I always love reading Warren Boroson’s articles. His story, “Eleanor Roosevelt and the Jews” (July 26), provided great insight into Eleanor Roosevelt’s anti-Semitic sentiments. His column gave us a look at who Eleanor Roosevelt was, and it was a learning experience. I always admired Eleanor Roosevelt and was surprised by her disdain for the Jews. Her husband was most beloved by the Jews but we now know he didn’t do as much as he could have to save the Jews from the Nazis. It is difficult to estimate how many of the six million murdered Jews could possible have been saved had there been a determined Allied rescue campaign!
During her husband’s leadership during the Great Depression and World War II, when anti-Semitism was rampant throughout the United States, she did not support Jews and their causes. In retrospect, her actions were neither courageous or passionate.
However, Eleanor Roosevelt’s views of Jews changed over time. She learned by living and she became a wonderful humanitarian. She led women’s organizations and youth movements and fought for consumer welfare and civil rights. Under her leadership, the United Nations approved the U niversal Declaration of Human Rights.
I admire all the good she did and forgive her views of Jews, which she changed over time. As Boroson notes, she changed because of Kristallnacht, which “galvanized Mrs. Roosevelt into action.” Also, as noted, she changed because “she became close friends with some remarkable Jews, including Bernard Baruch and Elinor Morgenthau.” By her actions, she showed the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, or healing the world.