The injunction to “never forget” the Holocaust apparently doesn’t apply to the women who died, at least not as far as the Haredi newspaper Bakehillah is concerned. When the newspaper ran an iconic photo of Polish Jews being rounded up after the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto, they blurred out the face of Matilda Goldfinger and her daughter Henka for reasons of “modesty.”
Ynet reported that the Haredi newspaper “Bakehillah” (In the community) censored the face of Matilda Goldfinger, the woman who appears to the left of the little boy wearing a yellow star with his hands raised in the iconic photo documenting the final liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto in May 1943, following the Jewish uprising there that began on the first night of Passover that year. Goldfinger’s daughter Henka (Hannah) was killed moments after the photograph was taken….
In response to inquiries from Ynet, Avraham Dov Greenboim, editor of “Bakehillah,” said the blurring of the woman’s face was appropriate, given that the article was focused on the little boy. “In addition, we honor the memory of victims of the Holocaust, and we also respect our readers and only put in front of them what they need and want to see,” he said. The paper, along with other Haredi publications, operate under the watchful eye of a “spiritual commission” that ensures “modesty.”
Even keeping in mind Rule 34 of the Internet, the logic behind this is incredible; it’s hard to imagine anything that could be sexually tempting about the faces of a mother and daughter as they’re marched to certain death. And yet, as incredible as it is, it’s not foreign. The impulse that drives the publishers of Bakehillah to erase anything even remotely feminine from their pages—including Hillary Clinton, the faces of female terror victims, and a pair of women’s shoes—was nakedly on display during the Steubenville rape trial. Whenever someone tried to rationalize the whole thing away by saying that the girl shouldn’t have gotten drunk, or otherwise implying that she should have expected “something” to happen, they were working from the same premise: men just can’t be trusted around women.
This always feels horrible to me. It always feels personally insulting to me as a man, even though the direct consequences are felt by women. But this is even worse. That the Haredim are willing to mutilate and deny their own history in order to maintain some bizarre form of spiritual purity makes it feel even worse. Bad enough that these women were degraded and murdered by the Nazis: but their descendants aren’t even willing to gaze on their images, for fear that they’ll be soiled by their own impure thoughts.