Three Jewish Views
Published: 1995-03-01

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'Disease' of 'Holocaust Teaching'

... I find something obscene and irrelevant about the widespread concern in Jewish and friendly Christian educational circles with "Teaching the Holocaust." There is no need to teach the Holocaust; humanity already knows only too well how to do it.

One of the most ghoulish "Teaching the Holocaust" devices I have seen is a booklet called The Holocaust Wall Hangings just published by Yad Vashem [the Israel government Holocaust center]. I mention the publisher because Yad Vashem ought to be stopped from spending our money on such obscenities.

The artist writes that the hangings are intended to "move (the observer) to look into his/her heart and resolve to become human." Here are the titles and descriptions of some of them:

Kristallnacht – a map showing the places in Germany and Austria where synagogues were destroyed on that night of November 9, 1938

Einsatzgruppen – ...

Plan of Auschwitz-Birkenau

Europe 1945 – a map of death camps, decorated with many clusters of naked corpses. How does looking at these make one "human"?

Holocaust wall hangings is not a freak phenomenon. In New York, a community-wide service was held "in anticipation of Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Day), April 30, the newest holiday on the Jewish calendar" (Long Island Jewish World, May 1-7).

... The aptest comment I have seen on the disease reflected in those wall hangings, [and] in the "Yom Hashoah holiday" ... is the comment of one of our staunch enemies, the Egyptian journalist Anis Mansour. The Jewish-German-Israeli journalist Henryk Broder quotes Mansour as writing"... if one gave the Jews Paradise, they would still hang pictures of Hell on their walls" (Los Angeles Jewish Journal, May 15-21).

—Moshe Kohn, Israeli writer, in his regular column in the English-language daily Jerusalem Post (international edition), week ending July 18, 1992.

'Swindler's List'

For the life of me, I can't understand what possessed Steven Spielberg to make 'Schindler's List,' to glorify a latter-day Robin Hood who profited at the expense of Polish Jewry ... I would call it "Swindler's List." ...

I understand that for many Jews this film is a sacred cow and nothing bad should be said about it, just as the museums of the Holpcaust are con sidered beyond criticism. However, truly speaking, for young Jewish Americans, these films and museums add nothing but fear. The message is that the world is never a safe place for Jews...

I am sick and tired of this generation identifying Judaism with suffering. Why is it imperative for our children and young people to visit Holocaust museums? Why do we need to hear lectures about skinheads and neo-Nazis and growing anti-Semitism? Why should they see every film about the Holocaust, always portraying Jews as victims running for their lives? ...

It is preposterous to think an American filmmaker can help preserve Judaism by showing a most horrific and pitiful scene of naked Jewish women huddled in the gas chamber. This doesn't make for better Jews, just better-selling movies. If for a moment you think that there is a moral lesson to be leaned from "Schindler's List," tell it to E.T.

—Rabbi Eli Hecht, past president of the Rabbinical Council of California, in "When Will Jews Let It Rest?," Los Angeles Times, Jan. 2, 1994.

A Fatal Obsession

There is almost nothing more sacred or more sensitive for Jews living in the generation after the Holocaust than the memory of the six million martyrs of the Nazi genocide ... Now that "revisionists," who seek to deny the Holocaust, have become even more brazen, sensitive Jews are reacting with even greater passion.

But obsession with the Holocaust is exacting a great price. It is killing America's Jews ... Jews as a group are drifting away from their religion ... Unless there will be, within the very near future, a dramatic turnaround in the patterns of Jewish assimilation and intermarriage, we are probably witnessing the last generation of Jewish life in America as now know it.

... Right now the priority seems to be building Holocaust memorials. More than $500 million has already been pledged or spent to build 19 Holocaust memorials and 36 research centers or libraries in America. Some cities, like Los Angeles, have two or three competing Holocaust memorials ...

There is a Holocaust taking place in America right now. We can't hear it, because there are no barking dogs ... We can't smell it because there are no gas chambers. But the net result is exactly the same.

—Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald, "The Holocaust is Killing America's Jews," Los Angeles Times, April 28, 1992.


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Author(s): Moshe Kohn , Eli Hecht , Ephraim Buchwald
Title: Three Jewish Views
Sources: The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 15, no. 2 (March/April 1995), p. 33, with source given for each quote.
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Published: 1995-03-01
First posted on CODOH: Dec. 17, 2012, 6 p.m.
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