After each two-hour shift I spent with the families we hosted through IHN, I walked out of Shomrei feeling humbled, grateful, and sad. These emotions inspired the following poem:
Even just a little
because we have health
because we have family
because we have security
and we know
as we move
through our day
when a child you love
needs tender care,
someone is there
to offer hugs and love
and more love.
because you never know
when you may need
shelter, clothing, food
because you answered
yes when no called
or you moved east
when west asked
or you accepted
charity masked as
maybe even more
because we have
because we eat
because we sleep
and we know
when we rise
inside four walls
beneath a roof
sipping hot or cold
coffee or tea
we are alive
we are safe.
image: “Family” © IsaacVakeroKoner altered and used with permission via Creative Commons License
“I went to the birthday party because I thought Shomrei should be represented,” said Beryl Hiller, who is a member of our Refugee Assistance Group.
The party on July 15 was for Ghiahi, the one- year- old son of a Syrian family in Elizabeth, one of five helped by our synagogue under the auspices of that group. Continue reading
The Anne Frank House conveys the narrative that Holland protected its Jews. To quote the fact checker for the New York Times: this requires context.
Conversos settled in Amsterdam during the 16th and 17th centuries. It’s important to note that Holland was not uniformly welcoming as they were not allowed to settle in other towns and it took a while before they were comfortable living openly as Jews. They also did not know much about being Jewish. Rabbis from other countries – Italy, Morocco, Germany – came over to teach them about Judaism. Ashkenazi Jews came to Amsterdam later and during the 18th century this was the larger of the two communities. Continue reading
It is called the Anne Frank House but it was not actually her home. The buildings housed her father’s company and Anne, together with her family (father Otto, mother Edith, sister Margot) and 4 other people, hid in the top two floors of the back annex above the warehouse for 2 years.
The entire building is empty. No furniture – the Nazis removed everything and Otto Frank did not want other furniture brought in to recreate the space. Only a few personal items have survived – postcards and magazine photos that Ann glued to her bedroom wall, a shopping list, Edith Frank’s siddur. Continue reading
image courtesy of ACLU
Around the time when news about the crisis on the border emerged, I was on my morning train into the City. It was crowded and coming up the aisle was a young mother and a grandmother, struggling with a stroller and a toddler. They were Spanish speaking. The woman sitting next to me offered the mom her seat and she and the toddler sat next to me. The boy sat on his mother’s lap and I was able to take him in. He was about 2 years old, with chubby cheeks, big brown eyes and at the age where everything about him is adorable. He was pointing out the window with great enthusiasm at everything we passed. The other commuters and I looked up from our phones and we shared a few minutes of pleasure watching this child’s innocent delight at simply being on the train.
The biggest reason my family joined Shomrei back in 2015 is because of the community here. So as the crisis in Syria grew, my husband and I kept asking each other: Should we do something? Adopt a Syrian orphan? Donate some clothes? It seemed obvious that I should email the rabbi. Was Shomrei “doing” anything? Continue reading
Bruce and I attended the Yom HaShoah Commemoration of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest and Kean University Holocaust Research Center on April 11th, featuring Robert Bielsky as Speaker.
Director of the Holocaust Council of Greater MetroWest, Barbara Wind, said Jews did not go to slaughter quietly during the Holocaust. Between 1941 and 1943, underground resistance movements developed in approximately 100 ghettos in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe (about one-fourth of all ghettos), especially in Poland, Lithuania, Belorussia, and the Ukraine. Their main goals were to organize uprisings, break out of the ghettos, and join partisan units in the fight against the Nazis. There was widespread resistance by fighting and killing Nazis, Jews risking their lives to save other Jews, escaping from killing fields, ghettos and slave labor camps, keeping the Jewish religion alive and fighting with the Partisans in the forest. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising lasted more than a month before the Germans overcame the Ghetto. That is longer than France or Belgium held up against the Germans before surrendering. Continue reading
Operation Anthropoid Memorial, Prague
My new commute is to Prague. Some people commute to Manhattan; my commute is overseas. My business trips are usually two weeks, although there are times I am living in a city for a month. The great thing for me, living in an international city, is that I have the opportunity to develop friendships with local colleagues and learn about the culture and the history from their perspective. Continue reading
Purim is a family enterprise in the Breslin Household. For the last 3 years Nancy Breslin has been the organizer behind the Purim Carnival and for the last 2 years Charlie has taken on the daunting task of organizing the Shalach Manot JLC fundraiser.
The carnival is a mammoth undertaking. There is a myriad of logistics to stress over — organizing games, arranging rentals of bouncy houses and photo trucks, ordering hundreds of prizes, schlepping 40 boxes of pizza and a car full of other goodies from Costco, just to name a few. Also there’s enlisting the help of and organizing scores of other volunteers.
And Nancy juggled all the balls without dropping any!