Solving the Mystery of a Pre-Holocaust Photo Album

In 2013, the photographer Richard Schofield discovered a collection of pre-World War II family photographs in a museum storage room in Kaunas, Lithuania, with no name attached to the album. Now he has uncovered the story behind his find. Uriel Heilman writes:

The photos, dating from about 1910 through 1940, were from a Lithuanian Jewish family’s album that had been smuggled out of the city’s wartime Jewish ghetto and entrusted to a non-Jewish Lithuanian family for safekeeping. But nobody knew what had happened to the people in the pictures. Presumably they had not survived the war to reclaim their photos.

Touched by the images and intrigued to learn what had happened to their subjects, Schofield set about trying to identify them. He scanned the 112 photos, set up a Facebook page to showcase them, and commissioned a piece of music to accompany an exhibition of the photographs that would mark the 75th anniversary of the ghetto in Kaunas, [also] known as Kovno. . . .

Then, . . . by a twist of serendipity, a non-Jewish archivist who worked at the Jewish museum in the Lithuanian capital city of Vilnius noticed something: after clicking through the photographs and doing a bit of sleuthing, Saule Valiunaite realized that one of the photos appeared in a Holocaust documentary film made in 1999.

It turns out the photos weren’t of some obscure Jewish family but that of two of America’s best-known Yiddish scholars: Ruth Wisse of Harvard and her brother David Roskies of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Roskies had written a memoir about his family, Yiddishlands, in 2008. A third sibling, Eva Roskies Raby, is a former director of the Montreal Jewish Public Library.

Read more at JTA

More about: History & Ideas, Holocaust, Lithuania, Ruth Wisse, Vilna

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University