Looking Back: December 16, 2011
100 Years Ago in the Forward
Haym Soloveitchik, otherwise known as the Brisker Rov, is one of the best-known scholars among contemporary rabbis. Considered one of Jewish law’s top authorities, people turn to him from all over the world with their legal queries. For the young generation, Soloveitchik is regarded as a fanatic who is unwilling to recognize that we have entered a new, modern era. But if you talk to young people in his hometown of Brisk, Belarus, even the apikorsim, or secular Jews, don’t see it that way. To the locals, who know the rabbi, he is, quite simply, a moral giant. In Brisk, young atheists and old religious Jews share the same view of Soloveitchik. He is talked about as if he is a living legend. Soloveitchik’s breadth as a thinker and moralist is known to all in his hometown, no matter what religious affiliation they may or may not have.
75 Years Ago in the Forward
A Jewish doctor, Heinrich von Neumann, has been dispatched to care for the ailing Duke of Windsor, the erstwhile King Edward, who gave up his throne for American socialite Wallis Simpson. Since giving up the throne, Edward has been staying in Baron Eugene de Rothschild’s castle in Austria and suffering nervous attacks and other illnesses, which is why von Neumann and another Jewish specialist were brought in. The tending of the former king by Jewish doctors has infuriated the Nazis, who have brazenly complained that Edward certainly could have found Aryan doctors in Vienna. The Nazis are also claiming that the duke is evidently in cahoots with the Jews, since he is staying at de Rothschild’s castle and is hiring Jewish doctors.
50 Years Ago in the Forward
It was completely silent in the Jerusalem courtroom as murderer Adolf Eichmann was sentenced to death for his crimes against the Jewish people and against humanity. Eichmann stood straight and silently as the sentence was read, his face twitching from time to time. The sentence was read 19 months after the former Gestapo leader was snatched by Israeli agents in Argentina. Israel, which abolished the death penalty with the exception of special cases, does not have a permanent gallows. Despite this, hundreds of Israelis who lost family members in the Nazi death camps have volunteered to serve as Eichmann’s hangman. According to the Israeli police, they have already found an appropriate agent.