Saul Chapnick

Sanitizing Mass Murder: A Historical Novelette


by Saul Chapnick  

from today’s TIMES OF ISRAEL

PREFACE: This is a “must-tell” story. It has, for too long, been deliberately kept away from you, the public. It is a fictionalized account of actual events. This tale has all the components of modern day noire: a lone hero, a jaded country, not admitting to its murderous genocidal past, and a once revered institution, experiencing a moral dilemma that could affect her very existence. 

This is the story of Dr. Raphael L. Hatulay and what he has witnessed over the years between the goings on with what we shall call, ASHKI and the Republic of Fenwick. During this process Professor Hatulay has lost almost everything he worked for in life, but he is still fighting for what is right and just. This story deserves to be told.  You deserve to hear it.

“What is the stated mission of a non-profit institution?”  the Public Health professor asked his students nearly five decades ago.

Depending on the agency, the answers provided from the students differed about the stated mission: from feeding the hungry to educating the masses to caring for the elderly.

“Wrong. Wrong, Wrong! Lies, lies, lies!” retorted the professor, who was also the director of a major governmental agency. “The main purpose of charitable organizations and nonprofits is one thing, and one thing only, continuity and survival, no matter what and no matter who gets in the way. Nothing else matters!”

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The Midnight Plane to Czernowitz: The 2018 International Yiddish Conference


by Saul Chapnick  

from today’s TIMES OF ISRAEL

Have you ever missed an anniversary, a birthday, or event and regretted it for years, or even a lifetime?  I have.  It was missing out in attending the 1908 International Conference on Yiddish Language that took place exactly 110 years ago this year at Czernowitz, a city that served as the regional capital of the Hapsburgs (modern day Chernivtsi, Ukraine).

You may ask even how was it distinctly possible that a man my age could have been around 110 years ago.  For the past nearly thirty years, I have immersed myself in learning about Jewish life and infrastructure in  prewar Europe, plus seeing what the role of Yiddish was, if at all, in that culture.  For most Jews of this age, modern history began with the Holocaust and the creation of the third commonwealth, the modern-day State of Israel.  Events like the Czernowitz Conference, or the Kishinev Pogroms, World War I or the Leo Frank affair are just not in our lexicon, even though they all occurred in the twentieth century, thus making them modern, not ancient, history.

As Jews, it is incumbent upon us to fulfill the obligation of “Zakhor,” “To Remember.”  We are to look back at our history and internalize it in such a way to feel just like we were there, and feel what our brethren felt.  This is just not reflected in our reading of the Passover Haggadah, but everything we do and say in life.  To do “Zakhor” means we have a fuller understanding of ourselves in order to be able to navigate the future. Zakhor enables us to be more comfortable with self.  That is why I went on a personal quest over the last 25 plus years to visit libraries, read books, make visits to Poland and Ukraine to meet with political leaders, rabbis, community leaders, and lay people so that I can learn and experience.

Czernowitz 1908 symbolized to me that turning point in Jewish history.  A part of me felt that I did spiritually attend that conference, but realistically, I knew that it was a physical impossibility.  Then, in July, Dovid Katz, a leading Yiddish scholar, posted in Facebook that he was invited to be the keynote speaker at the 2018 International Commemorative Conference of Yiddish Culture and Language at Czernowitz to mark the 110th anniversary of the very first conference.

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