Shoah humor?; JFed/MoBot trip to Israel

What’s funny about students at an Oregon college killing all the Jews at a nearby campus?

That’s the question many are asking after an article — intended to be satirical — appeared in The Pamphlette, a student-run humor publication at Reed College, a private liberal arts college in Portland, the JTA reported.


Headlined “LC students kill Jewish people,” the article began, “in what is being called a ‘tragic, but all too predictable’ event, the staff of The Leaphlette, a student humor publication at (nearby) Lewis & Clark College, have been accused of rounding up and gassing all of the Jews on their Portland campus.”

The article went on to say that students asked the chemistry department for a chemical to conduct “Jewsperiments” and that there was now a “towering crematorium” where the library once stood.

Reed President Colin Diver apologized to Lewis & Clark interim President Jane Atkinson and sent an e-mail to the Reed campus stating that the Pamphlette had displayed “a remarkable insensitivity to the deeply held feelings engendered by some of the most horrific and painful episodes of our collective history.”

Anti-Semitism is a sensitive issue at Lewis & Clark, where swastika graffiti was found in the library bathroom a few weeks ago.

Pamphlette editor Glenn Harrison, 21, a Reed senior, said in an e-mail to The Oregonian newspaper in Portland that the article was a response to a piece in Reed’s student newspaper criticizing an earlier Pamphlette spoof of Anne Frank’s diary as enabling “real genocide.”

“We found this claim ridiculous, and the real goal of our article was to satirize this notion by driving it to its logical extreme,” he said.

The staff has since apologized for being “negligent as editors and members of the community,” he said, and “will be exercising more cautious editorial judgment going forward.”

* On the other end of the spectrum, the profound experience of a Holocaust survivor so moved Mark Coplin, a non-Jewish physical therapist at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center’s rehab hospital, that he wrote an essay as a gift to his patient, Maria Szapszewicz (pronounced shop-sheh-vitz). She is a survivor of the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. “Before me sits a woman in the autumn years of life. In her eyes I see hope yet pain. She has seen a lot through those eyes. She has heard, smelled and felt many things that we as a younger society cannot fathom,” Coplin writes, adding that he feels “privileged” to be her therapist.

“I am ashamed at times as I think back on my studies of the history I love. I have studied the Civil War, World War II, Vietnam and the generals and soldiers that fought in those wars. I have built models of the planes and tanks of WWII that men designed to kill one another,” Coplin continues. “Yet when I look into these eyes before me and hold these hands that have been through so much – I realize that I am truly holding the hands of history.”

Coplin says when he first started working with Szapszewicz, he noticed the “tattoo” on her arm and immediately knew she was a Holocaust survivor. The two became friendly and she gave him a book of her published poetry called For the People I Love and Can’t Forget.

“I do a lot of history and military research, and somehow doing that research and reading her poetry, I just decided I wanted to write something as a gift for her,” said Coplin, 46, who lives in south St. Louis County. “We built this rapport and hearing what she has done really inspired me.”

Szapszewicz, who has spoken about her Holocaust experience to more than 70 groups every year for the last few, is recovery from surgery for a broken hip.

* It took five judges five hours to determine the best new kosher products of 2009 at Kosherfest, the largest international kosher food trade show. A line of microwaveable Asian noodles called Luck Chen took the Best in Show at the 21st Annual Kosherfest New Products Competition, held in New Jersey last Thursday. Winners in 18 categories of new kosher products were decided by a panel of judges, who sampled hundreds of new kosher food entries. The two-day Kosherfest trade show will follow at the Meadowlands Exposition Center, Oct 27 – 28, with more than 300 exhibitors from around the world.

* Back by popular demand, Missouri Botanical Gardens and Jewish Federation of St. Louis are again partnering to lead a special trip to Israel focusing on Israel’s flora and fauna. The trip will take place from April 13-22, 2010 and be led by Peter Raven, the Garden’s President. The itinerary also includes a complete tour of Israel with visits to most of the essential sites.

Land price is about $3,500 per person, based on double occupancy — $1,200 additional for a single supplement. (Costs may be adjusted based on the number of participants.) Cost includes touring with a professionally licensed Israeli guide, accommodations for eight nights in deluxe hotels, most meals, transportation on a luxury bus and all entrance and program fees and gratuities. Airfare costs are additional.

For more information, contact Lori Wishne, Israeli Trip Coordinator, at Jewish Federation of St. Louis at 314-442-3830 or via email at [email protected] Registration deposits are due by Monday, Nov. 30, 2009.