DECIDING WHO OWNS CHURCH PROPERTY
As some Christian denominations split and certain congregations leave, there are disputes about the ownership of church property. The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has done this helpful interview on this subject with a law professor at George Washington University that might assist you in understanding the various ins and outs of all this.
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FINDING GOD AT AUSCHWITZ
As many of you know, I've been working on a book with a local rabbi about Jews in Poland who survived the Holocaust with help from non-Jews. (Click on the "Holocaust book project" link under "Check this out" on the right side of this page for more details.)
As a result, I've spent the last couple of years mostly reading Holocaust-related books. Recently, my book-writing colleague, Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn, loaned me a book he had borrowed from the library of his seminary. It's a 1948 book by Dr. Gisella Perl called I Was a Doctor in Auschwitz.
Dr. Perl was a Jewish physician from Transylvania in Hungary, and in the spring of 1944 she and many other Jews of Hungary were rounded up. First they were forced to live in ghettos and then taken to death camps. She was sent to Auschwitz, where her skills as a medical doctor kept her alive because the Germans forced her to treat patients there in horrid conditions. Eventually she was transferred to Bergen Belsen in early 1945, from which she was liberated by the British that April. (That's me in the photo here when Rabbi Jacques and I visited Auschwitz last summer.)
But I want to focus today on just one paragraph in her book. In it, she is talking about the many babies she aborted to save their mothers, who were not allowed to give birth in Auschwitz. Being found pregnant was one more excuse to murder Jews.
"No one will ever know what it meant to me to destroy these babies," she writes. "After years and years of medical practice, childbirth was still to me the most beautiful, the greatest miracle of nature. . . Every time when kneeling down in the mud, dirt and human excrement. . .I prayed to God to help me save the mother or I would never touch a pregnant woman again. And if I had not done it, both mother and child would have been cruelly murdered. God was good to me. By a miracle, which to every doctor must sound like a fairy tale, every one of these women recovered and was able to work, which, at least for a while, saved her life."
One of the frequently asked questions about the Holocaust was "Where was God?" This woman found an answer. Would it have been your answer? Do you trust her answer? Do you understand it? Do you cheer it?
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.