February 2009

Top Stories
• Financial Crisis
• Tribes of Rivals
• Budget Process
• ME Roadmap
• Rotten in Gaza
• Spare the Rod
• Letters to the Editor

• Gaza War Hits US
• Trip to Israel
• Soldier and Cinderella

In Their Own Words
• Jane Eisner
• Sen. George Mitchell
• The Inauguration

• Unwavering
• My Name is Asher Lev

Raising A Mensch
• Madoff Lessons

Living Judaism
• Herman Rosenblat
• Jewish Girl in Syria

Teen Voice
• Vegetarian

The Kosher Table
• Great Kosher Products

Free Subscription

Past Issues
2009 J

The official registrations and financial information of The Philadelphia Jewish Voice may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll-free, within Pennsylvania, 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.
    Email This     About     Subscription     Donate     Contact     Links     Archives  

Herman and Roma Rosenblat

Living Judaism

Herman Rosenblat and the Cult of Good Feeling

-- Ben Burrows

Holocaust survivor Herman Rosenblat has admitted that the story he published in Together –-- a story that readers wanted to be true – was actually a fiction. "I wanted to bring happiness to people," Rosenblat said in a statement issued Saturday through his agent, Andrea Hurst. "I brought hope to a lot of people. My motivation was to make good in this world." The American Gathering website – intended as a collection of tributes by Holocaust survivors and their children, has removed the story from their website, as a result of Rosenblat’s admission. Berkley Books is canceling publication of Angel at the Fence, Rosenblat’s biography, originally scheduled for February. A children’s fiction by another author entirely (Angel Girl by Laurie Friedman) was withdrawn by Lerner Publishing, apparently just because of its inspiration from Rosenblat’s fabrication. Oddly, a Hollywood production of the story is scheduled to continue production.

Rosenblat’s story describes a daily meeting of Roma, a Polish civilian girl, who came to the fence at Buchenwald, befriended an inmate boy, who came to the fence daily, so that she could feed apples and bread to her friend. After surviving the final months of the war, and working his way to New York City, Rosenblat adapted American social habits. On a blind date, arranged with friends, Rosenblat recognized his date as the savior who fed him at Buchenwald, and proposed to Roma on the spot. Unaccountably, we find that Roma was Jewish, that her family was hiding out at a farm near the camp -- and Roma invites Herman home the next week for Shabbat dinner. But we all want Rosenblat’s story to be true.

Rosenblat at age 76 was a bar mitzvah, 63 years after turning 13 in the camps. Rosenblat celebrated with a dozen friends at the Mineola, New York, Congregation Beth Sholom Chabad. Rosenblat’s celebration was a genuine accomplishment, and a genuine example for Jewish community participation.

We have become accustomed in recent years to accept cynically public lies as a necessary evil. One of the more telling quotes in the movie Frost/Nixon is the Nixon apologia, "I’m saying that when the President does it, it is not illegal." The consequences of such thinking has led to many of the abuses which George W. Bush committed to subvert the very idea of transparent honest American government. It would be easy to forgive a Buchenwald survivor like Rosenblat for the conceit of an old man in his declining years, or to have published his and Freedman’s books as fiction, instead of as biography. It is the prior claims of truth, however, which disturb us about this story now. It ought to be difficult to introduce an element of doubt about the truth of the Holocaust, by giving credence to such a fictive fabrication. The difference between The Boy in Striped Pajamas and the movie based on Rosenblat’s story, Flower of the Fence, will be precisely that people will come to the latter, knowing that it once had claimed to be real and true. We cannot allow such doubts to contaminate the truth of the Holocaust – not for our children, and not for Ahmedinejad.

To view previous editions of "Living Judaism", please click here.

Did you enjoy this article?

If so,

  • share it with your friends so they do not miss out on this article,
  • subscribe (free), so you do not miss out on the next issue,
  • donate (not quite free but greatly appreciated) to enable us to continue providing this free service.

If not,