Monthly Archives: January 2016

Let’s Not Forget

 

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We’re all probably familiar with several images from the Holocaust: the little boy with his hands raised, the men filling the bunk beds of the concentration camps. These archival documents reflect the realities for the Holocaust’s victims of humanity’s hatred for the Jews, enshrined in the actions of the Final Solution. By whatever strokes of good fortune which I believe I was endowed by our Creator, the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to receive as a Jew alive today, despite the persecutions and dispersions of my ancestors, allow me also to see that the issue of our existence is still questioned in the minds of the world today.

My Jewish brother and I were each adopted separately, at different times, by Jewish parents. We are all unrelated except by Jewish lineage and by virtue of the familial ties our parents widened their hearts to encompass when our own families could not raise us.

The neighborhood I grew up in was comprised of a fairly dense population of other Jewish families, half of whose children were Jewish adoptees, as well. We lived in the up-and-coming suburbs, even as ours became passe and new, more gargantuan ones with bigger features became the latest “go-to” neighborhood.

My parents strove to give us every advantage we could have by working incessantly, non-stop, throughout the entirety of their lives. I was one of those children, uncommon at the time, who they later coined a term for called “latch-key” child, shuttling around from one home to the next until my Mother could come home from work. It was not very common for women to work in those days, which was why I could go to others’ homes after school. I can say, today, that while I enjoyed the friendships of my youth, who I would still think of as friends although our lives have outdistanced the connections as such, I missed the few hours before dinner with my Mom that was prevalent in the homes of my friends.

My father and one of his two brothers operated a drycleaning and fur-storage business together. Inscribed on the quarter placed into the concrete floor before the vault door was the year 1926, if I am recalling correctly. The Pop-and-Pop store served the population of the surrounding vicinity, whose neighborhoods reflected the ethnic enclaves of the new immigrants who came to these shores and settled down, during those days.

As children, my parents went to public schools and came into contact with other ethnicities, but returned to the apartments where the old-world and heritage of the past was more prevalent.

The parents of my parents had both reached safety in the United States before the jaws of death could reach them. They brought with them the old-world recipes and languages, but they also integrated with the new world in which they found themselves. My mother applied for and received an early-age driving permit to shuttle her sick father around. He had been a member of several charitable clubs and was known for his philanthropy. They lived by South Beach, and my name is derived in honor of my grandmother on my mother’s side. My own mother rode aboard the float in one of the parades, chosen like a beautiful Queen, and attended school with some of the people who would later become known throughout the world for their industry and largesse; yet still she can recall the signs of Miami Beach: No Blacks; No Jews; No Dogs.

Our speech, as well as that of much of our “contemporary” Jewish friends, was still peppered with a few Yiddish words and phrases, expressions which can find no equivalent translation in meaning. Some of this lexicon has become, not only part of the English language, but known worldwide. The word, “Chutzpah”, particularly, considering these days and times, comes to mind. Frankly, they were more innocent days, and I do miss them. Everybody just worked hard, enjoyed their friends, paid attention to their families, and enjoyed life.

Sure, there were some difficulties. Jews broke down the social discrimination barriers which still existed in U.S. society and which barred them entry to Universities, especially those of the Ivy League, and country clubs. Protests, lawsuits, and the formation of our own country clubs helped turn back the crushing defeat of second-class status. Not only for our own needs, but because we saw the discrimination against other people, as well, we fought for their rights. It may not have been the norm in a larger society, but in ours,  we were welcome to engagement with societies different from ours. My father employed Black people at his store and served the local Irish, Jewish, and Black communities, in generality.

I am a product of the liberal outlook which supports these actions, who believes, concurrently, in the ancient tome of our Bible. There is a large contingency of us who have developed this philosophy, not as a movement, but as a natural outgrowth to the combined aspects of our broader integration with the world at large, and the religious strictures embodied in our heritage and formation as people, and as a people.

My “Auntie”, related somehow to my “Nana”, cooked kreplach in chicken fat, and my mother cooked Schezuan chicken in a wok. My youth bridged the divide between these compartmentalized cultures, evaporating quickly as the Old passed away, and the new was embraced with rapid assimilation. At my own middle school, Black people were bussed to create a more diversified environment than what the outgrowth of civilization had produced. Whether this outgrowth had occurred naturally, through settlement by people who found familiarity with people of similar background aiding their ease through commonality of language or tradition in a foreign culture is certainly an aspect that must be considered in viewing through the lens of a later time period in life. That the melding of societies hasn’t happened sooner is also something that must be considered in the evolution of our humanity. We continue to evolve in “human-hood” at ever-accelerating rates — just as the Universe continues to expand ever outward. Our growth alone, from the Industrial Revolution to today, has jumped remarkably in just this past century. From horse-drawn wagons, to automated machinery, vehicular and air travel, telephony and computerized communications, we have seen progress replace outmoded lifestyles, including social ones.

My father attended school at Boston Latin, I believe. I’m sure that he was likely outnumbered in the make-up of the student body which also attended there with him. I suppose I’m the only person who rants and raves that Jewish people are so discriminated against, that we’re not even considered as an “official” minority. Our Census designations have seen us first as Jewish people, then as fill-in-the-blank, then lumped in with both Middle Easterners and White people in the same category!

Due to our over-eagerness to conquer biases against us and to fit into the societies in which we’ve found ourselves, we assimilated so thoroughly into the surrounding populations that we are almost a people in crisis. Animals receive better protections under the Endangered Species Act than Jews do due to their own fool-hardiness and others’ thirst for our blood. Complete lines are being wiped out, their names “blotted out” of memory in the Book of Life. Could this be the penance of our consequences to cast aside our Judaism by integrating too thoroughly with the world around us? Could this be penance through even ten generations for an act committed by our ancestors? It could be.

But it would be foolish not to think that our own thorough assimilation has not had an impact. In my father’s genealogy, our name as a Jewish heritage is almost gone. My brother and I remained childless; the son of one Uncle married a Christian woman; the daughter of the other Uncle is happily married with another Jewish name now, and whose brother is now married again, this time to a woman who is Jewish. Male children will carry his name forward, if he has them — alot rests on this poor soul’s reproductive capacities (forfend that he should realize the pressure). I don’t even know whether he considers it whatsoever. As far as being a progressive family goes — that we surely are: including lesbian, Jewish convert from Christianity, remarriage and the like goes. Our very prolific bunch in previous eras hopefully leave us with enough progenitors not to be wiped out.

How can I even think such things in today’s world? I guess the answer is that with so many people trying to exterminate us since time immemorial, and with such few population numbers, our very survival rate becomes a matter for extrapolation in the here and now — in the wake of an Iranian nuclear deal awakened from its formerly peaceful slumber; in the barrage of missilefire raining down on Israel fueled with petrodollars and metrodollars (my phrase — no grabsies): from the coffers to the coffins (I might use that for a title of a book or poem, so copyright — no grabsies).

We still experience begrudging, and often anti-Semitic actions from individual mayors and the like in places like Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, etc. The seventy years we have continued to fight Germany, Italy, Switzerland, etc. for restitution to our people is a behind-the-scenes marvel of denials and cover-up far more interesting than any fictional tale of intrigue. Switzerland keeping money and items held in the bank accounts of Jewish people killed in the Holocaust without release to heirs; six million people lived in how many homes that were confiscated and given to Germans, and what was their worth? Artwork and valuables confiscated from Jews and resold in the Underground or given to Nazi officers or transported to hidden locations (this is the basis for the current interest in a “Nazi train”). Our people begrudgingly were eventually provided with some small restitution, hard to get, from the Germans, received by general Jewish organizations which apply its purpose toward things like Holocaust education. Few individuals benefit greatly from these miniscule amounts.

At least we have received some restitution. I have written in another article that I would like to see reparation to the Black community for the slavery at American hands of their ancestors. I don’t know how that would be figured, but I think it would be more fair than affirmative action. No restitution is still no restitution, no matter what other programs you might put in place to replace it. The 3/4-million Jews whose properties and valuables were confiscated when Arabs expelled the Jewish people from Arab countries at the same time as they attacked the nascent Jewish state with more than five armies surrounding Israel has gone unknown, let alone compensated. Whatever Arab population existed in Israel at the time of its Independence was asked to remain by Israel, and to not heed the call of Arab leaders imploring them to get out until they won and could, afterwards, recoup the booty of war spoils, when they tried to annihilate us in 1948. Instead, they left, mostly of their own accord (except for maybe a possible isolated occurrence or so, not confirmed, to the contrary). Given that the Jews were attacked in Israel and were expelled from Arab countries, wouldn’t it be fair to conclude that an even population exchange has occured with the Arabs now claiming homeless status? They are not a stateless people — so-called Palestinian people have had Jordanian citizenship until 1988, when Jordan removed that status to extend political leverage directed at Israel — misdirected machinations aimed via a war of attrition for Israel’s land, when they could so easily be absorbed in Israel’s Eastern side of Palestine, known as Jordan.

Simon Wiesenthal was one of those Jewish men lying on those bunk beds in the concentration camps. He survived to live through that ordeal and for the rest of his life he hunted down the Nazis who were living a life of normalcy, hidden in refuge countries like Argentina and others. Some Nazis had faced trials at Nuremberg, but many had escaped. Men tracked them down for years. The Simon Wiesenthal Center honors his legacy by continuing on — to document the tragedies, to fight Anti-Semitism and to help provide a more secure world — not just for the Jews, but as a wider scope in its benefit to all.

For more information on the Simon Wiesenthal Center, please visit: http://www.wiesenthal.com

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Debutante: “Kitty Cat”

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This is “Kitty Cat”.

We met some time ago in an open-air setting, when she was Queen of the shed top, and I was Queen of the patio chair. She would sit and survey her domain, content with the quantities of squirrels to contemplate, lizards to chase and butterflies to bat down out of the sky. I’d sit and watch her, as soundless as possible for fear of frightening her away. Sometimes I’d move too soon toward her, and she’d run away, and I’d have to start all over from square one again. With time and patience, she worked up the courage to jump onto my lap. I didn’t touch her yet. After three days, I was pretty sure we were buddies by now. She was clear with a swipe across my face that we were not. Soon, though, we became tentative pals. I didn’t over-handle her, because she didn’t allow much at first. She gradually grew used to coming and going to my little, tiny efficiency. We’ve established that hiding under the bed, or the chair, or in the closet is out. Actually, no…I have to shut the closet door or she’ll otherwise take a tour through my clothing and settle on my slippers. She still hasn’t yet grasped that I don’t want her to claw the luggage where I keep my books (they’re not actually on the shelf I wrote about in my review of Malika Oufkir’s book, but I just didn’t know how to provide this lengthy explanation in that particular narrative — it was more of a generality, at the time…), or tear the chair covering or rug, as the furnishings are not mine and are part of the apartment. She, like me, is a sensitive girl. She is so extremely polite. I used to be so much like this cat, in my youth. Back then, I had rosy optimism and believed the best of everyone. I couldn’t even fathom the disappointments or, worse, the intentional let-downs that would be a part of life, and would often occur so frequently. I used to have the patience of a saint, but not now. The cheeriness and naivete of youth were replaced with the knowledge of age and experience, not necessarily to best effect. I understand her, but am perplexed at her quickness to choose to leave unless she receives immediate gratification. She is like a baby, and those are the needs of one. She doesn’t choose to stay often, but once in a while she’ll do a sleep-over. She’s just learning that it’s okay to also cuddle beside me, rather than on top of me, always in the precarious position of about-to-fall-off, so that muscle strain loses out and she gets disgusted that I can’t maintain that angle all-akimbo, and then has to leave with dignity intact. I live alone and need to find my professional life and I think she could use a place like a farm, with animals around for friends, to keep her engaged and outdoors, where she seems most happy. Her ear is clipped, indicating that she is a feral cat who has been neutered and released back to the outdoors in the TNR (trap, neuter, release) program. I could bring her to a shelter, but I’d be afraid they’d euthanize her, and I know just how utterly miserable she’d be indoors inside a cage with hardly any hope to be adopted. How dejected and sad she would feel to not feel that anyone loved her. No, I love her. But, I can’t afford vet care or alot of the stuff she needs. Timewise, she needs to be able to count on some personal affection by someone, but also be outdoors alot and perhaps social with other creatures. That’s why I hope for a farm home for her. Am I projecting? I might be. I actually hope for some medical care and a farm home, for myself! Both of us together, even better. But, if you’re that person that fills the seeming requirements and can provide a loving home for her in South Florida, then tell me about yourself. We’ll see.

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Major Israeli Medical Breakthrough

In my email “inbox” today, I discovered great news delivered in a promotional piece sent by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency for Hadassah.org — Israel has accomplished yet another medical breakthrough in science, discovering a new treatment where 87% of participants in a clinical trial between June 2011 and October 2014 at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem improved respiratory or motor functioning in their bodies from the ravages of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS; also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) or a lessening of the progression of the disease.

This is an incredible achievement in terms of the highly successful rate of impact these results have had upon these patients. Patients’ own bone marrow stem cells were used in an Israeli/U.S. biotech company-developed infusion directly injected into the spinal cord fluid (tested against intramuscular injection) in order to induce neurotrophic factors to extend the survival of motor neurons. Both the stem cell protocol and the injection site are world firsts for these methodologies and discoveries.

It’s unfortunate that these advances came too late to help individuals, such as my cousin, who lost his life to this disease. It’s even more unfortunate that worldwide divestment and sanctions on Israel would deprive the rest of the world of such life-saving measures contributed to humanity by the people of Israel.

Information in the article above, discovered initially via a Hadassah promotional advertisement broadcast via email through Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 26, 2016, was further sourced at its original site:

http://archneur.jamanetwork.com/OnlineFirst.aspx (then scroll to the article):

Journal of American Medical Association/JAMA Neurology, January 11, 2016. Original Investigation. Safety and Clinical Effects of Mesenchymal Stem Cells Secreting Neurotrophic Factor Transplantation in Patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: Results of Phase 1/2 and 2a Clinical Trials. Panayiota Petrou, MD; Yael Gothelf, PhD; Zohar Argov, MD; Mark Gotkine, MD; Yossef S. Levy, PhD; Ibrahim Kassis, PhD; Adi Vaknin-Dembinsky, MD; Tamir Ben-Hur, MD; Daniel Offen, PhD; Oded Abramsky, MD; Eldad Melamed, MD; Dimitrios Karussis, MD, PhD.

Information for the rest of the article below was sourced via Wikipedia.org:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadassah_Women%27s_Zionist_Organization_of_America

Hadassah was formed in 1912 by Henrietta Szold and is a volunteer women’s organization founded to train nurses for Israel, in what was still called “Palestine” during the Turkish Ottoman Empire, and to improve the public health of all Israel’s citizens.

Hadassah treated wounded people of both sides, Jews and Arabs, during the Arab riots of 1920. It joined forces in 1926 in partnering with the Jewish National Fund (an organization created in 1901 dealing with development  and infrastructure of Israel’s land). Hadassah’s business model involves funding and development to create structures and projects, which are run successfully until they are turned over to Israel’s government and municipalities. Many of these have been funded by American Hebrew school students and other financers.

In 1933, the Berlin branch of Youth Aliyah from Hadassah began to resettle Jewish children to Palestine, to get them out of Germany, which was beginning to turn against the Jews.

Construction on the Hadassah site at Mount Scopus in Jerusalem is begun in 1934 and reaches completion in 1936, praised by Britain in its 1937 Peel Commission report for providing services to all communities, including Arab.

Their fundraising efforts during World War Two included raising $200 million dollars worth of U.S. government defense bonds.

Beginning on April 13th, 1948 and lasting for hours, seventy-eight Jews in their convoy to get supplies to Hadassah in Jerusalem were ambushed by Arabs and massacred. Armored vehicles had been necessary due to violent and continual attacks by the Arabs upon the Jews. Mount Scopus, and with it Hadassah hospital and Hebrew University, are overrun and are lost to the Arabs until 1967, when Israel liberated the areas from Arab occupation.

In 1959, Hadassah extends aid to developing nations by training doctors from Africa and Asia in cooperation with the World Health Organization, and later included South African doctors.

In 1986, Israel is one of only five centers capable of performing test-tube conception.

In 1988, Hadassah helped plan, construct and open a hospital in Kinshasha, Zaire.

In response to the release of Soviet Jewry (not formerly allowed to leave the Soviet Union), for which Hadassah had advocated and organized marches, Hadassah begins to retrain the Russian immigrants.

They also help replace 100,000 Jewish National Fund (JNF) trees destroyed by arson, provide recreational facilities in Galilee, and provide over 400 eye surgeries to the blind in Kenya in 1990. They help develop programs helping the 14,500 Ethiopian immigrants who arrived in one day to Israel in “Operation Solomon”.

In 1996, they collected and delivered over 100 tons of supplies to war-torn Bosnia’s people. Medical equipment and eight tons of medical supplies are provided by Hadassah to Kosovan refugees in 1998. In 2004, Hadassah raises funds to help victims of Hurricane Charley in Florida.

Some doctors of the team in this ALS study helped improve the functioning of a lab rat with Parkinson’s disease in 2004. They led groundbreaking studies in 2008 for patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Their Jerusalem Hospitals were nominated in 2005 for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Hadassah does work on every continent in the world except Antarctica.

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3 Quotes for 3 Days

Day One: Are we attuned enough to the earth to live in symbiosis with it?

Day Two: Are we attuned to people’s needs and feelings enough to have meaningful interactions with them?

Day Three: A feral cat found me and I taught her how to interact with humans. The feral cat taught me that our relationship mirrors the expectations one can have in human-to-human relations.

Meeting my obligations for a three-day quote challenge, but the equipment I’ve been using just doesn’t seem up to it. I hope that satisfies the rules or requirements, as no direct response was possible and the contact information disappeared.

Good luck in all your challenges out there, as well.

Update: This challenge was apparently meant for someone else.  But, I met this challenge, anyways!

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Perhaps

Perhaps, too,

What I’m seeing is this in you!

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In response to the reply of Ogbeni Asaaju O’lag regarding my commentary on his beautiful poem, The Warriors’ Legacy:

https://ogbeniasaajublog.wordpress.com

 

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Woven Threads

What the doctor is saying

Is most likely true

Tho’ my reactive response?

(I haven’t a clue…)

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xo, weavr

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The Great Barrier Reef

Stanch the bleeding
Put up the walls
Skin and Defenses
Large and small

In response to: Cracked Windows (The size of the opening only decides how much pressure it will come through with) – by Dr. Suesszues-Zen in Koans & Riddles, Poetry, Logics & Stories: http://docsuesszueszen.com/

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