Esor Ben-Sorek

Forgive…maybe. Forget…NEVER.

After reading a well-documented story of the Associated Press activities in 1930’s and early 1940’s Germany, I forwarded it to a friend in Germany.

I first met Heike many years ago. She was born in Marburg and lived in Bonn, serving in the parliament of what was then the German capital, prior to its transference to Berlin.

She had come to New York together with a delegation from the Gesellschaft fur Christlich-Judische Zussamenarbeit, the Society for Christian-Jewish Cooperation, a German national organization founded by German Christians to improve relations between Christians and Jews throughout Germany.

I was invited to attend their meeting. It was composed mainly of older Germans who appeared sincere in their efforts to seek forgiveness for the actions of their parents who had doubtless been supporters of the Hitler regime.

Heike addressed the meeting, speaking in English, and related her several visits to Israel and her positive impressions of the Jewish State. She spoke at length about the society’s sole desire to improve Christian-Jewish relationships in Germany and shared information about the efforts and progress of the organization’s group in Marburg. She then introduced the leader of that group, Willi Sage, who spoke to us in German.

At the conclusion of the meeting, over cups of steaming coffee, individual members of the society met and spoke with the Jews who were present. They all used the words “regret” and “forgive” with regard to the Nazi atrocities. I have no doubt that they all regretted but forgiveness was an entirely different matter.

Over the past many years Heike and I have been in contact…letters between Berlin and Israel. Once, when my former classmate from Havat Halimud in Jerusalem, Moshe Netanel, was serving as Economic Attache at the Israeli Consulate in New York, Heike happened to be in the city three days before Pesach.

My wife and I invited them to our seder and Heike was deeply impressed with our readings and chantings from the Hagaddah which she followed in an English translation. She told us how amazed she was that Jews recalled their history from centuries ago, citing the treachery of the Amalekites, the cruelty of an Egyptian pharaoh and the anti-Semitism of Haman which she compared to Hitler. She asked us “don’t the Jewish people ever forget?”

So I forwarded to her the Times of Israel account of the Associated Press activity in her Nazi Germany homeland.
And I added a postscript… forgiveness is possible in Jewish law. We can forgive you and your generation, maybe, but to forget…. NEVER.

That is what binds us together as a people…to remember a common history and to strive to pass it along from generation to generation.

That we Jews still survive in a nation of our own is the great miracle of this century. We will build a new society but we will NEVER forget our past.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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