1. The government of Jordan recently canceled an antisemitic television series after receiving a letter of protest organized by the Wyman Institute. It was signed by 24 American rabbis who had met recently with Jordan’s King Abdullah. The tv series, called “Al-Shatat,” portrayed Jews conspiring to assassinate world leaders, cause stock market crashes, and provoke world wars, as part of a plan to conquer the world, based on the notorious antisemitic forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” One episode depicted Jews murdering a Christian child in order to use his blood for Passover matzos. Another episode showed Jewish leaders helping the Nazis slaughter Europe’s Jews, in order to win world sympathy for Zionism. The signatories on the Wyman Institute’s letter included national Jewish leaders such as Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff, vice-president of Reform Judaism’s Hebrew Union College. Orthodox, Conservative, and Reconstructionist rabbis also signed the letter. The letter was sent to the Jordanian Embassy in Washington, D.C., on October 24, 2005. Two days later, the Embassy issued a statement announcing that the series has been canceled.
2. In response to a protest by the Wyman Institute, Teen People magazine, which is owned by Time Inc., removed from its web site an article that whitewashed a neo-Nazi teenage singing duo. The controversy began when Teen People announced that its February 2006 issue would include a feature on the 13 year-old twin sisters Lynx and Lamb Gaede who are known as “Prussian Blue.” But the announcement described the twins’ beliefs only as “white pride” and did not mention that they wear Hitler t-shirts, deny the Holocaust, and frequently perform at neo-Nazi events. One of their songs, titled “Sacrifice,” glorifies Hitler deputy Rudolf Hess. According to media reports, Teen People promised the twins it would refrain from using the words “hate,” “supremacist,” and “Nazi” in the article.
Because of public protests, Time Inc, which publishes Teen People, canceled the story planned for February. But the Wyman Institute discovered that Teen People’s web site was already running a second sanitized story about the Gaede twins. The second article described their beliefs only as “white separatism” and did not explain that they are neo-Nazis and Holocaust-deniers. After the Wyman Institute publicly revealed and protested the second article, Time Inc announced that it would remove it from the Teen People web site, which it did.
3. Hundreds of teenagers in South Florida learned for the first time about efforts to smuggle Jews from Europe to Palestine on the eve of the Holocaust, at two programs organized by the Wyman Institute. The programs featured Deborah Benami-Rahm, daughter of Holocaust rescue activist Yitshaq Ben-Ami, who is a member of our “They Spoke Out” network of children and grandchildren of rescue activists. She spoke on November 7 to about one hundred students at the Brauser Maimonides School in Fort Lauderdale. The next day, she addressed two hundred students at the Donna Klein Jewish Academy, in Boca Raton. At both schools, the students responded with interest and enthusiasm, and lively discussions followed Ms. Benami-Rahm’s lecture. The programs were organized in conjunction with the sixty-seventh anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom.
4. More than two hundred inner-city high school students in New York commemorated the anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom by taking part in the Wyman Institute’s “Cartoonists Against the Holocaust” program, at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art on November 10. They viewed the Institute’s exhibit of editorial cartoons about the Holocaust and discussed them with Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff. Many of the students are now preparing to take part in the Wyman Institute’s student cartooning contest, in which in which they create their own 1940s-era editorial cartoons to try to alert the public about the Holocaust.
Most of the students were from the Facing History School, a public school in lower Manhattan. Groups from the Solomon Schechter High School of New York and the Torah Academy of Bergen County also took part. The Wyman Institute is grateful to the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art for hosting the event, and to Dick Blick’s Art Supplies Inc for generously providing the easels for the exhibit.
II. The Wyman Institute in the News
The December issue of Art News magazine included an article about the Wyman Institute’s recent national conference, and the first-ever meeting there between Annette Fry, Bill Bingham, and Bella Chagall Meyer (granddaughter of the famous artist, who was rescued from Vichy France by Varian Fry and Hiram Bingham IV) … The Wyman Institute’s successful effort to cancel the antisemitic series on Jordanian television was widely reported in the American media and abroad … An article by Agudath Israel official Avi Shafran about the Jordanian program, in which he credited the Wyman Institute for alerting him about the matter, was published in Jewish newspapers in Washington, Rhode Island, New York, Connecticut, and elsewhere …There was considerable media interest in our campaign to persuade Time Inc to cancel Teen People magazine’s whitewash of neo-Nazi teen singers, including an interview with Rafael Medoff on radio station KPSI, in Palm Springs, CA … An essay by Medoff and Wyman Institute associate director Benyamin Korn, about the U.S. rescue of the Lipizzaner dancing horses in World War II (while failing to rescue Jewish refugees) was published in the Washington Jewish Week in conjunction with the Lipizzaners’ visit to Washington, D.C. … A Medoff-Korn essay about Donald Trump’s failure to speak out strongly against antisemitic statements made on his television show, The Apprentice, was published in Jewish newspapers in California, Texas, New York and elsewhere … An op-ed by Dr. Medoff concerning American Jewry’s response to the Holocaust was published in the New Jersey Jewish News … A letter by Audrey Cantor of the Wyman Institute’s They Spoke Out network, about her uncle Barney Ross’s involvement in the Bergson Group, was published in the Jewish Community Chronicle of Long Beach, CA … A letter by Rafael Medoff concerning the 1940s activism of Prof. Benzion Netanyahu (a member of our Academic Council) was published in the Jerusalem Post … The New York Jewish Week published Dr. Medoff’s essay the involvement of baseball legend Leo Durocher in Ben Hecht’s 1941 anti-Hitler pageant, “Fun to Be Free” … The Jewish Telegraphic Agency and other media reported on the the Wyman Institute’s protest against the publication, in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, of an antisemitic “dual loyalty” slur against the late Henry Morgenthau Sr. Our protest included strong statements from Henry Morgenthau III (who is also a member of the Wyman Institute’s Advisory Committee) and Prof. Steven Katz of Boston University (a member of our Academic Council), who recently organized and chaired a conference on history and impact of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
III. News About Wyman Institute Committee and Council Members:
Advisory Committee member Rudy Boschwitz, U.S. ambassador to this year’s sessions of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, has lectured frequently in recent months about his experiences at the U.N., including its anti-Israel bias. His most recent talks were at the Columbia University School of Law and the Minnesota United Nations Association.
Advisory Committee (and board of directors) member Benjamin Brafman, Esq., authored an essay that appeared in a number of Jewish newspapers in November, about his father and uncle, who fled from Germany after Kristallnacht, carrying a Torah scroll that they rescued from a burning synagogue. The essay described how the Brafman brothers’ experiences as refugees from Hitler catalyzed them to become early pioneers of the Soviet Jewry activist movement in the United States in the 1960s.
Academic Council member Prof. Stephen H. Norwood (U. of Oklahoma) spoke at the Vilna Shul in Boston, the city’s last immigrant-era synagogue, on November 20 on “The Response of Boston’s Jewish Community to the Rise of Nazism, 1933-1934.” The lecture was sponsored by the Boston Center for Jewish Heritage. An article about Professor Norwood’s lecture was published in the Boston Globe, November 21, and a feature article about his talk appeared in the Boston Jewish Advocate on November 18.
Prof. Laurel Leff (Northeastern U.), member of the Academic Council, spoke about her book Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper, at the Sutton Place Syangogue in New York City, the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut, and elsewhere in September; at Harvard University’s Center for European Studies, the Connecticut Historical Society, the Beth Israel and Beth Avraham Yosef synagogues in Toronto, and elsewhere in October; and at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City (where she was joined by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof), the Rhode Island Holocaust Museum, Jewish book festivals in Davie (FL), Houston, Hartford, New Haven, Tucson, and Central New Jersey, and elsewhere in November, including a U.S. Holocaust Memorial event in Boston on Nazi book-burnings.
Vallentine-Mitchell has published History of the Holocaust, a 500-page reference volume by Academic Council member Prof. Saul S. Friedman (Youngstown State University).
The Stevens Point [Wisconsin] Journal published an article about the role of Arts & Letters Council member Prof. Rob Stolzer (University of Wisconsin) in developing the Wyman Institute’s “Cartoonists Against the Holocaust” exhibit.
Jerusalem Sky: Stars, Crosses and Crescents, by Arts & Letters council member Mark Podwal (published by Random House), has won the 2005 National Parenting Publications Award. It was also featured on the cover of the October issue of Booklist Magazine.
The Death of Feminism, by Arts & Letters Council member Dr. Phyllis Chesler, has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan. Dealing in part with feminist attitudes toward antisemitism, the Holocaust, and Israel, The Death of Feminism is a sequel to her recent book The New Anti-Semitism.
Arts & Letters Council member Maurice Sendak is collaborating with playwright on Tony Kushner on a forthcoming theater production of ‘Brundibar and the Comedy on the Bridge’. In 2003, they collaborated on Brundibar, a children’s book version of the famed 1938 opera about the rise of Hitler. Explaining his motive for writing the book, Kushner told the Jerusalem Report: “The lesson of the Holocaust for me, at least one of the lessons, is don’t let it get started. Make sure Hitler doesn’t become chancellor. The opera was written before the rounding up of the Jews of Prague. It was a call to action against Hitler/Brundibar.” The theater production will open at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut on February 16, 2006 and continue there through March 5, 2006. It will then travel to The New Victory Theater in Manhattan and run from April 28, 2006 through May 21, 2006.
The Days of Awe, the new novel by Arts & Letters Council member Hugh Nissenson, was described by a reviewer for The Forward as “engaging and often ingenious.” It called Nissenson “a gutsy novelist” who “deserves accolades for applying his imagination to the truly unimaginable.”
Academic Council member Dr. Efraim Zuroff (Simon Wiesenthal Center) was interviewed in an October 26 New York Times article about efforts to capture fugitive Nazi war criminal Aribert Heim, who is believed to be hiding in Spain.
IV. Upcoming Events:
December 4: Academic Council member Prof. Harry Reicher (U. of Pennsylvania Law School) will speak on “The Desturction of Law in Nazi Germany,” at a conference on “The Two Nurembergs: The Perversion and Preservation of Justice,” at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, in New York City.
December 8: Academic Council member Prof. Harry Reicher (U. of Pennsylvania Law School) will be the keynote speaker at a workshop organized by the New Jersey State Commission on Holocaust Education, in Cherry Hill, NJ.
December 9: Academic Council member Prof. Laurel Leff (Northeastern U.) will speak about her book, Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper, to the Harvard University Jewish Faculty, at 12:00 noon.
December 11: Academic Council member Prof. Harry Reicher (U. of Pennsylvania Law School) will speak on “The Nurember Trials and Their Abiding Lessons for the 21st Century,” to the Gallery Educator Class of 2006, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, in New York City.
December 11: Academic Council member Prof. Laurel Leff (Northeastern U.) will speak about her book, Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper, at Congregation Tikvoh Chadoshoh of West Hartford, CT, at 10:45 am.
December 13: Academic Council member Prof. Laurel Leff (Northeastern U.) will speak at 6:30 pm at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, in New York City, on her book, Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper. Rabbi Dr. Haskel Lookstein, spiritual leader of Kehilath Jeshurun and a member of the Wyman Institute’s Academic Council, will serve as moderator.
December 19: The Wyman Institute will sponsor a session on “New Research on America’s Response to the Holocaust,” at the annual meeting of the Association for Jewish Studies, in Washington D.C. Dr. Rafael Medoff will chair the panel; Prof. Stephen Norwood and Prof. Laurel Leff will be the featured speakers.
January 11-13: Academic Council member Prof. David Weinberg (Wayne State U.) will speak on “Issues in European Post-War Revival” at an international conference on “Beyond Camps and Forced Labour: Current International Research on Survivors of Nazi Persecution – 60 Years On,” which will be held at the Imperial War Museum, London.
January 25: Prof. Laurel Leff will speak at 7:30 pm at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, at Old York Rd & Township Line, in Elkins Park, PA. Will include a panel discussion with Bruce Schimmel, founding editor of the Philadelphia City Paper, Jonathan Tobin, executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, and David Lee Preston, formerly the religion correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Wyman Institute associate director Benyamin Korn will moderate the event, which is sponsored by the Wyman Institute, with the American Jewish Committee (Philadelphia chapter) and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia. For more information, please call 215-635-5622.
February 5: Academic Council member Prof. Laurel Leff (Northeastern U.) will speak about her book, Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper, at the Bridgeport (CT) Jewish Community Center, at 3:00 pm
February 9: Academic Council member Prof. Harry Reicher (U. of Pennsylvania Law School) will speak on “Nuremberg Laws and Nuremberg Trials” in Miami, under the auspices of the Miami Holocaust Memorial Committee.
February 16: Douglas Century will speak about his new book Barney Ross: Not Without a Fight, about the famed Jewish boxing champion of the 1930s, at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, as part of the NextBook Public Programs series. (The Wyman Institute provided Mr. Century with information about Barney Ross’s involvement with the Bersgon group’s campaigns for Holocaust rescue and Jewish statehood.) Tickets may be purchased at www.NextBook.org or by calling 888-621-2230.
March 1: Dr. Ruth Gruber, member of the Wyman Institute’s Advisory Committee, will speak at 6:00 pm at the Harold Washington Library Center, in Chicago, on “From Holocaust to Haven,” as part of the NextBook Public Programs series. Tickets may be purchased at www.NextBook.org or by calling 888-621-2230.
March 15: Douglas Century will speak about his new book Barney Ross: Not Without a Fight, about the famed Jewish boxing champion of the 1930s, at the Jewish Community Center of Washington, D.C., as part of the NextBook Public Programs series. (The Wyman Institute provided Mr. Century with information about Barney Ross’s involvement with the Bersgon group’s campaigns for Holocaust rescue and Jewish statehood.) Tickets may be purchased at www.NextBook.org or by calling 888-621-2230.
March 19: Academic Council member Prof. Laurel Leff (Northeastern U.) will speak about her book, Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper, at Temple Beth Shalom, in Manchester, CT, at 6:00 pm.
April 3: Academic Council member Prof. Laurel Leff (Northeastern U.) will speak about her book, Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper, at the Worcester (MA) Jewish Book Festival.
April 24: Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff will speak at the Yom HaShoah commemoration of Congregation Kehilat Jeshurun in New York City at 7:30 pm, and show excerpts from the Wyman Institute’s interview with former U.S. Senator George McGovern about his World War II bombing missions near Auschwitz. Kehilat Jeshurun’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Dr. Haskel Lookstein (who is also a member of the Wyman Institute’s Academic Council) will moderate the event.
April 24-26: Academic Council member Prof. Laurel Leff (Northeastern U.) will speak about her book, Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper, at the Holocaust Memorial Program of Oregon State University.
May 9: Cynthia Ozick, chair of the Wyman Institute’s Arts & Letters Council, will speak at the Jewish Community Council of Washington, D.C., at 7:30 pm, about Heir to the Glimmering World, her acclaimed new novel about a family of German Jewish refugees. Tickets may be purchased at www.NextBook.org or by calling 888-621-2230.
May 16: Academic Council member Prof. Laurel Leff (Northeastern U.) will speak about her book, Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper, at Congregation Rodeph Shalom in New York City, at 12:30 pm. Wyman Institute board member Robert Weintraub will moderate the event.
May 23: “An Evening with Cynthia Ozick” will be held at the Harold Washington Library Center, in Chicago, as part of the NextBook Public Programs series. Tickets may be purchased at www.NextBook.org or by calling 888-621-2230.