“Shalom!” – “Salaam!” – “Peace!”
So started the evening, “Fasting together, Praying for Peace” at Temple Sinai in Roslyn, New York, this past Tuesday evening. Jews, Muslims and Christian neighbors gathered together to talk, learn, pray and break the fast together. The Jewish minor fast day of the 17th of Tammuz coincided with the eighteenth day of the fast of Ramadan. The groups came together, under the auspices of the Long Island Board of Rabbis and the Islamic Center of Long Island, partnering with the Long Island Council of Churches, the Long Island Muslim Society, the Sid Jacobson JCC and the American Muslims and Jews in Dialogue. It was a long list of those who wanted contact and the beginnings of healing.
The idea of a day of fasting together, or in the language of civil protest, “a hunger strike for peace” was first proposed by Eliaz Cohen, an Israeli poet. Cohen wrote of his aspirations for the day.
For both traditions – this is a day designated for soul-searching, an opportunity for people to take responsibility, for self repair and for self and communal purification and for repentance. This is an attempt to direct the consciousness of both peoples to this day as a peak day in which each man and woman in their home and in their communities will be invited to take part, to fast in solidarity with the suffering, violence and pain of self and others, to ask how to end the cycle of bloodshed and draw a horizon of hope and vision. Afternoon gatherings and classes will be held between the two communities – sharing stories, studying and praying together, and by the appearance of the stars the people gathered will share an “iftar” – breaking the fast with a delicious meal.
When I arrived at the program with my husband, I only recognized one other individual. And although I felt alone in certain ways, I also felt part of something much larger. Both Jews and Muslims had responded to Cohen’s call and similar groups were meeting in Israel, in Philadelphia, in Oakland, California and in Palo Alto. People met in Texas and in London and in Kuwait.
Adolf Hitler’s grandchildren are alive and living in France, according to an investigative report in the French magazine Le Point that’s recounted today on MSNBC.com. And they want a share of the royalties from Mein Kampf.
The French magazine report focuses on newly found evidence supporting the claim by their late father, a French man who said he was Hitler’s illegitimate son. The man, Jean-Marie Loret, who died in 1985, said his mother, a farm girl named Charlotte Lobjoie, had an affair with Hitler in June 1917 when the genocidal tyrant-to-be was a World War I German corporal serving on the Western front. She gave the child up for adoption but told him about his dad shortly before she died in 1950. Loret wrote about it in a 1981 utobiography that was widely dismissed at the time. The new evidence includes, among other things, signed Hitler paintings found in the mother’s attic and confirmed reports that Hitler sent her envelopes of cash later in life.
Photos of Loret published in Le Point do bear a marked resemblance to Der Fuehrer. A lawyer for the grandchildren is quoted as saying they are entitled to a share of royalties from Mein Kampf. No indication whether they plan to sue Yad Vashem for a share of the box office.
The story adds a new layer of tragedy to the story of Hitler’s three grand-nephews, sons of his nephew William Patrick “Willy” Hitler, who live on Long Island (for real). They never married or had children, reportedly because they wanted to make sure the Hitler blood line came to an end, since they were his only blood relatives (boy, is that a double entendre). Now that we know about their second cousins in France, it seems they might as well have gone out and sown their oats.
Nephew Willy was born in 1911 in Liverpool, son of Adolf’s older half-brother Alois Hitler Jr. He spent much of the 1930s in Germany, working for Uncle Adolf. He settled on Long Island after the war and changed his name in hopes of burying the past. Oddly enough, the name he chose was William Patrick Stuart-Houston, which seems a fairly transparent homage to the British-born Nazi philosopher Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Neighbors on Long Island during the 1950s and 1960s recall the family being somewhat secretive and speaking German in the house. Maybe the boys will want to brush up their French now.