Silvia Fishbaum, author of the upcoming Dirty Jewess, remembers her mentor Ludovit Feld

February 14, 2017

9789655242775The unusual bespectacled face of a little 40-year-old man with a black cap atop his head leaving Auschwitz together with surviving children is captured in one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century. His tiny body is seen onscreen leaving the camp every day in an endless loop at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.

Far from being forgotten or remembered only as prisoner A-7740, Ludovit Feld (or Lajos Baci – Uncle Lajos) is, twenty-five years after his death, widely recognized and even revered.

This little giant of an artist spent his entire life painting and portraying the people and daily life in his beloved Kassau (Kosice) – the second-largest city in the eastern part of Slovakia, known for its rich Jewish history. He was also an art teacher who taught children how to draw with their heart and many of his students made names for themselves in the world of art.

Feld had three strikes against him: He was a Jew, a dwarf, and poor. The ninth child in his family, he was the only one stricken with a handicap. As an adult he barely reached a height of four feet and the bullying he suffered during a time of growing anti-Semitism was almost too much for his small shoulders to bear.

In the spring of 1944, when he turned 40, Feld’s family and the other Jews in Kosice were loaded onto truck beds and driven to Teglagyar (“brick factory” in Hungarian) on the outskirts of the city, which served as a Jewish ghetto. Nearly thirteen thousand Jews were crammed into that small area.

As it turned out, Ludovit’s name was not on the deportation list due to the intervention of an art student of his who happened to work as a typist in the local Gestapo office. She deliberately omitted his name in the hope of sparing him from almost certain death.

Family was very important to Ludovit, so after a sleepless night he filled his little backpack with art supplies and walked to the brick factory ghetto. His family was happy to be reunited with him but knew his chances of survival were much greater outside the ghetto gates. Every day he would sit on his little stool drawing countless scenes of daily life in the ghetto, portraying the despair and the grief and the ever-present armed guards.

When they were deported to Auschwitz, Feld, because of his size, was assigned to the children’s barracks housing the twin boys known to history as the “ Twins of Auschwitz,” victims of the unspeakably sadistic experiments of the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele. Although he never had any children of his own, Feld became a father figure to all the twins. He rescued fifteen boys he believed wouldn’t survive the last death march by hiding with them for ten days and nights under the lowest bunks on the frozen ground. The boys in their testimonies all referred to Ludovit as their savior.

Feld’s entire family, with the exception of a sister and a brother, perished in Auschwitz. After the war he returned to his beloved city where he lived alone until his death.It was in Auschwitz that Mengele discovered Feld’s talent and, together with Czech artist Dina Gottlieb and Polish photographer Wilhelm Brasse, became part of the team drawing and documenting the doctor’s hideous experiments. Because Feld was a dwarf he was also subject to Mengele’s depravity. Adding insult to injury, Mengele demanded that Feld draw portraits of him so often that Ludovit could practically do it with his eyes closed. Read the rest of this entry »


Interview with Brian Hull of the Kaytek the Wizard Puppet Show

February 13, 2017

“Kaytek the Wizard” Puppet Show at the Gracie Theatre

By Alexander Downing

Wishing Chair Productions and puppet designer, is bringing his puppet play “Kaytek the Wizard,” based on Janusz Korczak’s book, to the Gracie Theatre for two performances Friday February 10th.

The story revolves around Kaytek, a mischievous schoolboy who wants to become a wizard and is surprised to discover that he’s able to perform magic spells and change reality. He begins to lead a double life: a powerful wizard in the dress of an ordinary boy.

Shows are at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. As a community service, Husson University is offering tickets to the 11 a.m. show for only $2.

The 11 am performance is free to all Husson students, staff, faculty, and members of their families.

Tickets for the 7 p.m. show are currently on sale from $10.00-$15.00. To reserve tickets, call the Gracie Theatre box office at 207.941.7888 or visit www.gracietheatre.com. Group rates are also available for the 7 p.m. evening show.

Check out the interview here.

 


February Giveaway!

February 1, 2017

This month, we are giving away 5 copies of Gender Equality and Prayer in Jewish Law!

gedner-equality

Click here to enter.

 


Interview with Richard Schwartz of Who Stole My Religion

January 17, 2017
Aliya Stories: Making Social Activism Spiritual
By Abigail Klein Leichman

On August 3, 2016, Richard and Loretta Schwartz stepped off a Nefesh B’Nefesh group flight into the embrace of the families of their two daughters, who had eagerly awaited this moment for years.
The Schwartzes are greeted at Ben-Gurion Airport by their two daughters’ families in August. (photo credit:Courtesy)

On August 3, 2016, Richard and Loretta Schwartz stepped off a Nefesh B’Nefesh group flight into the embrace of the families of their two daughters, who had eagerly awaited this moment for years.

It wasn’t that they were opposed to aliya; in fact, in the 1950s, Richard Schwartz thought about joining a kibbutz because he so related to the ideal of communal living and cooperative efforts. The couple had long been considering joining their daughters, Susan Kleid and Devorah Gluch, who have raised their children in Israel.

It was just that the retired professor of mathematics still had so much he wanted to do before leaving the country of his birth.

But eventually he came to realize that he could not only continue his longtime environmental, social-justice and vegan advocacy work in Israel but also perhaps make an even greater impact.

“I plan to be actively involved in Israel. It is an ideal place to be an activist – a small country with many synagogues, yeshivas and other Jewish cultural and spiritual centers, ” says Schwartz, author of hundreds of articles and the books Judaism and Vegetarianism, Judaism and Global Survival, and Who Stole My Religion? Revitalizing Judaism and Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal Our Imperiled Planet.
Read the rest of this entry »


Review of Memoirs of a Hopeful Pessimist

January 16, 2017

A Collection of Light-Hearted Autobiographical Stories
By Martin Lockshin

The State of Israel appropriately takes pride in its many achievements. In technology, science, research as well as militarily, Israel’s success seems unprecedented, especially considering its small population. Advanced Jewish studies and many varied forms of Jewish culture thrive. Historians say that never before in history has such a high percentage of Jews had expert-level knowledge of Jewish texts.

On the social level, however, the picture in Israel is far from rosy. While Israel’s raison d’être is the ingathering of exiles to build a new society together, serious tensions abound between Jews who are Ashkenazi and Sephardi, religious and secular, and haredi (ultra- or fervently Orthodox) and non-haredi. Women’s rights are more fraught than in most western democracies, because of the religious-secular divide and the lack of separation of religion and state. Israeli supporters and opponents of the settlements often do not even talk about their differences – it’s just too painful. Tensions between the 80 per cent of the population who are Jewish and the 20 per cent who are Muslim or Christian are part of everyday existence. Read the rest of this entry »


Review of Who Stole My Religion?

December 13, 2016

By Dov Peretz Elkins

WhoStoleMyReligion9789655242348 “Who Stole My Religion?” is a thought-provoking and timely call to apply Judaism’s powerful teachings to help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path. While appreciating the radical, transformative nature of Judaism, Richard Schwartz argues that it has been “stolen” by Jews who are in denial about climate change and other environmental threats and support politicians and policies that may be inconsistent with basic Jewish values. Tackling such diverse issues as climate change, world hunger, vegetarianism, poverty, terrorism, destruction of the environment, peace prospects in Israel, and American foreign policy, he offers practical suggestions for getting Judaism back on track as a faith based on justice, peace, and compassion. He urges the reader to reconsider current issues in line with Judaism’s highest values in an effort to meet the pressing challenges of today’s world.

Right now the new Trump administration is on the cusp of deciding whether climate change is real, and human-created, or not. The President-elect should read this book, and he will be convinced beyond doubt that there is so much more that we humans and governments must do to save our planet.

Read the rest of this entry »


New Goodreads Giveaways!

December 12, 2016

We are excited to announce a new initiative:
Every month, Urim will be running a giveaway through Goodreads!

December Giveaway: From Mourning to Morning by Simeon Schreiber

From Mourning to Morning

Click here to enter for a chance to win 1 of 7 copies!