Anger over Mill Hill rabbi’s ‘Kapo’ remark about Jews who said Kaddish for Gaza dead
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Anger over Mill Hill rabbi’s ‘Kapo’ remark about Jews who said Kaddish for Gaza dead

Head of Holocaust Memorial Day Trust berates Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet for having 'misused a sensitive term' about the Shoah

Rabbi Schochet
Rabbi Schochet

The head of Holocaust commemoration in the UK has blasted an “offensive” Mill Hill rabbi for describing as “kapos” a group of mainly young Jews who said Kaddish for 62 Palestinians killed by IDF soldiers.

Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, reacted angrily to comments from Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, who she said had “misused a sensitive term from the Holocaust”.

‘Kapo’ was the name given to death camp prisoners, usually Jewish, who were enlisted by SS guards to help supervise the forced labour of other prisoners, for which they received extra provisions. The role-holders were often brutal.

In a weekly column, Schochet described the Kaddish held at Parliament Square as “kapo-ism,” adding: “It’s pretty much as low as you can go as a Jew.”

Rabbi Schochet tweets out his column where he used the term Kapo

He was writing in response to communal anger over the Kaddish, which went ahead hours after it became clear that 50 of the 62 dead were members of Hamas.

But Marks-Woldman was one of many to criticise Schochet’s use of the term, which is widely seen as the worst thing one Jew can call another, saying it was “at best highly inappropriate, and at worst, downright offensive”.

In a statement, she said: “The role of ‘kapos’ in concentration and extermination camps remains an historical and moral challenge for us all to reflect on, not to abuse and misuse to prove our own points today.”

She added that use of this term against Jews today “borders on anti-Semitic,” saying: “If non-Jews described a Jew as a ‘kapo’ it is highly likely it would be interpreted as anti-Semitic.”

While Marks-Woldman did not demand Schochet withdraw or apologise for the remarks, she said: “Using the term ‘kapo’ today risks trivialising the Holocaust and minimising the experiences of those caught in unimaginable situations beyond their control. As such, we consider Rabbi Schochet’s use of the word ‘kapo’ at best highly inappropriate, and at worst, downright offensive.”

A spokeswoman for Yachad, which some community members incorrectly accused of organising the event, said Schochet’s comparison was “totally unacceptable,” adding: “Shutting down debates and labelling members of our community who you disagree with as traitors is dangerous and divisive.”

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