Dear Mrs. Sanders,
Last Friday night, in Shul, I was sitting next to the father of a Down's Syndrome child. He noticed the ad for your publication "Down Syndrome Among Us" in the News Report on the same page as my column. He was pleasantly surprised that such heimishe professional publication exists 'among us'. And he hasn't even seen the magazine (yet).
I have read extensively about the Holocaust, since I write extensively about that topic too. It is a well known fact that the Nazi Germans murdered the mentally feeble, even 'amongst them'. Yet this year I came across an astonishing fact, which is pertinent to you holy work.
In Berlin, there is a famous boulevard called Tiergarten Strasse. Sixty years ago, at the inception of that murderous government, a euphemistic agency opened its offices at #4. The mandate of that Reich office was to 'purify' the Aryan race by the 'zonderbehandlung' of Downs Syndrome people and others with mental 'impurities'. T-4, as this agency came to be known eventually killed over 100,000 goyim including women and children, despite vehement protests from the church, in the late 30's. This is a well known fact which has been documented over 40 years ago.
This year some new facts came out as more 'geheime' documents are being declassified. In '36, the Germans knew that 'Jewish Question' might have to be 'settled' by an unprecedented scale of murder. Their meticulous planners asked a prescient question: How will we find the personnel to murder thousands of innocent people day in and day out? T-4 was the answer. The documents point out their planning and solution. To create a 'staff' of murderers, albeit of non entities. Then when the time will come to open extermination camps, experienced murderers will be instantly available. They will have no qualms about murdering Jews. And this is what happened. The murderers of our people, were all graduates of T-4.
There is a famous line of Jewish Thought, which in simple terms can be described as 'mirror image'. The most heinous crime has a parallel at its other extreme. Which is what your doing. By motivating us (and indeed the pen is mightier) to show compassion and acceptance of Down Syndrome children, you are enabling our people to rise to a higher point of Chesed, perhaps something which we are not even aware of yet.
Congratulations on bringing to the forefront, a situation which was hidden in a vague veil of guilt and shame due to ignorance. By persistently and consistently presenting "Orthodox-Jewish-Down-Syndrome" (a 'syndrome' within a syndrome?) with its inherent pain and promise you are performing a vital community service.
By intelligently changing perceptions caused by misconceptions, which due to negligence caused many families much pain.
Your 'Reader's Digest' mix of editorial content should interest many 'among us' even those not directly touched by Down Syndrome.
I've saved the 'first edition' issue. Not for its potential monetary appreciation; but for its current symbolic value. A profile in courage of an Orthodox Jewish mother of a Down syndrome child who took upon herself the expense and editorial challenge-to help us all.
This article first appeared in issue #3 of Down Syndrome Amongst Us