efraim zuroff reads my blog!

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Efraim Z responded to my open letter.

Dear Menachem,

Sha’vua tov. I’m assuming you know what that phrase means, which goes to the heart of the matter. Perhaps if your name had been Oliver Phillips or some other WASPy variation thereof, I never would have responded to your article in Tablet. It was your name that implied some sort of commitment, affiliation, support, and/or empathy for what people like Prof. Dovid Katz, Rachel Constanian and myself have been trying to do in Lithuania since independence. (Is that you cursing out your parents’choice of Menachem in the background?) Your name means “comforter” and carries with it, some sort of promise. Instead, what we read about is some inane exercise in engagement of locals in fressing traditional Jewish fare under the guise of some sort of phony dialogue.

Whom do you think you are kidding? Not yourselves, since as Fulbright scholars you certainly are too savvy to fall for such drivel. After reading your piece, I decided to do some research with local sources to try and figure out what you guys are up to and whether you were part of the problem or part of the solution?

Lo and behold, there hadn’t been any sightings at the local Jewish sites of interest and/or importance. In other words, it appeared that rather than seriously delving into the issues you guys were apparently primarily out to have a good time and enjoy the local social scene.

In that case, the question is whether today’s Lithuania is the place for such fun and games? My sense is that the country is hardly an appropriate setting, given not only its Holocaust past, but it’s current policies, hence my sour comment on your bagel project.

I could apologize for “offending” you or give you the alibi that it’s a generational misunderstanding, but I don’t feel honest doing so. I can only hope that by the end of your sojourn in Vilna, you will have produced something more meaningful than bagels and learned enough to understand the source of my angst.

I mean, wow. That was a little bit mean, and more than a little presumptuous presumptive. Bagels can inspire a lot of passion, clearly.

Response TK.

Written by menachemkaiser

24 October at 12:48

Posted in bagel, rants

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