Friday, March 31, 2023

Rabbi Shlomo Litvin Spreads Hate

Rabbi Shlomo Litvin spreads hate. He should stop. Because he is a rabbi, his hate mongering disgraces not only he himself, but also the name of God.

Rabbi Shlomo Litvin is "The Bluegrass Rabbi." He lives in Kentucky, the bluegrass state. He serves on the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. That group's webpage says that Rabbi Shlomo Litvin "is an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson … Rabbi Litvin together with his wife Shoshi serves as Director of Chabad of the Bluegrass … They also run Chabad's Jewish Student Center at the University of Kentucky … Rabbi Litvin also serves as a Chaplain for the Kentucky General Assembly and volunteers as a religious guide for inmates and hospital patients."


Rabbi Shlomo Litvin is an influential man. One fears that he uses his influence to spread hate. How?


On March 24, 1944, Polish Catholic peasants Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma were martyred by Nazis for helping Jews. The Nazis murdered their six children as well. Wiktoria was nine months pregnant and, according to a witness, her baby partially emerged during the executions. Her baby was the seventh Ulma child murdered that day.


The Ulmas were devout Catholics. In the family Bible, the parable of the Good Samaritan was marked in red. That story no doubt inspired the Ulmas in their help towards Jews, though they knew the price they would pay if discovered.


Good people commemorate the Ulmas on March 24, the day they and their Jewish charges were murdered by Nazis.


Rabbi Shlomo Litvin spat on this commemoration.


Rabbi Litvin blamed the Holocaust on Poles and Poland. See screencaps of his tweets, below. 


A few facts.


The Holocaust was a project of Nazi Germany. Nazism was a unique ideology. It was not Polish. It was not Christian.


Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany and the USSR in September, 1939.


Soviets immediately began torturing, murdering and deporting Poles. This was genocide. The Polish presence was erased from the area claimed by the USSR.


Ukrainians also committed a genocide against Poles.


Nazis, from the west, also had genocidal plans for Poland. Einsatzgruppen committed massacres of Poles. Auschwitz was created to suppress Poles.


It is true that many Poles, under the horrors of the  most extreme occupation in Europe, unleashed their worst impulses and betrayed Jews. They did so, often, out of greed for Nazi rewards, or in order to steal Jewish people's possessions. Litvin insists that the number of Poles who did this is in the millions. I do not know of anyone who supports this claim. I am open to being educated on this matter.


It is also true that Jews required many Poles to survive. Memoirs of those who did survive often mention numerous people, known and unknown, who recognized the Jew in hiding, and could have betrayed that person, but who remained silent, or who helped that person.


The largest number of "Righteous Gentiles" recognized by Yad Vashem is the 7,177 Poles. This number is not a complete count. Many Poles, along with their families, were murdered for helping Jews. Many never sought recognition. Many Poles offered help too transitory, minor, or anonymous to be recorded.


That Poland produced the largest number of rescuers is remarkable because Poles were themselves slated for extinction by Nazism's Generalplan Ost.


Poles were bombed, deported, starved, tortured, rounded up, shot randomly, enslaved. Polish Catholic priests were especially targeted; almost twenty percent were killed. Many were sent to Dachau.


It is also remarkable that so many Poles were rescuers because in Poland entire families were killed for any aid to Jews whatsoever, including just offering a Jew a drink of water.


Not only Poles revealed their worst side during the horrific occupations of the USSR and Nazi Germany. Jews also sometimes betrayed Poles to Soviets, or even to Nazis.


Rabbi Shlomo Litvin insists that Poles have never acknowledged or atoned for the crimes of their fellow Poles who betrayed Jews. This is simply false. Poles have long been addressing these crimes.


During the war, the Home Army carried out death sentences against "szmalcowniks," or Poles who betrayed Jews and their rescuers. After the war, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a co-founder of Zegota, the only government supported organization in occupied Europe that existed solely to aid Jews, protested against anti-Semitism in Poland. He was joined by other Poles. He was arrested by the communists for his human rights activity. Scholar Jan Blonski sparked much discussion in 1987 with an essay about the Holocaust in Poland. Scholar Alina Cala has addressed Polish guilt. Many more names could be mentioned here.


Yes, Poles acknowledge the crimes committed by Poles.


Yes, Poles deeply regret the crimes committed by Poles.


Yes, Poles and Poland have done much to address anti-Semitism in Poland.


Everything I've said here has been said before. No doubt Rabbi Shlomo Litvin knows all these facts.


And yet he chooses to spread hatred against Poles.


I want to mention Rabbi Laurie Skopitz, my good friend, who supported me in my scholarship and writing for the many years we had together before he passed away. I want also to mention Rabbi Michael Herzbrun, a friend and supporter, who contributed to my scholarship.


May Rabbi Shlomo Litvin someday understand what those two men understood. 

The Ulma Family 

I think the rabbi needs a bit more awareness of others. 
He looks like he's dropping cigar ashes on the baby. 

Monday, March 6, 2023

Disraeli Hall by Polonian Author Sue Knight: Check it out!


Do you care about Polish issues? Then put your money where your mouth is. Support Polish authors. Right now, go buy Sue Knight's book on Amazon and then post a review. 

Sue Knight, author and Polonian activist, to whom Polonia owes a great deal, contributes this description of her book:


Disraeli Hall is a thriller, inspired by the two houses of my childhood, and by the people who inhabited them.


Disraeli Hall does contain some Polish characters along with one Jewish one, Benjamin Disraeli, who was said to be Queen Victoria's favourite Prime Minister. I believe he was a bit of a charmer with us ladies. Although Disraeli himself never appears, as this is not a historical novel, the fictional visit he once paid to the Hall resonates through the book.


The book, according to reviewers, is a real page turner. It is both frightening and funny.


Here is a review from my Amazon page:


Unlike some authors I won't name, Sue Knight doesn't write the same story twice. Her new novel doesn't resemble the delightful, dream-like but unsettling Waiting for Gordo or her beautifully constructed Till they Dropped. Once again there are dream-like sequences and there are pleasing, sometimes bewildering, intricacies of plot structure, but this is quite a different book from its predecessors. It combines elements of Gothic romance, murder mystery, and angry regret at the progressive destruction of traditional life and communities by the inexorable march of money-fuelled modernisation.


Disraeli Hall – a fictitious building, needless to say - was so named because the great Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once spent a night there and a dramatic event occurred. We're never told what that dramatic event was, but we're half-encouraged to speculate about it. It isn't material to the story, but the fact that Disraeli once stayed in the building is something the money men can exploit.


The first chapter tells us that all is not well with Disraeli Hall; its ancient roots and its future possibilities are being subverted and undermined. Then we're given the background to the subversion and undermining as experienced by the protagonist-narrator, Sarah Dexter. Sarah had married Leo Cavalier, owner of Disraeli Hall, after a whirlwind romance. She'd sold her flat in London in order to invest in her new home in the North of England. (As an inhabitant of the Peak District I could relate to her descriptions!)


In her imagination, Sarah made a tongue-in-cheek comparison between her situation and that of the unnamed heroine of du Maurier's Rebecca: Leo had been married previously, his wife had died in an accident, and a sinister housekeeper, Ava Maggs, appears early in the story. During the course of the novel, Ava proves to be no less pernicious than Mrs Danvers. However, stark differences between Disraeli Hall and Manderley are apparent almost from the outset. Manderley was warm, physically comfortable and well maintained. Disraeli Hall was cold, uncomfortable in every sense and falling into decay. Sarah has plans for renovation and restoration, but they are thwarted as she makes more and more unsettling discoveries about her marriage and about her new residence.


Her only real comfort is Anya, daughter of Leo's first wife, with whom Sarah quickly establishes a bond. Sarah is pregnant and hopes she'll shortly give Anya a half-brother and Leo the heir he wants. But things don't work out as she hopes and intends. A tragedy occurs and Sarah's life steadily unravels as Disraeli Hall and its surroundings, and the village that once served it, are transmuted into an upmarket hotel with spacious grounds, and a housing estate.


As the novel nears its end, Sarah's life approaches rock bottom. Her fortunes do seem to take a turn for the better in the closing pages, but the reader is left with an overall feeling of sorrow and loss. Nevertheless the story is gripping and endlessly thought-provoking as twist follows twist. Sue Knight has created a vivid setting and vivid characters, which make this melancholy and sometimes anger-inducing tale memorable.


I am so glad that the reviewer found the book gripping - as that is exactly what I was aiming for.


I am finding it hard to know what more to say, beyond what I guess all writers say. Please, please read the book, and review it. And if you like it, please read the other two and review them as well!


I hope I have one more book in me - a book of short stories - one of which also references Benjamin Disraeli and some of the characters from Disraeli Hall. I am in discussions with my publisher now.


How to finish? Maybe just to say this. My epigraph for Disraeli Hall is Proverbs 15:17:


"Better is a dish of vegetables where there is love than a fattened bull where there is hatred."


Those words are as true now as when their writer, King Solomon, was inspired by our Creator to record them. Whether I have done those words justice in my book is something I have to leave to my readers to decide.