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Mixed feelings about December PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 06 January 2012 02:35
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By the time you read this, the so-called holiday season will be done. Winter will be in full swing, and it will be time to pay your credit card bills. But each year we are left with mixed feelings about our celebrations and about the celebrations of friends of other faiths.

 
Life’s surprises PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 09 December 2011 15:14
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No one told me that my dreams and aspirations were just that – dreams and aspirations.  Once I was old enough to think I could fulfill those goals, I was too immature to realize that nature and possibilities interfere with probability.

I was 8 when some biddy of a schoolteacher realized that I could not read her writing on the blackboard because I could not see well. She sent a letter home to my parents to tell them that I needed glasses. That was the first of many diagnoses I have received in my very long lifetime.  It was the ultimate insult to a vain, indulged little girl.

But I got the glasses, glasses that I wore and broke on a regular basis. When there was no one around to reprimand me, I would often take them off; it wasn’t until I matured that I stopped resisting their necessity. I realized that I could see more clearly with them than without them. If a boy were attracted to me he would not reject me because I wore glasses.

 
Mixed feelings about veterans PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 11 November 2011 00:00

Tema GouseTema GouseAfter World War II, most men between the ages of 20 and 50 were veterans. Those soldiers who returned home were welcomed by the U.S. government and other organizations that created many benefits to demonstrate their appreciation of these men.

Since then, we have fought in several wars, though none as intense as the World War II; and military service, now voluntary, has not affected so many people. But many of the present generation’s returning military have needed financial, medical and/or psychological assistance; yet communities seem to respond to their needs, or the needs of their families, only if they did not survive the war or if they require long-term medical care.

This very different response is due in part to the far smaller number of young men and women involved. The press devotes little or no attention to them, except when they die or when an entire battalion is deployed overseas. World War II, in contrast, impacted a whole generation. For the Jewish community in particular, Nazism, Hitler’s determination to make the world judenrein (free of Jews), and Pearl Harbor were vivid reminders of our fallibility.

 
Simon Wiesenthal left a legacy PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 30 September 2011 00:00
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Last month, as I wandered my local library looking for books of interest, I spotted a book entitled “Simon Wiesenthal” – and realized that I had not thought about him in more than half a century. I had been familiar with his work – exposing the horrors of Nazism and its impact on world Jewry – when I was a young social worker whose agency was involved in rehabilitating Holocaust survivors.

Born in Austria, Wiesenthal had strong ties to his homeland. However, in March 1938, when Austria welcomed the German army with open arms and implemented Nazi policies, he was among the first Jews herded to concentration camps. Released from Mauthausen in 1945, he began investigating Austrians who had helped the Nazis and tried to discover who had survived.

 
A different kind of love story PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 02 September 2011 15:50
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On the night of the second Passover Seder, in 1890, Chaim Moshe Pomirchuk was born in the small shtetl of Brusilov in Russia, the fourth of five children born to his parents. His mother died giving birth to his younger sister two years later. Care of the children was delegated to his beloved Babba Bryna, but childhood was difficult.

He was a bright child who loved to read. After he became a bar mitzvah, he was sent to nearby Kiev, where he prepared boys for their bar mitzvah ceremonies.  In the “big city” of Kiev, he was introduced to the concepts of a Jewish homeland. By his mid-teen years, he was determined to accomplish two things: Become a doctor and help establish a Jewish homeland.

Childhood hardships taught him that neither of these aspirations was viable in Russia. So each week he hid a few kopeks of his earnings and planned his departure. The quandary was whether to follow his professional or his idealistic inclinations. He realized that if he went to the United States he could become a doctor and still pursue his Zionist goals. By going to Jerusalem, he could contribute to achieving Jewish statehood, but his dream of being a physician would likely never come to fruition.

So, in 1917, he gathered his kopeks and went to Bremen, Germany where he worked for passage to New York City on a German steamship

The authorities at Ellis Island were unable to decipher the pronunciation of his name. He had the address of a paternal uncle who had immigrated earlier to the United States; thus, Chaim Moishe became Herman Morris Pomrenze. Three days later, he was in Chicago where his Uncle Izzy lived.

 
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