Print this Post

Exodus-Not the Movie


Exodus is not only a famous novel by Leon Uris and a movie from the novel but it has other applications as well. Even a better known use of the word “exodus” is the English translation of Shmos, the second of the five books of Moses, the Torah. The reference is obvious. It’s about the children of Israel leaving Egypt as slaves and journeying for forty years through the dessert until they reached Israel, the Promised Land. Somewhat less known is the use of Exodus as the consequence of a social- political event, war, or uprising.

Today, March 5 is the anniversary of my Zayda (grandfather’s) birthday. Born in 1892 in Smolensk, Russia, he escaped the tyranny of the Czars army and immigrated to the United States. He had to come so quickly that he left behind his wife, and young son. They arrived nine and a half years later after my grandfather had saved up enough money to buy his family steerage tickets on a boat from Odessa to New York.

Many years later I had the opportunity to help ensure the freedom of Soviet Jews in my capacity as the National Director of UJA’s Operation Exodus Campaign. We helped over eight hundred thousand Jews leave the Former Soviet Union and resettle in Israel over a six year period beginning in 1990.

So while many people look at the Ukrainian Russian crisis through military and political lenses, I think about the human toll. What will happen to the four hundred thousand Jews in the Ukraine? How many orphans and widows from both sides of the conflict will emerge? How many soldiers will die defending their country? What will be the human condition of this crazy- unfortunate-land grab by President Putin?

In 1961 the late Klausenberger Rebba opened the Lev Lalev Orphanage in Netanya, Israel.  A fellow Holocaust survivor who did not have the strength to raise his own children brought these five young children to the Rebba. The Rebba who himself had lost a wife and eleven children in the Holocaust, responded immediately and established the Home across the street from Laniado Hospital, which he had also established. How many orphans will it take until the world recognizes that peace is far better than war.


1 comment

  1. charles dinnerstein

    Many of us have ancestors who came from that area white Russia i think, You seem to have continued the Jewish traditions . Many of us have not unfortunately. I would like to learn more . I live in Tennessee . Can you recommend someone ? Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>