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Sunday, August 03, 2014

Leader of youth group tour to Auschwitz-Brikenau arrested because kids sang Ani Maamin (I believe in the Messiah coming)

Meet Rafi Ostroff, who was arrested at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on Friday because a tour group he is leading sang Ani Maamin (I believe in the coming of the Messiah).
I am leading a group of Bnei Akiva from Australia and South Africa.
As usual the group sings holy songs of prayer during the visit. This time the guards of the camp hounded us all the time, shouting at us not to sing. Even in the gas chamber of Aushwitz 1, the guard came up to me and shouted at me: "tell them immediately to shut up".
We then went to Birkenau. In a secluded part of the camp the boys spontaneously started singing "Ani Maamin". This was the song that prisoners sang on the way to be murdered there.
A guard drove after us with his car and demanded that they be silent. I told him that I don't have control over this as they are singing from their hearts. He then threatened to arrest me and called the police. 
In my group were a few boys that their grandparents were prisoners or were murdered in Aushwitz. We cried a lot on that day when they shared their stories with us.
I was threatened with 24 hours imprisonment or paying a 1000 zloty fine (about $350). I opted to pay as it was 2 hours before Shabbat.
Read the whole thing

The Poles: Once anti-Semites, always anti-Semites.

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At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For fairness' sake these are the 3 blog responses from PaweĊ‚ Sawicki of the Auschwitz Memorial Press Office

1) The whole situation was a problem of far too loud and inappropriate behaviour at the Memorial. That become a problem for guides and other visitors who were on the site at that moment. Other visitors were disrupted even in such a sensitive place as the building of the crematorium.

When the group was asked to quiet down on the site of former Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp, there was no response. After numerous requests of the security which were left with no reaction. The leader of the group refused to give his name and produce documents. That is why the police was called, ask for documents and gave him a ticket for disrupting public order. No one was arrested.

All that had nothing to do with the songs that were sung and the origin of the group. There are different ways of commemoration but none of them can disrupt other people visit. Such bad behaviour arouses many critical comments from other visitors. Yet, we should emphasise that great majority of visitors, including numerous groups coming from Israel, know very well what are right and appropriate ways of behaviours at the Memorial Site.

The whole situation is recorded and has been analysed. The reaction of the Museum Security was correct in this particular situation.

2) We know the song "Ani Maamin". It opens the exhibition "Shoah" in Block 27 in Auschwitz I, that the Yad Vashem Institute prepared in cooperation with the Auschwitz Memorial.

And I also agree with you that it is totally appropriate for everyone to sing in order to commemorate the victims of the camp - Jews and non-Jews. Only yesterday I was some Jewish groups wearing Israeli flags singing next to the ruins of crematorium and gas chamber II. They stood in circle, holding their arms, but doing it in a way that other visitors looked with respect and with emotions.

It was not a question of Jews singing, but a group behaving in a way that was disrespectful to other visitors. Before they came to Birkenau they blocked the building of the crematorium so that no other visitors could enter. Only after intervention, they moved and let others in. The Memorial is visited daily by thousands of people and everyone has right to visit.

When the group was asked to quiet down, stop running around the site and behave in a way that simply disrupted the visit of others, they behaved louder and worse. They paid no attention to the instructions of security, the leader refused to identify himself, so the police had to be called. They he lied to the police that he had no documents on him, and he had... And the result was the fine for the leader.

These people - and all people - had every right to sing the hymn. That is fully agreed. But they should not behave that way at the Memorial.

3) One more thing that should be added to that. The article does not say, that when the group was asked to unblock the crematorium at Auschwitz I, because other groups could not enter, the security informed them that they can stand outside the building, on the side that not many people use, and continue with their singing. The group did that. No one stopped them from singing there...

And in fact they were singing right in front of the office windows of the head of the security of the Memorial...

Yes, when Israel dares to defend itself, the anti-semitic rats & cockroaches come out like a plague, but was anti-semitism what happened to Rav Ostroff? Of all Israelis & diaspora Jewish there that day, his was the only group picked on for singing & praising G-d? Why would that be? And no else sang & praised G-d?
OK. The rabbi said what he said. This man Sawicki said what he said. Now both sides can be seen, & all can judge whether the rabbi was a victim of anti-semitism, or whether he & his party acted like jerks & spoiled brats.


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