An Open Letter to Jared Kushner

I am a Holocaust survivor and of course I was a refugee. Ironically, I survived just like your grandparents: 22 months living in holes in a small forest, not that far south from where they were, but too far from any Partisan groups. I was eight years old when we were liberated. By then, there were twelve of us left out of about 1,000 Jews in our area. We managed only because of the humanistic kindness of a few Polish and Ukranian farmers who remembered my father being a real “mench”. Now, there are only two of us left, my brother and I.

Soon we will all be gone.

I met many survivors through the years. Most of them remained silent, some chose to bear witness, and some just gave up on humanity Celan, Levi, Kosiski and countless others. And some just said to hell with everyone, like your grandparents and their children. I cannot judge any of them for how they dealt with the horrors, even the “Kapos” who only wanted to survive a few more days.

To me the real “Kapos” were the Jews of power and status worldwide who kept silent, especially in the US — “Afraid to make waves” — including some Hollywood moguls who let their films be censored by the Nazis. The bankers and media barons who even tolerated the America First Committee. No one wanted to take in Jewish refugees. (Read your Grandmother’s testimony)

Did it ever occur to you that if some countries accepted these refugees, that maybe both of our extended families would have survived?

You Jared, a grandson of survivors grew up as a child of privilege, power, wealth, and status.

How can you rationalize all your actions? You call yourself a Jew, even an Orthodox Jew. Your wife converted by some rabbi who you refuse to name. What kind of Jew are you? Denying humanism of the Jewish people who gave so much to this world. You align yourself with the racist, fascist tradition that brought the greatest tragedy in our history. You support the power seeking racist Jews who think that they’re all chosen and superior and the Evangelicals who are waiting for the Rapture, when you will be perfected, you are dishonoring the graves of our families.

Where is your sense of decency? You swallow the myth that these people are good for the state of Israel. When the brown-shirts come to get you, you may last a little longer, but I can assure you, like all the other “Kapos”, they will get you too. And your friend Bannon, and the narcissist Trump will turn their backs on you.

Your nameless Rabbi invoked the doctrine of “Pikuach Nefes” –the saving of a life- which allows the disobeyance of all other commandments, just so you can ride safely in a bulletproof car for the inauguration. I can assure you that you are much safer than my walk at night from the subway. I would love to talk to your Rabbi.

I am an Atheist, but I have the blood of the tribe of Levi, the blood of Aaron the first priest, still flowing within me, I am Dov ben Yosef Aaron Hakohan. It is my right to ask a Rabbi of conscience not your nameless Rabbi to invoke “Pikuach Nefes” for all suffering children and refugees worldwide.


-Ben Barenholtz

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