Shmuel Goldberg is a 40-something Israeli, the son of Holocaust survivors, who was raised with an aversion to all things German — German products, German culture. And of course, he was taught never to visit Germany.
But when a man enters his used car lot wanting to sell a collector’s-item 1985 metallic blue Lincoln Continental, which would bring in a cool profit if Shmuel would only transport the car to Germany for resale, Shmuel smells a “big score”… and can’t resist. To Full Post
The Background of the Clandestine Immigration:
Both before and after the Holocaust the British Mandate authorities limited the number of Jews that could come to Palestine. This was seen by the Jews both in the country and outside of it as directly inhibiting the fulfillment of the Zionist enterprise. Free aliyah was a central Zionist value both in theory and in practice. Therefore, the Yishuv struggled against this part of British policy (which was spelled out in a number of documents known as Therefore, the Yishuv struggled against this part of British policy (which was spelled out in a number of documents known as “White Papers”) actively and without ceasing.
In 1939 the British issued a “White Paper” that stipulated that His Majesty’s Government has decided to limit Jewish immigration to 75,000 in the coming 5 years. Between May and September 15,000 “illegals” arrived. As a result, British policy hardened.
During WW II the Jews, for the most part (the Hagana) ceased their struggle against the British and volunteered on the side of the Allies.
The illegal immigration continued during the war. One of the most poignant stories is that of the Sturma, a ship carrying mostly Rumanian refugees. Refused entry by a number of countries, and sent back out to deep water by the Turks, this ship sank in February, 1942, and most of its 770 passengers drowned .
After the War, the struggle continued against the British. On Oct. 10, 1945 the Palmach broke into the illegal immigrant detention camp at Atlit and freed its inhabitants in a bold operation. The Escape from Atlit Before the British established their policy to send most of the Jewish refugees to Cyprus, they often held them at detention camps in Palestine, included Atlit. As mentioned above, the attack here was made in response to British rejection of the call of the Anglo-American Committee to immediately allow 100,000 Jewish refugees into Palestine.
The plan was set and a number of Palmach soldiers were placed in the camp as Hebrew teachers and sports instructors.
At 01:00 on the Palmach entered the camp. Their entry was made with such stealth that many of the Jews who had been warned of the break had to be awaken. Yitzhak Rabin Z”l, acted as a company commander in the operation. (mem-peh )
There were three roadblocks placed to prevent British reinforcements from arriving. At one of them, a squad of three British policemen pul led up and began shooting. The result of the confrontation was classic: The Arab policeman was killed, the British pol iceman wounded, and the Jew — unscathed.
In any event, the population of the camp, just over 200 inhabitants, was freed and made their way up Nasal Oren near by, on their way to Beit HaOren. A convoy of Palmach trucks which was to serve as a decoy made a navigat ional error and drove right into a convoy of British soldiers. The British thus discovered quickly that the escapees were in K. Belt HaOren, and sent police and army to surround the kibbutz and prevent their continued escape.
Meanwhile, word of the escape reached the Jews of Haifa and the surrounding areas, and many of these came and surrounded the British circle. This caused enough confusion that the former prisoners were able to slip through and make their way on foot, largely through Nahal Yagur to Kibbutz Yagur, 5 kms away.
Again, the psychological and military success were tremendous. The Jews had had no casualties, and had only killed one policeman. The entire camp had been freed. The international press went the distance with the story of the plight of the Jewish survivors of the camps, so that the story was once again international front-page news.
One of the most difficult series of questions in the Jewish world today concerns demography. How many Jews actually exist in the world today? What is happening to the Jewish population in different centers of the world? What are the relative shares of Israel and Diaspora in the overall Jewish population of the world? And as important as the numbers themselves are, the really crucial questions lie underneath the surface.
What is the meaning of the numbers? What is the nature of the changing balance of demographic power between the State of Israel and the Diaspora as a whole? What trends do they suggest? What are the implications of today’s numbers for tomorrow’s future? And perhaps the most difficult question of Jews for those who spend their lives counting Jews: Who, exactly do you count? In other words, for the purpose of demographic calculations, who is a Jew?
Towards the finishing line
We live in a modern Jewish world. The world that existed before modernity was a very different kind of a world, organized in a totally different way, based on different premises. In this chapter we are going to try and survey the changes in the Jewish world and the reasons for those changes.
Changes in the Jewish community after modernity
In the previous chapters, we have dealt with all four of these themes – Jewish identity and the relationship of the individual to the community, the structure of the community, the relationships between different communities and different centres and the relationship with Eretz Israel – in relation to the pre-modern world. Now we bring the story forward and turn to them, systematically, one at a time, to create an understanding of the Jewish community in the world surrounding us today.
With a little under 190,000 Jews, the community in Argentina is the sixth largest Diaspora community in the world. It is also the most troubled. Despite many times of challenge and difficulty, up to the early 1990’s, it was a vibrant and very successful community. But a whole series of events shook up the community and sent it spiraling downhill in a dive from which it has not recovered. Major international Jewish rescue operations are now taking place in Argentina.
Hungary is one of the most interesting and dynamic centres in the Jewish Diaspora. It is a centre in the process of returning to life after more than a generation of cultural and religious silence. Only after the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe in the late 1980’s did democracy return to Hungary. The Jews were now free to resume their life as Jews openly. But things were not so simple. A generation of Jews had forgotten what it meant to be Jewish. Jewish life slowly and warily resumed. It had to be learned and many Jewish organizations from the west and Israel came in to try and help the community fight its way back to life and health. Hungarian Jewry is still in the process of finding itself, defining itself and fighting its way back to life.
Germany boasts the fastest growing Jewish community in the world. If someone had suggested that as a possibility even twenty years ago, it would have been dismissed as too ridiculous for words. But times have changed, and in the one European country where it seemed certain that no Jew would willingly live a generation after the Holocaust, there are now anything between 100,000 and 180,000 Jews (depending on the criteria for counting the numbers). It is a phenomenon that raises many questions. Let us address them now.
The Australian Jewish community is both sizeable and prosperous. It is rightly considered a strong community and there are those who suggest that it can serve as a model for a modern western diaspora community, balancing successful integration with a vibrant identity. Is this the Garden of Eden? Let’s examine it. Welcome to Australia!
We will discuss the covenantal view of history and its implications for our reading of the biblical historical narrative and rabbinic texts; does God determine history as a response to our merits/sins? Does this imply we should undertake a passive role when national disasters occur, since they are simply the hand of God dealing out our due punishment? Is there a rational way to interpret the same concept of historical consequences for our actions? How do we relate to and teach this concept after the Holocaust? What does this mean for the modern State of Israel – do we have an unconditional right to the Land, or is it dependent upon our actions?