Physical 19/03/2024 19/03/2024 Starts 14:00 Ends 16:00 30 NIS
[email protected] 0548011957

I am pleased to announce the next Movie Matinee at Beit Knesset Hanassi. On Tuesday, March 19 we will present AGAINST THE TIDE.

This superb documentary tells the riveting and deeply disturbing story of the work of Peter Bergson (a/k/a Hillel Kook) in the United States during the Holocaust. Mr. Bergson fought passionately and courageously “against the tide” to save European Jewry. Mr. Bergson himself and the organizations he founded and led used any means available to raise public, governmental and media awareness about the slaughter of the Jews of Europe.

What was “the tide”? “The tide” was President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the State Department and Congress. “The tide” was the media. “The tide” also included a very high percentage of Americans who were isolationists and/or anti-Semites. They were being persuaded by anti-Semites such as Charles Lindbergh—an American hero and one of the most popular individuals in the country—and Henry Ford and Joseph Kennedy and the virulent anti-Semite “Father” Charles Coughlin. Coughlin spewed out his Nazi-supporting dreck in his weekly radio program to an estimated 30 million listeners (at at time when the U.S. population was 120 million).

Sadly, “the tide” also included organized American Jewry. The leaders of most of the major American Jewish organizations did not want to “rock the boat”. Mr. Bergson worked outside the more conservative channels used by these Jewish leaders to influence government action. While these leaders agreed with Mr. Bergson’s goals—how could they not?—they bitterly opposed his brash, “in-your-face”, “no holds barred”, debasing tactics. They viewed such attacks as counterproductive. They would only anger Roosevelt, the most important person in the fight against the Nazis. They also greatly resented Mr. Bergson’s public criticism of their organizations.

Mr. Bergson used direct confrontation and extremely emotional public appeals to demand that the Jews be saved. Mr. Bergson and his organizations challenged, indeed shamed the United States government to take decisive action to rescue the Jews. They took out advertisements in newspapers around the country. They staged massively attended “We Will Never Die” pageants that toured the country. They planted sensational and poignant stories in newspapers. They organized a march on Washington of several hundred Orthodox rabbis who attempted to meet with Roosevelt.

Despite the government’s refusal to take the actions that Mr. Bergson fought for, he was not without some success. In November 1943, congressional supporters of Mr. Bergson and his organizations pressured Roosevelt to create a governmental commission to rescue European Jews. These efforts persuaded Roosevelt to create the War Refugee Board in January 1944. The Board did manage to save as many as 200,000 Jews. It goes without saying that this result was tragically “too little, too late”.

This brilliant film does more than describe the courage of Mr. Bergson. It shows how anti-Semites in the State Department and the War Department worked, often behind Roosevelt’s back, to oppose any plan that could rescue Jews. The movie uses rare, archival film, interviews and discovered government papers to make an air-tight case of the American government’s unconscionable acts of omission and even commission.

The film juxtaposes Mr. Bergson’s tireless fight with what was happening to Europe’s Jews. In a never-before-seen interview, Mr. Bergson reveals what he faced and what he tried to do.

It is beyond depressing that Mr. Bergson’s name and his heroic actions are nowhere near as widely known as those of Raoul Wallenberg, Oskar Schindler, Chiune Sugihara and Rodrick “Roddie” Edmonds.

This is a powerful, revealing, heartbreaking but essential documentary.

The Movie Matinee is at 2:00. The film is 1¾ hours in length. Unfortunately there are not English subtitles for those with hearing challenges. In addition, there will be a brief introduction of the film, a short talk and discussion after the screening and an essay about the movie provided to all attendees.

There will be refreshments. No reservations are required. Beit Knesset Hanassi is located at 24 Ussishkin Street. The admission is 20 shekels for members of the shul and 30 shekels for non-members.

For more information, please contact Mark at 0548 01 1957 or [email protected].


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