Binyamin Netanyahu talks to Johan van Hulst 390 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
■ MARCH OF the Living, which this year marks its 25th anniversary, has held a
special reception for the occasion in New York, attended by Israel’s ambassador
to the United Nations Ron Prosor. Others attending included co-vice chairmen of
the March of the Living Shlomo Grofman and Dr. David Machlis; executive vice
chairman of Council of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Malcolm
Hoenlein; president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding Rabbi Marc
Schneier; Park East Synagogue Senior Rabbi Arthur Schneier and several other
dignitaries. Also present during the event was WWII liberator Rick Carrier, the
first Allied soldier to enter Buchenwald and witness the atrocities committed by
the Nazis. “Nobody can ever deny what I saw with my own two eyes,” the veteran
told the hushed audience.
Carrier will be participating in the 2012 March
of the Living, in which survivors and liberators will be marching together –
some of them for the first time. An international educational program that each
year brings thousands of students and Holocaust survivors to Poland to march
from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Holocaust Remembrance Day, paying tribute to the
memories the victims before continuing on to Israel, the March of the Living was
the brainchild of former government minister Avraham Hirchson, who is currently
serving a prison sentence for corruption.
But the organization he helped
to found grows stronger from year to year.
Keynote speaker Hoenlein
stated: “The greatest enemies facing the Jewish people are ignorance and apathy.
Only those who learn the lessons of the past are prepared to meet the challenges
of the future. There is a great hunger for knowledge and we have to feed it by
giving young people the experience of attending the March of the
The event was endorsed by Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau,
who was a child Holocaust survivor and who today is chairman of Yad Vashem. Lau,
who makes a point of participating in the March of the Living every year, said:
“I am convinced the March of the Living… creates a deeper commitment to Israel
among the student participants from around the world and ensures that the
eternal light of the Jewish people and Israel will never be
DURING HIS visit to the Netherlands last week, Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed members of the Jewish community in the
four-centuries-old Portuguese Synagogue. The date of his visit coincided with the
anniversary of the edict of expulsion of Portuguese Jews that was issued in 1496
by King Manuel I in exchange for the agreement of King Ferdinand and Queen
Isabella of Spain that Manuel could marry their daughter Princess Isabel. The
next day Netanyahu met with Prof. Johan van Hulst who, as the director of a
Protestant seminary during WWII, was able to hide and save more than 500 Jewish
children. Van Hulst, 101, has been recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous among
the Nations. Netanyahu gave him a Bible, not only as a symbol of appreciation
but also as the common foundation of both Judaism and Christianity.
Hulst told the prime minister that the most difficult time in his life was when
he realized that he could not save all the children who needed
Hoping to comfort the elderly hero, Netanyahu replied that in
Jewish tradition it is said that whoever saves a single life is as one who saved
the whole world. He thanked him on behalf of the Jewish people and all of
humanity. In accepting the Bible, Van Hulst said that he has studied the Bible
for many years. To which Netanyahu responded: “I work six days a week and my
Sabbath joy is to study the Bible.”
Van Hulst, who has voiced his
disapproval of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, refrained from discussing
politics with Netanyahu when they met.
■ 2012 IS the centenary of
Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, whose activities in
Israel have grown remarkably from a group of nurses to the magnificent medical
facilities in Jerusalem that provide specialized treatment not only to Israelis,
but also to Palestinians and to people from many parts of the globe who cannot
get the type or quality of treatment they require in their home countries. The
kick-off for the centenary celebrations – of which there will be several
throughout the year – was meant to be the Hadassah Israel 2012 conference
scheduled for February 28 - March 1 at the Ramada Hotel, Jerusalem with the
tentative participation of Prof. Ehud Kokia, director-general of Hadassah
Medical Organization (HMO), political reporter Ayala Hason, Israel Prize
recipient for Work on Women’s Rights Prof. Alice Shalvi, Prof. Yoel Donchin,
HMO, Prof. Shifra Shwartz, Ben Gurion University, writer and former Youth Aliya
director-general Eli Amir, director-general of JNF Efi Shtenzler, Dr. Jose
Cohen, HMO and others.
Although it is still scheduled to take place, it
was preceded by one of HMO’s star surgeons, Prof. Avi Rifkind, suing HMO in the
National Labor Court.
Rifkind, head of the department of general surgery
and trauma, has four years to go before retirement. Acknowledged worldwide as an
expert in trauma therapy who never gives up on a patient and who has saved some
of the most hopeless cases Rifkind has brought a lot of fame and glory to
Hadassah, and the last thing he expected when Kokia took over from Shlomo
Mor-Yosef, was to find himself on the way out of a job. But the day after
Kokia’s appointment, he informed Rifkind that a tender was being published.
Rifkind is no pushover, and the repercussions are unlikely to be pleasant.
Hadassah has a rotation policy vis-à-vis department heads, but Rifkind was
exempted for years and was under the impression that the exemption would
continue until his firstname.lastname@example.org