“Amidah,” as the term is used by historian Yehuda Bauer, refers to any act by which Jews “stood up” to Nazi persecution. By that definition, smuggling food or conducting a Torah class in the confines of a ghetto were acts of resistance. But some resisters actually picked up a weapon, and their exploits exert a certain visceral appeal to the generations who struggle to make sense of the tragic carnage that we call the Holocaust.
The five got into a van and were driven to a tent in the middle of the desert, near the Pakistani border. By this time, my great-grandmother had realized that they were not headed for a vacation but instead were fleeing Iran, and she began loudly protesting.
"It was one of the longest nights in my life.They kept telling me to go to sleep, but I just could not, because I had young girls with me. Then one of the smugglers came into the room and fell asleep at the entrance."
Sarah Ogilvie and Scott Miller set a difficult task for themselves. Writing their book was easy. So, too, was researching what happened on the voyage of the St. Louis, the Hamburg-American line ship that traveled from Germany to Cuba in May 1939, carrying 937 passengers who were escaping Nazi Germany. The authors' greater challenge was to uncover the fate of the passengers after the ship had been turned away from numerous ports. Their dogged pursuit of all leads yielded some surprising results.
While Hollywood has always concentrated on escapist entertainment, many filmmakers yearn to go against the grain and make movies that address urgent social and political issues. They have to fight the industry's perennial fear of alienating audiences with stories that hit too close to home. Yet during periods of national turmoil, politically charged movies have shared the spotlight with comic book fantasies and screwball comedies.
While Levitin's novel, "The Return," won the PEN Award and National Jewish Book Award, one might ask if this is apt material for a musical.
Levitin had never written a play or even lyrics before, but calls the musical the "most wonderful, creative form," an egalitarian template that can depict and appeal to anyone.
Erich Lessing received his first camera when he exited the synagogue from his bar mitzvah in Vienna in 1936.
"There was no idea of taking up photography as a profession," said Lessing, 82, from his house in Austria. "In a good Jewish family in Vienna you would only be a lawyer or a doctor."
As the train pulled into the Iraqi border police station, the lanky Jewish boy at the window became more and more nervous. The bulging package under his robes felt heavy like lead.
In the history of the Holocaust, the Sobibor death camp in Eastern Poland has remained something of a footnote, a place where 260,000 Jews were murdered, as opposed to at least 1.1 million in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Having operated for just 18 months and closed long before the Allied victory in May 1945, Sobibor, like its victims, disappeared almost without a trace.
With the demise of the former Soviet Union and the fall of communism in the early '90s, the story of Soviet Jewry's battle for survival appears to be ancient history. Yet one of the truly remarkable books of our time is the autobiography of one of the famous refuseniks, Yosef Mendelevitch, who struggled valiantly for his right to be Jewish in Communist Russia. Mendelevitch titled his autobiography "Mevzah Hatunah," which translates from Hebrew as "Operation Wedding."