Families of "Holocaust Marching Rabbis" to Meet in Jerusalem
By Baruch Gordon

Children and grandchildren of 400 rabbis who marched on the White House during World War II to demand U.S. Government action to save Jews from Hitler will meet in Jerusalem this Sunday.

The 1943 rally was the only demonstration for Holocaust rescue held in Washington, D.C. during World War II.

Since the famous march, the Rabbis and their offspring have never convened. The event is being sponsored by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, a U.S.-based educational institute that focuses on America's response to the Holocaust. Speakers on Sunday will include Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff, Holocaust scholar Prof. Monty Penkower of the Machon Lander Graduate School, and Dr. Rebecca Kook, daughter of Hillel Kook, organizer of the 1943 march.

Rare film footage of the march will be shown at the gathering. Relatives of the marchers and the general public are invited to attend; see details below.

Most of the marching rabbis were from the New York area, but others came from Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere.

The rabbis who marched that day included some of the most prominent rabbinical figures in the American Jewish community, such as Eliezer Silver and Israel Rosenberg, co-presidents of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis; Solomon Friedman, president of the Union of Grand Rabbis; Bernard Dov Leventhal, known both as the chief rabbi of Philadelphia and one of the leaders of the Orthodox rabbinate nationwide; and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, who would later come to be regarded as the leading authority in America on matters of Jewish religious law.

The marchers also included an array of both hassidic and mitnagdim rabbis protesting side by side.

The idea of Jews marching through streets of the nation's capital in 1943, specifically promoting Jewish causes such as rescue, especially during wartime, was anathema to mainstream Jewish leaders. Some of them advised U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt to ignore the demonstration. President of the American Jewish Congress Stephen Wise, for example, condemned "the orthodox rabbinical parade" as a "painful and even lamentable exhibition." He derided the organizers as "stuntists" and accused them of offending "the dignity of [the Jewish] people."

The reunion will be held this Sunday, July 9 at 7:00 PM at the Machon Lander Graduate School for Jewish Studies, 8 Am V'Olamo St., Givat Shaul, Jerusalem, in the fifth floor conference room (accessible by elevator). There is no admission charge. For more information, call: (052) 805-9561 or write to:

For further reading on the Rabbis' 1943 march, click here.

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