Letters | Feb. 16, 2022


This is what we owe Anne Frank

Regarding “Who owns Anne Frank?” (Feb. 10):
I was born and raised in Amsterdam, and have been very familiar with her story since I first visited the Anne Frank House (now called The Anne Frank Museum) in Amsterdam in 1961.

I have been in touch with the Anne Frank Foundation in Amsterdam, and met in 2009 David Barnouw in the Netherlands, who is generally considered the foremost expert in the world on the subject. He was for years the lead investigator working for the former Royal Netherlands Institute of War Documentation. I asked him: “Do you think we will ever find out who the betrayer(s) of the occupants of the Secret Annex is/are?” His answer was short and to the point: “No, Martin, because everyone involved is dead!”

Fast forward to 2017 when the so-called Cold Case Commission was established in Amsterdam to once and for all find out who was involved in the betrayal.
I immediately contacted David to get his opinion, and he shrugged at it.

The conclusions of the report were published by the end of last year, and were immediately debunked by everyone with some or deep knowledge of the story, including David Barnouw.


Besides, this was a clear attempt by a group of people to make a buck out of the very sad Anne Frank story.

It needs to stop! Enough is enough! Unless someone can produce a valid fact that would reveal the real betrayer(s), we should finally leave this alone. We owe this to Anne Frank.



Two wrongs make a balance

Your editorial “The real losers of gerrymandering” (Feb. 10) is well written and theoretical. On a personal basis, I am opposed to gerrymandering and would oppose it in Maryland if it were also eliminated in the Republican-controlled states that have performed severe gerrymandering. There are many such states, of which Texas, Georgia and Wisconsin are examples. Since the latter is highly unlikely to happen, the Democrats ought to gerrymander the states they control. Yes, two wrongs don’t make a right, but in this case, it provides some balance.



There will always be rabbis

I read with much interest “The Great Resignation” about a rabbinic hiring crisis in the Conservative movement (Feb. 10). Whether it is a crisis or not depends, I think, on one’s perspective. In the broad view, there is no surprise here. Every month since last summer, the United States has experienced the resignations of 4 million job holders. Four million. Some are retiring early, most are not leaving the job force; they are just reacting to a pandemic fueled “confrontation” that is causing them to evaluate their work-life balance and whether their current job is what they want going forward. It is no surprise that some rabbis are doing the same thing. Rabbis are, after all, human beings who are also challenged by the pandemic.

The article points to some changes the Conservative movement is making to counter the shortage. It says that the changes represent a concession for a movement that “has been shrinking for decades.” The Conservative movement does face real challenges, even if I, for one, still think its philosophy of tradition and change is best suited to our world.

What struck me was that the shortage is in rabbis, not congregations. If there were 80 rabbis seeking pulpits and only 60 pulpits available, that would be a sign that the movement is struggling. What we actually have is more a professional career issue, which is hardly a sign of the movement’s impending doom.

I want to say that as a rabbi who spent half his career in Hillel, and the other half in a synagogue, and enjoyed both beyond my wildest dreams, I found that the job of a synagogue rabbi is indeed challenging and demanding. But I don’t know of another job that can produce the kinds of relationships and sense of making a difference that a synagogue rabbi can experience almost every single day. I think there will always be plenty of rabbis, in all the movements, who get that.

The writer is rabbi emeritus of
Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County.


Just a tad too edgy

The Feb. 10 opinion piece “In Defense of Edgy Literature” made several misleading statements about the graphic novel “Maus.” The first is that this book is being banned or censored. This McMinn County (Tennessee) School Board removed the book from the curriculum. As of this writing, the book is available at various school libraries in that county and of course through many other means. It is not banned or censored.

The second is that the opinion piece notes that a reason for the county’s decision was a nude drawing of an animal. This sounds pretty innocuous. Actually, the Jews in this novel are depicted as having human bodies and rat heads (Nazis have cat heads, Poles have pig heads), so a nude drawing will have a nude human body.

Also in the book there is a post-suicide nude drawing of the author’s mother with both human head and body. Whether this novel should or should not be part of a curriculum and for what age group is a decision on which people might disagree. But it should be without misleading information.


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