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Some More Reflections from Berlin

July 19, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Of the approximately 520,000 Jews living in Germany in 1933 over 300,000 emigrated before the war. Living under Nazi rule they saw the danger long before others and many managed to flee before it was too late. The Nazis yemach shemam themselves encouraged Jews to leave and it was only in late 1941 that the doors of emigration closed. While many thereby survived some had the misfortune of fleeing to countries later invaded by...
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Reflections from Berlin

July 17, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
On May 12, 2015 Reuven Rivlin, President of the State of Israel, addressed the German parliament--fifty years to the day of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Fifty years earlier, President Rivlin had joined those protesting such a relationship. How could the State of Israel establish relations with those responsible for the murder of 1/3 of our people? How dare anyone forgive and thereby defame the...
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Thoughts from Poland: Part 5

July 14, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Ramah, Rav Moshe Isserles, is probably the most famous and important figure to have lived in Krakow. Born in 1530 to a wealthy family, the name Isserles is a reference to his father, Isser or Yisrael. (As Shaul Stampfer and others have aptly demonstrated in discussing 19th century Lithuanian society, it was generally the wealthy who became Torah scholars, as the poor did not have the resources to obtain the top teachers for their...
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Thoughts from Poland: Shabbat in Krakow

July 13, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Shabbat in Krakow. A city of glory, like almost no other in Jewish history. The Jewish quarter dates from the 16th century and is actually known as Kazimierz. Today, it is part of Krakow, but originally was an island just next to Krakow where Jews were welcomed after being expelled from Krakow in 1495.  Krakow was teeming with Jews over Shabbat. Within just a few hundred yards, there are seven functioning (in some capacity) shuls,...
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Poland Thoughts: Part Three

July 12, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
For Jews, Poland was as close to Gan Eden in exile as one could get. It was referred to by Jews as Po lin, "here we rest" in tranquility waiting for the arrival of Mashiach. It was also known as Po lan yah, "here G-d rests", as He accompanied His people to this wonderful galut. Tragically, all this changed overnight. While we associate Poland with the death camps and view the...
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