MARCH 30, 2007 –Targum Shlishi, a Miami-based foundation, has launched an effort to raise awareness and promote constructive action in response to the critical problems facing Israel and the Jewish world.
The foundation sent copies of the book A Race Against Death: Peter Bergson, America, and the Holocaust by David S. Wyman and Rafael Medoff to 1,500 carefully chosen individuals who have the potential to foster positive change in and for the Jewish world. In addition, e-mails were sent to the foundation’s extensive contacts list, referring readers to the section of the foundation’s website with information about the effort, and reiterating the urgency of the situation.
“We sent out A Race Against Death because it has valuable lessons for all of us,” notes Aryeh Rubin, director of Targum Shlishi. “The book is essentially a cautionary tale of the terrible consequences of a lack of resolve and political infighting among Jewish groups in the US during the Holocaust. We hope that we can learn from the past, and avoid repeating the same mistakes today.”
A Race Against Death is the story of the advocacy work of Hillel Kook (Peter Bergson), who campaigned tirelessly for the rescue of Europe’s Jews, spearheading a series of actions including lobbying activities, organizing public events, and arranging for a series of full-page ads in major U.S. newspapers urging intervention. Kook’s efforts are widely attributed with leading to the establishment of the War Refugee Board, a U.S. government agency credited with saving an estimated 200,000 Jews. However, Kook himself viewed his efforts ultimately as a failure – a failure due in no small part to the lack of action and outright obstruction and hostility he faced from mainstream Jewish groups.
Targum Shlishi chose to send A Race Against Death as a call to action, urging recipients to advocate for the welfare of the Jewish world, to respond to the very real threats to Israel’s existence posted by a nuclear Iran, to focus on common goals, and to transcend political infighting.
“With Iran’s president threatening to wipe Israel off the map, there’s much talk today about a second Holocaust. We know that today is not sixty years ago, and that we are living in a different world now,” says Aryeh Rubin. “However, it is clear that Israel is in mortal danger, and when Israel is threatened, the Jewish people are threatened. Our goal is simple: a vibrant and lasting Jewish world. And if we want that, we are going to have to do something about it.”
In the cover letter accompanying the book, Targum Shlishi urges that people take action – respond to the threats to Israel posed by a nuclear Iran, make noise, apply economic pressure to Iran through divestment and additional sanctions, and demonstrate support for Israel. The cover letter states, “We must have sovereignty – we must have Israel – if we are to defend ourselves against hatred and genocide. And, when threatened, we must respond. Our survival depends on it.”
Targum Shlishi’s website has a section on the Race Against Death initiative, which includes the cover letter, a selection of quotes from the book, copies of advertisements produced under Kook’s supervision, and a list of resources (articles and websites) about Iran, Israel, and terrorism.
About Targum Shlishi
Targum Shlishi, an Aryeh and Raquel Rubin Foundation, is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi’s initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish.