Category Archive: Together

American laws against ‘coloreds’ influenced Nazi racial planners

When a dozen right-wing extremist groups descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, over this weekend, members of the National Socialist Movement were among them, proudly displaying their swastika armbands and flags. Despite a relative absence from US history books, Nazis have deep roots in some parts of the country, and their efforts to alter the legal system against minorities once inspired Adolf Hitler.

The weekend’s nationalist protesters hail from a long line of homegrown Nazis, some of whom set up a network of pro-Hitler youth camps during American Nazism’s heyday. In addition to Nazi communities planting themselves in numerous states, other white supremacist groups, including the Silver Shirts and Friends of Progress, helped make Nazi ideology more prominent than ever during the 1930s.

Long before National Socialists set up shop in Yaphank, Long Island, their race-oriented predecessors helped turn American immigration law into an instrument of discrimination. To establish a restrictive entry system for Germany was a matter of course to Hitler, and his 1925 memoir was filled with admiration for America.

“The American Union categorically refuses the immigration of physically unhealthy elements, and simply excludes the immigration of certain races,” wrote Hitler in “Mein Kampf.”

Nazis were interested in how the US created ‘second-class citizenship’ for minority groups
Particularly in the American south — the former bastion of slavery — local measures against “colored” citizens were seen by the Nazis as a productive first step toward establishing Aryan supremacy. American jurisprudence with regard to racial “mixing” was also scrutinized, wrote James Q. Whitman in his book “Hitler’s American Model,” published earlier this year.

Contrary to myth, wrote Whitman, Hitler was not interested in what came to be known as Jim Crow-style segregation in the south. German society was already “mixed” by American standards, and the Nazis were more interested in how the US created “second-class citizenship” for minority groups, said Whitman.

“Early twentieth century America was the global leader in race law, admired around the world for the vigor of its legislation; in this the Nazis were not alone,” wrote Whitman, a professor of law at Yale University. “As in so many areas, this was one where American creativity shone.”

Hitler had an ‘admiring engagement’ with American’s handling of Native Americans
Hitler had an “admiring engagement” with America’s handling of Native Americans, said Whitman. In a 1928 speech, the future dictator said the US had “gunned down the millions of Redskins to a few hundred thousand, and now keeps the modest remnant under observation in a cage.”

For its policies toward Native Americans and attempts to keep the races apart, Hitler considered the US an admirable — but incomplete — example of a “volkisch” nation. A notable success, in Nazi eyes, was the “dead letter” citizenship afforded to blacks.

“It was not outlandish for [the Nazis] to think of their program of the early 1930s as a more thoroughgoing and rigorous realization of American approaches toward blacks, Asians, Native Americans, Filipinos, Puerto Ricans, and others — even if the regime had shifted its sights to a new target in the form of the Jews, even if it would later take the racist exercise of modern state power in an unimaginably horrifying new direction,” wrote Whitman.

‘Common law’ racism
In “Hitler’s American Model,” Whitman explained how the US has long been shaped by two forces: “formalistic liberal egalitarianism and realistic racism.” In other words, America remains racist in some ways, but strives toward enacting its better self.

“I expected angry responses, but by and large readers seem to have accepted the truth in what I found,” author Whitman told The Times of Israel in July. The professor of comparative law has written several books on criminal justice, and he’s particularly interested in the “widening divide” between the US and Europe.

The aspect of America’s “common law racism” that most appealed to the Nazis was called “anti-mongrelization law,” or measures aimed at preventing “mixed” marriages. In 30 states, “anti-miscegenation” laws existed to prevent these unions from taking place. There were even fines and jail sentences issued to offenders, something Whitman called “rare” in legal history.

Another aspect of American race law that appealed to Nazi legal minds was the ability of state and local judges to use common law to — for instance — discriminate against blacks. A Constitutional amendment might have freed the slaves, but many southern leaders, including governors, mayors and judges, were bent on denying blacks the voting rights afforded by citizenship.

Also of appeal to Nazi planners, US politics was “comparatively unencumbered by law,” and a plan like FDR’s “New Deal” could thrive in tandem with the country’s systemic racism, according to Whitman. This combination inspired the Nazis during the 1930s, when the “Four Year Plan” created new jobs and built a covert war machine, all while the persecution of Jews and other minorities steadily increased.

“What the American example showed was that German judges could persecute Jews even without legislation founded in clear and scientifically satisfactory definitions,” wrote Whitman. In a regime that was to become obsessed with “who is a Jew,” this flexibility — such as deployed by judges in the US south — would become important, including when the Nuremberg Laws were crafted.

As for comparisons to modern times, Whitman said he holds little hope “that the US will ever show much willingness to learn from foreign models,” he said about race relations.

“If Americans were willing, though, there are certainly things they could learn from contemporary Europe, and maybe from Germany in particular,” Whitman told The Times of Israel.

“That’s not because there are no problems with regard to race and immigration in Europe. Far from it. It has more to do with the Western European commitment to norms of human dignity, which stands in the way of the worst political abuses,” said Whitman, referring to what he views as the US and Europe’s diverging criminal justice systems.

How Curious George’s creators saved the beloved monkey from the Nazis

JTA — Curious George — that curious little monkey — is beloved by millions of readers around the world. His adventures with the Man With the Yellow Hat impart important life lessons amidst silliness and mayhem.

But many people probably don’t know that the children’s book character was actually born during very dark times. His two Jewish creators, Margret and H.A. Rey, fled the Nazis in 1940 — on homemade bicycles, no less — carrying their unpublished manuscripts with them.

The story of the couple’s daring escape is told in the forthcoming documentary “Monkey Business: The Story of Curious George’s Creators,” which will premiere online and on on-demand platforms on Tuesday, Aug. 15. At the same time, in a coincidence of timing, the 2005 children’s book “The Journey That Saved Curious George,” will be mailed to 8- to 11-year-olds across the country this month through the PJ Library, a non-profit that champions Jewish-themed children’s books.

No matter what the format, the story of Curious George’s creators is a fascinating one.

Hans Augusto Rey (née Reyersbach) and Margret Waldstein first met in Hamburg in the 1920s. Margret, who had studied art at the influential Bauhaus school and whose father was a member of the German parliament, left Germany for Brazil in 1935 to escape the rising tide of anti-Semitism. Hans had been working in Rio de Janeiro as a bathtub salesman. The pair, who had met over a decade before in Germany, married that year and moved to Paris.

Hans worked as a cartoon illustrator for a newspaper, and Margret wrote copy. A French publisher was impressed with some of Hans’ animal drawings and suggested they work on a children’s book. Their first work was “Raphael and the Nine Monkeys,” and one of those monkeys would later become George.

By June 1940, the situation in Paris looked grim as Hitler’s troops began to close in. Millions of people flocked to trains heading to the south of the country, and the Reys could not get a ticket.

They didn’t own a car, so they decided to flee by bike, as Louise Borden explains in “The Journey That Saved Curious George.” The only problem: They couldn’t find a bike anywhere, either.

Somehow, Hans did something that sounds like a plot point in a children’s fantasy book: He made two bikes that night using spare parts. That incredible act likely saved their lives, as well as the future of the monkey that would become Curious George.

Before their escape, Margret rounded up all of their unpublished children’s book manuscripts, including one titled “Fifi: The Adventures of a Monkey.” The couple biked out of the city 48 hours before the Germans occupied Paris, and slept in barns and restaurants on their journey out of France.

As if in return for being saved, the curious little monkey character helped saved the Reys. As “Monkey Business” director Ema Ryan Yamazaki documents, whenever they were stopped at checkpoints during their escape, the couple brandished the manuscripts and illustrations to prove that they were not dangerous.

They eventually made their way to Lisbon, then back to Brazil, then to New York. Fifi became George, and in 1941, Houghton Mifflin published the first “Curious George” book. Since then over 75 million “Curious George” books have been sold and the series has been translated into 19 languages. (He’s also the star of an animated PBS program for kids that premiered in 2006.)

H.A. Rey died in 1977, and Margaret Rey died in 1996.

Yamazaki, who grew up partially in the US and partially in Japan, said she was inspired by the Reys’ story of immigrant success.

“With a deepening refugee crisis and inflamed anti-immigrant rhetoric across the globe, the Reys’ story has become unexpectedly more relevant in the two years I have been making the documentary,” she wrote last year. “The Reys’ refugee story has a happy ending, and represents the American dream at its best.”

World’s oldest man, an Israeli Holocaust survivor, dies at 113

The world’s oldest living man, Yisrael Kristal, died on Friday one month before his 114th birthday.
In 2016 Kristal, born September 15, 1903, had been recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest man.

Kristal, who lived in Haifa, had lived through both World Wars and survived the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Last year he finally celebrated his bar mitzvah — a hundred years later than usual. He had missed the original date because of World War I.

Kristal was born to an Orthodox Jewish family near the town of Zarnow in Poland. He was orphaned shortly after World War I and moved to Lodz to work in the family confectionary business in 1920. During the Nazi occupation of Poland he was confined to the ghetto there and later sent to Auschwitz and other concentration camps. His first wife and two children were killed in the Holocaust.

Kristal survived World War II weighing only 37 kilograms (about 81 pounds) — the only survivor of his large family. He married another Holocaust survivor and moved with her to Israel in 1950 where he built a new family and a successful confectionary business.

A devout Jew, he had wrapped phylacteries daily for the past century.

Kristal will likely now be succeeded as world’s oldest living man by Spaniard Francisco Núñez Olivera, 112, who had been second in line for the title.

Notably, Kristal was the oldest living man but not the oldest living person — that title currently belongs to Jamaican Violet Brown, 117.

US T-SHIRT COMPANY SELLS SWASTIKA DESIGN AS ‘SYMBOL OF LOVE AND PEACE’

NEW YORK – The US-based clothing website Teespring is selling T-shirts and sweatshirts branded with swastikas, aiming to make them a “symbol of love and peace.”

The designs, created by KA Designs and sold on the site, all display large swastikas in the front. One shows the Nazi-associated symbol in rainbow colors with the word “peace,” another one with the word “zen,” one reading “Love” and a third design, in black, shows a spiral of swastikas. They range in price from $20 to $35.

US T-shirt company sells swastika design as ‘symbol of love and peace.’(Screen Capture)US T-shirt company sells swastika design as ‘symbol of love and peace.’(Screen Capture)

“Here at KA we explore boundaries. We push them forward,” the company wrote as a description for the products. “Let’s make the swastika a symbol of Love and Peace. Together, we can succeed.”

Before being used by Hitler’s German Nazi regime, swastikas were commonly known as an ancient sign used by Hindus and Buddhists carrying positive associations such as auspiciousness and good fortune. KA Designs is attempting to revert the now negative sign to its origins.

The company even made a promotional video claiming that the Nazis “took the swastika, rotated it 45 degrees, and turned it into a symbol of hatred, fear, war, racism, power.”

“They stigmatized the swastika, they won, they limited our freedom, or maybe not?” the video continues. “The swastika is coming back.”

On some of the tee shirts sold by KA Designs, the swastika remains turned by 45 degrees, similarly to the Nazis’ use of the symbol.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, executive director of the Israeli-Jewish Congress and pro-Israel activist Arsen Ostrovsky called the shirts “obscene and disgusting.”

“It may have been a symbol of peace,” he wrote. “That most certainly is not what it is primarily associated with today.”

Ostrovsky also pointed a finger at Teespring for seeking “to profit off of this in the name of art, trying to turn this irredeemable Nazi symbol of hate and murder into a symbol of ‘love and peace.’”

“They are not unique in this, however, with a disturbingly growing pattern in recent years of other clothing companies seeking to do similar,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “This is not only highly naïve, but grossly offensive. What’s next, using ISIS symbols to promote gender equality?”

“Hopefully management will understand the magnitude of their mistake and offense caused, and discontinue these items immediately,” Ostrovsky concluded.

Arsen Ostrovsky posts on Facebook against the “Peace with swastika” shirts. (Screen Capture) Arsen Ostrovsky posts on Facebook against the “Peace with swastika” shirts. (Screen Capture)
The issue has also been discussed online by the YouTube channel “The Open Debate.”

“When I initially saw it, I assumed that it was just a joke,” the person in the video said. “There are some things that just aren’t going to happen. When some people view this symbol, they don’t feel anything and can recognize it as whatever they’d like. For others, this symbol has a very deep history of hate, pain and suffering.”

How Anne Frank’s diary was very nearly lost forever

ugust 4, 1944. The Gestapo raided the secret annex where Anne Frank and her family were hiding and officer Karl Silberbauer grabbed father Otto Frank’s leather briefcase to transport the loot he found there.
That briefcase happened to be the hiding spot where Anne stashed her diary describing the two years the Franks, along with the Dussel family, spent in seclusion there at 263 Prinsengracht in Amsterdam.

After everyone was rounded up and the rooms emptied, Miep Gies, who helped hide the families in the annex above Otto’s spice company, collected the papers scattered on the floor and saved them for Anne’s return.

But it was not to be. The family was deported to Auschwitz, where Otto’s wife Edith perished. Daughters Margot and Anne later died in Bergen-Belsen. After the war, Miep turned the diary over to Otto, saying, “Here is your daughter Anne’s legacy to you.”

The story of how Anne had received the iconic red and white checkered diary from her parents on June 12, 1942 — her 13th birthday — is a famous one. Her first entry expressed the hope that she would be able to confide completely in her diary and that it would be a support and comfort.

She had only been writing in it as a free person for a few weeks before her sister Margot received a call to go to a labor camp in Germany causing the family to go into hiding. The diary became her record of growing up and of self-discovery, as well of understanding the complex world and the brutal war around her.

She named her diary Kitty, and, in hiding, entrusted it with her innermost thoughts.

An October 9, 1942 entry reads: “Our many Jewish friends and acquaintances are being taken away in droves. The Gestapo is treating them very roughly and transporting them in cattle cars to Westerbork, the big camp in Drenthe to which they’re sending all the Jews… If it’s that bad in Holland, what must it be like in those faraway and uncivilized places where the Germans are sending them? We assume that most of them are being murdered. The English radio says they’re being gassed.”

‘If it’s that bad in Holland, what must it be like in those faraway and uncivilized places where the Germans are sending them?’
And on February 3, 1944, just months before Anne was arrested, she wrote: “I’ve reached the point where I hardly care whether I live or die. The world will keep on turning without me, and I can’t do anything to change events anyway. I’ll just let matters take their course and concentrate on studying, and hope that everything will be all right in the end.”

When the Russians liberated Auschwitz in January 1945, Otto Frank made the journey back to Amsterdam alone. Eva Schloss, then 15, and her mother Fritzi were on the same homeward bound trip. Eva’s father and brother had also been sent to Auschwitz, and later perished in Mauthausen.

Together, the survivors went to Odessa and then Marseilles before returning to Amsterdam in June 1945. Otto and Fritzi became firm friends and eventually married in 1953. Had Anne survived, she and Eva — born just a month apart — would have been step-sisters.
German-born Anne and Austrian-born Eva had in fact met when they were both 11-year-old immigrants taking refuge in Holland.

“We were very sociable. We lived in an apartment and so had no garden. Children played in the street every day after school,” Schloss told The Times of Israel.

Years later, when Schloss read Anne’s diary, she was astounded at the maturity of the young girl’s thinking.

“She wrote about feminism and politics. And she said you don’t have to wait till tomorrow to do good deeds and help people. She was really quite amazing for that age,” Schloss said.

Otto, who had been very close with Anne, was “astonished” at what he read, realizing he didn’t know his daughter as well as he thought.

“It took Otto three weeks to read the diary,” said Schloss. “Then he copied it into German to send to his mother, who lived in Basel. He showed it to everybody.”

Over the next few months Otto and Fritzi met at her home to discuss the publication of the diary. In that traumatic post-war period where uncertainty about how to carry on was commonplace, they welcomed the distraction.

“They were relieved to talk about something else. Following the recent Dutch famine of 1944-1945, where many people had starved to death, there was a very depressing atmosphere in Holland,” said Schloss. “For Otto, the diary was a ray of sunshine and became his life. If not for the diary I would have wondered how he could have carried on with his life.”

But finding a publisher was not such a straightforward matter — until an article by Dutch historian Jan Romein in April 1946 appeared on the front page of Dutch newspaper Het Parool.

“To me, however, this apparently inconsequential diary by a child… stammered out in a child’s voice, embodies all the hideousness of fascism, more so than all the evidence at Nuremberg put together,” Romein wrote.

Eventually, the Dutch publisher Contact produced the book “Anne Frank, Het Achterhuis,” translated as “The Secret Annex,” on June 25, 1947. Noted in Otto’s appointment book that day is the word: “Boek” (Book).

“If she had been here, Anne would have been so proud,” Otto later said.

The first edition, noted Schloss, wasn’t particularly successful because people weren’t in the mood to read more terrible things after all the suffering that had been endured in the war.

“Moreover, no one thought what a little girl writes about day-to-day would interest anyone,” she said.

Undeterred, Otto got in touch with foreign publishers, who had it translated. He tried to market the book in the United States, with little success, until Doubleday published the first English version entitled “The Diary of a Young Girl,” by Anne Frank. Judith Jones, the editor who rescued the diary from a rejection slush pile at Doubleday, died this week at age 93.

‘It was just as much as people could cope with then’
“The diary gave people an insight, without being too graphic. It was just as much as people could cope with then,” Schloss said.

In the spring of 1944, exiled Dutch education minister Gerrit Bolkestein appealed on Dutch radio for people to keep a written record about life during the Nazi occupation. On hearing this, Anne decided to rewrite her original diary with the hope it would be published after the war.

But neither she or anyone else could have ever predicted the overnight success it would garner once translated into English, five years after the 1947 Dutch version. Starting with a modest edition of 5,000 books, it was followed quickly by runs of 15,000 and then 45,000 copies.

Jewish author and war correspondent Meyer Levin’s New York Times review on June 15, 1952, was a game changer. Levin, a war correspondent in Europe, had been witness to the camps as they were liberated. He was among the first Americans to go into Buchenwald, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen and Theresienstadt.

Levin, it was reported, had first come across the French translation of the diary in a Paris bookshop in 1951, identifying with the writings of the “born writer” immediately.

“Hers was probably one of the bodies seen in the mass grave at Bergen-Belsen, for in August, 1944, the knock came on that hidden door in Amsterdam,” he wrote in his review. “…Because the diary was not written in retrospect, it contains the trembling life of every moment — Anne Frank’s voice becomes the voice of 6 million vanished Jewish souls.”

96-year-old ‘bookkeeper of Auschwitz’ ruled fit to serve sentence

ormer Nazi SS guard known as the “Bookkeeper of Auschwitz,” now 96, is fit to serve out his sentence, German prosecutors said Wednesday.

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Oskar Groening was found guilty in July 2015 of being an accessory to the murders of 300,000 people at the camp and sentenced to four years in prison.

“The prosecutor has rejected the application from the defense for a sentence suspension,” court spokeswoman Kathrin Soefker told AFP, confirming local media reports.

A summons for the start of the sentence has not been issued, she said, adding that the prosecutor will make a decision separately on this.
Groening’s lawyer Hans Holtermann said he would appeal the decision as soon as possible, arguing that the doctor named by prosecutors had not done a proper examination.

Groening has been living at home despite his conviction, and due to his old age, it has been unclear if he would actually be jailed.

But a court doctor has now determined that he is able to serve his sentence, on condition he is given appropriate nursing and medical care while in detention, said the spokeswoman.

Groening worked as an accountant at Auschwitz, sorting and counting the money taken from those killed or used as slave labour, and shipping it back to his Nazi superiors in Berlin.

One million European Jews died between 1940 and 1945 at Auschwitz before it was liberated by Soviet forces.

Austrian court convicts man who questioned gassing of Jews in WWII

VIENNA — An Austrian court has found a man who claimed the mass killings of Jews in gas chambers under Adolf Hitler was a story made up by Jews guilty of violating the country’s anti-Nazi laws and sentenced him to a suspended 12-month prison term.

Additionally, the man has been convicted of the crime of incitement for calling Muslims vermin. The court in the western city of Feldkirch ordered him Monday to pay a fine of 1,440 euros ($1,690).

Both statements were made on Facebook. In claiming that the mass gassings were fiction, the man said Jews made up the story to make Hitler look bad should he have won the war.

The 34-year old acknowledged the postings were his. He is not being identified in keeping with Austrian privacy laws.

Hungary for more

hat if I told you time-machines exist? In July, I had the incredible opportunity to time-travel to Budapest. Although, the year was 2017 there were many lessons, attractions, and new friendships that inspired a meaningful journey. The glamorous architecture throughout Budapest can inspire any visitor to see how important this city must have been as the joint capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Flowers bloomed throughout the country and the weather was perfect enough for biking. But, just as roses have thorns, this beautiful country has a thorny history as well.

Just down the street from my hotel, is the Dohany Street Synagogue, built in 1856. Theodore Herzl, the man behind the movement for Jews to return to their ancestral homeland, also known as Zionism, was born in that very location in 1860. It was both surreal and wonderful to stand at the site of his birthplace. The interior of the synagogue, which seats three thousand worshipers and is the second largest synagogue in the world, was one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever been in.

Before WW2 there were 830,000 Jews living in Hungary. 437,000 were murdered in just seven weeks in 1944 after the Nazi invasion of Hungary! During the war, some synagogues were used as concentration centers for the Hungarian Jews on the way to their deaths at Auschwitz. How tragically ironic that using a house of worship for mass murder or to assist in murder is what ultimately saved the Dohany Street synagogue! Now there are almost 100,000 Jews living in Hungary. I am sad to share that while the floors and walls may sparkle to its former glory, there is still a part of the renovation that has not been completed. Where are the people?

Touring the Jewish museum located adjacent to the Dohany Street Synagogue, I went to sign my name in the guest book. I was shocked to see written in it, “The Holocaust is a lie. Europa Erwache!” (This translates to “Europe awaken” in German.) How could I be reading such a message in 2017?

The Szeged synagogue was another stunning place of worship in Hungary. Similar to the Dohaney street synagogue it was vast. Pre WWII, it accommodated 1,500 worshipers (a quarter of the population of the city.) Today, 30 Jews reside in the city. Initially, I was disappointed. I had traveled three hours from Budapest, to discover the synagogue was closed to the public. I was impressed to learn the Hungarian government was financing the refurbishment of the exterior.

Fortunately, I was able to get inside The Szeged Synagogue and met Christina, a guide for the property. The interior was falling apart from lack of financial support. Despite the dusty and faded insides, it was still breathtakingly beautiful. I was in awe of how large the stained glass windows were throughout the synagogue. It was an incredible experience to listen to Christina translate the Hungarian inscription on the ceiling, as my Israeli friend translated it into Hebrew. “Love thy neighbor as thyself” was the focal point of the synagogue.

What an incredible manifestation of this religious tolerance and understanding as Christina, who is Christian explained to my Jewish friend and me that mostly non-Jewish groups visit the synagogue. She not only had the original key to the gates of the synagogue, but her life experiences of studying Jewish religion and history as a non-Jew have given me cause to not judge other Europeans based on the hate inscribed in the guest book the day before. People like her are the keys to a better future.

I was privileged to see many beautiful synagogues, memorials, and graves in Hungary. Raoul Wallenberg was a Righteous Gentile who I felt particularly attached to on this trip. During WW2, as a non-Jewish neutral Swedish diplomat, he forged papers alongside other diplomats to save tens of thousands of Jews from death. He distributed Swedish paperwork, even as some Jews were on the train about to leave the station for death camps! Unfortunately, he was later imprisoned and probably killed by the Soviet authorities.

Who knew after following his very footsteps, that I would end up dancing in a Budapest nightclub with a granddaughter of someone he saved? This is what I mean when I say traveling is just like boarding a time-machine.

I visited the “shoe memorial” on the Danube river bank a day before the state visit of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Assorted bronzed shoes are arranged where thousands of Jews in the closing weeks of WW2, were forced to take off their shoes by the Hungarian Fascist Iron Cross, before being shot into the river. Some of the Jews were tied together, and only one person was shot to conserve bullets as all the victims drowned.

As I observed Jews, Muslims, and Christians from all over the world exploring the site, I was instilled with hope, in spite of hate incidents against all of our communities being higher in the United States and throughout the globe than they have ever been. I was especially moved to see where someone had attached an Israeli flag to one of the shoes. Though the beautiful view of the riverbank and the Hungarian Parliament building remain the same, the flag symbolizes shoes that could have belonged to me 72 years ago. “There but for the grace of God go I.” As long as we have a strong Jewish state, Jews will never again be so helpless.

This is Part 1 of 2 articles describing my experiences in Budapest during July 2017.

Rayna Rose Exelbierd is the StandWithUs Southeast High School Coordinator. SWU is a 16-year-old international Israel education organization with offices throughout the US, in Israel, Canada and the UK.