March 13: A mother seeks closure

The woman in the middle of the last row is my mother, Rachel. We are desperately looking for our sister, and my mother for her daughter.

letters 88 (photo credit: )
letters 88
(photo credit: )
A mother seeks closure, desperately Sir, - Do you know anyone in this photo? The woman in the middle of the last row, without the baby, is my mother, Rachel. We are desperately looking for our sister, and my mother for her daughter. Rachel, born in 1923, and originally from Sighet in Romania, is now 83. She is a survivor of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen. After her rescue in 1945 she returned to Romania disoriented and likely suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. In winter 1947, aged 24, she came to Palestine/Israel. Upon her arrival her family found out she was pregnant. Little is known about the father; he remained in Romania. In early 1948 Rachel's sister sent her to the family pictured above, apparently in Netanya. (One of those boys may today be a judge in Haifa.) In June 1948 my mother gave birth to a healthy girl. A few days after the delivery my mother was picked up by the family in the photo and stayed with them for three days. She was told to sign some documents - probably about adoption - and then sent immediately to the army, which was fighting Israel's War of Independence. We cannot find any documentation of the birth; the baby was likely registered under a different name. That Rachel was not married to the baby's father was probably the reason for the adoption; also because my mother's family did not think her capable of caring for a child. Since 1947 my mother has been desperately seeking her firstborn daughter. In 1949 she met my father, Fredi, in Israel and married him. In 1950 my brother was born in Haifa. In 1953 my parents emigrated to Germany, where my father came from. I was born in 1955. My father died in 1999 - and after living in Germany for nearly 50 years, my mother returned to Israel and now lives in Ramat Gan. Hardly a day has gone by that she has not thought about her first child. She talks continuously about finding her daughter, and desperately wants closure before she dies ( Can anyone help? Please contact AMOS GRUNEBAUM New York Wheeling and dealing Sir, - Re the horrific accidents on Israel's roads this past week: One suspects that the judges who hand down sentences on those who drive criminally are not shown photos of what the police, ambulance drivers and doctors see regularly. If they were, perhaps they would be harsher on the perpetrators of these crimes. And maybe that would deter some drunks from getting behind the wheel ("'Driver who killed six in accident had alcohol and cocaine in his blood,'" March 12). JESSICA FISCHER Michmoret Religion... Sir, - I rejoice that liberal commentators are at least now recognizing that religion does have a place in the political marketplace, and that our Founding Fathers had no intention of forbidding persons of faith from participating in that process ("Revisiting the power of faith," Jonathan Tobin, March 11). They only prohibited the state from imposing a state-sponsored religion on its people. It was a separation of the government from the people, not of religious people from influencing government. Not only Wilberforce but the abolitionist movement in America and the civil rights revolution were fired by religious zealots. The civil rights movement was birthed in the black churches. But there is one caveat liberals apply to their current interpretation: You can participate in the political process today if you are a liberal, supporting liberal causes. If you carry the label "conservative Christian," you need not apply. Our current interpretation of separation of church and state is so confused and misunderstood that we have government officials tearing down crosses and religious symbols in the name of that doctrine, but on the other hand legalizing a flood of pornography as protected speech. And if a Christian steps in to try and curb such filth, he is accused of trying to suppress free speech by violating the separation doctrine. How mixed up in our thinking are we? DAVID FARRELL Picayune, Mississippi politics Sir, - It was interesting to see the articles by Jonathan Tobin and Isi Leibler in the same issue. On the one hand Jews are standoffish when dealing with Christian Evangelicals despite their support for Israel, while on the other, the WJC has vainly tried to woo Farrakhan's anti-Semitic Nation of Islam ("This is not 'interfaith dialogue,'" March 11). Tobin explains that what really bothers Jews is their fear of the Evangelical attempt to commingle church and state. Actually, Christianity, while having had its past issues with Jews, is very good about rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, as the New Testament states. Islam, in contrast, makes no distinction between mosque and state in its drive to make Shari'a the law of the land. Once these differences are better understood Jews will be able to forge more intelligent political alliances. DAVID KATCOFF Jericho, Vermont Good to know Sir, - I'm pleased to see Egypt is finally getting serious about violence against unarmed non-combatants such as the 250 Egyptian PoWs allegedly killed by Israel ("Sadat's nephew calls for review of peace treaty with Israel," March 11). I'm confident, therefore, that we shall soon hear of a decision by the Egyptian parliament to arrest all those involved in smuggling weapons from Egypt into the Palestinian Authority for use against Israeli civilians. DAVID STONE London Wrong number Sir, - Where did your reporter get 80,000 Hungarian Jews deported by the Nazis? It was closer to 500,000 ("Hungarian Jewish leader's Purim 'joke' underlines real concern over community," March 9). Of around 825,000 Jews living in Hungary in 1941, about 63,000 died or were killed prior to the German occupation of March 1944. Under German occupation just over 500,000 died from maltreatment or were murdered. Some 255,000 Jews, less than one-third of those who had resided within enlarged Hungary in March 1944, survived the Holocaust. About 190,000 of these were residents of Hungary in its 1920 borders. ERIC ZORNBERG Jerusalem The fifth question Sir, - A small item in your March 11 issue ended with the news that "Israel is due to move to daylight saving time on the last Friday of March" ("US 'springs forward'"). That's a few days before Seder night! We all know what it means to begin the Seder an hour late. The children are cranky, their parents and grandparents, likewise. Did no one have a Hebrew calendar when deciding such a thing? Hundreds of thousands of us will suffer needlessly. Couldn't they wait a few more days? This stupidity can still be fixed. THELMA JACOBSON Petah Tikva