The Rabbi Who Followed 300 Orphans to Their Death in Nazi-Occupied Poland

Today, the story of the Jewish educator and children’s author Janusz Korczak (né Henryk Goldszmit), the founder and director of a Jewish orphanage in Warsaw before and during World War II, is well-known in Poland, especially after it was recounted in a 1990 film. Korczak, having turned down offers to escape the Warsaw Ghetto, remained with his charges and was sent along with them to Treblinka to be murdered in 1942. Far less well-known is the very similar story of Rabbi Dawid Alter Kurzmann of Krakow, but he is now getting some much-deserved recognition, Ofer Aderet writes. (Free registration may be required.)

[Rabbi Kurzmann’s] grandson, Marcel Kurzmann, an eighty-three-year-old resident of the Tel Aviv suburb Rishon Letzion, has been working in recent years to gain recognition for the grandfather he never met. Marcel has had the assistance of his own grandson, Elad Furman, whose efforts helped get a street in Rishon Letzion named after Rabbi Kurzmann. This year a street in Krakow will also bear his name.

The rabbi’s descendants don’t know a lot about him. It’s known that he was born in 1865 in the city of Rzeszow to the east and grew up in Krakow. He made a living running a trading house for iron and other metal. He was also among the founders of the international ultra-Orthodox movement Agudath Israel, and of Ḥakhmey Lublin, a leading yeshiva in the city of Lublin to the northeast.

As president of the Dietla Street orphanage, he started to help run it on a day-to-day basis in 1918 and in practice served as its director. The orphans there referred to him as their father. He continued to run the facility after the Germans occupied Poland in September 1939, though the Nazis made the orphanage relocate to more crowded quarters inside the Krakow Ghetto.

On October 28, 1942, at the age of seventy-seven, Rabbi Kurzmann was sent to the gas chambers of the Belzec extermination camp along with 300 children who had been in his charge. Also killed with them were a teacher at the orphanage, Anna Regina Feuerstein, her husband, and Kurzmann’s daughter and son-in-law.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Holocaust, Orthodoxy, Polish Jewry

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy