December 1, 2006

Lego Project Builds Understanding of Shoah

As the daughter of Holocaust survivors, I was appalled by the headline to a November 17 article on the Warsaw Ghetto program using Lego building blocks (“Lego My Ghetto: Sparks Fly Again as Kids Craft Shoah Model”). Web log editor Dan Sieradski, who apparently lacks any direct knowledge of this project, is quoted as criticizing the project for supposedly trivializing the Shoah. Yet the Forward perpetuates that trivialization by choosing such a headline and by cluttering the article with references to the 2002 Jewish Museum exhibit, with which this project has nothing in common.

I attended the Lego program along with my mother and many other survivors. All of us have the utmost respect and admiration for Stephen Schwartz and his innovative and sensitive manner of teaching about the Holocaust to younger children. Indeed, one of the survivors showed me pictures her 6-year-old grandson drew after attending the program and told me of the impact the program had on all her grandchildren.

Unfortunately, the Forward denigrated Schwartz’s creative and innovative method of teaching about the Holocaust and ignored the substance of the powerful message that is conveyed to young children and retained by them after participating in his educational program.

50 List Earns Stern Rebuke

Boy did you overlook a major contributor to Jewish culture on your 50+1 list (“Forward 50,” November 10).

What about the guy who single-handedly has every media conglomerate in the country scurrying to find something to put on the radio airwaves? What about the guy who has every Washington media lobbyist pleading for FCC restrictions on satellite subscriber services, since terrestrial radio is finding listeners turning off their traditional radios by the millions?

What about the guy who took a struggling up-start technology and gave it immediate credibility, while collecting a paycheck for half a billion dollars? What about the guy that via nationwide satellite radio is the lone source of New York Jewish culture for millions of us out here in the sticks?

What about Howard Stern? Shame on you… and a BaBaBooey to you too!

Ross Fought As a Marine

The great Barney Ross was a U.S. Marine hero on Guadalcanal, and not a soldier in the army, as Ross’s niece wrote in an otherwise informative November 10 letter to the editor (“My Uncle Was a Fighter Inside the Ring and Out”). I served as an officer in the Marine Corps during the Korean War. When I came home in 1955 to Syracuse, N.Y., I became very active in the local chapter of the Marine Corps League. One of the first projects I chaired was sponsorship of a Syracuse Nationals versus Philadelphia Warriors basketball game. At the half we honored Paul Arizon, a former Marine and member of the Philadelphia team.

My friends and neighbors Dave and Bob Leverton had a bachelor uncle living with them. Every month Barney Ross came up to Syracuse to play pinochle with him. I was introduced to Ross a month before our basketball game. He made a recording for two of our local radio stations, telling people to come to the game. With his help, we sold out the Onadaga County War Memorial.

I asked Ross about the Silver Star medal he was awarded on “The Canal.” He told me that originally he was recommended for the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military decoration, but “I was told by people very high up that I didn’t get ‘the Medal’ because they didn’t want a Jew to get it.”

At any rate, Ross was one of a handful of Jewish Leathernecks in World War II, an American hero who was Jewish.

Agency’s Inaction on Falash Mura Appalling

In a grotesque finger-pointing exercise, the Jewish Agency for Israel says it cannot aid the 16,000 Jews living in terrible distress in Ethiopia because of a technicality requiring the Israeli government to first bring 600 each month to Israel (“Federations Set To Push Agency On Ethiopians,” November 24). If not 600, none? Is this acceptable, logical?

As Jewish leaders dance on the head of a pin, playing verbal games while living comfortable lives, our generation’s Marranos live in desperate, dangerous, deteriorating conditions in Ethiopia, separated from family members for years.

The United Jewish Communities’ “Operation Promise” raised $80 million to help the Falash Mura, including $23 million for comprehensive humanitarian and “Israel-ready” services in Ethiopia. Yet the UJC and Jewish Agency refuse to spend monies raised for promised purposes.

Donors must insist that the UJC and Jewish Agency take immediate responsibility for these future Israeli citizens. No more excuses.

*The writer is a former chief operating officer of the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry. *

Exaltation of Treyf Is Hard To Digest

What is there of Jewish interest in the fact that a Jewish restaurateur despises the Jewish dietary laws and a Jewish reporter loves to eat treyf (“The Secret Ingredient,” November 17)?

I realize that the Forward is not a religious publication, although it is good enough to provide a d’var Torah each week. But I think it is despicable for you to publish an article that mocks kashrut and exalts non-kosher food. Let Forward staffers eat what they wish, but please, no more trashing of Judaism in your pages.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.
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December 1, 2006

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