Respectfully, I suggest that you edit a responsive “letters” section as feedback from your readers. B’nai B’rith Magazine publishes news and editorial items which strongly concern the Jewish public. You stimulate a critical readership whose responses deserve to be made public.
Boca Raton, Fla. Editor’ Note: We normally do include letters to the editor in the print version of the magazine. This did not happen with the fall issue due to space constraints. In such circumstances, or if we have more letters than we have room to publish them, they will appear online. We welcome all feedback from readers, whether by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by postal mail. Secret Flight of the Machal Airmen Dear Editor:
It was with much interest and appreciation that I read the article “Secret Flight of the Machal Airmen” in the fall 2012 issue. My brother, Ralph Moster, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, was one of the volunteers in what became the War of Independence in 1947-48 in Palestine. At the age of 23, he was a veteran of Canada’s Royal Air Force of World War II. Having grown up in a strong Zionist home, he determined to offer his services to the struggling Jews and was permitted by the government to go to Palestine, ostensibly to be a farm worker. Until a plane became available, he served with distinction in the Palmach with the future archaeologist Ygdal Yadin. Once he was able to fly, his outstanding record and diligence earned him the rank of Commander of the Air Force in southern Palestine which covered the Negev and Tel Aviv areas. At one time he didn’t sleep for four days and four nights, due to his aircraft’s bombing enemy positions at night and preparing plans daytime for evening bombings.
In his last letter home, he wrote that while he was due a leave, he felt he was desperately needed there and that what he was contributing to victory for his people had raised their morale considerably. He observed that the “Arabs would never beat us, because we know what we are fighting for.” He praised the Jewish people—the Jew in Palestine, he wrote, is an altogether new type of Jew—young, strong, healthy, with the main objective being to see the nation of Israel grow. “All we live for here,” he emphasized, “is to be free.”
While he was testing a new plane over the Kinneret, the plane malfunctioned and crashed. Ralph drowned and his body was found a week later. He was buried with full military honors in Tel Aviv with Air Force personnel and military police forming a guard of honor. The Air Force command turned out to pay their last respects to a devoted son of Israel. In that last letter, he wrote, “This is where I want to be.” And, indeed, that is where he is.
Julius B. Moster
Los Angeles, Calif. Dear Editor:
I recently received your copy of the fall issue of your very informative magazine. Being a former pilot of WWII, I could not help seeing a picture of a former German fighter, a Me109BF, with our Israeli Magen David on its wings and fuselage. I was aware of our use of any plane we could obtain. My hat is off to those brave and great pilots who made up the Machalniks.
My hobby most of my 90 years has been the story of the men, the planes, etc. that made up WWI and the air war.
Leon Frankel is one of the gentlemen pictured in the photo. Lt. Frankel was the highest ranking ace in the German Air Force during WWI. The German high command was not very happy that a “Jew” was the top ace. Frankel was farmed out to Anthony Fokker’s company plant to train German pilots while the pet of the high command, Manfred von Richtofen, was given time to exceed his number of victories
. Unfortunately, Frankel was shot down and killed later on.
Hitler ordered that all vestiges of Jews be erased from public places. Some of the top German aces of WWI joined in having a new monument made bearing Frankel’s name, and his remains were buried in Friedhof (cemetery) along with the other great aces dear to the Luftwaffe.
Again, thank you for your excellent magazine.
Jews in the Civil Rights Movement
Thank you for the excellent issue covering Jews in the civil rights struggle. The article evoked many memories for me. Following my discharge from the Army Air Force, I enrolled at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. As someone who grew up in a diverse community in Massachusetts, I had never encountered extreme, or even nominal, racism. D.C., in 1946 had segregated transportation, the drinking fountains and toilets in department stores were segregated, and even my university enrolled no African Americans. I was both shocked and ashamed by it. As a Jew who spent time in Germany in World War II, I often guarded German soldiers. That experience strengthened my conviction that I would oppose segregation wherever and whenever it occurred. Your article made me very proud of the Jews, many of them unknown, who courageously sacrificed their lives to oppose policies that degraded human beings.
Samuel L. Simon
South Nyack, NY
I enjoyed two articles in the summer magazine which are seemingly unrelated, but actually have a very interesting connection. The cover shows Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holding a picture of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney, the civil rights workers murdered in Mississippi in 1964. Elsewhere, there is a wonderful article about my friend, Harold “Hesch” Steinberg, entitled “A Lifelong Dedication to Judaism.”
Both Mickey Schwerner and Hesch Steinberg were members of Alpha Epsilon Pi at Michigan State University. Schwerner transferred to Cornell University after his freshman year in 1957, and his association with Michigan State was largely unknown until a few years ago. As a direct result of Hesch’s efforts, Michigan State University has become aware of and embraced this connection, honoring Schwerner at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, and the local AEPi chapter hosted a Shabbat dinner and presented a plaque to Hillel in his memory.
In May 2012, I had the honor to represent AEPi International and MSU Hillel at an extraordinary program in New York City, cosponsored by the Cornell University AEPi, Hillel and Black Alumni Association. The program called “The Impact and Legacy of the Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney Case,” featured a panel composed of David Goodman, Ben Chaney and Stephen Schwerner, brothers of Andrew, James and Michael, respectively. These gentlemen, now in their 60s and 70s, shared some very unique perspectives on the Jewish role in the civil rights movement, the movie “Mississippi Burning,” their brothers and the impact of the murders on their families. The warm hospitality of the hosts, Ellen Braitman of Bloomberg TV, and her husband, David Shapiro, provided an intimate setting and allowed a rare and unique view into history.
Keego Harbor, Michigan
Past International President, Alpha Epsilon Pi
Member, Board of Directors, Michigan State University Hillel
My contribution in shining a light on the connection between our late Brother Michael Schwerner, Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity and Michigan State University has been greatly overstated. Past Supreme Master Steve Bernstein also shared the credit.
But there is a sidebar to the cover story (Summer 2012): Among those who resisted the inevitable march for the struggle for Civil Rights were the members of a quasi-governmental agency established by the State of Mississippi: the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission. In December 1961, more than 225 Jewish teenagers and their advisers attended the Cotton States BBYO convention in Biloxi, Miss. The Mississippi Sovereignty Commission sent spies to the convention hotel to determine if these young Jewish BBYO’ers (myself included) were intent on wreaking havoc on their way of life. Of course, we weren’t and we were not harmed. But it is easy to speculate on the mindset of the hate-mongers who followed and, a few years later, brutally murdered Brother Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman.
The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis pays tribute not only to Dr. King, but also to all of the brave men and woman...black and white, young and old, Jew and Gentile...who left their blood along the long road to freedom. Brothers Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman, along with many other Freedom Summer workers, are prominently featured in the museum’s exhibits.
Harold “Hesch” Steinberg
Jews in the Military
I recently received from the B’nai B’rith Magazine and read numerous letters to the editor dealing with your article about Jews serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
My father, Chaim Herzog, Israel’s sixth president, served as the Military Attaché of Israel in the USA between 1950 and 1954 in the rank of Colonel. In his autobiography “Living History” (Pantheon Books, 1996), he depicted the unique situation which certain Jewish commanders in the U.S. army felt anti-Semitism at the time.
Isaac (Bougie) Herzog
Member of the Knesset
The Message of Passover
Allan Jacobs’ column in the recent issue of B’nai B’rith Magazine had more of an impact than you might realize. My immediate reaction to it was “My God, this is what I’ve been trying to impart to all the people who come to meetings and who have no idea what B.B. is all about except for the fact that they live in a B.B. building.”
I am an almost 92-year-old woman who has been a member of B.B. since 1941…over 70 years!!!! Oh, what glorious days they were! It was an “honor” to become a member and activity was bubbling over. I think I must have been chair of every position on the board including “President” three times…wherever I moved. Now I live at Homecrest House in Silver Spring, MD and am the closet advisor to our unit.
We held a general meeting recently which was conducted by our newly elected president, Sandy Wasserman, which went very well. I had mentioned your article to Sandy before the meeting, and she asked if I would read it. Well, I did…and it was so well received, the audience actually applauded. It was the first time that, for a good portion of the attendees, they ever heard an explanation of what B’nai B’rith is all about. Your message is so complete, so succinct; there wasn’t anything to be explained. Several people approached me later to thank me and to say it was an eye-opener.
Thank you so much for giving ME the opportunity to do what I’ve been trying to do for so long. Thank you again for your marvelous message. Let your imagination give you a big hug from me.
Silver Spring, Md.
The Jews of Berlin
As a former Berliner, I was very interested in the article about Berlin in the recent issue of the magazine. However, I noted that there was no mention of the wonderful Jewish museum in that city. It is fairly new, and visitors to the city should not miss seeing it. Also, the article about the B'nai B'rith lodge in Berlin did not mention what that unit is doing now. When my husband and I, and another B’nai B’rith couple were in Berlin in 1991, we were invited by the lodge president for a social evening and also spoke to the audience briefly about our involvement and work in the organization in the U.S. Many of the lodge members were from the former Soviet Union and quite a few from Israel.
Your article in the spring magazine brought lots of memories. Born in Berlin, my grandfather’s name was Louis Schachmann. My father’s name was Carl Schachnann. They both were members of B’nai B’rith. I remember my grandfather showing me on his gold chain hanging a little gold triangle which was an emblem from B’nai B’rith. My grandfather had been a president in one of the synagogues you mentioned; however I cannot remember which. I just know that we had a big silver bowl with an inscription about my grandfather serving as president.
My best regards to you,
Postcards from the Holocaust
I was both amazed and excited to read Dara Kahn's account of Torkel Wachter's project in the spring issue of the B'nai B'rith Magazine. I was amazed because his serendipitous find of the 32 postcards led him to an ever expanding understanding of his family relations, his roots and ultimately his identity. It is a personal story with an historical background that should take its place among Holocaust literature, never to be forgotten. I was excited, because I have come unexpectedly into possession of a collection of correspondence of my uncle, who had saved all the letters and postcards written to him by his family and mine when they were still in Germany, in Poland, or on the way to the Americas. That mail dates from the last years of World War I (1917) and ends abruptly in the middle of World War II (1941). It is written in German (many in the old German script) and Yiddish.
I am in the process of organizing this material, preserving it, translating it and drawing on it for an expanded memoir I have written but not published. Needless to add, as an 87-year-old Jewish refugee and grandfather, I feel an urgency to complete my project and would also welcome some help with my work.