18 Remembering the Holocaust

Baby on Board sign

18    Remembering the Holocaust

Take a moment to smile at the “Baby on Board” sign.  And then we’ll get to the subject at hand.

My grandparent’s immigrated from Lithuania and Latvia after the Russian Revolution.  Think Fiddler on the Roof, and if you haven’t seen it, rent it.  I’m thankful for many things, but fundamentally that I’ve had a great chance at life, that my heritage was not snuffed out among the millions killed by Communist Russia (Soviet Union) and Nazi Germany. I’ve always been so very proud of my grandparents, the sacrifice and risk of their move to the unknown.  On rare occasions, a frustrating moment reminds me of the challenges they must have endured; but I have resources and support they could have never imagined and my moments – like a mere aroma – pale in comparison to the hardships and sacrifice of immigrants to America nearly a century ago.

Perhaps you know your history well enough to wonder what risk is in Jews leaving villages and cities where they are persecuted and clearly not welcome.  Risky?  To leave a place where powers-that-be and neighbors hate you and try to kill you, hurt your children, rape your women, rob you of core sustenance and any creature comforts you enjoy… where’s the risk?


Decisions challenge us because the unknown looms ahead.  When considering decisions, do you imagine great fear filled things, or Disney flowers and color?  Do you embrace decisions?  I wrestled with this monumental move to Israel less than other even more substantial decisions… daring to dream I could do this seems to have taken a lifetime, and I guess I was ready.  Really, this is MY time.

The problems we know vs the unknown.  I’ve written, then deleted, “change” several times because of recent politicians campaigning on “change”.  Change without a plan and legitimate assessment of the costs – unless you are running from an angry bear – require more than frustration and desire for something different. We leave jobs, relationships, homes, and what else? What have you left?  Only to find the same problems elsewhere.

I’ve learned it’s smart to read user manuals in order to successfully operate complex instruments. How much more so to really LIVE this life we have, under the guidance of the One who created us. My lifelong quest, regrettably sabotaged by countless rabbit-trails of distraction and focus lost, has been to LIVE with the guidance of my Creator, the Source of all that’s good.

While in college, I sat my grandmother down to tell me what she recalled of the “old country” (Lithuania), her adjustment to life in the U.S. as a 12 year old, learning English in the classroom, family life, living conditions, etc.  My quest was to record the family history and spiritual lineage while I could. Those who knew her could have warned my naiveté that even pleading to pressure her into telling her story would be pointless if she was not willing.  In hindsight, I see I was hardly pressuring, but it was HUGE for me to address subjects that were closed to discussion.  They were indeed subjects closed, to me anyway, and she was far tougher than I.  Perhaps others in the family were more successful, but I’ve always wished to have had those conversations with her.


We will never forget.

Israel honors those lost in the Holocaust each year with ceremonies and a 2 minute siren that brings all of Israel to a weekday 10a.m. STOP.  Cars idle in their lanes, many drivers and passengers stand in honor, shoppers and workers step outside.  Heads are bowed.  Some weep.  My language class exited several minutes before to stand on the nearby corner – video posted.

Meanwhile, Iran and most Muslim leaders deny the historical validity of the Holocaust.  Say a lie often enough, loud enough, people will listen and believe.  Garbage in, garbage out.  The truth is, there are nearly 400,000 Holocaust survivors throughout the world (1/2 live in Israel); not surprisingly, given their age, more than 40 die each day.  Watch future posts for more about their lives, or learn more at www.k-shoa.org

One of the language teachers alerted us to watch for speakers or events on this solemn day, so I visited a nearby synagogue to see what might be their memorial service.  To my delight (not really the right word) I caught an hour of personal story of a woman from Lithuania.  Yes, the very place my stubborn, silent-about-the-subject grandmother was born.  The stories were of this woman’s experiences hiding as a young child – in barns, pits, within specially built double-walls where they stood for entire days without water or food (or toilet). Unsure whether it was appropriate to take a picture, I quickly took one, and have posted it.WP_20150415_003

Breathtaking close-calls during searches kept fresh every day’s risks.  Leaving her small brother in her care, her parents helped Jews in the area hide or escape, never knowing what the day would bring.  Would they see each other at nightfall, or be captured, or murdered?  Survival led to her post-war journey through displaced person camps in Poland and the “Russian side” of the Berlin wall, and finally making it to Chicago, later Mexico, and now Israel. I never tire of these lives, their courage, and glean so much for my own, puny challenges.

Next post will have Sri Lanka Cricket and Israel Museum photos…  it’s just too much fun  for this particular blog.

Below you’ll find links to news you may not have heard accurately, including Iran nuclear concerns …




Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

DAILY ALERT – April 9, 2015

View the entire Daily Alert at:


Pakistan Reached a Nuclear Weapons Capability with 3,000 Centrifuges – Dore Gold (Facebook)
Advocates of the understandings with Iran over its nuclear program point to the fact that it proposes cutting Iran’s 19,000 centrifuges to approximately 5,000, thus limiting its ability to enrich vast quantities of uranium.
But how many centrifuges does a country need to produce atomic weapons?
Pakistan enriched uranium for its first nuclear device with only 3,000 centrifuges. Thus, Iran will be left with enough equipment to go down this route.

Current Iran Framework Will Make War More Likely – Moshe Ya’alon
Israel has made clear its grave concerns about the Iran nuclear framework’s fundamental elements and omissions. The vast nuclear infrastructure to be left in Iran will give it an unacceptably short breakout time to building a bomb. Iran’s long-range ballistic missile program – a threat to Israel as well as the rest of the Middle East, Europe and the U.S. – is untouched.
The sanctions on Iran will be lifted, while restrictions imposed on its nuclear program will expire in about a decade, regardless of Iran’s campaign of murderous aggression in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere; its arming, funding, training and dispatching of terrorists around the world; and its threats and violent efforts to destroy Israel, the region’s only democracy.
To justify the risks inherent to the framework, its supporters have posited three main arguments: that the only alternative is war; that Iranian violations will be deterred or detected because of “unprecedented verification”; and that, in the event of violations, sanctions will be snapped back into place. These arguments have one important feature in common: They’re all wrong.
As a former Israel Defense Forces chief of general staff and as a combat veteran forced to bury some of my closest friends, I know too well the costs of war. I also know that Israelis are likely to pay the highest price if force is used – by anyone – against Iran’s nuclear program. No country, therefore, has a greater interest in seeing the Iranian nuclear question resolved peacefully than Israel. Our opposition to the deal is because the terms of the framework – which will leave an unreformed Iran stronger, richer and with a clear path to a bomb – make war more likely.
The alternative is a better deal that significantly rolls back Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and links the lifting of restrictions on its nuclear program to an end of Iran’s aggression in the region, its terrorism across the globe and its threats to annihilate Israel. This alternative requires neither war nor putting our faith in tools that have already failed us. The writer is Israel’s minister of defense. (Washington Post)

It’s “Victory over America Day” in Iran – Thomas Donnelly
There is a geopolitical reason that explains why Tehran might be willing to at least slow its drive for the nuclear capabilities they have paid so much to acquire: Don’t stand in the way of an enemy who’s retreating.
Through its withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan, unwillingness to stand by Arab allies, venom toward Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, phobia regarding the use of military power, and devout belief in the efficacy of arms control, the Obama administration seems to have convinced the Iranians that they can continue their gradual march toward regional hegemony and save their nukes for another day.
Iran will no doubt reinvest the proceeds from any economic revival induced by sanctions relief in campaigns in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Yemen, and elsewhere; Washington has become a willing partner in making Iran the dominant power in the region.
If Iran makes as many gains in the Middle East in the next decade as it has in this one, it will be free to spread an umbrella of nuclear deterrence over a much larger regional sphere of influence – of the sort that has long stirred Persian dreams. The writer is a resident fellow at AEI and co-director of its Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies. (American Enterprise Institute)
The PA’s Audacity
– Editorial
In December, Israel froze the transfer of tax revenue it collected on the PA’s behalf after the PA decided to join the International Criminal Court in order to instigate proceedings against Israel for alleged war crimes. Following pressure from Washington, the government relented and handed over to Ramallah NIS 1.37 billion. But Israel held back a symbolic NIS 160,000 to defray a fraction of the PA’s NIS 2b. debt to the Israel Electric Corporation. The PA is also in massive arrears to Mekorot for water piped to it and to Israeli hospitals for unpaid medical bills.
According to PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ arithmetic, this token deduction amounts to “a full third of the total.” Therefore, he said, he refuses to accept any of the money and is prepared to take Israel to the ICC over the matter. It might be absurd to presume that collecting a small portion of enormous outstanding utility bills can be portrayed as a war crime. But what holds true for other nations is not so in Israel’s case.
If Abbas does press this matter at the ICC, it would be interesting to see if the jurists actually rule that it is an inalienable Palestinian right to enjoy free electricity at the direct expense of Israeli consumers. (Jerusalem Post)





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