Sunday, August 23, 2009
Reb Schneur Zalman ben Reb Menachem Mendel ben Reb Levi Yitzchok ben Reb Baruch Shalom ben Admu"r HaTzemach Tzedek, N"E.
There were two recent stories about Chabad and the Holocaust that made the news. One was about Reb Zalman Schneersohn and the other about Admiral Franz Wilhelm Canaris, the man who saved the Frierdige Rebbe and whisked him out of German-occupied Poland to safety in Riga. Those of you that have been blogging for some years will know that some of the big "issues" people had with Chabad was the fact that 1) they did nothing during the Holocaust to save Jews, and 2) They never recognized that Nazi hierarchy was used to save the Frierdige Rebbe. Meaning they never tried to show their apppreciation like for instance the Mirrer Yeshivah, who AFTER 40-something years made a party for Sugihara's widow and somehow became the symbol of true appreciation and Hakoras HaTov, despite the fact that the man lived in obscurity, having lost his job at the Embassy and was reprimanded by his Government for providing the visas. I believe he was long dead by the time they made the party for him, and had lived a very sad life since WW2. (I may be mistaken.)
There are two efforts going on now in the Jewish world - or at least they were when I started writing this post a few weeks ago. One is to get Canaris the status of Righteous Gentile, and the other is to get Rav Zalman Schneersohn, first cousin of Reb Levik, the Rebbe's father, recognized for his rescue efforts during WW2, when many, many young Jews were saved (and kept frum!) from certain death. AFAIK the Canaris effort is the efforts of one Yosef Yitzchok Kamenecki, amateur historian, who got involved in the matter when BMR's book was translated to Hebrew, which was then followed by another book in Israel by another author. YYK was interviwed by Israeli TV numerous times, as the press there thought they had a real expose' on their hands. I guess he thought, with him being in Israel, that he'd show true haKoras haTov in the name of the worldwide Chabad-Lubavitch movement, and lobby Yad Vashem to make him some sort of righteous gentile there. It seems like that idea didn't fly in the Holy Land, seemingly because of Canaris' being in the Nazi hierarchy he must've been in on some of the other decisions by the Nazi regime, namely the mass murder stuff. And not only that; but now that the story was revealed, and somebody wants to do something to show appreciation, and they're told that what they're doing is selfish, because he only saved the FR, or him and a few others, so that doesn't warrant recognizing his good deeds.
Years ago there was talk on the blogs that every "Chabad House should have a picture of Canaris on the wall," and "There should be streets names after him in Chabad shtetlach." I can understand that sentiment, despite the ones raising it not being geniune, they were just trying to bash Chabad. So is the drive to honor Canaris too little too late? I don't think so. Al Gore won the NPP over a Polish woman who saved countless Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto. And she wasn't a member of the Nazi party either.(for whatever that's worth) --------------------
As far as Reb Zalman Schneerson goes; His rescue work is legendary among Chabad. There are many, many families in Chabad today that owed their lives to him, since he rescued the zeide or Bubbe, and gave them a genuine, Yiddishe/Chassidishe education in France. Reb Zalman's son in law was Reb Eli Chaim Carlebach, noted author and Rov of the Carlebach shul, and recently there was a symposium at that shul about Jews saving Jews. It seems like YV only honors non-Jews who saved Jews... and they're trying to do something about it at the Carlebach Shul. You might say they're only doing it because he's the Rav's - Naftoli Citron's - great grandfather, but then again, someone like you would find ulterior motives for any good deed or project. So here's a double no-win situation. Wiesenthal Center says that Chabad is practicing "particularism" by wanting to honor Canaris, and others say that Jews saving Jews is nothing, and therefore unworthy of praise. Or you just might say "who cares what they think?" but the story must be told either way. About Reb Zalman, I mean.
Here's a link to Kamenecki's request