The Marxist Bagel Philosophy

Amazing that it’s been six years since I blogged about the lost Marx Brother – John Marx, aka The Bagel Man, the improbable proprietor of a kosher eating establishment in Cincinnati.  We gathered the Goldberg and Goldstein cousins together again this afternoon – those who are in the U.S. – for a visit with the gentleman who was separated at birth from George the Animal Steele (the upper photo is Steele; the lower is Marx).

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The Ritchie Boys

I am embarrassed to admit that the first time I visited West Point was on the day that our son, Elliot, began his training there as a cadet in the year two thousand.  I was so moved by the history and significance of the place that it left me with the strong feeling that every American citizen should be required to visit at least once.  This sensation intensified when I stepped into the Jewish Chapel at West Point, built in 1984 through private funds, a treasure that remains virtually unknown to American Jewry.  Every Jewish Day School in the country, and certainly in the region, should be taking their children and parents on a tour of West Point topped off with a visit to the Chapel.  One is struck upon entering the Chapel’s vestibule by a Torah scroll, housed in a showcase with a plaque that briefly tells its story.

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I had a flashback to this sensation last week, unearthing another well-kept secret involving Jewish connections to WWII while browsing the new arrival stacks in Barnes & Noble.  Initially attracted to its Van Gogh Starry Night-like cover, I wanted to learn more about the contents of Bruce Henderson’s Sons and Soldiers: the untold story of the Jews who escaped the Nazis and returned with the U.S. Army to fight Hitler.

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This is how I discovered the story of The Ritchie Boys, a cadre of young Jewish immigrants from Nazi Germany – sent overseas by their parents deeming them the family’s best chance for a toehold to the future – who became naturalized U.S. Citizens and enlisted in the American Army to fight an end-stage battle that became personal.  Their military intelligence training in psychological warfare at Camp Ritchie, Maryland would not only play a pivotal role in liberating the living and dying among the Nazi concentration camps, but would save the lives of thousands of fellow Allied soldiers of all denominations by effectively interrogating Nazi POWs on German army movements and plans.

Here are snippets from the dramatis personae of The Ritchie Boys in Sons and Soldiers, and their experiences after WWII:

Werner Angress, 82nd Airborne Division, graduated Wesleyan University and earned a Ph.D. at UC Berkeley.  Werner taught modern European history at Wesleyan, Berkeley, and SUNY Stony Brook, and was one of the few Ritchie Boys to return to live in Germany, making it his mission to teach school children in Berlin about what it was like to grow up as Jewish child under the Third Reich, and lessons learned from fighting fascism.  He died in Berlin in 2010 at the age of 90.

Victor Bromberg, 2nd Armored Division and 28th Infantry Division, earned his Ph.D. in Romantic languages and literature at Yale University where he was appointed to the faculty, rising to Chair of the Department.  In 1975 he accepted an appointment at Princeton University as profession of comparative and romantic literatures.  He retired in 1999 after 50 years of teaching, but continues to publish and lecture in the United States and Europe.

Stephan Lewy, 6th Armored Division, earned his business degree from Northeastern University.  He became a CPA and worked in finance for two large hotel chains.  He retired in 1991 and only began talking about his experiences under the Nazis after viewing Schindler’s List in 1994.  A widower since his wife’s death in 2010, he lives in Williamville, New York.

Martin Selling, 35th Infantry Division, studied engineering under the GI Bill at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, receiving his Master’s in Industrial Management in 1952, and spending most of his career with AT&T Bell Laboratories.  He stayed active in the U.S. Army Reserves, retiring in 1978 as a lieutenant colonel.  In his memoir he wrote: “We immigrant newcomers were proud of the contribution we provided in the war effort, although it was not known or greatly appreciated by many Americans.  He died in 2004 at the age of 86.

Emanuel “Manny” Steinfeld, 82nd Airborne Division, raised a family in Chicago, where he became a successful furniture manufacturer before retiring to Florida.  He remarked: “Sometimes I wonder if I should have been a Nazi hunter instead of  furniture manufacturer.  I still have a difficult time whenever I think about how many people died.  The Nazis tried to wipe out my family.  I am the sole survivor.  But I have thirteen descendants, and that’s not too bad.”

Gunther “Guy” Stern, First Army Headquarters, received his B.A. at Hofstra University and Master’s and Ph.D. at Columbia University where he became a professor of German studies, intent on separating the gold of German culture from the dirt and toxicity of the Nazi years.  For the next 50 years he taught at Columbia, Denison University, the University of Cincinnati, and Wayne State University where he remains a distinguished professor emeritus living in West Bloomfield, Michigan.  In 2017, Buy was named a Knight of the Legion of Honor for his role in the liberation of France during WWII.  Please watch this riveting one hour video of Guy’s appearance at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in 2014, commemorating the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Elsewhere, Guy provides a humorous insight into the role he played as “Commnder Krukov in impersonating  Russian officer during the war together with Fred Howard, another of The Ritchie Boys.  Fred’s obituary in 2008 notes: “After the war he founded what became the largest merchandising and point-of-sale display company in the world and was responsible for many famous merchandising icons, from Timex watch displays to the Leggs egg. Fred’s devotion to improving Arab-Israeli relations spanned his entire adult life. Based on principles of tolerance and fairness, he devoted much of his energy, resources and passion to fostering a just peace in the Middle East for Jews and for Arabs.”

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Abi Gezunt!

A rare Friday early afternoon in Fair Lawn yesterday afforded the opportunity to cruise over to Cedar Lane for a quick perusal of the new arrival section at Judaica House before closing time.  Greeting the store’s patrons at the entrance way is this handsome display  celebrating 50 years of classic jokes from The Jewish Press (no relation).

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Loosely translated, Abi Gezunt means “As long as you have your health”.  As we age that’s no longer just a punchline to a joke, but in the days when Arnold Fine first started to write  his gems for the back page of the Jewish Press they were simply delightful pieces we looked forward to each week.  Abi Gezunt! served as the perfect complement to Fine’s “I Remember When” sweet nostalgia pieces.

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My father, a gifted kibitzer and story teller in his own right, always enjoyed Fine’s sense of humor.  Were my father still alive, I’d take a drive over to his apartment and share some of the selections in this Fine collection.  So in his memory, here a few oldies but goodies …

The four partners, Tim Murphy, Pat Healy, Jim McKeon and Abe Goldberg had signed a business agreement that should any of them pass away, each would deposit $500 in the grave with the deceased, so that he may venture into another business in the world beyond.  It might have been a silly agreement, but the men went along with the idea.  Sure enough, as it must come to all men, Tim Murphy passed on.  Following the funeral service, each of the partners passed in front of the casket and carried out their obligation.  First, Pat Healy paused, said a silent prayer, and placed five crisp $100 bills on the coffin.  Then Jim McKeon walked over, lowered his eyes and placed $500 in small bills on the coffin.  Then Abe Goldberg approached, wrote out a check for $1,500, laid it on the coffin and took $1,000 change.

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A wealthy old timer passed way and a short time later, the family gathered for the reading of the will.  “To my wife, I leave all my money and my house.” the lawyer solemnly read.  “To my sons and daughters, I leave the new cars and all of my books.”  “And to my brother-in-law, who always kept saying, ‘Health is better than wealth’, I leave my sunlamp.”

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An apartment house in the Bronx had been robbed so many times that the tenants formed  a protection committee that decided to erect a sign.  It read: “NOTICE TO THIEVES – YOU’RE TOO LATE.  THESE PREMISES HAVE BEEN ROBBED AND THERE’S NOTHING OF VALUE LEFT TO TAKE”.  Two days later, somebody stole the sign.

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An out-of-towner stops by a shul and asks if anyone there knows the shul’s president, Seymour Rabinowitz.  One man walks forward and says, “Rabinowitz?  That scoundrel?  That crook?  That no-goodnik?”  The stranger, aghast, asks, “How come you know so much about him?”  The old-timer smiled.  “How come?  Because I’m his best friend!”

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It was a dark, dreary night.  The wind was howling and the sky was overcast.  Sarah couldn’t sleep.  Suddenly, there was a bolt of lightning that lit up the sky.  The figure of a burglar was outlined in the window.  “Shloimy!  There’s a burglar standing by the window!”  Stirring slowly, Sholimy stared bleary eyed through his sleep and spied the burglar and his tools just outside the window.  “Sh-h-h-h-“, he cautioned. “Don’t scare him.  Maybe he can get the window up.  That’s the one we couldn’t get open since the painters left!”

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An American old timer went to Israel to tour the land.  He stepped into one of the Israeli taxis and asked to be take to some of the historic points of interest.  The driver took him to a variety of spots and as they were coming down a large mountain, suddenly the cab begins to gain speed.  “Slow down, please,” the American pleaded.  “I can’t” shouted back the taxi driver, “The brakes are gone.”  “Then for heaven’s sake,” shouted the American, “At least turn off the meter!”

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Somebody finally figured out how an American could make a small fortune in Israel.  You come with a large one!

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Time: Qualitative & Quantitative

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A Thanksgiving Tradition

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Press Coffee Roasters

Have to put in a plug for my namesake (no relation or financial interest, much to my accountant’s chagrin).   Had a lovely visit to the Scottsdale Quarter location of Press Coffee Roasters on Friday, and great to see them doing so well!

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It Almost Came Down to the Wire

I’ll begin with the ending … the improbable almost happened!  The Championship Game of the Arizona Fall  League pits the team in the East with the best record against the best team in the West, and here’s how the 2017 standings wound up this afternoon:

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The team for which for which the Philadelphia Phillies’ prospects played, the Glendale Desert Dogs, had gotten off to a hot start this year.  Unfortunately when Miriam and I arrived they played mediocre ball for a stretch, but got hot again after the Fall Stars game.  As the start of play yesterday, their record was 14-14 and the team ahead of them in the West, the Peoria Javelinas, were 16-12.  Two wins for the Desert Dogs and two losses for the Javelinas would have meant a tie, and with more tiebreaker points the Dogs would have leapfrogged into the Championship Game.

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After witnessing Phils’ prospect Edgar Cabral help the Dogs beat the the Salt River Rafters 5-4 in yesterday afternoon’s contest at Camelback Ranch, we were scoreboard watching via mlb.com on our devices last night, pulling for the Scorpions’ knuckle balling prospect Mickey Jannis to hold the Javelinas in check.  Unfortunately, Peoria put up three runs in the first two innings, and it proved to be too much for the Scorpions to overcome.

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Mickey’s final stat line shows that even though he gave up three earned runs, he still finished the season with a 2.33 ERA.  Quite a respectable showing in the Fall League for the soon-to-be-thirty-year-old, and the Dogs can’t begrudge him for the loss as they were the ones that went cold mid-season.

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So off to Salt River we went for the final anti-climactic season today, watching the Dogs go out on a high note by trouncing the Rafters 11-3.  We spotted a bright red Phillies T-shirt, and introduced ourselves to Robin Neubart.

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Robin was born in South Philly and after a first stint in Arizona in Glendale, returned 21 years ago to settle in Chandler.  She is accompanied to Fall League games by her husband, Dave, a gracious New York fan of both the Yankees and Mets.

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We posed for a nice Phillie Fan Trio shot today, bittersweet seeing the last game when they came so close to appearing in the Championship show down.

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We bid adieu to Zach Green, this year’s Phillies version of Mitch Walding – yet another 1B/3B in the system.  Nice kid, with some pop in the bat, but a long shot to find a place on the parent club’s roster.

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Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack.  I don’t care if I ever get back.  I root for the Phillies, and it’s a shame they haven’t had a winning season since 2011.  But I still love Fall Ball …

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