Holocaust. There are people who will disagree with me, but I promise you unless we fight now, there will come a time when Holocaust memory will be nothing more than a date in history.

Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

Edison, New Jersey

Freedom of worship, not freedom of religion

Readers may be interested in knowing that freedom of religion was not part of FDR’s original “Four Freedoms” as initially presented in his 1941 State of the Union address as stated in the Feb. 16 article, “The real Norman Rockwell revealed in ‘Perfect Picture.’ It was originally presented in that speech as freedom of worship. The exact line is, “The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.” It was not until the following year that freedom of religion replaced the phrase freedom of worship. 

While this fact might not seem very significant now, it is well worth remembering that this change was made in deference to Soviet sensitivities and went a long way in establishing the wartime alliance that proved invaluable between the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the United States. Results of this alliance include the Soviet liberation of Auschwitz.  

Norman Rockwell’s illustrations of the Four Freedoms depicted freedom of worship, not freedom of religion. Stalin accepted freedom of religion terminology during the Arcadia Conference in December of 1941 on the basis that it could also imply freedom from religion. 

More information on this important aspect of World War II history can be found in “Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom” by James MacGregor Burns. It has been my pleasure to give presentations related to this topic in conjunction with the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council.

Barry Speert, MSW

Overland Park, Kansas

Not all wrongs are equal

In his Feb. 16 letter “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” Rabbi Harry “Scott” White poses two questions: First, since when do two wrongs make a right? Second, if Muslims are pricked, do they not, like we Jews, bleed?

Here are my answers. First, not all wrongs are equal. Jews were denied landing on American shores, in 1939, because of the State Department’s prevailing anti-Semitism. Unrestricted entrance to Muslim is triggered by a possibility of terrorists’ penetration. Second, the prick-bleeding analogy is not exactly right: It is the same for Jews and all non-Jews; so what?

Vladimir Kaplan

San Mateo, CA