What's in store?

Plus: Rescued from the Reich

"The customer base is telling us this is heaven," Zambrana insists. "We are going to be the anchor for the future development here."

And that's the big hope of downtown boosters. With just 2,500 residents in households downtown, the residential density doesn't yet exist to make the grocery store viable. Zambrana says most of their traffic comes from the thousands of office workers who flood downtown during the day. To prosper, Urban Market needs ring up a consistent succession of $75-$100 grocery buys.

In Urban Market's favor, Kortny Penn, managing director of the Downtown Partnership, projects the number of downtown residents to double within the next 18 months. MacKenzie is even more optimistic. With the number of residential projects currently sketched on paper, he expects there may be as many as 10,000 downtown dwellers within five years. "It's the chicken before the egg," Penn says. "If you build it, they will come. " --Mark Stuertz

The redeveloped Interurban Building, before and after
The redeveloped Interurban Building, before and after

Rescued from the Reich
Controversy has dogged SMU adjunct professor Bryan Mark Rigg for the last year as he's traveled around the country promoting his second book, Rescued From the Reich: How One of Hitler's Soldiers Saved the Lubavitcher Rebbe. (See "In the Wolf's Mouth," February 26, 2004).

His research has uncovered a little-known chapter of WWII history: soldiers of Jewish ancestry who served in the Nazi military. Published by Yale University Press, Rigg's book describes the dramatic 1940 rescue of Joseph Schneersohn, the sixth Rebbe of the ultra-orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement (the largest Hasidic community in the world), now based in Brooklyn, New York.

With the combined efforts of Lubavitchers in America, sympathetic politicians close to President Franklin Roosevelt and several highly placed Nazi soldiers, including the head of German military intelligence, Schneersohn's escape is an amazing tale.

Now optioned by a film producer, the story has been causing anger among Lubavitchers for its unflattering portrayal of Schneersohn.

Like Christian fundamentalists who blamed Katrina on New Orleans' sinful ways, Schneersohn called the Holocaust God's punishment of secular and reform Jews, Rigg says. Some Lubavitchers believed Schneersohn was the messiah and was thus without sin, able to hear God.

But historical documents, says Rigg, show Schneersohn suffered from illness, was intolerant of others, made mistakes and, when he had the chance, cared more about rescuing his 40,000-volume library than Jews still trapped in the Reich.

"It's like going to a Christian audience and saying, looking at the historic documents we have, Jesus never rose from the dead," Rigg says.

Of the estimated 200,000 hard-core Lubavitchers worldwide (more attend their schools and synagogues), several hundred families live in the Dallas area. On the Jewish Book Council tour, Rigg has lectured in more than 100 synagogues in the last year. But few Chabad centers would invite him to speak.

When Rigg spoke at Chabad House in Plano, a rabbi's wife upbraided him. At a Connecticut synagogue, a rabbi yelled at him and then walked out.

"They are saying to me that I can't question a guy that's perfect, because I'm imperfect," says Rigg. He always refers them to historical documents he uncovered in his research. "After I speak, they will go to their rabbi in tears."

While he was working on the book, Rigg says, he sent the manuscript to rabbis for feedback. "As soon as I find a new document," Rigg says, "I was asking their take on it. I try to be respectful of their beliefs and give a balanced view."

He started getting calls from all over the world from Lubavitchers who promised they'd give him documents, but only if they approved of what he wrote. "That's unethical," Rigg says. "They were calling me up and blackmailing me. One rabbi said it's my Germanic blood that has polluted me. They have a hard time with any negative press."

Rigg's book is now in five languages; the Hebrew version will be out next year. His third book, Voices of Hitler's Jewish Soldiers, the case studies of about two dozen "Aryanized" soldiers, will also be published next year. --Glenna Whitley

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