Jews Fit to Print: Rough welcome for Shoah survivors, Nintendo Nazis, Tovah in a nutshell, no shabbo


There’s been plenty of Jewish news the past few days over at the New York Times (and that’s before you even get to the Israel coverage) …


They came to New York as “displaced persons” in the early 1950s, Jewish refugees who had survived the Holocaust. Today, in film and story, such survivors are treated with a kind of awe, and their arrival in America is considered a happy ending. But a very different picture, with an oddly contemporary twist, emerges from the yellowing pages of social service records now being rescued from oblivion at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan.

The files, from a major Jewish resettlement agency that handled tens of thousands of cases, show that many of these refugees walked a gantlet of resistance and distrust: disapproval of their lack of English and need for health care, threats of deportation, and agency rules shaped by a suspicion of freeloading. …

NINTENDO NAZI (Sridhar Pappu):

Last month, when a 21-year-old British video game developer named Luc Bernard posted a description on his blog of a Holocaust-themed game he is writing that describes how the Nazis tortured children, the reaction was swift and visceral.

“Disgusting concept. Some people have no shame,” wrote one video game blog reader. Another called it “pretty creepy.”

The game, called Imagination Is the Only Escape, apparently will not be distributed within the United States. It casts players in the role of a young boy in eastern France during the German occupation who seeks escape from real-life horror through a fantasy world. …

NUTS FOR TOVAH (Stephen Holden):

Tovah Feldshuh brings to cabaret the same relentless drive that propels her recurring character, Danielle Melnick, on “Law & Order.” Win or lose, Danielle, a defense lawyer usually on the wrong side of a case, fights with such belligerent gusto that the mention of her name provokes a shudder by the prosecution.

The same drive propels Ms. Feldshuh’s new act, “Tovah in a Nutshell!,” at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency. The show, which runs through Saturday, consists largely of character comedy sketches with musical adornment. Mostly Ms. Feldshuh impersonates familiar urban types, including a rapper, a Latina Miss Subway and Muffy, a socialite disdainfully surveying her fellow passengers on underground rapid transit. …

NO SHABBOS SHOPPING (Linda F. Burghardt)

For Elizabeth Allen, it started when she needed a box of nails on a recent Saturday and the Great Neck hardware store she had patronized for years was closed. It hit Bruce Kerievsky when he went to his favorite barbershop in the Old Village and found it shuttered. For Jean Pierce, it was finding the neighborhood liquor store with the great selection of kosher wines closed.

Three Saturdays, three Great Neck stories, one worry: Is Great Neck going the way of Cedarhurst and seeing business shut down on the Jewish Sabbath? …

BLACK HATS (Giannia Cipriano)

Take the D train to 55th Street in central Brooklyn, and you feel as if you have set foot in a different world.

The station sits at the junction of New Utrecht Avenue, 13th Avenue and 55th Street in the heart of Borough Park, home to a quarter-million Orthodox Jews, one of the largest concentrations of Jews outside Israel. To travel to Borough Park is to journey through both space and time. …

STOLEN SUFFERING (Daniel Mendelsohn):

Last Monday, I heard about an orphaned Jewish girl who trekked 2,000 miles from Belgium to Ukraine, surviving the Warsaw ghetto, murdering a German officer, and — most “amazing” of all — taking refuge in forests where she was protected by kindly wolves.

The problem is that this story is a lie: recounted in a 1997 international bestseller by Misha Levy Defonseca, it was exposed last week as a total fabrication — no trekking, no Warsaw, no murder, no wolves. (No Jews, either: the author, whose real name is Monique De Wael, is Roman Catholic.)…

[In this case] a comparatively privileged person has appropriated the real traumas suffered by real people for her own benefit – a boon to the career and the bank account, but more interestingly, judging from the authors’ comments, a kind of psychological gratification, too. … Ms. De Wael has similarly referred to a longing to be part of the group to which she did not, emphatically, belong: “I felt different. It’s true that, since forever, I felt Jewish and later in life could come to terms with myself by being welcomed by part of this community.” (“Felt Jewish” is repellent: real Jewish children were being murdered however they may have felt.) …


Rabbi Zev Segal, who as president of one of the most influential Orthodox Jewish organizations in the country in the 1960s clashed with leaders of what he called “more liberal Jewish alternatives,” but who also worked with Conservative and Reform Jews on social issues, died Wednesday in Jersey City, N.J. He was 91 and lived in Manhattan.

Rabbi Segal was found dead after the car he was driving plunged into the Hackensack River as it turned onto a dead-end street beneath the Pulaski Skyway. The Hudson County prosecutor, Edward J. De Fazio, ruling out foul play, said on Thursday that several cars had driven into the river at that spot in the past.

From 1968 to 1971, Rabbi Segal was president of the Rabbinical Council of America, which represents about 1,000 Orthodox rabbis in 14 countries. He had been a vice president of the group for 10 years. …

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