Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual
teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law.
He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their
search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money,
and spiritual engagement.
New Holocaust Museum To Include History Of Jewish Resistance By Marc Gronich
photo Credit: Courtesy of CDJHM
Plans are in the works for a $5 million Holocaust memorial in the town of Niskayuna, Schenectady County, to be completed in 2023 on a two-acre site donated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.
The Capital District Jewish Holocaust Memorial is being designed as an educational tool to eliminate anti-Semitism and boost the teaching of the Holocaust, which gets only a passing mention, in public schools.
“The memorial is going to be a very attractive, interesting and educational memorial,” said Dr. Stephen Berk, a history professor at Schenectady-based Union College and expert in all things related to the Holocaust. “I think people will make their way to see it. School districts will come, word will come out and I think people who are traveling in the vicinity of Schenectady will make sure to see the Holocaust memorial. This memorial will last long after you and I are pushing up the daisies.”
In a series of webinars Berk hosts, the latest one focused on the Jewish resistance during the 1940s.
“There was a great deal of resistance,” Berk firmly noted. “The resistance involved hundreds of thousands of people. We have got to throw this idea, this concept, of the Jews went like sheep to the slaughter into the trash bin of history. It simply is not true. The memory of these people – men, women and children – who faced an apocalypse the likes of which the world had never known, facing incredible odds in absolutely desperate circumstances. We must remember them and we must let their memory inspire us to deal with what may be some very difficult days ahead.”
“The difficult days ahead” that Berk alluded to include “a digital clock in Tehran that counts down from the year 2040 because it says Israel will be destroyed and must be destroyed…. Israel is the only country in the world that is designated as a country that is to be destroyed by another country.”
That was true in the 1940s as well.
“In the words of Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (SS), in a telegram he sent to SS Commanders in the Ukraine, he said, ‘We must kill them [the Jews] down to the last child in the cradle.’”
Berk spoke in stark detail about the resistance most people do not remember or never knew about.
“We know now, 76 years after the Second World War, we have memoirs, we have the testimony of thousands of Holocaust survivors, we have diaries, we have German documentation,” Berk told a virtual audience. “In at least 100 of the ghettos there was armed resistance. The iconic ghetto resistance [came] in Warsaw: April 19th, the first night of Passover, 1943, 700 young men and women from various organizations possessing very little in the way of weaponry, 30 rifles at the most, one machine gun and probably 50 pistols. Arrayed against them are several thousand Ukrainian and German soldiers with tanks and flame-throwers and a multitude of machine guns. The people who rise and revolt in the Warsaw Ghetto know they don’t stand a chance in hell. Not one chance in a million. What they are trying to do is to continue the way they lived.
“The slogan in the Warsaw Ghetto from 1940 down to its destruction in the late spring of 1943 is ‘to live with honor and to die with honor.’ Those men and women, nearly all nearly very young, from various organizations, fought to enhance the reputation of the Jews. Their revolt was unlimited.
“Many of them thought it is better not to fight in the ghetto where it is hopeless – so let’s go out to the forest. The forest of Lithuania, Belarus, eastern Poland, and many were told there would be 20 to 30,000 Jews fighting in the forest of Eastern Europe,” Berk added.
There is more to tell than the armed revolt in the Warsaw Ghetto.
“There are different kinds of resistance,” Berk said earlier this moth. “The Nazis did not allow any educational facilities to function in the ghettos. Yet, the Jews in the ghettos created underground schools for teenagers, for young people. There was even a Jewish underground medical school in the Warsaw Ghetto. They tried to stage cultural events. Then there were the religious people who clung to their religion. I told you about some religious people who were too passive but others were not. At all levels, rabbis resisted the Nazis in their own way. It wasn’t armed revolt. They did what they could. They clung to their faith.
“When one looks at the obstacles of resistance, one is astonished that there was any resistance at all. The obstacles confronting the Jews in the ghettos, in the concentration camps and in the extermination camps, to say was formidable would be a great underestimation. Jews were fighting in the ghettos. The most remarkable thing of all were the Jewish revolts in the three extermination camps.”
Berk made a point that the revolts included women as well.
“In 1943, in [the death camps of] Sobibor and in Treblinka, the Jews revolted. In Sobibor it was a Red Army soldier who had been captured and was put in Sobibor. This was Alexander ‘Sasha’ Pechersky, the man who led the revolt. Pechersky was a Jew.
“In Treblinka the Jews led the revolt. The most famous of those revolts, that becomes almost iconic, is the revolt in Auschwitz. On October 7, 1944, the Sonderkommandos revolted – [they were] a special group of Jews. They were not volunteers.
“These were people who came off the train. Always men, always Jewish men. In the eyes of the Nazis they looked like they were in fairly good shape. They were put in the vicinity of the gas chambers. Their jobs were to take the Jews and undress them, move them into the gas chambers and then once the murders had taken place they go into the gas chambers, pull out the victims – the Jewish men, women and children – shave the hair of the women; then there was a subgroup known as the dentists, some were actual dentists, opened up the mouths of the victims and pulled out the gold and silver fillings.
“This is a very efficient apparatus on the part of the Germans. Some of the Sonderkommandos were killed, sometimes every 90 days. Then in late September, early October 1944, the Sonderkommandos said enough is enough. We have to save ourselves and we have to somehow stop the killing.
“On October 7, 1944, the Sonderkommandos in Crematorium IV attacked the Germans who were stationed there. They killed several of them and destroyed the crematorium and the gas chamber. There were five crematoria and gas chambers in Auschwitz. One was in Auschwitz I and the other four were in Auschwitz II.
“This was not an all-male endeavor,” Berk continued. “All sorts of men are involved in it but so too are the women. The women are very much involved. The women are the couriers and make munitions and pass the munitions on to people. The Auschwitz revolt was only made possible because of a group of Jewish women working in a German munitions factory in Auschwitz. They smuggled out the black powder. One of the heroic women was Róża Robota, a young woman from the eastern part of Poland. She smuggled the black powder to the Sonderkommandos, and that was used to blow up the crematorium. There is a good deal of female participation in the resistance movement.
“We’re talking about revolts in a number of places: The killing field that is in Birkenau. The revolt is a massive one. In the end there is a massive breakout. It doesn’t end well. The Nazis hunted down all of them. There were no Jews who escaped from that revolt. Some managed to escape from Treblinka and Sobibor. From the Auschwitz revolt no one really survives. Again, this is a heroic act.
“The idea that the Jews went like sheep to the slaughter is absolute nonsense. Narishkeit, foolishness. The Jews did fight back. We all know about Mordechai Anielewicz, the leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Yitzhak Zuckerman, people in Bialystock, people in Vilna.
There were some branches, however, within the Polish underground movement that spent more time in hunting down and killing the Jews then they did hunting down the Nazis.”
Berk also discussed the Soviet incursion at the end of the war.
“The Red Army liberated Auschwitz and most of the other concentration and extermination camps. The contribution of the Red Army still gets mired down with residual anti-Russian sentiment. You have to talk about Stalin, who was the leader at the time and called the shots. One thing is for sure. Stalin did not give a damn about the Jews. He was an anti-Semite. If the Red Army liberated Auschwitz, it was not done deliberately but because Auschwitz was in the line of advance. Nonetheless, it was the Red Army that liberated Auschwitz and took the casualties. It was the Red Army that put an end to the gassing.
“Most of the people in Auschwitz had been forced out in December 1944 and January 1945. On January 27, 1945, when the Red Army liberated Auschwitz, there were 7,000 Jews. They would have died had the Red Army not come. Credit should be given where credit is due.”
Dr. Michael Lozman, an orthodontist and president of the Capital District Jewish Holocaust Memorial, said, “The Holocaust memorial is designed to honor the six million Jews who were killed by the Nazis and to teach about the Holocaust, about the effects of hatred, bigotry and prejudice and about the importance of remembering what our responsibility is to help make this a better world. Our mission is strongly committed to education because education is a key to make change happen.”
To contribute to this memorial, send a check made out to CDJHM to P.O. Box 9410, Niskayuna, NY 12309.
As many Jewish baseball fans know, four players were tagged by the media as Jews (Alex Bregman, Max Fried, Joc Pederson and Garrett Stubbs) in the 2021 World Series won by the Atlanta Braves over the Houston Astros. Some have just one Jewish parent and are far removed from any observance of Judaism, and are willing to play on Yom Kippur. Like most non-orthodox Jews, their Jewish life ended at their bar mitzvah – assuming they observed it at all.
Stubbs was the backup to the backup catcher and had no at-bats while Bregman, Fried and Pederson made Jewish history by figuring in the same play in Game Two of the World Series. Houston third baseman Alex Bregman hit a Max Fried pitch to right field, which was caught by Joc Pederson. Something to remember for Jewish fans. But now let’s also take the time to remember the Jewish players who died in 2021. Some, up in age as I am, will remember following them during their playing days.
born in 1931 to European immigrant parents. The Yankees outbid the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants, who also wanted to sign the big six-foot-four pitcher hoping to attract more Jewish fans. After a couple of years in the Yankees organization, Cohen was obtained by the Cubs who hoped to give him a big league shot in 1952. However, the Korean War was raging and Cohen was drafted to wear a military uniform.
Hy Cohen finally made his big league debut on April 17, 1955, and had his last major league appearance on June 2. In between, he pitched in seven games without recording a victory or loss. He was tagged for 28 hits in 17 innings with an ERA of 7.94, and the right-hander earned a ticket back to the minor leagues. Twenty-two days later Sandy Koufax made his major league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
After dreidling around the minors, Cohen finished college and earned a master’s degree in education and began a career as a teacher in the Los Angeles public school system, and also coached high school baseball in Southern California. He was married for 66 years and celebrated his 90th birthday before Covid claimed him less than a week later.
Norm Sherry died from natural causes at 89 at a long-term care facility in San Juan Capistrano, California. Along with his brother Larry, they starred at Fairfax High in Los Angeles and were teammates with the Los Angeles Dodgers. They were a Jewish battery as Norm was the catcher and Larry the pitcher. Norm also caught Sandy Koufax and tried to give him some pitching advice. Stubborn Sandy finally listened to his catcher’s advice and became a different pitcher.
The transition came during an exhibition game in 1961. Koufax started the game by loading the bases as most of his pitches were wild. Sherry went to the mound and told Koufax to ease up on the ball, don’t force the pitch by throwing so hard, relax the grip on the ball and aim for spots. Sandy had heard similar advice before, but this time he listened to his catcher, struck out the next three batters, and didn’t allow a hit the rest of the way. Sherry shocked Koufax by telling him he was actually throwing harder by not trying. From that day on the 25-year-old left-hander was reborn as a pitcher.
After a five-year playing career and with a .215 career batting average, mostly with the Dodgers and a short stint with the Mets, Norm Sherry began coaching and managing and was hired as a major league manager with the California Angels in 1976. He was fired a year later and went back to coaching.
Richie Scheinblum had an eight-year big league career spanning 1965 to 1974 with six different teams (Cleveland, Washington, Kansas City, Cincinnati, California Angels and St. Louis), and compiled a career average of .263 with 13 home runs. His best season – and the only one in which he played in over 100 games – was in 1972 when he hit eight homers and batted .300 for Kansas City, becoming the only Jewish switch-hitter to hit .300 or better for an entire season.
On July 20, 1969, U.S. astronauts walked on the moon, and Scheinblum ran around the bases excitedly after hitting his first big league home run. We spent some time together one afternoon in the early 70s by walking around downtown Detroit and talking baseball. Richie was in a slump at the time and reasoned, “A slump is like a cold. No matter what you do it’s going to last about two weeks.”
After his release as a big league player, Scheinblum played in Japan for Hiroshima in 1975. He was the first Jew to play professionally in Japan and the first player to hit a home run in one game from both sides of the plate. The switch-hitter would also play the following year in Japan. Then it was on to California where he operated a wholesale jewelry business and eventually moved to Palm Harbor, Florida, where he worked as a salesman. Richie Scheinblum was 78 when he died in Florida early in the 2021 baseball season.
The Torah gives us snapshots of Yosef’s career: An early rise to prominence in Potiphar’s home while he’s still a teenager, a leadership role during his 12 years in jail, and then 14 years as prince of Egypt and head of the Federal Reserve, steering the Egyptians through a major economic crisis. From the time he reaches his mid-40’s we barely hear from or about him until he dies approximately 65 years later.
It’s another 100 years before Yosef reappears on our radar posthumously, when Moshe (the next Jewish prince of Egypt) arranges for the homecoming of his remains. In the interim, Moshe’s first 80 years fly by in the pages of our parsha; we learn that he has an early retirement from his own tenure as prince of Egypt, and will eventually hold his own leadership position for 40 years until his death.
Yosef may have been an early exemplar of what’s come to be known in recent years as the FIRE movement: Financial Independence – Retire Early. It’s always important to maximize your earnings during your peak years (and beyond). The twist with the FIRE movement is the strategy and objective of accelerating your earnings dramatically in your 20s and 30s so that (like Yosef) you become wealthy enough that you can choose to retire early. Easier said than done, but so goes the FIRE theory.
I’d like to share a different takeaway from Yosef’s disappearance off the Egyptian (and Torah’s) stage in his 40s. Sometimes in our career we are invited to explore a new opportunity, and are hesitant for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we think we’re irreplaceable – how will the company and its clients survive without us? Maybe we are afraid to try something new. Or we don’t want to let go of our routines and work friendships. These may have been among the considerations and reservations that Moshe (and many other prophets) had when they were called by G-d. Maybe they wondered how serving G-d or country or taking on a new role would affect them and their families.
Yosef had committed 14 years of his life to what was likely a very demanding role in the public spotlight, with thousands, if not millions, depending upon him. Perhaps Yosef (with the aid of Mrs. Yosef) decided that it was OK to step down. Maybe he went back to shepherding or another career. Did he retire early and enable his sons and daughters-in-law to achieve prominence in their own careers by helping to raise his grandchildren? Regardless of what he did next, Yosef gives us “permission” to step back from a big role, make the most of roles that he didn’t apply for or select, and also to move on from one opportunity to another.
My father celebrated his semi-retirement a couple of years ago by embarking on the daf yomi cycle. (PGBM – Please G-d By Me!) In his merit, I offer one more suggestion inspired by an unnamed talmid chacham quoted in the footnotes to Shemu’os Rei’Ya”h (essays on Bereishis based on Torah taught by Rav Kook). Yosef was a carbon copy of his father in many aspects of his life (as Rashi notes at the beginning of Vayeshev), with one big exception. While Ya’akov was yoshev ohalim, spending much of his life (apart from 14 years in Lavan’s home) cloistered in the beis medrash, Yosef spent his peak years rising to greatness in Egypt. After 14 years at his peak (the same amount of time Yaakov had spent dedicated to Torah in the yeshiva of Shem v’Ever) Yosef may have felt that there was something missing in his life – something he needed to address with some urgency. While he likely didn’t quit and start doing the daf, and there’s no indication that he had (regular) communication with his father, maybe he too became a yoshev ohalim and spent the rest of his days immersed in Torah.
For those who may feel guilty that our career pursuits have left little time for Torah, I’m officially coining a new acronym: FIMT: Financial Independence – More Torah. May we be blessed with the career and financial security to be kovea more time for Torah, and may that time not have to wait until we retire.
Hillel Fuld has always been passionate about technology. After graduating with a degree in political science, he found himself writing user manuals for a large company, which he admits is not an optimal career choice for someone with ADHD.
At the time, Fuld started a tech blog. It was still in the early days of blogging, and his blog blew up. Israeli tech entrepreneurs reached out to him for marketing advice. He provided advice, free of charge, thereby exceeding their expectations. Subsequently, some of these entrepreneurs requested a client-based relationship, and Fuld began to build his marketing business.
Today Fuld wears many hats. For one, he advises a gamut of businesses – from startups to multinational corporations to non-profits, banks, and even venture capital firms – on company growth, specifically in the realm of PR, social media, content creation, business development and fundraising.
He also contributes to a variety of publications, including Tech Crunch, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, Calcalist and the Jerusalem Post. He began a Vlog four years ago to acquaint his listeners with the founders and executives behind well-known Israeli tech companies, and he hosts a podcast called Bootstrap.
Fuld is also a sought-after public speaker, and more recently became a corporate ambassador, promoting products from his ambassadorships, such as the Google Developer Program, to his audience.
I spoke to Fuld from his home in Israel to learn more about his work and to hear his insights into the tech startup world.
On Startups: I wanted to understand what differentiates a successful company from a mediocre company. Since Fuld advises a myriad of startups, I wondered if there were some elements a startup could incorporate to help create a formula for success.
According to Fuld, the biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is neglecting to do comprehensive competitive analysis and thorough market research. They have what they believe is a phenomenal idea, and they’re gung-ho about implementing it. While passion is admirable, Fuld suggests entrepreneurs take a month or so to get to know their competition.
Another crucial element for success is creating a ten-second “elevator pitch.” Fuld advises entrepreneurs to determine the one thing that will cause an investor FOMO (“fear of missing out”). This can be anything from the product, the team, the technology, the market, or any other quality that stands out about the company.
The key, Fuld explains, is to create a pitch that gets the listener to identify with the problem, and to subsequently explain how the business intends to solve said problem. Hence, starting a pitch with, “We have an algorithm,” may lead to a loss of interest, whereas saying something along the lines of, “Remember yesterday, you lost your daughter at the park, or you landed at the airport and couldn’t find your suitcase,” will most probably cause listeners to nod their heads as they identify with the pain point.
Fuld also strongly encourages entrepreneurs to build and maintain business relationships. He suggests entrepreneurs spend considerable time networking, even if it’s merely receiving feedback on their products from those already in the industry – after all, one door can lead to many others.
Fuld is well aware that some might find his final piece of advice somewhat controversial. Nevertheless, he notes the earlier a business raises capital, the bigger stake goes to investors, since they’re assuming risk, and he therefore recommends avoiding external investors early on, whenever possible.
On Comparing Yesterday’s, Today’s and Tomorrow’s Tech: The tech industry is an immensely different space than when Fuld began his tech blog a decade and a half ago. I wanted to understand how Fuld views its evolution and what he believes the future will bring.
For one, Fuld believes that the tech market is highly saturated. Entrepreneurs who have an idea for a product today can safely assume it has already been done in some form. Fuld doesn’t necessarily think the noise is a bad thing, although it makes it more difficult for a company to stand out.
Another difference, he says, is that valuations are much higher than they were 14 years ago. Tech companies are achieving numbers and scale like never seen before.
As for the future, Fuld expects “the next big thing” to be drones and a more sophisticated form of human-computer interaction. He believes our fraternization with our phones, which look like slabs of glass in the palms of our hands, will be seen as primitive and archaic in a few years, and instead we’ll be using some sort of wearable device that enables us to interact with our computers more intuitively.
On Interviews: Among the people Fuld considers most inspirational are two legends that have had a deep impact on the tech and business worlds: Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, and Marc Andreesen, investor and inventor of the first widely-used web browser.
Fuld shared some lesser-known stories these individuals recounted to him. For example, Wozniak told him about the time a teacher came into the garage where Apple started to ask for a computer for her students. Steve Jobs, another co-founder, declined the request. Wozniak disagreed. Jobs still refused, so Wozniak took money out of his own pocket and bought the computer he had just built to give to the teacher.
Another example: While Andreesen invests in Israeli ventures, his company has a “one office rule” (Silicon Valley), and he doesn’t have an official presence in the Jewish state. However, Fuld noted that Andreesen mentioned to him, when his company decides to open a second office, it will be in Tel Aviv.
Mental Health: Fuld is passionate about mental health. From a business perspective, mental health is one of the few industries that tech hasn’t yet disrupted. However, Fuld purports that some of the Israeli tech companies focusing on mental health are producing incredible products and/or services.
On a personal level, Fuld’s brother, Ari Fuld, hy”d, was murdered in a terrorist attack in 2018. Before collapsing, he chased and shot the terrorist, thereby ensuring he wouldn’t injure others. This horrific tragedy, coupled with Covid, propelled Fuld towards the mental health field. Fuld recognized the pandemic exacerbated mental health challenges in a general sense, and he felt he had a choice. He could either sweep his mental health challenges under the rug, or he could use his platform to de-stigmatize mental health. He chose the latter.
In Fuld’s opinion, we will have reached full de-stigmatization when it will be as acceptable for a person to say he is declining a dinner invite because he is sad as it would be for him to say he is declining a dinner invite due to a broken leg.
Final Thoughts: As our interview winded down, Fuld shared that, prior to Covid, he looked to work with companies that produced solid products or services and had good, smart people at the helm. Today, he says, the most important thing to him is working with good people who have a long-term vision and an impactful and meaningful mission.