Valor in Le Chambon

We were very pleased that in profiling the young actor Timothée Chalamet in his lead anecdote in Noshes on March 23, Nate Bloom devoted some well-deserved attention to the French Protestant village of Chalamet’s paternal grandparents, Le Chambon in south central France. That village shielded and rescued some more than 5,000 Jewish refugees during the German occupation of France during the Second World War. Not much is known in this country today about Le Chambon and its collective courage, which surely deserves your readers’ attention and gratitude.

Anyone who wants to learn more should turn to an exemplary book about it by the late Professor Philip P. Hallie of Wesleyan University, “Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed: The Story of the Village of Le Chambon, and How Goodness Happened There,” published by Harper and Row in 1979 and still in print. (Full disclosure: Hallie, the author of several narrative studies of ethics, was a distinguished colleague of one of the undersigned at Wesleyan.) What set the villagers apart was the cowardice and anti-Semitism of many of their countrymen and women, typified by the Vichy collaborationist wartime government.

Florette R. Koffler, Ph.D., Richard Koffler, Ph.D.

Why weren’t you at the march?

On Saturday, March 24, my wife and I participated in Englewood’s March For Our Lives, joining hundreds of communities throughout the country and even throughout the world in a broad-spectrum show of support for students who were affected by the Parkland murders and in support of gun control. As a member of the local Orthodox community, I was pleased to see that the march had been scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m., so that it would not impinge upon my morning at shul, and was taking place within easy walking distance.

Although the march was well attended by all segments of the disparate, wider Englewood community, we could not help but notice that our own insular Orthodox Jewish community was grossly underrepresented. One of the Orthodox shuls, Kesher, did make a strong showing, but we were saddened to see neither members nor leaders from the other established Orthodox shuls.

This lack of participation in this particular event was a mistake because there are many community-wide events where it is difficult for us to fully engage with the community due to our religious codes, whether it be kashrut, Shabbat, yom tov, etc. I believe that our low turnout was caused, in large part, by the failure of the local shuls and religious leadership to publicize or advocate on behalf of this event, since a surprisingly low number of our Orthodox community members knew that it was taking place.

Responsible and sane gun ownership ought to be the concern of every community. As committed Jews, if we wish to pay more than lip service to our mission of “tikkun olam,” we should take advantage of every opportunity to engage with our fellow community members in furthering this worthy cause.

Michael K. Eidman

Exodus and comets

Regarding Rabbi Engelmayer’s article titled “The Exodus: Debunking the debunkers” (March 23) there’s a book by Immanuel Velikovsky that attempts to corroborate the plagues listed in the Torah.

Written in the 1960s, “Worlds in Collision” tells of other societies that have recorded events that are comparable to those recorded in Exodus. He posits that a comet passed near earth at the time the Jews left Egypt causing the miraculous events to occur at the most propitious moments. It was fascinating reading when I came across the book about 50 years ago, and it is worth examining today.

Kenneth Bander

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