PERSONA'S DIRECTOR LECTURED
On March 26, in the reformed (conservative) synagogue of Warsaw, “Beit Warszawa”, invited by its community and by the Weinstein – Welc Foundation, Professor Dr. Ricardo Rabinovich-Berkman, Director of PERSONA, lectured on the subject “DARWINISM AND ANTI-SEMITISM”.
An audience which full the temple, followed the speech, translated to Polish, with remarkable interest, and made afterwards clever and acute interventions, unfortunately, in some cases, inspired by their own experiences. The public was integrated by people of Poland (the majority), the United States (country from which the Rabbi comes), Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Israel, England, Italy and Ireland. Immediately after the conference, the Friday Night ceremony was held, and subsequently a fraternal dinner was served in the premises. Certainly, not all the assistants held the Jewish faith, even though most of them did.
In a city which once was one of the world centres of Hebrew culture, with a Jewish population estimated in half a million, where synagogues were counted by dozens, and Israelite presence was a part of local landscape (still today, one of the most seen and sold souvenirs is a Chasid musician carved in wood), today there only are three communities: an orthodox one, and two reformed ones, with different degree of reformation. Beit Warszawa is the most conservative of this two, as it preserves the Hebrew language in prayers, and the use of the “talit” and the “kipah” (not in a compelling way), but allows women rabbis, nevertheless.
Only a couple of thousands of practicing Jews live in the Polish capital now, and a lot of them are immigrants from other countries, or people transitorily working there.
Of course, what happened is well known, even though some bastards continue to deny it, and it is called Holocaust, or genocide, or extermination, or Shoah, or the unbelievable aim of a lot of organised people to erase from the face of the Earth a human group. The majority of those Hebrews whose voices once made part of the soundtrack of this imposing town, became ashes in the fires of Birkenau, or in the other death camps, or were slaughtered in the different and imaginative ways the assassins found.
That’s why the existence and flourishing of Israelite communities in this noble country is so important. Because it is a symbol. A symbol of the triumph of life over death, of love over hate, of hope over despair, of a smile, even a sad smile, over the anger and the rage of criminals.
A few children are today at prayer in the “Beit”. They are a small number. Extremely little compared with the killed ones. But they play. And they laugh. And the Rabbi blesses them, lovingly posing his hands on their innocent heads. His voice utters the sacred words with joy, but mostly of hope. The moving scene is an anthem to love, as Nazism was an anthem to death.
Let we learn. Let we be taught to respect and not to humiliate, discriminate, hurt or kill. Let us live.
The following are the words Professor Rabinovich-Berkman pronounced as an introduction to his lecture:
“First of all, I’d like to thank the Beit Warszawa community for this invitation, which thoroughly honours me, and in a very special way, the Weinstein – Welc Foundation, which made my presence here possible, particularly in the person of Mrs. Valeria, my new dear friend, who has also become my patient teacher of the beautiful Polish language, which is quite a terrible task, considering the small intelligence of the pupil.
Secondly, I want to symbolically acknowledge my eternal respect to all the Polish victims of the Nazi slaughter, Jews and non Jews. All those lives taken before the time, all those children shoes shown in Auschwitz, and all the others which are not exposed, which will never be found, claim to mankind, shout in sadness to us, their survivors: NEVER AGAIN.
Never again to the Jews, never again to the Catholic Poles, never again to any human being. Those fields covered with ashes, sown with dreams cut off, snowed by kisses which will be never be given nor received, are an insult to our species, a true blame on our intelligence and will, and a warning to be seriously taken into account. Memory is a useless tool, an obsolete idiotic and bizarre thing, if not employed as a compass to prevent us from walking the evil paths.
Here I am, glad and proud, in the sacred land where the heroes of the Ghetto stood for liberty, for the dignity of the human person, which was no academic debate for them, but a matter of life. Here, in the holy Warszawa, the streets were once painted with blood of women and men who raised their hand against the greatest horror political history has ever known: the awful dread of a Party that built a government program based on what they declared was pure science, in its most modern shape, and relieved from all ethics, from all moral restrictions, in a very convenient interpretation of the “over good and evil” Nitezschean principle.
I grew reading about
them, impassioned by the novels of Uris,
and those Ghetto fighters were in my adolescent mind equal to
Superman and Batman, with the only slight difference that they had
been real. More than a nightmare took me depicting myself as one of
those champions, hungry and poorly washed, ill dressed, in love with
all the fellow women in the squad, ready to die for a desperate
cause, but to die for what it makes living worth.
But when I awoke, covered in sweat, I waved my head with a sorrow smile: I knew I would never had the courage to be one of them. I’m not a man of arms; I wish to live my life without hurting anyone. But my admiration for them, whom in this noble city concreted their sacrificed, grew and grew.
And might more than a word be said for all the Poles who, without sharing the Jewish faith, risked themselves and their families, in order to help and save their Hebrew brothers in the hour of pain. May they all, for legion they truly are, be symbolized in the figure of a woman, the eternal Irena Sendler.
Glory to them, in Heaven and in Earth! Glory to them all, heroic Christian and atheist Poles, may their memory never perish, and their names be spoken with joy and acknowledgement by the generations present and to come.
For they taught us how a human being must act, and were teachers of goodness, which is the best matter to teach”.