Shanghai Jews During WWII
As I was researching information about the Jews in Shanghai, I came across an article in The Jewish Voice called “Orthodox Jews in WWII Shanghai” about the exhibit Precious Gift: Rescue in Shanghai from a year ago. I hope that perhaps you could put me in touch with some of people who had lived in Shanghai during World War II.
I am an author working on a book for 5th-8th graders about a German girl whose family escaped to Shanghai. I have spent several years reading and researching the topic. I have already interviewed six people who were in Shanghai during the war- including the daughter of a Sephardic rabbi, and two Russian Jews whose family had migrated in the early 1900s.
Two chapters of the book have been reviewed by my peer writing group and the novel is outlined. I am looking for details to authenticate the experiences of my character. My intent is to tell as many of the stories as possible through the eyes of my 10-year old character and the people she meets.
I noticed in your article names of some people who might be able to provide the tidbits I am looking to record: The Wilken family–”the Sabbaths and other holidays they celebrated and the difficulties they faced (shortages of food, clothing, and medicine” and Judith Cohen-Gilbert’s childhood.
Rabbi Sholom Friedman’s comment resonated with me: “The story of the Jews’ escape to Shanghai is one that students don’t typically encounter in school, and yet it carries with it important lessons: the power of faith, the importance of perseverance, the role of resilience, and the imperative of survival.”
I want this story to be more widely viewed and its lessons must be taught. Those who survived the Holocaust will not survive much longer and a new generation must hear their plight.
I appreciate any information or names you can provide me with.
Phyllis Chesler Responds to Detractor
The Jewish Voice has been reposting my articles and interviewing me for a long time now. That is about to change. I am referring to your decision to publish a letter which had little to do with the main arguments of my piece about the Women’s March Leadership; a letter which insults me and which uses Holocaust imagery to attack women’s reproductive rights.
My good friend Merle Hoffman, Founder and President of Choices Women’s Medical Center, interviewed the late Elie Wiesel for On The Issues Magazine, about abortion and the frequent misuse of the Holocaust when attacking women’s reproductive rights. Here is a small part of their conversation:
Hoffman: You have said that you are uncomfortable with the violence of the abortion debate, but when John Cardinal O’Connor first came to New York he held a press conference in which he stated that legal abortion was the “Second Holocaust.” How do you feel about abortion being likened to the genocidal slaughter of the Jews?
Wiesel: I am uncomfortable with the language of this debate. I resent the violence of the language the words that they use like Holocaust no it is not a Holocaust. It is blasphemy to reduce a tragedy of such monumental proportions to this human tragedy, and abortion is a human tragedy. What should be done is to give back the human proportion to the abortion issue, and when we see it as such we may be able to have much more understanding for the woman who chooses it.
Hoffman: Women who choose abortion are consistently labeled killers, and I personally have been compared to Hitler and called a great murderer.
Wiesel: A woman who feels she cannot go on, and with pain and despair she decides that she has to give up her child, is this woman a killer? Really really. But look, you cannot let these words hurt you. You have to be strong not to pay any attention because those who do that call you a Hitler and relate it to the Holocaust prove that they do not know what the Holocaust was.
The fact that you chose to publish a letter attacking one of your own writers—me—about an issue that was not crucial to my piece is curious. Birnbaum has defamed me as anti-Halacha on this subject and she is simply wrong, ignorant.
Dr. Phyllis Chesler
Applauds Expansion of Holocaust Education
I was pleased after reading your article “Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney Announces Historic Bipartisan Legislation on Holocaust Education” because there can never be enough Holocaust education. Some of my deepest fears are coming truer as a scary amount of people, especially younger people, don’t know much about the Holocaust. Many people don’t even know what Auschwitz is. I’m glad that this bipartisan legislation could pave the way for making sure our kids get the proper Holocaust education they need so they can be protected by the bad-faith actors out there denying the truth.
The Nazi party and its enablers, under Adolf Hitler, its dictator, systematically targeted and exterminated nearly six million Jews for the explicit purpose of eliminating every Jew on Earth. His killing machine took the lives of about 4 million more oppressed groups. These facts are so basic and fundamental and don’t even begin to dive into the countless horrors and individual stories of tragedy and survival, but we have to remember how foreign these basics sound to a surprisingly high number of people.
No time is too soon to start teaching about the Holocaust, before there’s a chance for lies and doubt to be planted by those who wish to harm us. We should all applaud Rep. Maloney and everyone who supported her efforts. Let’s keep it going and make sure that we never forget.
Thinks News of Cancer Cure Gives False Hope
I was disappointed after reading the article “Could Israel’s New Immunotherapy Treatment Become a Possible Cure for Cancer?” because of the false hope it gives. Virtually everyone is affected by cancer and would jump with joy at the thought of a cure being discovered, which is what makes this misleading story even more egregious and devastating.
First of all, there wouldn’t just be a cure for cancer. There are many different types of cancer that develop in different ways in different people. Cancers affect different types of cells. It’s a ludicrous assertion to suggest that there would just be some single cure for all of a cancer. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for treating cancer. It’s great that research continues into finding cures for types of cancer, and there have actually been some promising leads. We need to stay cautiously optimistic though and keep listening to the scientists and not people who are just hyping up a promising study in order to project the false hope that we can now cure all of cancer.
We also don’t want people out there changing their habits or even cancer treatment options because they think a blanket cancer cure is on the horizon. Listen to your doctors and try leading a healthier lifestyle. It’s simple and unsatisfying, and it most certainly cannot prevent cancer, but that’s about all we can do now. It’s hard to face reality and so much easier to buy into the idea of miracle cures. If we face reality though, we know where we stand with current treatment options and experimental cures and can try to keep working forward from there until hopefully there is a day when we can find a way to defeat all types of cancer.