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May 22, 1998     Jewish News
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VIEWPOINT." Saving memory: a rabbi's response to the Vatican By Rabbi Israel Zoberman he recent release of the long awaited Vatican document on the connection between the Holocaust and the Catholic Church almost coincides with the annual observance this sea- son of the Shoah's tragedy, the enormity of which has turned it into the most defining event of the soon concluding 20th century, the bloodiest of all times. While the document acknowledges a measure of Christian culpa- bility for Jewish suffering, it falls short of a full apology, for the over-a-decade study of the trying theme is fraught with painful and embarrassing confrontations for the church, touching upon the his- torical rejectionist attitude by Christianity of Judaism and the Jew- ish people. No wonder that there were high expectations that the reached conclusions would fully reflect and respect the record of a troubling past reality in light of the subject's magnitude, as well as the breakthrough conciliatory accomplishments of the Second Vati- can Council in the 60s and the unparalleled contribution of Pope John Paul II, building upon the foundation laid by his great prede- cessor Pope John XXIII in dismissing Jewish responsibility for Jesus' execution and honoring Abraham's descendants. At stake was also the church's own need to come to grips with a burden weighing upon its conscience in a way demanding absolution from sins of both commission and omission, allowing for a renewed sense of integrity and reconciliation in an era of an unprecedented ecumeni- cal spirit, where no longer can any faith claim an imperialistic role. It seems that the controversial document could not escape inter- nal political pressure and compromise along with vestiges of pre- Second Vatican thinking. Perhaps some of us within both the Jew- ish and Christian communities got a bit carried away in believing that the significant victories of the past several decades were free from roadblocks and unforeseen detours. How else explain the skirting of two central issues that the authors were surely aware of their persistent presence, that now more than ever will beg an unequivocal response. The fact that traditional anti-Semitism has its origins in two millennia of the church's anti-Jewish teachings, demonstrates contempt in word and deed for both the spiritual her- itage from which ironically Christianity emerged, and the people who bore witness to the covenant they refused to abandon when threatened with expulsion, forced conversion and death itself. Is there any doubt that the Holocaust and anti-Semitism are intimately interwoven ? The second bone of contention is the role of Pope Pius XII whose silence during the Nazi slaughter was far louder than his intervention in saving individual lives. While there is no surprise that the church would want to defend her "infallible" leaders, it is the failure to exercise the vast moral authority invested in the Pope's high office which should serve as a cardinal yardstick in evaluating the legacy of any Holy Father, particularly under critical circumstances testing the mantle of true spiritual greatness. The related concern of the Vatican's alleged involvement in aiding the escape of Nazis at the war's end to South America and elsewhere, deserves an honest investigation and disclosure. Only when past ghosts are finally laid to rest, can memory be cleansed to serve the future. I trust that the contested official statement is not in its final form, for history and our common God expect more from us and we can deliver in this generation of unfathomable lows but also dazzling heights, a gift of healing hope for those to follow. I ought to know for during 1985 to 1995 my congregation benefitted from the gen- erosity of the most gracious Church of Ascension in Virginia Beach, where we found a loving home in the only such Catholic-Jewish sharing bond in the world, a direct outcome of a radical] y changed climate. The Polish Pope, John Paul II, with his unique personality and past, did more than all other pontiffs combined to bring the two faith groups closer to one another, coming as he does from the vine- yard turned graveyard of European Jewry, experiencing and resist- ing the German occupation, and being particularly close to a surviv- ing Jewish childhood friend, His heartfelt embrace of the Jews, beginning in an historic first visit by a Pope to a synagogue, in I986 in Rome, addressing them as "our dearly beloved brothers" and "our elder brothers," culminated in establishing diplomatic relations with the State of Israel in 1994. Before his extraordinary papacy comes to an end, he may yet surprise us with further bold steps to reassure us all that there is no retreat from the visionary path he so compassionately be.quested to a suffering and expectant humanity. WINNER OF 16 VIRGINIA AND 24 NATIONAL PRESS AWARDS (Rabbi Israel Zoberman, the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Chaverira in Vir- ginia Beach and pat president of the Hampton Roads Board of Rabbis. is the son of Polish Ht survivors and was born in Kazakhstan in 1945.) Southeastern Virginia Jewish News May 22, 1998 The human drama of forging a nation Americans look with pride upon the noble words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, beckoning to our shores the tired, the poor, and all those yearning to be free. Throughout our country's history, the spirit of that message has offered hope to the world's down- trodden, and it was they, the refugees from the four comers of the globe, who built this country and made it what it is today. Only one other country on the face of this earth has likewise served as a sanctuary for refugees of every culture and background: Israel. As Israel approaches its 50th anniversary, its people can point with pride to an extraordinary range of accomplishments. From science and medicine to art and literature, Israelis have excelled in every imaginable field and generously shared their achieve- ments with the international community. But above all, it is the human drama of Israel ingathering liter- ally millions of exiles, and in just a few decades, forging a modern nation, that has so deeply moved Americans, who rightly see much of our own country's spirit By Rudy Boschwitz in the people of Israel. On the day Israel was born, its population numbered some 650,000. During the next four years, the infant Jewish State took in nearly 700,000 new immigrants. They were penniless immigrants--Holocaust sur- vivors from Europe whose prop- erty, but not their spirit, had been stolen or destroyed by the Nazis, and Jews who were expelled en masse from the Arab countries with just the shirts on their backs, their homes and property having been seized by the Arab governments. Can one imagine the United States taking in over 200 million penniless immigrants during the next three years? Yet Israel was not overwhelmed by the burden of the newcomers. Indeed, it treated the burden as a blessing. Secular and religious stood side by side; fair-skinned immigrants from northern Europe joined hands with the dark-skinned immigrants from the Arabian peninsula to build their new country. Incredibly, they did so at a time when Israel was under attack by eight Arab armies, an invasion which was followed by decades of cross-border Arab ter- rorist attacks and several subse- Letters ... II (Letters to.the Editor are welcomed but must be signed and include a phone number. Send to: Editor, SE VA Jewish News, 5029 Corporate Woods Drive, Suite 225, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462-4376. Our E- mail address is ujft@ujft.org Dear Editor, A week later, I am still excit- ed about the Israel at 50 celebra- tion events. The hard work and efforts by the Israel at 50 committees and UJFT executives need to be rec- ognized. I was proud to be a part of Israel at 50 as a spectator. I coult not attend every event, but the Klezmer band in New- port News was great! The out- door concert and kid play festi- val was awesome. The Perlman event was a word class event. Top award in my book goes to the Pedman event at the Har- rison Opera House. It was very special to spend an evening of ruach with hundreds of Jews in Tidewater, and to hear the world class sounds of a violin played by Perlman and the Va. Sym- phony. Also the wonderful Israel in previous years makes me feel fortunate, however I will never hear him play the violin again like we all did at the Harrison Opera House. The Schindler's List music was enough for one special evening and to have the concert itself coupled with the synchronized music to the film made for a world class evening. People in big cities like Balti- more, New York or Los Angeles don't get to spend a Jewish evening like we did here in Tide- water. As a trustee of our family foundation, I was proud to sup- port the Israel at 50 Perlman event. Please accept on behalf of all the people that don't care enough to say it "todab rabah" and thank you to all the hard working committee members and donors that made the Perl- film made it a night I will never man Event happen. forget. Shalom, regimes. Having heard Perlman twice Peter Segaloff, Norfolk __. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 d ., t .]EWISH NEW S [  Idlmd tvC.ce a m. 10 ,mm a yem.; once a r,. July m..d Aug.st by | May 22/lyar 26 / I ,.*...i.,... IxsTI 6 1-1600 tax 17571 T-761 all lftrg I LlghtcandlesatT:51p.m. [ / David Brand .................................. President Mark L. Goldstein ........... Exec. Vice Pres. | May /Shmn 4 [  Annabel Sacks .................... President Elect aeba Karp ........................................ Editor | Alan Frteden ....................... Vice-President Mark ltlers ................ Production Manager I Light candles at 7:56 p.m. [ | Roludd Igramer ................... Vice-President  Sacks .................... Book Review FAitor | June 5/Slvan 11 | Toni Sdler ........................ Vice-President Stewart L. Smolder .. Advertising Manager | Robert Jalephberg ...................... Secretary David Kreli ...... Advertising Representative Lightcandlm8:OOp, m. / JodyWqgtr ....................... Vice-President Sydney Gates ................. AdRep.,Eraedtus | June 12/Sivan 18 [ UerbertZukerman ..................... Tre, asur T artwl*s and &hers a!ttm  .tm are no nezdy  o-ni,m o l"tis wspWt quent invasions. And despite the strains .of mass immigration and the hardships of fending offArab assaults, Israel has developed one of the world's most vibrant democracies. Americans have watched with admiration as Israel's "ingather- ing of the exiles" has continued. While other nations cried croco- dile tears over famine in Africa, Israel rescued tens of thousands of Jews from starvation and civil strife in Ethiopia. While other nations cheered from the side- lines as the Soviet Union col- lapsed, Israel took in hundreds of thousands of Soviet refugees, doing so at a time when the Iraqi Scud missiles were literally falling on Tel Aviv. Americans have done more than merely admire Israel's mira- cles from afar. We have proudly contributed to its triumphs in a wide range of concrete ways. We have contributed financial aid, to help build Israel a modern and self-sufficient economy world. We have contributed thou- sands of idealistic men and women who have chosen to make Israel their new home and have brought Israel the benefits of their experiences growing up in America- including two future prime ministers, Golda Meir and Benjamin Netanyahu. As Israel's longtime strategic ally and as a fellow-democracy, the United States must do all it can to build upon that alliance as Israel enters its 51 st year. We must continue providing Israel with the means to defend itself. We must continue to cooperate closely with Israel in the struggle against inter- national terrorist groups, rogue regimes that sponsor terrorism, and their mutual foes. At the same time, we must be careful to make sure that our good intentions regarding Mideast peace do not pave the way to danger Israel. Our desire for achieving Arab-Israeli treaties must not lead us down the slippery slope of pressuring Israel to sacrifice its security needs. Our hopes for progress in the negotiating process must not lessen our insistence on Palestin- ian compliance with the commit- ments they have made. Our inter- est in selling U.S. goods, includ- ing military products, to Arab markets must not be permitted to compromise Israel's qualitative military edge over the Arab