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“Propaganda is a truly terrible weapon in the hands of an expert.” — Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf,” 1924

 

I attended a press preview this week for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museums Exhibition “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda,” which opened to the public Tuesday at the National Archives at Kansas City. The exhibition is presented by the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, one of the jewels of our Jewish community. 

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Stop saying ‘hate’

The name of our community is Village Shalom — a place of peace. That peace was shattered April 13 when Terri LaManno was killed at Village Shalom, and Dr. William Corporon and Reat Underwood at the Jewish Community Campus.

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J Street exclusion proper move

I agree with the majority decision to keep J Street out of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

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Building understanding among Jews

Rabbi David Londy of The New Reform Temple gave an inspiring introduction at last week’s Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy graduation. I have never met Rabbi Londy, but I look forward to meeting him. He spoke beautifully about Jews being kind to each other in regard to different religious beliefs within Judaism. 

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J Street and The Chronicle

Ron Kampeas writes in The Chronicle (May 8, Page 18 or www.jta.org) of “support from leading Jewish groups” for J Street. Was Rabbi Schonfeld speaking her own opinions or expressing a vote of the entire assembly? Kampeas goes on to describe the tent as “big enough to … continue to have dialogue,” but I submit that my own tent is too small for such conversation.

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Sharing the lessons of the Shoah

I have been attending the yearly Yom HaShoah Holocaust Memorial Service since its inception, and was most moved by the program this year. The April 13 attacks on our community underscore once again that not only do we as Jews need to remember the Shoah, but we are obligated to share its lessons with each other, and with the general community. How better to connect with the world that was taken from our people than to be moved by the images of Hungarian Jews arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and by the voices of our children singing Yiddish songs. How better to appreciate the strength of our survivors and our traditions than to witness the contributions of three generations of the Klausner family. And how better to demonstrate the power of the Holocaust to teach than to invite students in the community-at-large to research and write about it, and to hear excerpts of several of the most outstanding essays.

I am most grateful to Mirra Klausner, to the organizations responsible for the program, and to the many participants.

The attacker unwittingly demonstrated that attacks against Jews, or against any people deemed different or undesirable, are attacks against all people. Sitting in the audience surrounded by survivors and other members of my family, as well as a number of non-Jews, I was reminded once again of the need to remember. “Al teesh-kach.”

Arthur B. Federman

The writer is a past president of the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education and the child of one of its founders  

 

Moment’s significance lost

I attended the Yom HaShoah Holocaust Memorial Service Sunday at the Jewish Community Campus with my mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Nussbaum. I was impressed by the organizational talent demonstrated by the people that orchestrated the event. Certainly viewing the Auschwitz Album was gut wrenching and very difficult to watch. I am positive that it dredged up horrible memories in my mother’s mind. Those who decided to display those scenes definitely created a very charged emotional atmosphere which was very moving and stirring. At such an occasion this is appropriate and sets the stage for a message to be heard and internalized by the audience. Additionally, the singing by the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy choir was beautifully done and the Yiddish songs added to the tone and mood of the service.

However, the significance of the moment I feel was lost. As we all are aware of, the Nazi regime was focused on destroying all remnants of the Jewish religion. This does not need any clarification as this is very well known and documented. The theme of the service was clearly universal and spoke to the importance of having tolerance for others and exhibiting kindness for all people.

Although those thoughts are important and essential in human relationships and vital for maintaining a healthy and viable society, they do not address the scope of the destruction of European Jewry that this service is dedicated to commemorate. When I heard mentioned repeatedly the need for education to abolish bigotry and hatred such as was demonstrated by the shooting that took place recently in Overland Park, I was stunned. Can we truly believe that lack of education caused this murderous outburst of a white supremacist?

However, I digress from the topic of this letter. The Nussbaum/Weiss families lost numerous members of our family due to the Nazi machine’s intent to murder all Jews. They were murdered because they were Jews, not because of some universally adopted doctrine of bigotry and hatred. They were specifically targeted because they were Jews. I truly believe that discussing universal problems such as you did is sacrilegious in this venue and tremendously underplays the ultimate sacrifice that my grandparents, uncles, aunts and many others suffered at the hands of the Nazi murderers.

Even the survivors, such as my father A”H and my mother, she should continue to enjoy the best of heath and live to see ongoing nachas from our family, should be offended by this display of ignoring what their torment and affliction meant. 

If you honestly want to attend to this issue, then you need to formulate ideas that will strengthen Judaism in our community. Can we memorialize those holy martyrs when the bulk of our children are educated in public schools throughout the city unaware of their heritage? Based upon a rough estimate I would say that only 3 percent of the Jewish community attended this event. Where are they? Why isn’t there an outcry by the leaders of our community? Three thousand people can march when three innocent people are slain by a madman. How many people should be marching when 6 million were barbarically murdered by a madman, his name should be blotted forever, and his evil henchmen. Obviously I could list many concerns that should be at the top of the list for intensification in our community, but the question truly is why isn’t the community at large involved in the true meaning of the 6 million martyrs that we honor and remember at this time?

David Nussbaum 

Denver, Colo.

 

Movie needs more exposure

Marlene Kahn and I went this past Saturday afternoon to see “Walking With The Enemy” and we both were very moved (sometimes to tears) by this story, which relates the part of the Holocaust that took place in Hungary during 1944 and 1945. It is a good movie and the story is based on a book. According to the Internet, this week it is only showing in the Kansas City metro area at the AMC 30 in Olathe and Standees in Prairie Village. Neither theater is offering many showings. It is our opinion that this movie should be made more widely available to the public. Marlene and I both are also of the opinion that this is a “must see” movie and not just for the Jewish community.

As a side note, after the conclusion of the movie as we watched the credits and reflected our feelings, I felt a strong desire to speak loudly “NEVER AGAIN,” but refrained from doing so, as there were no more than 10 others attending at this 5 p.m. showing.

Herb Spiegel

Prairie Village, Kan.

 

Marlene Kahn

Olathe, Kan.

 

Love versus hate

Kansas has been on the front pages of the international news, but this time it is not for its tornadoes, red shoes or dogs named Toto. Whatever fantasy the Wizard of Oz brought to the big screen does not compare to the recent real life murders of three innocent citizens.

I grew up in Overland Park and in the early ’70s there was a spate of anti-Semitism in downtown Overland Park, which was more like a small suburb at that time. One particular store, owned by a Jewish family, was targeted with hate messages on its windows. If memory serves, it was called Litwin’s. I don’t know if I needed a coat that winter, but I wanted to support the store against the face of anti-Semitism so bought a coat there. 

The Jewish community in Kansas City is an old one. According to Wikipedia, there are some 19,000 Jews living in the greater Kansas City area. While it is not huge compared to other cities, it has always been strong. It is strong enough to be diverse and to open its doors to the general public — to invite all local Kansas City residents to join in its activities, without regard to their religious affiliation. 

I am proud of the Jewish Community Campus in Overland Park for its efforts in bringing people together from every background and walk of life. Despite this tragedy, I believe the love it pours out on local residents will overcome the hate of one man.

Gayla Goodman

Mevasseret Zion, Israel

 

Our intertwined universe

Thanks to the articles about Sagi Rudnick and George Lebovitz in the most recent Jewish Life magazine that discussed Bar/Bat Mitzvah twinning ceremonies at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, a family in Israel knows of these ceremonies and is very interested in learning more about it and even making this tour experience a family Bar/Bat Mitzvah tradition.

This Israeli family now will get the word out in Israel too!

What an amazing ripple effect has been created in our one intertwined universe, in which we all share — Kansas — Jerusalem — and on and on — from the Rudnick family’s precious vision coming to life in the article. 

Mayaan Linett

Modi’in, Israel

 

Salute to a new flag

You are all very well aware of the tragic shootings in Overland Park at the JCC and Village Shalom on Sunday April 13, so I won’t repeat what you know. What you may not know is that within minutes of the shootings and the apprehension of the “person” purportedly responsible, our Post sponsored another event at 3 p.m. at nearby Congregation Ohev Sholom.

In spite of the very dicey weather (we already had calls asking to postpone), and then frantic calls on cell phones about the shootings that just occurred, we decided “Let’s Roll.” Twenty minutes before the 3 p.m. scheduled start, the rain suddenly stopped. Ten minutes before the start, the sun came out and stayed out until 15 minutes after we finished.

We (eight of us in uniform), three Boy Scouts, the President of Ohev Sholom and two Scout Leaders (observed by a Prairie Village police officer) did something that decent, law-abiding citizens do in the face of hatred, violence and terrorism ... we retired an old, tattered U.S. flag and raised a new U.S. flag on the flagpole, saluted, recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the National Anthem.

I was very proud that we did this, especially to show the Boy Scouts something that they will surely long-remember and appreciate.

Sheldon Turetsky, Commander

Jewish War Veterans MO-KAN Post 605

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Judaism is a religion not a career … or so I thought.

Growing up in a family full of business minded people, being Jewish was my religion but I had never thought of it as anything more. In 2009 I was working for a company in Chicago and began networking in Kansas to potentially move there. I was put in touch with Jay

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After the FIDF delegation landed in Israel following the visit to Poland, many decided to spontaneously dance on the tarmac. Mickey Batnitsky is second from the right.

My wife Mickey and I were members of the Friends of Israel Defense Forces delegation that recently traveled on a March of the Living type tour to Poland and Israel. The delegation consisted of 60 FIDF supporters and 40 active officers from all branches of the IDF. All ranks from brigadier-general to commander were represented. These IDF officers were on a Witness in Uniform program, where soldiers and officers are sent to Poland to commemorate and to learn about the Holocaust.

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Tuesday, May 13, was the  shloshim, 30 days, since the murder of three dearly loved Christian souls, martyrs of our Jewish community. Looking in the rear view mirror on April 13, we could view only the shocking tragedy of the previous day and vainly attempt to comprehend what it all meant. By Thursday, April 17, unity through interfaith worship lifted our spirits and enabled us to dream of a better tomorrow, freed of the plague of enmity and the scourge of anti-Semitism.

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Compelling message

On April 29, I attended the program on Jewish genetic diseases at the Jewish Community Campus. The opening was heart-wrenching as we watched a short documentary about a child who died at age 4 of Tay Sachs. The mother of that child spoke to us in person about her son’s all-too-short life. She has turned her devastation into a mission — to speak out about the need for genetic testing in an effort to reduce the incidence of these diseases that are prevalent among Jews. Her story was compelling and her passion contagious. I now understand how critical it is to spread the word. Check out www.jscreen.org and www.JewishGeneticDiseases.org, and pass the information on to someone you care about.

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For 23 travelers who recently spent 10 days in Israel eating and drinking, climbing and floating, learning and connecting, a new community has emerged. It is a microcosm of the Kansas City Jewish community and of the wider North American Jewish community and worldwide Jewish community — it’s a group of people who care deeply about one another, who share in joy and sadness and who come together around the common thread of a shared history, faith and peoplehood.

This group of 23 emerging leaders will gather tonight for the first time since returning to share stories, photos and reflections of a travel experience that was much more than just a sightseeing trip to Israel. For some members of the group, this was their first visit to the Jewish homeland; others had not been since they were teens some 20 years ago. A few have more recently led trips of students or adults, but have done so without the companionship of friends or spouses.

“It was such a great experience for me to be able to go on a trip like this as a participant,” says Jay Lewis, executive director of KU Hillel. “I knew I was going to have a lot of new experiences because of the group of people I was going with.”

This journey allowed the group to experience Israel together — examining the past that unites them, experiencing the bustling and complicated present, and looking at the possibility of a pluralistic, multicultural, peaceful future.

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