The Rabbi Who Hated Anne Frank

I only ever met one person who had anything bad to say about Anne Frank.

I was 12 years old, among a hundred other Hebrew school students in the social hall at our temple in northern New Jersey, eating our weekly dinner at long, uncovered banquet tables, when the oldest woman in the world walked in the door. In truth, Rabbi Helga Newmark was only 67 then. But the darkness in her eyes gave her a worn toughness where she might have been inviting, like impermeable black stains on a welcome mat. She was sturdy, though petite. She was wearing a fuchsia suit.

Rabbi Newmark sat down to face us where we had gathered at a table stacked with empty pizza boxes. She looked to me then like a person for whom it is impossible to imagine eating anything without a fork. And then she told us: “Anne Frank was a brat.”

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