Monday, June 06, 2005

Jerusalem is Jerusalem.

In a DovBear comment I wrote that "I always thought it interesting when people would blame the German Jews for saying "Berlin is Jerusalem" when Vilna was called "the Jerusalem of the Lita".

Someone responded to that, saying
Who called Vilna "the Jerusalem of Lita" and why? Who called Berlin "our Jerusalem" and why?

My 12th grade students had to answer that question on the Jewish History midterm I gave them. But they had an advantage in answering that question: they had actually studied Jewish history.

Short answer: In Vilna they longed for Jerusalem. In Berlin they thought they were no longer in galus.

And, while we cannot know exactly why suffering strikes this or that individual, we can say for certain that it is no coincidence the Holocaust started in Berlin.
Now, unlike DovBear I have no interest in singling out this person for a Fisking or a specific entry bashing her, which she does not deserve.

However, I am well aware of the various differences in the state of Western and Eastern European Jewry in the early 20th century. My point was this: Berlin is not Jerusalem. Vilna is not Jerusalem. Jerusalem is Jerusalem.

I was not trying to get eschatological, I was not trying to engage in one of those awful blame-the-Holocaust-on-Jewish-faction-X games. But that is precisely what the blame Berlin argument does and I just pointed out its flipside.

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