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Thursday, October 16, 2003

Disturbed by good intentions

by Avi Weiss, senior rabbi at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and president of AMCHA-The Coalition for Jewish Concerns
Early one morning this past July, I arrived with a group of colleagues at the Belzec death camp in southeast Poland. A thick layer of bone and ash covered the ground as far as the eye could see. Mass graves surrounded us. A dog roamed freely through the camp. Heavy construction equipment stood everywhere.

I watched as a crane plowed into the earth, lifted a pile of dirt and dumped it out. Could that earth, I wondered, contain the remains of the members of my family who had been murdered here -- my uncle Chaskel Weiss, his wife, Mania, and their two children, ages 9 and 10; my aunt Chaya Yehudit, her husband, Moshe Meir Zeigeltuch, and their 11-year-old daughter, my cousin Brucha Teme'le, whose photograph my father carries in his wallet to this day?

We had come to Belzec to investigate reports that the remains of the dead were being desecrated in the process of constructing a memorial at the site. As I watched the crane dislodging the earth before me, I was convinced that I was witnessing a continuation of the greatest violation ever of the Holocaust dead. The design selected for the Belzec memorial -- an enormous trench running through the camp -- has massively disturbed, and will continue to disturb, the bones and ash on the camp's surface and the human remains that lie beneath.
Continue reading at the Washington Post.

And more at the AMCHA website.