By PHILISSA CRAMER Sept. 13, 2020 (JTA) — Men packed into a late-night prayer service at Chabad’s main synagogue in Brooklyn Saturday night, Sept. 12, in violation of New York’s health rules and against the advice of local doctors.
On Friday, the Gedaliah Society, a collective of doctors that has been advising Orthodox Jews in Crown Heights during the coronavirus pandemic, issued a stern exhortation against attending services at the synagogue, located inside Chabad’s headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway.
“Given the recent developments of continued positive cases in our community, many of which are associated with 770, and given the inherent crowded indoor mixing nature of 770, we strongly advise that all people avoid davening in 770 for the time being,” the doctors wrote in an update posted to their blog and amplified by multiple news sites serving Crown Heights Orthodox community members. “There is significant risk of contracting the virus in 770 currently.”
Also on Friday, the synagogue’s managers decreed that masks would be required for anyone entering and said that a service on Saturday night would be limited to a small number of participants, according to the Orthodox news service COLlive. Photos showed piles of surgical masks ready to be distributed to visitors.
Yet a livestream from the main synagogue at Chabad’s headquarters showed the cavernous space filled with men packed closely together during the Selichot service held the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah. While some wore masks, many did not.
The service did not conform to New York’s rules, which currently allow houses of worship to operate at up to a third of their capacity, provided that 6 feet of distance can be maintained between people from different households. (A lawsuit this summer argued that houses of worship should not be held to a higher standard than other indoor gathering places; malls are currently allowed to operate at 50% capacity.)
The gathering — which was likely the largest but by no means the only crowded service taking place Saturday night — comes as the number of cases appears to be on the rise in New York’s Orthodox communities, inducing fear about whether schools and synagogues can safely continue to operate. COVID tests in another heavily Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhood, Borough Park, have come back positive at more than four times the citywide rate recently, and large gatherings such as weddings have been eyed as a culprit in the virus’ spread there.
770 Eastern Parkway closed for the first time ever in March as the pandemic settled over New York City. Its reopening in June, which featured dense and largely unmasked crowds, offered a sign that many in Brooklyn’s Orthodox communities felt the worst had passed.
Local doctors and community leaders are now trying to shake that sense of security. “Over the past 24 hours we have become aware of multiple new cases of COVID here in Crown Heights, both in residents and those from out of town,” the Gedaliah Society posted early Sunday morning. “This represents for the first time since Purim [in March] a very worrisome surge in new cases.”
“The Cure for Hate” – how a former neo-Nazi Skinhead turned his life around
By BERNIE BELLAN On Sunday, November 19, the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, in cooperation with the Jewish Federation, Westwood Collegiate, and an organization called “peace days,” screened a documentary film titled “The Cure for Hate – Bearing Witness to Auschwitz.” The film documents a visit made to Auschwitz by former neo-Nazi Skinhead Tony McAleer, during which he confronts his own violent past and discusses the long and complicated journey he has taken through his life
(As an aside, we also had a story in our January 19, 2022 issue, written by Jon Van Der Veen, in which Jon wrote about an interview he conducted with McAleer when Jon was a student in Atlantic Canada. You can find that story on our website, jewishpostandnews.ca..)
Following the screening of the film Tony McAleer was joined on stage at Westwood Collegiate by Westwood History teacher Kelly Hiebert to discuss the film. Also participating in the discussion was the film’s director, Peter Hutchison, who joined in via Zoom.
Interestingly, this was the second Sunday in a row that Westwood Collegiate, in cooperation with the Jewish Heritage Centre and the Jewish Federation – with particular thanks to Kelly Hiebert, served as the venue for the showing of a film and discussion afterward directly related to the subject of antisemitism. The November 12 event revolved around the screening of “Reckonings,” about which we wrote in our November 22 issue. (If you missed seeing that story you can also find it on our website
“The Cure for Hate” follows McAleer on a tour of Auschwitz, where he is accompanied by a Jewish Polish tour guide.
Here is a summary of the film’s storyline: “In the Jewish tradition, tshuvah means ‘return’, and describes the return to God and our fellow human beings that is made possible through repentance for our wrongs. Tony McAleer is a former Skinhead and Holocaust denier who went on to become a founding member of the anti-hate activist group Life After Hate. Profoundly aware and deeply ashamed of the lineage of hate he’d once promoted, Tony had long-contemplated traveling to Auschwitz in the spirit of tshuvah – to bear witness to the inconceivable ravages of the Holocaust, and deepen his personal work against the rise of extremist politics. This project documents his profoundly personal journey of atonement to Auschwitz/Birkenau – exploring the conditions that allowed for the rise of fascism in 1930s Europe; shedding a unique light upon how men get into, and out of, violent extremist groups; and serving as a cautionary tale for our time that underscores the dangers in allowing hate to be left unchecked.”
The film is fairly long – 74 minutes, and it is somewhat repetitious, as McAleer reiterates the shame he feels for his past over and over again, but it does offer some profound insights into what motivates many young men to be drawn to a violent neo-Nazi lifestyle.
At the beginning of the film, McAleer says he has often been asked: “How did you lose your humanity?”
He responds: “I didn’t lose it. I just kept it down until there was nothing left.”
As he begins his tour of Auschwitz, walking through the gate under the infamous sign that says, “Arbeit Macht Frei” (work will make you free), McAleer notes that when he used to get together with his Skinhead friends they would joke that when they’re done with the Jews the sign would read “Nothing will make you free.”
The film follows a pattern of McAleer walking along with the guide (who is often difficult to understand because of her heavy Polish accent), discussing his life and what led him to have an epiphany moment when he realized that the life he had been living was so wrong.
He observes at one point that “no one becomes a Nazi overnight. It’s a slow progression.”
As Jon Van Der Veen describes in his interview with McAleer, McAleer came from an affluent Vancouver family. According to Jon’s article, and something that is also mentioned in the film – although not to the extent it’s discussed in Jon’s interview, it was McAleer’s discovering that his father was having an affair that shattered his life and led him to descending into a downward spiral that culminated in his becoming a full-blown Neo-Nazi.
At one point, McAleer, who engages in quite a bit of introspection throughout the film, repeats something that was said to him by a psychiatrist who was treating McAleer: “All violence is an attempt to replace shame with self esteem.”
McAleer was influenced by a number of prominent Neo-Nazis, he says, whose names he recounts during the film, including; Richard Butter (who McAleer describes as the “spiritual leader” of the Aryan Nations, and who led the infamous 1978 march through a heavily Jewish neighbourhood in Skokie, Illinois which had a very high proportion of Holocaust survivors living there); Tom Metzger, of the White Aryan Resistance, and someone by the name of Lewis Beeton (although I may not have written that name down correctly since I could find no reference to anyone by that name on the internet).
Something that McAleer says during the film – and which is even more chilling than his description of his own long relationship with neo-Nazi ideology, is how so many neo-Nazi groups have been using the tactic of “mainstreaming,” whereby they educate their members to drop the appearance that is often associated with such groups, including uniform dress, scary tattoos and other such paraphernalia, and blend in with the “mainstream.”
Further, according to McAleer many neo-Nazis have been infiltrating police forces and armies in both Canada and the U.S. (Perhaps the most chilling story of such an infiltration came a few years ago when a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, Patrik Matthews, was unmasked as a member of a group known as “The Base,” thanks to the brilliant – and very brave investigative reporting of former Free Press reporter Ryan Thorpe.)
As the film progresses, McAleer describes the process through which he realized that his life had been a total waste. He acknowledges the contribution that his therapist, Charles Barron (who, incidentally, is Jewish), made to his coming to terms with what he had done with his life.
But, in treating him, McAleer says, Barron made him realize “This is what you did, it’s not who you are.”
The reason he had been attracted to neo-Nazi Skinhead ideology, McAleer observes, is out of a “search for longing and purpose.”
So, what turned McAleer around? There were two events that proved pivotal, he explains. One was the birth of a child. (He now has two, he noted during the discussion that followed the film, but he is no longer together with his children’s mother.)
The other event, he says in the film, “was receiving compassion from someone he didn’t expect it from.”
As well, he observes, “Allowing one to have compassion for oneself leads to compassion for others.”
Yet, in what comes as a dark warning toward the end of the film, McAleer states that “the inescapable truth is that white supremacist ideology, if left unchecked, always ends in violence.”
Following the film, McAleer and Peter Hutchison engaged in a discussion with Kelly Hiebert, followed by questions from the audience.
Kelly Hiebert asked McAleer whether there was “a transformative moment for you that led you to leave the movement?”
McAleer answered that “it was a process rather than a moment. For me it was the birth of my daughter. (His son was born 15 months later, he said.) Up until then I was a self-absorbed narcissist. I had been cut off from my emotional self.”
Someone in the audience asked Kelly Hiebert: “Why do you what you do?”
(Kelly Hiebert is a Governor General’s Award-winning educator who has made Holocaust education a key component of his teaching.)
Hiebert answered: “I do what I do to create a better world – for myself, my kids, and my students.”
Someone else asked Hiebert what he says to his students about what’s going on in Gaza?
He answered: “A lot of students are very confused. There’s too much information out there. I’m teaching them to develop a critical consciousness about what they’re consuming…to help them understand the difference between free speech and hate speech.”
Tony McAleer added: There’s confusion between identity and politics. It comes from understanding that it’s not the politics that’s wrong; it’s where I am that’s wrong.” But the identification with a certain brand of politics, he suggested, comes from “a thirst for community, a thirst for belonging.”
Peter Hutchison observed that the shift toward identifying with particular political beliefs “was never a defining characteristic when I was growing up…You end up getting ‘siloed’ in a lot of way. As Americans have become less identified with church, we’ve become much more strongly identified with ideology.”
And, as individuals become more immersed in particular ideologies, “it prevents us from seeing the humanity in one another,” he added.
The discussion turned to Holocaust denial. Peter Hutchison suggested that “if you can tear a hole in a little bit of data you can deny everything.” He went on to discuss the argument that there could never have been 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust – that it was Allied propaganda.
“It’s happening in real time,” Hutchison observed: “As information came in about a hospital (El Shifa – which was hit by a stray missile found to have been fired by Islamic Jihad) being bombed in Gaza, ”you can discount it or you can extend it to a much larger truth.”
Kelly Hiebert added: “People will believe the first thing they see.”
Someone asked McAleer: “What can you do to bring students together?”
McAleer answered: “Curiosity, courage, and compassion…What we try to teach young people is that it’s very hard to hate someone you meet.”
He cited as an example a student-led initiative that was put forward by students in an American high school – a program called “No one eats alone.”
The idea was to make sure that no one eating lunch would be left to sit by themselves. It was important to work with “students struggling at the margins,” he said.
In another school, students were asked to whom would they like to talk (among other students in their class) if they were “struggling.”
“We went to those students (the ones who were identified as one to whom the struggling students would like to be able to speak) and asked them if they would serve in that role.”
Hutchison noted that “it’s hard to teach ‘compassion.’ We teach ‘active listening’…how to be curious, how to wait your turn to speak…We also ask kids, ‘How does it feel to be hurt?’ “
Someone in the audience suggested that underlying a large part of the alienation that many young boys feel that, in turn, leads them to be attracted to neo-Nazi type groups, is wondering “How can I get girls to like me?”
McAleer responded that “We have to have better discussions about masculinity with young men…There’s a generation of young boys who feel alienated and there are groups who know how to pull them in.’
Peter Hutchison added: “Young men have heard the expression ‘toxic masculinity’ so often they don’t know what healthy masculinity is.”
And, while Belle Jarniewski made an observation about antisemitism sometime in the middle of the discussion, I thought it was particularly relevant to end this article with what she had said.
Belle explained that when a criminal offense occurs that has an antisemitic component to it, someone in the Crown Attorney’s office will often suggest that they ought “to bring in a Holocaust survivor for that offender to meet.”
“In truth,” Belle observed, “it would be much better if they were to meet someone like Tony.”
Murray Glow – a light that shines still
By GERRY POSNER If you want to talk about the North End of Winnipeg – and the many successful products of that area, none “shines” brighter than Murray Glow.
The Glow name is well known in Winnipeg, as several of the Glow descendants have made their mark in the city and beyond. Murray is one of them, but he did point out to me that the real family name was not Glow, but Gluchov, which makes me wonder if these Glow descendants would have gone as far as they have if they had kept Gluchov as their name?
One thing for sure – Gluchov or Glow, this was a true North End family, starting with Murray’s grandfather Israel Glow and his brother Sam Glow. The Glow brothers came to Winnipeg in the early 1900s. There was a time in Winnipeg where there was a cab company known as Glow’s Taxi. Murray’s grandfather and his brother Sam each drove for the company, taking many new immigrants to Winnipeg from Union Station to their destinations.
As well, not that long ago, there was a pharmacy known as Glow’s Pharmacy on Osborne, where Murray’s father, Gerry Glow, worked with his brother Morris Glow. That location is now Baked Expectations.
Murray grew up on College Avenue, attended Machray School and St. John’s Tech. Murray was very active in various Jewish organizations, including the YMHA and later, BBYO. Many might not remember, but there was once an AZA chapter known as the Slotins. That chapter’s first president was Murray Glow.
At the University of Manitoba, Glow was a member of Sima Alpha Mu Fraternity. He also served as Treasurer and Director of Publications at UMSU. Glow married Martha Dorion from Montreal, but Murray assured me she speaks perfect “Winnipeg” and can name all the residents on McAdam Avenue circa 1960. Murray and Martha have two kids: Hannah and David.
Murray says his work career led him to Montreal, Halifax and Ottawa before settling in Toronto. To get to these cities, Murray had to first finish university. His degrees include a B. Comm. ( Hons) from the University of Manitoba and an MBA from the University of Michigan.
Murray took his first job in Toronto with the consulting wing of Peat Marwick, as it was then known (later KPMG). He was there for three years, including a one-year stint in Halifax.
In 1972 Murray and three friends began a new firm called Applied Research Associates (later the ARA Consulting Group) – an audacious move for four guys under 30. But they made it, so much so that they soon had business in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Fast forward 25 years and the company grew to over 60 staff, working in areas as diverse as health, justice, social services, planning and land management, environment, housing and economic development. What they did was provide services including strategic planning, evaluation, organizational design/restructuring and policy development. You could say that the company took a situation that was dim and then put a “ glow” on it. (Sorry, I could not resist).
In 1976, the company received a contract to work assisting in government reform in Nigeria. Not a lot of College street residents from Winnipeg have that on their resumés. The results of this experience led ARA to become involved in work for agencies ranging from what is now Global Affairs Canada to the World Bank, so much so that over 40% of ARA’s services were delivered to clients in the Caribbean, Africa, South East Asia, the Middle East and eastern Europe.
In 1998, KPMG bought ARA and Murray became a partner in KPMG’s Public Sector consulting practice. A few years later the Enron scandal caused KPMG to spin off a new firm called BearingPoint, which focused on international development work. Bearing Point’s bankruptcy in 2007 was timed perfectly for Murray’s extended semi-retirement: He set up his own small firm and continues to consult to this date, both in Canada and abroad.
My best guess is that ,given his vast experience in consulting in countries all over the world. and his expertise in so many diverse areas, Murray Glow’s light will shine quite long.
The privileged, yet not unscathed, life of Baron Maurice de Hirsch
The Baron: Maurice de Hirsch and the Jewish Nineteenth Century
by Matthias B. Lehmann
Stanford University Press, 400 pp., $49
Reviewed by IRENA KARSHENBAUM
In reading Matthias B. Lehmann’s The Baron: Maurice de Hirsch and the Jewish Nineteenth Century what becomes painfully obvious is that despite owning chateaus and estates across Europe and being a member of the aristocracy, this elevated status still did not protect Baron Maurice de Hirsch, the wealthiest Jewish person of his time, from antisemitism.
How to find a solution to this eternal hatred haunted Hirsch his entire life and influenced not only how he envisioned the lives of his future grandchildren, but guided his philanthropic projects that changed the fates of millions of people.
It is a rare feat to acquire great wealth within a single generation. Hirsch was no exception.
Born Moritz von Hirsch — later to be known as Maurice de Hirsch — in 1831 in Munich, Bavaria, to Joseph and Caroline (née Wertheimer) von Hirsch, Lehmann describes how the young Hirsch grew up a member of “the noble class, with its privileges and rights,” yet was still the subject of the contradictory Jewish edict of 1813, which opened most occupations to Jews and granted them freedom of worship, but also imposed numerous restrictions, “designed to control and limit the overall number of Jews tolerated within the kingdom [of Bavaria]. Jewish immigration was banned, and the so-called Judenmatrikel established quotas for the permissible size of each Jewish community, limiting permission to marry and designed to keep the number of Jews static or reduce it.”
Yet despite this antisemitic decree, in 1818, Hirsch’s grandfather, Jacob Hirsch, managed to obtain the status of nobility from the King of Bavaria and the upwardly mobile family was allowed to be called “von Hirsch auf Gereuth,” after an estate the senior patriarch had purchased a few years earlier.
The Hirschs, however, were mere “cattle merchants” (albeit conducting business with the King of Bavaria) in comparison to the wealth and status of his mother’s family, the Wertheimers, who were descendants of Samson Wertheimer, the banker to Emperor Charles VI.
The Hirsch family had to wait another half a century, until 1869, when Joseph was awarded the hereditary title of baron for “contributions to the welfare of the Bavarian state,” following his establishing a field hospital during the Prussian-Austrian War of 1866. (The family’s philanthropic contributions were not limited to this singular charitable act, but this recognition speaks to Joseph having finally “played his cards right,” which secured “a place for himself and his descendants as members of the European aristocracy.”
At age thirteen, Hirsch was moved to Brussels where, in 1855, he succeeded in doing what his father had done a generation earlier — he married up. His bride, Clara Bischoffsheim, was the daughter of Jonathan Raphaël Bischoffsheim, the partner of Bischoffsheim & Goldschmidt, one of Europe’s leading banks, which would one day become France’s BNP Paribas. Clara had worked as her father’s secretary, training that would serve her well to act as her husband’s “chief secretary” for their expanding business interests and philanthropic work.
Hirsch’s arrival in Brussels was of perfect timing, not only for his matrimonial aspirations, but it also coincided with the birth of the railway age when Belgium opened its first international railway line, linking Antwerp to Cologne.
At this time, Hirsch developed a passion for railroads. He formed an odd partnership with a known antisemite, André Langrand-Dumonceau, who advocated for “the building of an international Catholic financial empire to compete with… Jewish- (and Protestant-) dominated high finance.” The partnership eventually dissolved, Langrand-Dumonceau’s financial Ponzi scheme collapsed and the stake that he had owned in the Ottoman railway concession ended up in Hirsch’s hands thanks to the pursuit of an Ottoman public works minister, an Armenian named Davud Pasha, with whom he signed an agreement, in April of 1869, to link Constantinople and Salonika with central European railways.
The business deal became, as Lehmann writes, “The defining moment in Hirsch’s life as a businessman, and which was the main source of one of the largest fortunes in Europe of the late nineteenth century.”
Almost twenty years later, in the summer of 1888, after successfully maneuvering the corrupt Ottoman political and commercial landscape, the first train on the railroad that Hirsch had built, left Vienna for Constantinople. Yet even this remarkable achievement of linking Europe with the Ottoman Empire ignited antisemitic vitriol.
Lehmann writes, “The idea of building a Vienna-Constantinople-Salonika railroad link had sparked imperialist dreams in the Habsburg capital. When fantasies of colonial riches failed to materialize as the completion of the railway connections was repeatedly delayed, a narrative… became increasingly personalized, focusing on Baron Hirsch in the guise of the “Parisian financier” and “the Jew.” Rather than the bursting of a speculative bubble in Vienna in 1873 or the effect of the Russo-Ottoman War of 1877-1878, not to mention the machinations of the Great Powers of Europe or the political chaos in Constantinople in the mid-1870s, a story emerged in which it was Baron Hirsch, single-handedly, who betrayed the dream of Austria’s Oriental empire.”
Hirsch understood that antisemitism was impossible to defeat. In giving an interview, in January of 1889, to the New York Herald, titled “The Jews Must Disappear: A Hebrew Millionaire Spends Enormous Sums to Assimilate Them with Christians” he explained his solution, “The Jewish question can only be solved by the disappearance of the Jewish race, which will inevitably be accomplished by the amalgamation of Christians and Jews.”
In terms of his own descendants, when his son, Lucien, was in his twenties, Hirsch stated that, “He must marry an Englishwoman,” especially since, “younger members of the families of Rothschild and Montefiore” were assimilating through marriage.
Immersed in an antisemitic milieux, it is important to also consider that neither Hirsch, his wife, or their son even contemplated conversion unlike many members of the Jewish nobility of western Europe like, Benjamin Disraeli, the 19th-century British prime minister who converted to Christianity. Assimilation was for the next generation through the planned raising of their future grandchildren as Christians.
With the sudden passing of his only son at age 30, Hirsch — whose loyalties were still deeply intertwined with his co-religionists — shifted his energies to helping the Jews of the Russian Empire who were facing escalating antisemitism.
In 1891, Hirsch incorporated the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA) in London with initial capital of 2 million pounds sterling (the 2023 equivalent of about $2 billion) of his own funds “to assist… the emigration of Jews from any parts of Europe or Asia… where they may be subjected to any special laws,” and to help them, “establish colonies in various parts of North and South American… for agricultural [purposes].”
With his recent experience conducting business with the corrupt Ottomans, he objected, ““On principal,” to purchasing land for colonization purposes anywhere in the Ottoman Empire, where the authorities were bound to subject the colonists to endless “chicaneries and difficulties,” and, ““religious memories and ancient traditions” were a feeble ground on which to build a large-scale colonization enterprise.”
Hirsch rejected Theodor Herzl’s “fantastical plan, of creating a “Jewish state”” in Palestine. (Herzl himself went on to contemplate Hirsch’s efforts in an 1896 article for London’s Jewish Chronicle titled, “Shall we choose Argentine or Palestine?”)
By the fall of 1891, Hirsch decided that the focus of JCA’s work would be the evacuation of 3.25 million Russian Jews, primarily to Argentina, which he estimated would take about twenty-five years to complete. By 1896, the year of Hirsch’s passing, 6,757 colonists were living on 910 farms in Argentina.
In Canada, the majority of JCA’s work did not begin until after Hirsch’s passing and it is believed that most Jewish farming communities received at least some funding from the association. A number of the prairie settlements — Hirsch and Sonnenfeld in Saskatchewan, and Narcisse in Manitoba — were named after leading JCA figures.
Lehmann’s thoroughly researched biography and view into the Jewish nineteenth century rings eerily true for Jews today.
Irena Karshenbaum writes in Calgary.