The Power of Ten
Special Edition: East Ramapo Alum to Receive Living Landmark Award
David Lipman, Spring Valley HS class of 1939, will be honored by the Rockland County Historical Society as a “Living Landmark”. The Society will present the award at their annual dinner on Sunday, March 6, 2016, from 5-9 pm at The View on the Hudson, 101 Shad Row, Piermont NY.
Lipman served as a Corporal in WWII, earning a Bronze Star while doing dangerous missions and being tortured by the Nazis. He bears witness to Antisemitism he experienced personally in the US and the horror of Nazi Germany. He also bears witness to the incredible positive power of quality public education in his own life and in his community.
His story was told by Mark Judelson in “Our Town” newspaper: Decorated WWII Jewish Veteran Gives East Ramapo School Board Lesson in History and in Decency
On September 9, 2015 he attended a meeting of the East Ramapo school board, and delivered a powerful reproach to the board members. Here is a transcript of his speech:
My name is David Lipman, Spring Valley High School, Class of 1939, from the original location on South Main St. Like many of my classmates, I went on to college; I became a professional engineer. Others became doctors, lawyers, teachers, police officers, artists, musicians. One became an actor, with an engineering degree to fall back on. Why? Because we were well EDUCATED. We were given solid foundations in all subjects.
During WWII, we set aside our studies and our lives to go and fight for the freedom of other people. I came home with a Bronze Star and permanently damaged shoulders from the tender care of the Gestapo. One of my brothers, Walter, sacrificed himself in the Pacific Theater to save his air crew. There’s a local Jewish War Veteran’s post named after him, you can look him up. As part of my service I was present at Concentration Camp Dora. There, I saw horrible, unimaginable things; things that do not belong in this room with children.
Then I came home, finished college, raised my family and sent my children to SVHS. My son, Walter is Class of 1972, and my daughter Ruth, 1976. Again, the Lipman family was well served by their excellent public school education. Both my children are professionals, and have a love of learning and reading, with inquisitive minds. Many of their classmates are likewise.
Now, I see what has become of this once fine school system, and I am appalled. I see that the perpetrators of this are largely my own people; people who were the subject of those unspeakable horrors at Dora and places like Dora. Is this how you repay the community to which you came? Is this why the people of this community fought and died- so that 70 years later, you could grind under your heel their grandchildren, as well as the next group of downtrodden immigrants?
I seem to recall two principles from my religious education; one, that we are enjoined to make THE world a better place, not just OUR world; and two, that we were strangers once, enslaved in Egypt. The Torah tells us that we have an OBLIGATION to the stranger- the Gentile- at least three times: Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 19:34 and Deuteronomy 10:19. And yet, this is not what I see. Instead of honey, we have poured bitter herbs on the books of these children, if they have books at all! This defames the memory of both the people of this community who died fighting against the enslavement and horrors of the Holocaust, and those who were its victims. You who are its survivors have a great obligation which you are failing to uphold.
It will take far more than 11 days of repentance to expiate this sin.