Letters the Week of February 20, 2014


Story on Holocaust Markers Hits Home

Your Jan. 30 paper featured an article (Headlines: “Casting Stones of Remembrance for a Holocaust Victim”) about Stolpersteines, stumbling blocks, which are small brass markers commemorating Jews who died or fled during the Holocaust. The picture showed the grandsons of Dr. Felix Blumenfeld participating in the dedication of a plaque in memory of their prominent grandfather in Kassel, Germany.

My cousin was in Germany this summer and sent me a photo of another marker. It is in memory of Rosa Nordhauser Oppenheim. She was not a prominent woman; she owned a butcher shop in the small town of Bad Hersfeld, which is some 31 miles southeast of Kassel. Her husband died in Belgium during World War I, fighting on behalf of the Germans, and as a war hero’s widow, she initially felt safe.

In April of 1933 Hitler proclaimed a boycott of Jewish businesses, and a guard was stationed outside Rosa’s business.  That was the beginning.  The end came for Rosa, as the marker reflects, in Minsk. She was deported and died there in a Russian concentration camp. Rosa was my grandmother. My cousin, Renee, and my daughter are named after her.

Susan Jaffe, Philadelphia

There Are Ways to Encourage ‘In-Marriage’

Regarding the Feb. 13 article (Cover story: “Intermarriage Debate Reignites”): The seeds of interfaith marriage were and continue to be planted by those who oppose it and are unaware of the root problem: inadequate knowledge of Judaism and how that affects future decisions. For untold years, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, with their glitz and hoopla, have been promoted over confirmation, which stresses Jewish history, holidays, customs and traditions.

Jewish education for all practical purposes stops at age 13. The reading of Hebrew with little or no understanding of what is being read has taken precedence over studying the architects of Judaism. It is not surprising that Jewish youth give little thought to their religion in social situations that may result in marriage. It’s a disgrace that congregations with hundreds of families have only a dozen or so students in their confirmation classes.

Girls and boys of confirmation and post-confirmation age learn to interact with one another and that’s a start. Years ago, I knew of a congregation that had a social club for the unmarried between the ages of low 20s to mid-30s. The group met at the temple once a month for social events and other activities. It had only one flaw: It married itself out of existence.

If temples and synagogues want to promote “in-marriage,” they should create social, not necessarily religious, programs that will attract young and maybe even some not-so-young people to attend. Make the religious edifice also the center of social activities. If you create it, they will come.

Ralph D. Bloch, Warrington





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