Our Trip to Holland: Seeking a Context

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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

Visiting the Anne Frank House

IIMG_0406t 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

Audrey Levitin: Families Belong Together

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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.

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Turning Strangers into Friends

IMG_2133The 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

Robert Bielsky Speaks About Widespread Jewish Resistance

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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

Operation Anthropoid Memorial, Prague

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

The Other King and Queen of Purim!

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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!

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Florida Shooting Moment of Silence at Shomrei

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This Last Sunday, Feb 25, about 25 Shomrei congregants observed a 6 minute moment of silence in memory of the murdered victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida.  The observance was at 2:19pm, the time the shooting began and the 6 minutes of silence reflected the duration of the shooting.

17 candles were lit in memory of the 17 victims and a small banner was placed nearby which read “Do not stand by when you neighbor’s blood is shed.”  (Lev. 19:16)

Rabbi David Greenstein read psalm 20, and reminded those gathered that psalms and prayers are not enough.
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Visit To Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida

Bruce Baff

I had actually been thinking about visiting Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland for at least 3-4 days, especially when learning it was only twenty minutes, give or take, from the condo we are renting here in Coconut Creek. Fact is, Natalie and I were following each day’s developments quite closely ever since the fateful Wednesday, February 14. Continue reading