Occupy Wall Street protest

Charlottesville, Virginia.



Columns of white men carrying flaming torches marched through the streets of Charlottesville screaming “Jews will not replace us.”  “Blood and soil.” “White lives matter.”  Skirmishes with people protesting the march occurred, but nothing spiraled out of control.


A Vice reporter, Elle Reeve, interviewed Christopher Cantwell a leader of the Unite the Right – a white nationalist speaker, with others from his group gathered to watch.  

“How did you get to the “racial stuff”? she asked.

“It was when Trayvon Martin happened and Michael Brown and Tamir Rice,” Cantwell said.   “Every case some little black asshole acting like a savage gets himself in trouble, shockingly enough. . . . Of course we are capable of violence.  I am trying to make myself more capable of violence.  I am here to spread ideas, talk, in the hope that somebody more capable will come along and do that.  Somebody like Donald Trump who does doesn’t give his daughter to a Jew.”

“So, like Donald Trump, but more racist,” Reeve said.

“Ya – a lot more racists,” Cantwell continued.  “I don’t think you could feel about race the way I do and watch that Kushner bastard walk around with that beautiful girl.”

Reeves reported that the Unite the Right group stated that they came to protest the removal of the statute of Robert E. Lee, but really they were there to show that “they are real, not just an internet meme” Reeves explained.  “That they can organize in a physical space.”  

The Unite the Right rally was told to move to a different park and Robert Ray, a “reporter” for the Daily Stormer (which tried to find on line but seems to be shut down), stated that they had to move because “the city is run by Jewish communists and criminal niggers.” 

The governor declared a state of emergency, thus making all assembly unlawful.  Matthew Heimbach, the founder of the Nationalist Front, a neo-Nazi group, was quick to tell Reeve that the “radical left” could not beat them, so they had to turn to the state for help.  “If that does not show,” he continued, “that the radical left, the corporations, the State are all on the same Jewish side, a moment like this proves it.” 

The video taken by the Vice reporters shifts to a large protest – 1:40 in the afternoon – near Emancipation Park.  Hundreds of people, protesting the “Unite the Right” rally, are seen marching through the street with signs that say “Defend our Rights” and shouting – “Whose streets? Our streets.”

Out of nowhere, a gray car appears speeding down the street and drives directly into another car that then pushes the car in front of it into a large crowd of people.  People fly into the air and fall to the ground.  The gray car, shoves into reverse and speeds back down the street – away.  A hit and run.

Cries, blood and people lying on the ground fill the street.  One person is attempting CPR on a victim.  People are helping each other to stand and some are being carried to ambulances.   As we know, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, was killed by the car and dozens were injured. 

The Vice video can be seen here:

After Treblinka, Belzec, Sobibor, Majdanek, Chelmno, Auschwitz/Birkenau, to hear these white racists spew this Hitlerite hate and state that violence against those that are different is your right and you hope it happens, sticks a knife in my soul.   We are a mere 78 years past the destructive hatred of the Third Reich.  Now Hitler and the Reich are these peoples’ heroes and role models.  We cannot allow it.  We must stand with the people of Charlottesville and the people who stood up to them six days ago.  Each of us must raise our voice..





Guest Blogger – Linda Elman Seattle group meets Eugenuisz and Alina Stys

Eugenuisz and Alina - from Linda Elman

Eugenuisz and Alina Stys.

DEAR READER:  Meet guest blogger – Linda Lawson Elman.  Linda is my cousin on my father’s side.  In June, she went to Poland with a trip organized by the Seattle Holocaust Center for Humanity and led by my friend and superhero, Joanna Millick. Linda wrote this as a Facebook post and I asked if I could reprint it as a guest blogger.  I have done some footnote annotations.

Welcome Linda to – soyouwanttowriteaholocaustbook!


June 27, 2017

Today, as expected was a long day. We left the hotel at 8 am for the long ride to Treblinka. This place of horror was set in beautiful surroundings. We found the same last year at Mauthausen and the Hartheim institute. Our guide was the Director of the museum, who kept emphasizing that he was only giving us scientific facts. While it was clear he understood English, he didn’t feel comfortable speaking it, leaving Joanna, our wonderful guide from Seattle to translate. We started with the museum, a short film, and then walked from the museum parking lot up to where the gas chambers had been located.

Started as a penal camp, Treblinka became a death camp.[1] Bodies were then burned on grills made of railroad tracks. set over a deep pit that contained the fire.[2] After the Treblinka Uprising in 1943, the camp was destroyed and wild flowers were strewn to conceal what had been there.[3]

The camp is now a memorial. Artistically designed, the site reflects what was there. Rail road ties are set along the area leading from the parking lot to the gas chambers. Large upright stones represent the barbed wire fence. The platform where the victims were unloaded is partway up the hill. From there they were herded through a narrow path lined with tree branches to the gas chambers, forced to undress quickly, and sent to their death. Just before you get to the site of where the gas chamber had been, there is a collection of tombstones with the names of all the Polish cities from which Jews had been killed. There is a large monument at the site of the gas chambers which looks like a huge tombstone. The top is carved and to me looked like struggle. The back has a menorah carved at the top. Behind the monument was a huge rectangular pit filled with jagged basalt to represent the crematoria. There were lots of additional tombstones set behind and off to the side of the monument. Some 800,000 people, mostly Jews, were killed at Treblinka.

From Treblinka we ride to the town of Stoczek to meet Eugenuisz and Alina Stys. Eugenuisz’s mother and aunt helped my cousin Karen Treiger’s mother and father-in-law, Sam and Esther Goldberg, survive during the war.  Eugenuisz was a child at the time and often carried food to Sam and Esther in a dog food bowl to disguise his mission. Our guide, Joanna Millick helped Karen find the family. Given some sketchy information and then some Polish letters between members of the Stys family and Esther, the internet, and international calling, Joanna tracked down Eugenuisz’s nephew Grzegorz Maleszewski, and the rest is history.

Grzegorz met us on the road and directed our bus to their home. We all sat in the living room and were able to ask Eugenuisz and Alina questions.  Eugenuisz did not consider himself a hero–that he attributed to his parents, but he was proud of what they had done. Given how close the houses are in this little cluster of homes, it is amazing that Sam and Esther’s location could be kept secret.  We are probably the last group the family will meet with since their neighbors are giving them grief because they think they are profiting from their story. Grzegorz too is proud of his uncle and grandparents. Karen is writing a book about their family story, and I join Eugenuisz, Grzegorz, Alicia, Joanna, and others in wanting to read it.

From there we went to Tykocin (not far from Bialystok). At one point Tykocin was a major center for Polish Jews. Located on a river which went all the way to Gdansk, it was a major trading center. In August 1941The Jews of Tykocin were ordered into the town center, marched (or driven if too young or infirm) to the woods, thrown into pits 5 meters deep, and systematically shot.

The beautiful synagogue is one of the few left standing anywhere in Poland.  The original has been restored, not reconstructed. The walls are covered with prayers carefully lettered so that you didn’t have to have a prayer book to pray. Our guide, Adam Radowski has clearly studied the history of the Jews in Tykocin, and written a small book with the story. The town is now a tourist attraction, and some. 80,000 visitors come to the synagogue each year. Although no Jews live there, they have a kosher butcher shop and restaurant to serve their many visitors. We walked to the cemetery which is a remnant of it once was. The remaining stones are buried in tall grass and weeds and worn down to be unreadable. No one has stepped up to take responsibility for it. From the cemetery we bussed out to the woods and walked through the gnats and mosquitoes to the mass graves. After time to reflect, we lit candles, recited Kaddish, and headed back to the bus.

After a return trip that included chips, pretzels, beer, Tatanka (Buffalo vodka and apple juice) our most nutritious dinner yet–okay, I skipped the beer–we got back to the hotel around 9. If we were tired, imagine how tired Joanna must be. She translated each of our guides today (along with taking care of everything else.)

This was just one day of our intense and educational trip with the Holocaust Center.  Thank you to all who made it possible.

Linda Lawson Elman (guest blogger — front row, first on left – wearing black; Grzegorz Maleszewski and Joanna Millick – on right side, back row – standing)

Linda Elman group

[1] The Treblinka penal camp was a labor camp.  It was in operation before the death camp and was in a different location.  The death camp began to be built in June of 1942 – it was intended from the beginning as a death camp.

[2] The burning of corpses at Treblinka did not occur until early in 1943 after Heinrich Himmler visited.  Before that (beginning in July 1942), the bodies were buried in huge pits.  Himmler ordered that all bodies be exhumed and burned and all future victims of the gas chambers be burned.


[3] The Treblinka uprising was in August of 1943.  The camp continued to function until November when it was destroyed.



November 1938.

Kristallnacht – the Night of the Broken Glass – was a pogrom against the Jews of Germany in which synagogues were destroyed, Jews were killed, injured, and sent to concentration camps.  Kristallnacht was not, however, one night of broken glass, but three days of broken glass.   David Cesarni’s Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-1939, provides an analysis of this pogrom and the fateful conference held in its aftermath.

What the pretense for starting the pogrom?

In October of 1938, the Polish government announced its intention to bar any Polish citizen residing abroad from ever reentering the country unless he or she applied for and obtained a passport revalidation by November 1.  This had to happen on Polish territory.  Well, there were many Polish Jews who were living in Germany.  So, Germany, knowing that it wanted to somehow expel these Polish Jews from its land, rounded them up and delivered them to the Polish border.  This way, they could get their passports revalidated and keep open the possibility of later expulsion from Germany.  Poles refused to let these Jews into Poland to revalidate their passports and many languished on the border.

Among the deportees were the parents of Herschel Grynszpan, a young Jew living illegally with relatives in Paris.  Herschel was angry at the treatment his parents received and he took revenge by walking in the German embassy in Paris on November 7, 1938 and shooting the third secretary, a young diplomat named Ernst vom Rath.  Von Rath died the next day, which was the anniversary of the Beer Hall Putch – Hitler’s 1923 coup attempt.

Goebbels used the death of vom Rath to inflame the German people against the Jews.  He exhorted the people, as an act of self-defense, to revenge vom Rath’s death – against the Jews.  Beginning with November 9 and lasting until November 11, a “spontaneous demonstrations” took place.  I would call it a pogrom.

“That night fires were ignited all over Germany, and the shattered plate glass that was to give the pogrom its name littered the streets of German towns and cities.  Synagogues and Jewish institutions were burned to the ground.   Over 7000 Jewish businesses were destroyed and killed nearly 100 people.” (Dawidowicz, War Against the Jews at 136)

As the Jewish community picked up the pieces of their destroyed infrastructure and egos, the Nazis were busy planning to further destroy the body and soul of the Jews of Germany.  On November 12th, just one day after the streets quieted, Hermann Göring, the second most powerful man in Germany, called a meeting of approximately 100 people – all the major players in Germany’s economic and domestic affairs to discuss the “Jewish question.”

Göring began:

“I have had enough of demonstrations! They don’t harm the Jew, but me, who is the ultimate authority for co-ordinating the German economy . . . It’s insane to clean out and burn a Jewish warehouse then have a German insurance company make good the loss.   . .  the fundamental idea in this programme [sic] of the elimination of the Jew from the German economy is first, the Jew being ejected from the economy transfers his property to the State.’”[1]

Göring continued, that although the Jews were to be deprived of their livelihoods. they would not benefit directly from the sale of their property: “they would be compensated with bonds that would generate enough income for them to live off.”[2]

During a four-hour meeting, this group of esteemed Nazis agreed to forbid Jews’ entry to cinemas, theaters, and concerts.  Resorts, beaches, woods or parks would be off limits to Jews.  They could only rest on park benches marked for Jews.  Jewish children would no longer be allowed to attend state schools.[3]

Officials of the German insurance industry attended this meeting. They were concerned about paying out claims for all the lost and destroyed Jewish property from Kristallnacht.  On the one hand, they did not want to pay the claims of these Jewish property owners.  On the other hand, if they did not pay the claims, their reputation in the world economy would be tarnished.  “It was eventually agreed,” states Cesarani, “that the claims would be met, but the payments would never reach the German Jewish claimant.  As Reinhard Heydrich put it, ‘That way we’ll save face.’”[4]

After several hours of debate and discussion, Heydrich felt that the conversations were drawing to a close. So, he spoke up: “‘In spite of the elimination of the Jews from economic life, the main problem, namely to kick the Jew out of Germany, remains.  May I make a few proposals to that effect?’”[5]  He recommended that a Vienna-type emigration system be put in place that would send 8,000 – 10,000 Jews out of the country each year for the next ten years.  For the remaining Jews in Germany, would be impoverished and isolated to keep them out of “normal German routine of life.”[6] Undeterred by the realization that this would lead to overcrowding and mass starvation of Jews, the group agreed that driving licenses of Jews should be confiscated and car ownership prohibited.  Further, Jews should not be allowed into spas or resorts and should be restricted to “Jewish-only” health services.[7]

During the closing moments of the meeting, Göring obtained agreement from all present that the Jews should be fined for the damage caused during Kristallnacht.  They would be fined one billion marks, “as punishment for their abominable crimes.”[8]

Goering finished with a doozie:

“Incidentally, I’d like to say again that I would not like to be a Jew in Germany.”[9]


[1] Cesarani, David. Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-1949 at 203.

[2] Id. at 203-204.

[3] Id. at 204.

[4] Id. at 205.

[5] Id. at 206.

[6] Id. at 207.

[7] Id. at 207.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.



     Crimes Against Humanity


Both legal concepts were born at Nuremberg during the prosecution of Nazi criminals.  I read East West Street: The Origins of “Genocide” and “Crimes Against Humanity,” by Phillippe Sands, and learned this fact and more.

OK, let’s start with the difference between these two legal terms.

Crimes Against Humanity is “the killing of individuals, if part of a systematic plan.”

Genocide is “killing of the many with the intention of destroying the group of which they were a part.”

“For a prosecutor today,” Sands explains, “the difference between the two was largely the question of establishing intent: to prove genocide, you needed to show that the act of killing was motivated by an intent to destroy the group, whereas for crimes against humanity no such intent had to be shown.”[1]

Before and during the Nuremberg trials, there was an undeclared war between Hersch Lauterpacht and Rafael Lemkin over which legal term would win out.

Hersch Lauterpacht, a professor of international law at Cambridge University, was a scholar who advocated the creation of an International Bill of Rights for the Individual. He called for “governments to embrace the ‘revolutionary immensity’ of a new international law that would protect the fundamental rights of man.”[2]  He coined the term – “crimes against humanity’.  He was on the British prosecution team at Nuremberg and was successful in getting this crime listed in Article 6 of the Nuremberg Charter, which was used to prosecute 24 German defendants.

Lauterpacht was aware of the Lemkin’s concept of Genocide, but felt that this misplaces the focus.  If genocide is a crime, it will reinforce negative feelings towards both the perpetrators and the victims, creating an “us” versus “them” scenario.  By pitting groups against each other, it will make reconciliation difficult and exacerbate the negative situation.[3]  Better to focus on the human rights of individuals, Lauterpacht felt, and not pit groups against each other.

Rafael Lemkin, a lawyer, who fled Poland in 1939, settling in America, worked with the American prosecution team.  But Lemkin was not invited to be in the group of lawyers that tried the case in Nuremberg.  Lemkin was disappointed that genocide was not included in Article 6 of the Nuremberg Charter.  But he tried in myriad ways to slip genocide into the proceedings.  His main success was that genocide was included in count 3 of the crimes – under “war crimes.” So, both crimes against humanity and genocide were included in the trial, but genocide did not gain traction during the proceedings and was not in the judgment issued at the end of the trial.  Lemkin was devastated.

In contrast, “crimes against humanity got a central place in the judgment and for the first time in history, were recognized to be an established part of international law.  The courtroom listened in silence to the narrative: murder, ill-treatment, pillage, slave labor, persecutions, all giving rise to international criminality.”[4]

But all was not lost for Lemkin.  In December of 1946, after the trial was over, the United Nations General Assembly passed two resolutions.  First, Resolution 95, the General Assembly affirmed that “crimes against humanity” were part of international law.  But second, Resolution 96 was adopted, overruling Nuremberg and affirming that genocide is “a crime under international law.”[5]  Lemkin had done it.   The General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, “the first human rights treaty of the modern era.”[6]

The author of the book, Phillipe Sands, is a barrister of international law and someone who prosecutes both genocide and crimes against humanity.  He was surprised to learn that both Lemkin (born 1900) and Lauterpacht (born 1897) were raised in Lvov (also known as Lemberg).  Both great legal minds came from the same city and attended the same university.  He was especially interested because his own grandfather, Leon Buchholz, was also born in Lvov in 1904.

The book traces the lives of these three men – Lauterpacht, Lemberg and Sand’s grandfather Leon, searching for truths that are buried in the dust of history.   He weaves these stories in an artful narrative of the lives of three men from Lvov.  His search for facts about his grandfather reminded me of my own journey into the lives of Sam and Esther.  As an attorney, I found the lesson on Nuremberg and the development of modern international laws of human rights to be fascinating.

Sands fundamentally agrees with Lauterpacht that prosecuting the crime of genocide, which emphasized the group, pits “us” against “them” and is not the best way to heal our fractured world.   But he accepts that fact that humans are born into groups and as the biologist Edward O. Wilson wrote: “group-versus-group was a principal driving force that made us what we are.”[7]  “It seems,” Sands continues, “that a basic element of human nature is that ‘people feel compelled to belong to groups and, having joined, consider them superior to competing groups.’”[8]

In this “us versus them” world, we each must work hard to find each person’s humanity and respect each as being created in the image of God.  Yes, we are members of groups, but we are also members of the biggest group – the human race.



[1] Sands, Phillippe, East West Street: On the Origins of “Genocide” and “Crimes Against Humanity” at 11.

[2] Id. at 104.

[3] See id. at 365.

[4] Id. at 351.

[5] Id. at 361.

[6] Id.

[7] Id. at 365.

[8] Id.

Antisemitism – Some Background


Peter Hays’ new book, Why? Explaining the Holocaust is a worthy read.   In it, he asks a series of questions:

  • Why the Jews?
  • Why the Germans?
  • Why Murder?
  • Why This Swift and Sweeping?
  • Why Didn’t More Jews Fight Back More Often?
  • Why Did Survival Rates Diverge?
  • Why Such Limited Help form Outside?
  • What Legacies, What Lessons?

In 343 pages, he attempts to answer these questions.  In doing so, he puts together many pieces of the Holocaust puzzle in a coherent way.

In the first section – Why the Jews?, he reviews some of the factors that pre-dated antisemitism (please note – no hyphen).

He begins with a problem that arose for the new Christians.  Because the Jews rejected Christ, they had to suffer as a “physical representation of the consequence.”[1]   But at the same time, Jesus was a Jew and was God’s chosen one.  “Indeed,” states Hays, the Jews “had to be allowed to live, albeit in misery, until the wondrous day when they saw the light and converted, for that development would herald the Last Judgment and the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven.”  Hays states that the Jews were the only religious minority who remained legal under Christian rule.  Their “adherents were not automatically and always slaughtered,” he continues, “as the Cathars, Lolards, and other dissenters were.”[2]

The contradictory positions that Jews must suffer, but that no harm should come to them, created an impossible situation and the people couldn’t live in that tension.   In response to a crisis that they could not control, the Christians blamed the Jews.  Mob violence erupted against Jews, culminating in the blood libels.  A Jew or Jews were accused of murdering a Christian to take his blood to make matza needed for Passover.  These charges became opportunities for massacres, at first in England, in the 12th century, and later in other parts of Europe.[3]  Hays points out that the charge of taking a Christian’s blood to make matza was a “projection of a corrupted form of the Catholic belief in transubstantiation – the creed that the communion wafer and wine becomes the real flesh and blood of Christ during the Mass.”[4]  This association between crisis and massacre of Jews can be seen in the massacres that came after the Italian famine of 1315-1317 and the outbreak of the Black Death in the Rhineland in 1347.[5]

The Christians separated themselves from the Jews and forced the Jews to be restricted in their professions.  The Jews were stuck with “despised or dangerous activities, such as moneylending or leather tanning.”[6]   Negative images of Jews became part of the landscape.  For example, at Easter time, people put on Passion Plays, which showed the Jews as the murderers of Christ.

Before the reformation, in the 16th century, the hatred of Jews centered on the idea that Jews were parasites who would  take Christian wealth.  It also rested on the idea that Satan sent the Jews to serve his purpose and to cause problems for pious Christians.[7]

The era of Enlightenment arrived in Europe in the 18th Century and this changed the attitude of many Christians and the lives of many Jews.   The problem of the Jew could now be solved, with “kindness and opportunity” rather than “cruelty and suffering.”[8]  Hays states that Emancipation attempted to make the Jews more like Christians and with the Declaration of Rights of Man on August 26, 1789, all people were considered free and equal.   To this end, in the 1780’s the Austrian Emperor Joseph II abolished residential and occupational restrictions on Jews and opened universities and schools to them. Later, Napoleon Bonaparte did the same in France.[9]

Jews took advantage of their new access to education, moving to the cities in droves.  Industrialization and advancements in transportation created more competition and opened markets.  Hays cites some statistics from 1880-1910 that blew me away:

  • Austria – Jews were 3-4% of population, but 17% of the university students. In Vienna – Jews made up 62% of the lawyers, 50% of the doctors and dentist, 45% of the university medical faculty, and 25% of the total faculty, 55% of the professional journalists, 40% of the directors of publicly traded banks, and 70% of the board members of the Vienna stock exchange.
  • Hungary – Jews were 5% of the population, but 25% of the university students & 43% of those at leading technological universities; Jews accounted for 34% of the lawyers and 48% of the doctors.
  • Prussia (one part of Germany)- Jews were less than 1% of the population, but 5.4% of the university students, and 17% of those at the University of Berlin; in 1912, 20% of the millionaires in Prussia were Jews.
  • Germany as a whole – Jews were 0.95% of the population, but accounted for 31% of the wealthiest families.[10]

Hayes argues that the era of antisemitism, beginning about 1880, was not religious, but rather, a political movement.  It was a reaction to the era of Enlightenment and the visible upward mobility of the Jews and the new competition the Christians had from this newly liberated group.

The science of evolution and biology led to a study of skulls and facial features that indicate intelligence and superiority.  And the idea that Jews were “like” Christians was rejected.  Julius Langbehn, “a widely read German antisemite, put the matter: ‘A Jew can no more become a German than a plum can turn into an apple.’”[11]  Once Jews were identified with undesirable physical characteristics, their extraction was “justified as a form of racial hygiene.”[12]  Antisemitism did not focus on how a Jew behaved, but rather on “what they intrinsically and unchangeable supposedly are. . .. Jews could not be changed, but only contained and then eliminated.”[13]

This new political idea called antisemitism was not the reason the Holocaust happened, but it laid groundwork for Hitler’s rise to power.

Figurines at Randi's house


[1] Why at 9.

[2] Id. at 10.

[3] Id. at 12.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Id. at 14.

[9] Id. at 14-15.

[10] Id. at 28-29.

[11] Id. at 16.

[12] Id. at 19.

[13] Id. at 15.



Memorial to the Jews of Europe

What is a semite?

Semite comes from the name of the oldest son of Noah in the Hebrew Bible, Shem.  Since neither Greek nor Latin have the “sh” sound, the name became “Sem.”[1]  “Semite” was used in linguistics to describe a person who is part of an ethnic, cultural or racial group who speak a Semitic language.[2]

In the late 1800’s, there were a lot of “isms,” and “anti-isms.”  For example, there was communism and anti-communism, socialism and anti-socialism.  These are belief systems with which people agree or disagree.  The idea of “anti-ism” was bastardized to describe negative political action against Jews.  Jews were singled out as the only speakers of a Semitic language to be found worthy of the “anti-ism” label.

In 1879, the German journalist Wilhelm Marr wrote a pamphlet called “The Way to Victory of Germanicism over Judaism.”  This pamphlet popularized the newly-coined term “antisemitism” to describe a new form of hostility towards Jews.   Marrs’ followers founded the “League for Antisemitism.”[3]

The German word is Antisemitismus.[4]  Though most English-language writers spell this word: “Anti-Semitism” with a hyphen, the original German word does not include a hyphen.  Placing a hyphen between “anti” and “Semitism” implies that there is something called “Semitism,” which there is not.[5]

After I read about the hyphen controversy in Peter Hays book, Why? Explaining the Holocaust, I decided to drop the hyphen and spell the word: “antisemitism.”   Now this is a challenge because I use word to type and it keeps underlining “antisemitism,” trying to convince me that I am spelling it wrong.  But I will persevere and continue to spell it sans hyphen.

I encourage you to do the same.



[1] Includes Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic.  See My Jewish Learning: Who are the Semites, by Bernard E. Lewis.

[2] Semitic People – Wikipedia.

[3] Id.

[4] Hays, Peter.  Why?  Explaining the Holocaust at 5.

[5] Id.


     To meet a cousin you never dreamed you had, does not happen every day.  For both Shlomo Goldberg and Idul Lis, this is what happened last Sunday.  They spoke by video phone, between Seattle and Marki, Poland.

    When the Nazis arrived in Bagatele in 1939, there was chaos in the small farming village.  The Nazis were burning houses and shooting.  People ran in every direction.  In the chaos, Idul, age six, was separated from his family.  He found himself alone in the forest. 

     He survived by hiding in the forest and in barns of Polish farmers.  Some farmers were kind and some were less kind.  One farmer allowed him to hide in his barn in exchange for watching his animals and an occasional beating.  He was a boy, but he knew he was being hunted.  He never knew which adults were safe and which were enemies.  He hid until 1948 because he did not realize the war was over. 

     Idul felt abandoned by his family.  After the war, he discarded his Judaism, served in the Polish military, married and had three daughters.  One of them, Marta, was with us on the phone call and served as translator.  But Idul never lost his feeling of abandonment. He waited and hoped that someday his family would find him. 

     “Do you remember my grandparents, Zelig and Faiga Goldberg?” Shlomo asked him.

     “No,” he said. “But I remember that when I would walk down the street to my Goldberg grandparents’ house, there were some people who stopped me and gave me hugs on the way.”

     That may well have been Sam Goldberg’s family, as they lived a few houses down from Idul’s family, on the way to his grandparents. 

     “I hope to come and visit you,” Shlomo said at the end of the call.

     “Yes, please,” Idul said.  “Don’t wait so long.”