What Should We Do?

Recently this newspaper asked to interview me as part of a discussion of the American Jewish response to the Holocaust. I described how my father, while serving in the American army, liberated a group of 50 Hungarian Bais Yaakov girls who were enslaved in an ammunition factory in Eschwege, Germany. Yes, there are many more stories of how American Jews stood up and helped, even though all agree that much more could and should have been done.

Not so long ago, I was asked to get involved in helping Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin. It was then that I learned how a small group of Chassidim from Monroe raised huge sums of money to hire top-flight lawyers for him; they left no stone unturned to help a person they never met and who was not a member of their community. He was a fellow Jew in a tragic situation, so they felt it was their responsibility to help. That is the kind of example that makes us proud to be Jews, and that sets an example for all of us.

Now we are all faced with a devastating crisis in Israel. Jews against Jews. Families who don’t know how to put bread on the table. Children going to sleep hungry. Parents at a loss to help them.

And too many of us are complacent. Our Gedolim in Israel are complaining that we American Jews are not getting involved. Just recently I spoke to a cousin of mine who has many married children in Israel and many grandchildren, bli ayin hara. Many of these children are budding Gedolim and heads of their community. He told me that a year ago the father of a family of 12 children was receiving 900 shekalim from the Misrad Hadatot as a kollel stipend; now it has been cut to 400! The same family was getting 2,000 shekalim for child support; that sum has been cut to 1,200. From 2,900 a month to 1,600 a month — a nearly 50-percent reduction in one fell swoop! My cousin sent his children the difference because he could not bear to let them go into Yom Tov devastated. However, he simply cannot continue this support.

Also, the mother of the family, who is a Bais Yaakov teacher, is not being paid because the government drastically cut its partial support of the Bais Yaakov schools and seminaries, while maintaining its support of secular schools. This is one story out of tens of thousands. The common denominator is devastation!

My purpose with this plea is not to get into the right or wrong of the system. My purpose is to proclaim with a very heavy heart that these young families and their innocent children are our brothers and sisters — and they are hurting. We are proud of them and we must recognize that they need our help, and we cannot ignore their plight. We must help them. They are the innocent victims of a spiritual nuclear bomb, and we Americans and all Chutz LaAretz Jews must come to the rescue.

Let’s not absolve ourselves by saying it’s up to the Gedolim and leaders. Let’s take the initiative. Let’s follow the example of that handful of Monroe chassidim who rose to the occasion.

I have some ideas about what we can and should do, but I want to hear ideas from you. Let volunteers come forward. Let’s work together. Our grandchildren are justifiably asking why American Jews did not do more during World War II. Let’s make sure that, years from now, our children and grandchildren do not accuse us of standing aside when Torah institutions and families were under siege in Israel. Let’s be sure they do not have to point fingers at us and ask, “What was the American response?” Let’s respond!

I urge everyone who reads this article to respond with emotion and concern for these pure children whose prayers go straight up to Shamayim.

Let me hear from you — please! Let’s share ideas and pool our thoughts and resources to prevent an unspeakable tragedy in Israel. This is a historic time. We must respond in a historic manner.


 

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