One Family’s Story of Jewish Life and Rebirth in the Shadow of the Shoah

Aug. 19 2022

Directed by Steve Brand, the 1984 film Kaddish tells the story of Yossi Klein Halevi, his father the Hungarian Holocaust survivor Zoltan Klein, his mother Breindy, and his experience growing up in Brooklyn in the shadow of the Shoah. The film has recently been remastered and rereleased, and was screened last week by Mosaic along with an interview with Klein Halevi. Karen Lehrman Bloch writes in her review:

Kaddish . . . is an intimately powerful documentary about the effects of the Holocaust on its first- and second-generation survivors, [which] movingly contemplates how trauma is passed down from parent to child.

At first, Zoltan didn’t see the point of bringing Jewish children into the world. But Breindy insisted. Three years later, Yossi was born. As with many survivors, having a family helped Zoltan reintegrate into society. But while other survivors did not talk about it openly, Zoltan wanted his son to be “emotionally prepared.” For many coming of age in the 1950s and 60s, the postwar years were a time of stability and calm, but Yossi’s childhood was dominated by his father’s belief that the Shoah could recur at any time.

As a child, Yossi and his friends organized civil-defense units, planning escape routes through Borough Park’s sewer systems. In the sixth grade, Yossi became a writer and activist, forming a Zionist discussion group and joining the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry. He led student delegations to confront Jewish establishment organizations in New York and eventually the Ovir—the Soviet migrations office—in Moscow.

Read more at Jewish Journal

More about: American Jewry, Film, Holocaust, Yossi Klein Halevi

How the U.S. Is Financing Bashar al-Assad

Due to a long history of supporting terrorism and having waged a brutal and devastating war on its own people, the Syrian regime is subject to numerous U.S. sanctions. But that doesn’t stop American tax dollars from going to President Bashar al-Assad and his cronies, via the United Nations. David Adesnik explains:

UN agencies have spent $95.5 million over the past eight years to house their staff at the Four Seasons Damascus, including $14.2 million last year. New Yorkers know good hotel rooms don’t come cheap, but the real problem in Damascus is that the Four Seasons’ owners are the Assad regime itself and one of the war profiteers who manages the regime’s finances.

The hotel would likely go under if not for UN business; Damascus is not a tourist destination these days. The UN claims keeping its staff at the Four Seasons is about keeping them safe. Yet there has been little fighting in Damascus since 2017. A former UN diplomat with experience in the Syrian capital told me the regime tells UN agencies it can only guarantee the safety of their staff if they stay at the Four Seasons.

What makes the Four Seasons debacle especially galling is that it’s been public knowledge for seven years, and the UN has done nothing about it—or the many other ways the regime siphons off aid for its own benefit. One of the most lucrative is manipulating exchange rates. . . . One of Washington’s top experts on humanitarian aid crunched the numbers and concluded the UN lost $100 million over eighteen months to this kind of rate-fixing.

What the United States and its allies should do is make clear to the UN they will turn off the spigot if the body doesn’t get its act together.

Read more at New York Post

More about: Bashar al-Assad, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, United Nations