Bless you, Bennie!
Thank you for your article, “Daddy Ochberg” (March 25). Please allow me to correct a few inaccuracies in the article and to honor Bennie Penzik, the driving force behind remembering Isaac Ochberg.
• There were equal bequests to the JNF and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Ochberg’s will.
• The venture and later visits were financed by the Jewish community as a whole, not only the Cape Jewish Orphanage. Ochberg was the representative of and financed by the South African Jewish Community via the Jewish War Victims Fund.
• While permission was given to bring out 200 Ukrainian War and Pogrom Orphans to South Africa, at the last moment 37 children ran away from the temporary shelter in Warsaw and, in fact, a total of 177 children were brought out, including 44 from the three Pinsker Orphanages that were established and run by Alter Bobrow and his comrades.
• The book titled Ochberg Orphans and the Horrors from Whence they Came by David Solly Sandler was compiled from 2008 to 2011 and its publication preceded the 2011 “Ochberg experience in Israel” and was in fact on sale at the event. Parts of the book had been printed and distributed in 2009 and 2010.
It was during the compilation of the Ochberg Orphans book that the information came to light that that there had been a stone memorial to Isaac Ochberg at the Elyakim Junction that had been removed and put into storage. Bennie Penzik made it his mission to correct this wrong and in protracted negotiations with the JNF twisted their arm to properly recognize Isaac Ochberg and to establish the Isaac Memorial Heritage Park, next to Kibbutz Ein Hashofet. If it was not for Bennie there would be no Ochberg Memorial Park in Israel, no 2011 ceremony in Israel, no Ochberg Memorial Committee, no article in The Jerusalem Report and no celebration about this great man.
Bless you, Bennie!
David Solly Sandler
Perth, Western Australia
Raising awareness of the great work done by Isaac Ochberg has been incredibly meaningful to his descendants, as well as to all the descendants of those children he saved from a horrific plight. There are so many people to be recognised for their contributions to this effort and a wholehearted thanks goes out to all of you.
The following picture appears on page 12 of The Report (March 25) with an incorrect caption: “Isaac Ochberg with Leah Zaicka, and Clara and Sally Tannenbaum, older orphans who were brought out as nurses.”
Sally Tannenbaum was my mother and one of the children saved by Ochberg. She does not appear in this picture. At the time, she was a small child, too young to pass as a nurse. Clara Tannenbaum was Sally’s sister and was brought out as a “nurse.”
I believe that the correct caption is the one that appears under this photograph, which was sent to me by David Solly Sandler when he was gathering information for his book on the Ochberg Orphans. He received it from Ursula Rembach with “Leah’s story,” an article she wrote about her mother.
Burlington, Ontario, Canada
A Gaza diary
In the article apparently critical of Israel, “A Gaza diary” by Howard Kaplan (March 11), who went undercover into Gaza, disputed territory, during the first intifada in 1988, (I note that Mr. Kaplan used this article to publicize three of his books), he describes people living in squalid refugee camps with pools of effluent in the streets and an Israeli hospital containing children with multiple fractures from beatings and a man with severe burns. Was he really surprised to find these children there when their parents had sent them out as living weapons of destruction, to attack and throw rocks and stones?! Furthermore, it must be emphasized that this was an Israeli hospital for Palestinians.
There were 820,000 Jewish refugees who were forcefully expelled from Arab countries where they had often lived for thousands of years. They were resettled in Israel or elsewhere where they have integrated and prospered. There were 750,000 Arab refugees who were displaced in 1948, and were left in refugee camps by fellow Arabs. Well over a million of these people are still in these camps despite millions of dollars of relief, which has “mysteriously” disappeared. There are no other permanent refugee camps like this in the world. What does this tell you, that these people are being kept in “forced captivity” as pawns? Of course, Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and Hamas is now responsible for their even more sorry conditions.
Costa Del Sol, Spain
A vicious country?
This is my response to a reader’s question about why I called Israel “a vicious country” (“Maureen Fain: Out on her own,” March 11). During my hour-long session with the writer of the article, Mordechai Beck, we were having a discussion about the art world in Israel. What was written was part of our discourse on the many fine painters in Israel, living in essentially a very small country in an extremely competitive environment. Most artists here struggle to survive. That is the situation in which we Israeli artists exist. I have lived here for 50 years and love Israel and its people, and while my profession isn’t easy I have been very fortunate.