I am a long-time member of B’nai B’rith, and I am currently co-president of Chai Unit #2838.
As a member, I have enjoyed the issues of B’nai B’rith Magazine, and I look forward to each issue. I have found the publication full of interesting and informative articles, giving me plenty of food for thought. I was surprised to receive my copy of the fall 2015 issue with the cover featuring photographs of Jewish comedians—“Shticks & Stones”—and an article on “Funny Jews.”
Why were they on the cover? I agree that many of them are brilliant, funny and among my favorite entertainment performers. I also realize that it was a sense of humor that helped keep our people alive during their dark days of our history. What I don’t understand is what did any of the comedians mentioned ever do for Jewish causes? What was their involvement? Did any of them ever belong to B’nai B’rith, or any other Jewish organizations? I won’t even dwell or hardly mention of how many of them married non-Jewish partners.
I would appreciate any information that would enlighten me on this subject.
Jack E. Levitt
The winter 2015 edition of B’nai B’rith Magazine just arrived. To my great delight, page four has a short article about Philip M. Klutznick, whom I met two weeks after I joined Aleph Zadik Aleph (AZA) in 1959. Like many others whom Phil met over the years, we became lifetime friends.
Two corrections need to be made to the “From the Vault” record about this extraordinary individual.
The most distinguished of all AZA alumni, Mr. Klutznick was secretary of commerce, not treasury, in the Carter Administration, having been suggested for the post by fellow AZA alumnus Secretary of Transportation Neil Goldschmidt. Clearly, President Carter had more AZA alumni in his cabinet than any before or after.
There is reference to Phil beginning his association with B’nai B’rith in 1923. The minimum membership age of B’nai B’rith then was 21; Phil would have been 15 or 16 in 1923. Also, AZA was launched in May 1924; B’nai B’rith formally adopted the “Junior Order of B’nai B’rith” on April 24, 1925. That’s the same year Philip Morris Klutznick became the second AZA Grand Aleph Godol; a year later B’nai B’rith named him AZA’s first executive secretary, though he was still too young to become a B’nai B’rith member.
Thanks for writing about Philip M. Klutznick and all the warm and good memories it elicited.
Steven H. Morrison
Grand Aleph Godol 1963-1964
Former B’nai B’rith International Membership Director
I read with interest Miranda Spivack’s article on intermarriage in the winter 2015 issue. As the editor noted, this is “perhaps the most vexing challenge confronting Jews and Judaism in America.” In answer to the query, “Is intermarriage cause for alarm, a threat or an opportunity?” I, for one, most certainly consider it an alarm and an absolute threat to our continued existence in the U.S.
Curiously, despite, or in spite of the facts presented, (i.e., that 50%+ of American Jews are intermarrying and just 20% of them are raising children who identify as Jews), the article focused on the tremendous efforts and support (not to mention budgetary expense) to engage these families in Jewish culture, history, ethics and practices. Not only that, but the supporters were lauding these “progressive” programs. WAKE UP! Given the aforementioned statistics, IT’S NOT WORKING! We are losing our Jewish population! The promoters of these programs are FOOLING THEMSELVES.
It is imperative that leaders in all Jewish communities protect, defend and promote the continuation of our heritage by discouraging intermarriage and refusing to participate in these ceremonies. Let us develop progressive programs, spending our time, money and effort to create maximum appeal to young Jewish students and their families.
San Francisco, Calif.
I was extremely interested in the article in the winter 2015 issue regarding the cemetery in Bodenfelde, Germany and how it was restored by Detlev Herbst and his students.
I spent much time in Germany between 1990 and 2000 on business but made time to visit places of interest regarding Jewish life in Germany before the war and the Nazi era treatment of Jews. This consisted of visiting the concentration camps of Dachau and Bergen-Belson and museums where I saw the original Nuremburg laws. I was struck by the fact that the Germans did not hide any of the atrocities of the Nazi era and brought high school classes to the camps to show them what occurred.
This year, my companion and I went on a river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest, making most of the stops in Germany. At every stop, we attempted to find traces of Jewish life, including synagogues and cemeteries. Everywhere we went, there were either monuments to where the synagogues had been before Kristallnacht or rebuilt temples which were a shadow of their former structures.
One most interesting town was Miltenberg on the Mains River. After our tour, we asked our guide if there was a synagogue in town. She indicated that there was a Jewish community before the war but it no longer existed. There is a museum in town which we visited which documented the Jewish community.
Our guide told us there was a Jewish cemetery and gave us directions to the place. She was a woman in her mid-60s who had spent time in the United States. She was in tears when she apologized for what Germany had done to the Jews.
We found our way to the cemetery. We could not go in because the gate was locked. We were shocked by the condition. The neglect was obvious. All we could do was place stones on the gateposts to show that someone remembered.
We did not have the time or opportunity to investigate who was responsible for the cemetery because the ship was leaving.
There may be more forgotten cemeteries in Germany. Perhaps there are members of B’nai B’rith whose ancestors came from Miltenberg who could do what Detlev Herbst and his students did.