Congratulations, Larry David. You are now a Notorious Jew in the Headlines

womenyadvashem

Dear #LarryDavid,

Like many tuning in to #SaturdayNightLive, I expect the late-night show to push the envelope in late night comedy.

To be funny, even the Saturday night after 9/11.

To be funny and to provide humor as a refuge and give us license to laugh at the dire state of affairs we find these United States in these days.

Last night, you had me laughing, even after you pointed out the obvious fact that the celebrities called out for sexual harassment are for the most part Jewish.

Three words, “Oy Vey Izmir!”

I chuckled.

I agree. I would rather not have Jews in the headlines.

But this morning, you have become one of the notorious Jews, haven’t you?

After your monologue slipped into concentration camp jokes, you lost me. My jaw remained agape.  I never got over it, I couldn’t laugh at a single SNL skit for the remainder of the evening.

Yeah, as a descendant of Polish Jews who thank good fortune got out of Poland long before Hitler came to power, over the decades of my learning and trying to fathom the unfathomable, I too have contemplated upon what it would be like to have been a Jew under Nazi occupation.

None of them involved dating or being approached for a hook up.

Here are my thoughts.

None of them are funny.

  • How could I go for days without food? How could I survive a transport crammed onto a cattle car?
  • How I would have survived even one day if I woke one morning with one of my splitting migraines?  That day I would have not made the selection.
  • I have thought how women like me, standing for hours in the heat or cold for the morning roll call, survived and did not make the selection.
  •  How I would have not have survived any day I came down with the flu, or any day of any of my three pregnancies? How would I have given birth if I was sent to the camps pregnant?
  • As a mother, daughter, wife, sister, I have thought how I could have survived knowing my children and mother were sent to the left for selection.

So, Mr. David, I hope you woke up today, after that extra hour of sleep, deeply deeply regretting your monologue. Pushing the envelope and getting cringes at the expense of the Six Million Jewish souls is one push too far.

May their souls forever be bound in the holiness of God, and may you find it in your big fat bank account to make a very big donation to the Shoah Foundation or other institutions set up to perpetuate Holocaust education when the last survivor parts this Earth.

A Rosh Hashanah message to parents of Jewish babies from a parent of Jewish Adults: Do Jewish all year long.

For my daughter’s very first Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur, we dressed her up in a frilly, off white outfit complete with a pill-box hat. I think it also had a fuzzy white boa. We found a matching pair of white framed cat-eyed sunglasses and she popped them on willingly for a pre-shul photo shoot.

It was hilarious.

I’ll spare posting a photo because she is a cool 20something now donning a black trench coat and Doc Martin combat boots through the streets of London and has a reputation.

You’ll just have to use your imagination.

On her second Rosh Hashanah, at the start of the Torah service, she screamed with joy

“Mommy, look, IT’S THE TORAHS!”

We were asked promptly by the usher to remove my enthusiastic Jewish toddler from the sanctuary. But that is a different topic that you can read about in other blogs.

This post is for YOU. The 20 or 30 something Jew, Jew of Choice or someone married to a Jew who is raising a very small child in the Jewish faith.

Don’t mean to scream, but stick with me here. Let me continue.

When the daughter was slightly older and was attending a Jewish preschool, I took her brother, about  2 1/2, on a shopping outing at Michael’s. It was springtime and the aisles were cluttered with those big, faux pottery urns.

“Mommy,” my baby duly noted from his vantage point in the shopping cart seat.

“They got really big Kiddush Cups”

Next, the youngest came along.

He was about 22 months and we were celebrating my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary on a cruise.

It was Tuesday night.

Formal night on the boat. Everyone was dressed up in tuxedos and gowns and other formal fashions. And in true cruse fashion, everyone was crowding outside the Starlight dining room, cattle-call style, for the doors to open. Because they had not eaten in 30 minutes at least.

All of a sudden, my 22 month old, in my arms dressed up in an instant-cute 3 piece suit of his own, yells at the top of his lungs.

GOOD SHABBOS!

It was a Tuesday, remember? But seeing people dressed up, to this almost 2 year old, it had to be Shabbos.

Funny thing is, a woman in her 60’s in a floor length black sparkly gown turned around and said Good Shabbos right back.

She was from Dix Hills. She knew my in-laws.

So now, it is many years later. That babe in my arms is a high school freshman. His brother is a freshman in college and his big sister is spending a semester abroad in London.

So where am I going with this?

During his freshman parent/student orientation, there were separate schedules for parents and students and I had not seen my son in a few hours.

Where did I catch up with him? At the student activities fair. He was checking out the Chabad table.

My son after a week of school told me he switched around his classes because one ran too late on Fridays and he did not want to miss out on Shabbat dinner and services. He’s toggling between Hillel and Chabad.

He may not get to services on both days of Rosh Hashanah, but he sought them out, knows where and when they are and it will be up to him to set his priorities.

He had a chance to perform in a pit for a show and get paid, but it takes place on Erev Yom Kippur, so he turned down the gig.

My daughter had to scramble to figure out her Rosh Hashana plans only days after landing at Heathrow to start her semester at University College of London. The “mandatory” orientation day and first day to pick classes? The first day of Rosh Hashanah.

She panicked. Does she miss orientation, a mandatory orientation, to find a place for services? Or does she go and try to catch up with services later?

These are adult choices. Jewish adult choices every Jewish adult must make in a world that does not make concessions or conveniences around the holiest days of our calendar.

This morning she emails me. She found another Jewish girl on her floor with English relatives and would be spending part of Rosh Hashanah.

And the university, in an email, in true English spelling, stated:

“We are aware that tomorrow is a Jewish holiday and that some of you may not be able to attend the above meetings. Please do let us know if you are unable to attend and we will organise an alternative meeting to catch you up.”

So, really, Jewish parents, where am I going with this?

Because this post is not just about me. It is about you and the Jewish community that is seemingly hanging on by a thread outside Israel.

Do Jewish.

Every day.

Just a little bit.

Get Jewish Books from the PJ Library   Read them with your kids, if just 10 minutes a day.

Make Shabbat. Even if it is only challah and grape juice on a Friday night followed by pizza or take out.

Please, for the love of Gd, make Jewish learning a priority. Take them to Hebrew school when Hebrew school is in session.

And bring them, if only once a month, to Shabbat Services in the years before they become a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.  Bring them when they are unruly babies and toddlers. Let them climb up around the bima. Let them hear the melodies.  Shlep them into the sanctuary and if they whine too much or cry, take them out and then take them in again when they are calm and keep doing it! To hell with what the old people say and complain. Synagogue is not supposed to be a quiet tomb.

Because little Jewish moments every day, over months and years, stick.

Then, when you are an old(er) Jewish parent like me, you get to watch your own kids make those hard choices for the sake of being and doing Jewish come Rosh Hashanah.

I wish you all a Sweet, Good New Year and may we all be inscribed in the Book of Life.

Shana Tovah.

 

 

 

Sometimes, it takes a few Irishmen to remind you that America has always been Great

I am usually sad when the calendar turns to September, marking summer’s end and another busy school year.

Not this time.

That’s because I had U2 tickets for their September 3 concert in Detroit, their kick-off to their second  American leg of the Joshua Tree tour.

There was lots of great music offerings going on in Detroit this summer. Free offerings. It started with a free Aretha Franklin concert – perhaps one of her last – in June and capped off with Jazz legends like Herbie Hancock and newcomers like Kamasi Washington playing for free at Detroit’s prestigious Labor Day Jazz Festival.

That’s where my oldest son was hanging out last night. He is now in college, studying jazz performance. Because of him, I have deepened my love and appreciation for jazz.

Still, jazz is work. When I listen to jazz music, I work hard at understanding the back and forth of musicians talking to each other through their instruments, finding the structures and the scales and chord progressions in seemingly unstructured improvisations. Who is comping for who and knowing when to clap when one solo blends into the next.

See?

Work.

Not so much effort is required of me to enjoy – no – to be enraptured – by U2.

For us Gen Xers, it’s as natural as taking in a breath. As effortless as an old friend.

Sitting up in section 320 in Ford Field last night, my 20-year-old daughter seemed a bit bewildered, maybe embarrassed at me screaming and declaring my undying love for Bono at the top of my lungs several times at last night’s concert.

Mom!  She retorted, as if she wanted to inform me:  dad is standing RIGHT next to you! 

I reminded her I had been wanting to see this concert since I was her age.

30 years I’ve been waiting to scream my head off at a U2 concert.

I’d spent 20 of those years parenting someone.

So, yes, if only for a few hours, mama channeled her inner 20-year-old.

And every memory of my listening to U2 for some 30 years, and the people in those memories, were with me.

From hearing a boy singing an unaccompanied “Sunday Bloody Sunday” as he auditioned for a play back in high school. You were with me.

Biking along the beach in Staten Island for miles and miles, to rest in the sun on a boardwalk bench as we listened to the entirety of Under a Blood Red Sky  on cassette. Side one flipped to side two. Sharing earbuds plugged into a single SONY Walkman.  You were with me.

To listening to Joshua Tree on my stereo late at night alone in my room, or at a party in college, and debating whether Bono and the like had sold out with this commercially successful record compared to their older stuff on October or War Yes,  you were with me too.

So after 30 years, and then waiting nearly an hour after a great opening set from Beck, the first drum beats of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” pounded out, and everyone was on their feet, and the end of the wait was all the sweeter.

Now, I know that at U2 concerts, Bono usually has some kind of theme. A message.

This one was all about America. U2’s love and pride in America.

As of late, I am not too keen about singing the praises of America.

I have endured the past seven months in a semi fog.

As each day dawns, I dread what buffoonery the current White House administration will dish up next to shock and embarrass us, all the while providing a smokescreen for Congress, which is fulfilling its promises of gutting regulations that protect our air. Water. Earth. Workers. Women. Minorities. A dismantling of democracy as we know it.

For seven months, I have hung my American flag upside down on my front doorway as a symbol of our nation’s deep distress. I am a journalist, after all. A declared enemy of the people.

But over and over again, Bono spoke for himself and the rest of his band mates –  The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. – as they declared that America is their second home, and how thankful they are to America to opening their doors to millions of Irish and their descendants.

Over and time again, he reminded the audience of mostly Gen Xers (and some of their kids) that America is great because it is known for championing and giving – and not taking away – freedom.

He praised Detroit. This first city stop on their second American leg of the JT tour.

Bono described the Motor City as “city of invention, city of reinvention. A city of history … city of the future.”

Indeed, Detroit is reblooming all around us since we moved here in 2013.  This new energy is visible and tangible with every new shop and restaurant cropping up around downtown and midtown. On our way to Ford Field, we passed several about-to-open bars and restaurants, an urban garden teeming with flowers and vegetables,  old buildings covered in scaffolding soon to be open to residential and commercial real estate.

Helping U2 visually drive home the message of what is good and beautiful about America and Americana was a giant  200-foot-long, 43-foot-tall video screen, featuring 1,700 gold-painted panels and a silhouette of the tree famously pictured on the album sleeve.

During the 2-hour performance, as the band performed the Joshua Tree from side A to side B, the scenes changed from song to song.

An open road into a desert ambled as the backdrop to the album’s first song “Where the Streets Have No Name” Then desert transitioned into mountain and into Joshua Tree National Park, where my oldest turned to me and said “this makes you want to go out and take a road trip into the open spaces of the West.”

A small-town brass band filling in the instrumental accompaniments to “Red Hill Town.”

An all American girl wearing the most faded American blue jeans clad a stars and stripes bikini top and swung  a lasso.

A native American woman danced.

Another woman painted an American flag on the side of an old barn.

A moon shone above a prairie night in “One Tree Hill.”

As the band performed “In the Name of Love,” the text of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech scrolled on the enormous screen. Words like truth, freedom and love were extracted from the sentences and danced independently.

Before last night, I had not known that before he delivered it in Washington, D.C.,  he first spoke those historic words in Detroit.

Had you had closed with “Vertigo” as your final encore song, with all the jumping and the red and black op-art swirling on the screen and the flash of white-hot lights, it would have been enough.

But no. You gave one more because you needed to end with a somber yet hopeful message.

And that message, in this country that feels at times is ripping apart, was “One.”‘

That in the darkness of Charlottesville and the fury of Harvey, there is a silver light. A light of the fact that we are one. And we must carry each other. “”

One love, one blood
One life, you got to do what you should
One life with each other
Sisters, brothers

One life, but we’re not the same
We get to carry each other, carry each other
One
One

Left or right, we have to come back to a point to realize we are United, not Divided States. America is more than our current leadership.

And last night 50,000 Americans were reminded of all that still can be good, that the greatness has never left this nation, by four Irish musicians.

That’s why, a U2 concert is just what every American needs right now.  Catch them if you can.

To hell with the ticket price.

 

 

 

 

Let their People Stay: Detroit Jews Respond with Support for Chaldean detainees

As Jews, we’ve seen this before. 

We have been singled out. Persecuted. At the threshold of sanctuary, we have been sent back to the hands of our oppressors only to be murdered.

We have been strangers and therefore are commanded to remember the stranger who sit at our gates. 

Only, in Detroit, Iraqi Chaldean nationals are not strangers to us. They are our neighbors whose kids are classmates to our kids. They are the business owners, the cashiers who happily greet us at the check out lines at the supermarket and drug store. Over the decades, the Jewish and Chaldean communities have built bridges with interfaith programs and projects. 

It was only natural then that so many in the Jewish community responded to the news that 114 from this community are being detained for possible deportation back to Iraq – a place that is now foreign to these people – with anguish, legal counsel and moral support.  We stand with them because we know what happens with silence. 

Here is my coverage of the Jewish response to the roundup of our Chaldean neighbors in the June 29 issue of the Detroit Jewish News. 

When news broke on June 11 of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) roundup of 114 Iraqi Christian immigrants with fears of deportation, the phones at the Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC lit up. Executive Director David Kurzmann said his agency received fearful calls from rabbis and other leaders in the Jewish community asking what they could do to help.

“As soon as the arrests happened, we received dozens of phone calls asking how to support our Chaldean neighbors,” Kurzmann said during a phone interview and again reiterated at a June 21 anti-deportation rally held outside the U.S. District Court Clerk’s office in Detroit.

“As Jews, it is very distressing to hear about this,” he said. “We recently commemorated the anniversary of the return of the St. Louis to [Europe], where Jews seeking refuge in this country were turned away and sent back to their deaths. The U.S. risks repeating this same dark mistake. The Jewish community knows the tragic consequences of shutting down pathways to safety for people in harm’s way. We must not let this happen again. ‘Never Again’ is as applicable today as it has ever been.”

On June 21, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith listened to a class-action lawsuit filed by area attorneys and the American Civil Liberties Union designed to postpone deportations to Iraq, where Christians have faced brutal persecution, torture and death in recent years because of the rise of ISIS. Goldsmith concluded the detainees would not be deported to Iraq until at least June 28.

David Kurzmann

Inside and outside the courthouse, and in the days leading up to the filing of the lawsuit, Jews and other ethnic minority groups reached out to the Chaldeans with legal, moral and social support. But until the deportation ruling is appealed or reversed with reopening of individual cases, the fate of the detainees is grim.

Still, leaders in the Chaldean community are holding out hope their loved ones, now being held in a detention center in Youngstown, Ohio, will be released and expressed appreciation for the support of other minority communities.

“There is no community like the Jewish community,” said Martin Manna, Chaldean Chamber of Commerce president. Since the arrests, Manna has received many calls of concern and support. Rabbis have phoned in asking how their congregants can help. The Chamber retained the legal services of former Sen. Carl Levin, now with Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP.

“You would have thought it was his own child in danger of being deported from the way [Levin] responded so quickly,” said Manna, adding that Levin worked with other attorneys and the ACLU to file the lawsuit with the federal court to postpone deportations.

Temple Israel Rabbi Paul Yedwab, one of several local rabbis who reached out to Manna with support, said he cannot understand why the Chaldean population is being targeted.

“Our own government officially recognizes there is a genocide right now being committed against Iraqi Christians, so how can we possibly send them back?” Yedwab asked.

As a congregation, Temple Israel informed members about the situation and encouraged them to attend the June 16 and 21 rallies. Also, “hoards” of congregants are on standby offering to volunteer in any way they can to show their support for the families affected by the arrests.

“While we are coordinating closely with the JCRC/AJC and many of our members have offered up pro bono legal services, there is a bit of a feeling of helplessness. This truly lies in the fate of the legal system,” Yedwab said.

Legal Support

Bradley Maze, a lawyer at George P. Mann and Associates in Farmington Hills, is representing five of the detainees and is hearing from other Chaldeans fearful of being detained in the future. Maze said he is working to file motions of appeal to reopen their individual cases to delay or reverse their order for deportation.

“My clients have served their time for minor crimes they committed decades ago,” Maze said. “They are now completely rehabilitated and contributing members of society with jobs and families. They check in with immigration officers every six months like they are supposed to, some even within the last few weeks. If they are sent back to Iraq, the Iraqi government cannot guarantee their protection as Christians, and my clients fear torture or worse by ISIS.”

Maze noted the irony that many involved in the class-action lawsuit — from Michigan ACLU Executive Director Kary Moss who filed the lawsuit to attorney Margo Schlanger, former civil rights chief in the Department of Homeland Security in the Obama Administration, to Judge Goldsmith — are all Jewish.

“The notion of people being taken from their homes in front of their families and thrown on a bus conjures up scary images for Jews,” said Maze, who has practiced immigration law for a decade, six of those years working as an immigration attorney assisting refugees at Freedom House. “The ethos of helping the refugee is part of the Jewish family legacy. It is Jewish tradition.”

Robert and Gail Katz of West Bloomfield

Though the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center did not directly represent any of the 114 Iraqi detainees, Ruby Robinson, MIRC supervising attorney, said his organization provides guidance on court filing procedures and processes to parties filing immigration lawsuits, including the lawsuit filed last Wednesday by the ACLU designed to postpone the deportations.

“All of the detainees entered the U.S. lawfully but committed a crime before they were eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship,” Robinson said. “For 20 or 30 years, they served time for their crimes and have since lived their lives, starting jobs and families and checking in with immigration officers like they were supposed to. Because things have gotten so bad in Iraq, many of them didn’t think anything like this could ever happen. Now, all we can do is assist their attorneys to figure out the best strategy of what can be legally done to postpone deportation.”

Moral Support

While some in the Jewish community offered their legal services, others have offered moral support by attending impromptu rallies, such as the one held outside the court where a diverse crowd stood in solidarity with Chaldean Christians, who waved American flags and bore red crosses expressing their anguish of the thought of their loved ones facing possible persecution if deported to Iraq. They spoke directly on the podium or listened to the distress of family members who fear they will never see their loved ones again.

Martin Manna, executive director of the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce, with Deavin Konja of Franklin, who came to support his uncle Najah Dawood Konja of Clawson, who is being detained even though he won an appeal with a federal court to open his case two days before he was picked up and detained Sunday morning.

Iraqi American Deavin Konja of Franklin came to support his uncle Najah Dawood Konja of Clawson, who is being detained even though he won an appeal with a federal court to open his case two days before he was picked up and detained June 11.

“By that Monday morning, we filed for his release; it was ignored completely and has been ignored ever since,” Konja said. “He served time for his crime he committed over 30 years ago. He was one of the few that should have been immediately released because of the federal appeal on his case. We know our attorneys are doing everything possible.”

Lori Lutz of Bloomfield township came to the rally with Detroit Jews for Justice and held up a sign bearing a quote from Exodus about the commandment to “remember the stranger.”

“Today, this is too reminiscent of rounding up groups of people throughout our history and deportation, not letting them stay in a safe place and possibly sending them back to a place of real danger,” Lutz said. “As Jews, we have seen this before and we cannot let it happen again.”

STACY GITTLEMAN

Stacy Gittleman
Contributing Writer/Photographer

 

 

 

Why Deportation?

Chaldeans, including several who spoke at the anti-deportation rally, said they campaigned and voted for Trump because of his campaign promises to protect Christians in the Middle East.

Yet the recent sweep of arrests of Iraqi nationals in Michigan is the result of a revised executive order on the initial January executive order banning entry from seven Muslim majority countries into the United States, including Iraq.

After quiet negotiations, the U.S. and Iraq negotiated a new policy that removed Iraq from one of the banned countries and also eliminated the priority of allowing Christians and other religious minorities over Muslims, according to the Washington Post.

U.S. law states that any non-citizen, including legal residents, who commits an “aggravated felony” under U.S. immigration law — a term that includes serious crimes as well as many nonviolent offenses and misdemeanors — is deportable, the Washington Post story stated. An example of a nonviolent crime could be drug trafficking or possession of marijuana. However, for the past several decades, immigration officials and federal judges have been slow to carry out deportations or completely stopped deporting Iraqi nationals because the situation on the ground was deemed too dangerous and the deportees would be put in harm’s way.

The Iraqis who face deportation do not have visas to live in the United States. Many of them lost their green cards because they were convicted of crimes. Because of their past criminal record, they are targeted by President Trump for deportation regardless of their nationality, the Washington Post story said.

Nationwide, there are approximately 1,400 Iraqi nationals in the U.S. who have final orders of removal.

Detroit Jewish Community Comes to Aid of Syrian Refugees Near and Far

I do believe it is true. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. In this time of devisiveness, it is good to know there are many who are coming to the aid of families from Syria who have fled their country because of the brutal civil war.

Here is my cover story on how Jews in Detroit are bringing awareness to the plight of the refugees and helping them settle into their new life.

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Post a photo of your Front Door Mezuzzah: A social Media Experiment

I am beyond fed up.

Really, I have had it.

There has been a LOT of anti-Semitic (it doesn’t sound harsh enough, so let’s just say it for what it is: Jew hating) incidents in the last several months.

Bomb threats called into JCCs and Jewish Day Schools. Yes, they were called in by a Jewish teen sitting in his room in Israel, but they were and still should be dealt with as a hate crime.

Desecration of cemetery headstones in Jewish cemeteries in several cities.  In fact, the headstone of a great grandfather of one of my daughter’s friend was vandalized in Rochester, NY.

Hate emails going out to Jewish students at the University of Michigan. My friends’ son was the recipient of one of them.

And now, a former colleague of mine posts that his front door mezuzzah, which belonged to his wife’s grandmother, was ripped off from the door of his apartment in an inside hallway in a security enclosed building.

The Mezuzzah. Let’s explain to you – and if you are a warped hate mongering ignoramous who knows nothing about Judaism, let’s get you Hebrew Schooled, shall we?

I am no Hebrew scholar, and I don’t know if there is a direct translation to English, but a mezuzzah is a piece of parchment paper where, written in hand by a scribe, is the Shema – the Jewish affirmation calling all of Israel to listen and understand that there is only One Gd and this Gd commanded us to post this prayer into all our door posts and teach it dilligently to our children. There are three paragraphs rolled neatly into a tiny scroll, that is the mezuzzah:

 “And you shall inscribe them on the doorposts (mezuzot) of our house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:9, 11:20). What is to be inscribed? Divine instruction is very clear: “The words that I shall tell you this day”: that you shall love your God, believe only in Him, keep His commandments, and pass all of this on to your children.”

So, listen up, haters, you mess with a Mezuzzah, you mess with Gd.

The mezuzzah encasement, artistically, is open to many interpretations. Some are simple, some are more ornate. But they clearly mark and distinguish that in that dwelling dwells a Jew.

You may, in old apartments in Brooklyn, that once had a lot of Jewish tenants, see the slanted remnant, now covered in layers of paint. My African American neighbors who lived across the street from me in Rochester still had a mezzuzah on their front door, left by the previous Jewish owners of the house. I asked them why they never took it down. They said, they felt protected by it.

Indeed, some interpret the mezuzzzah they post to one’s doors as a sign of protection. Often, the Hebrew Letters, Shin Dalet and Yud – spelling Shaddai, a name for Gd, is translated to “Protector” or Guardian.

It is customary, when one Jewish family sells their house to another Jewish family, to leave their mezzuzot behind, or at least one as a symbolic gesture.

Though, in Nazi occupied Europe, Jews started taking them down for fear they would be turned in. Sadly, in Europe today, Jews are thinking twice before affixing this quintessential symbol of a Jewish home to their doors.

But this isn’t Nazi Germany or 2017 Europe.

This is America. And I’m not taking my mezuzzah down.

Here is my front door Mezuzzah. 20170415_232756.jpg

It was given to us as a wedding present nearly 24 years ago by a college friend. From the day we got it, my husband and I decided it would be our front door mezuzzah, and it has held this status for four different homes now.  And there it will stay. We are not moving or removing it for anyone.

In addition to our front door, every doorpost in our home, except for the bathroom doors, have a mezuzzah attached.

Most were gifts and I can remember each person who gave us each of our mezzuzot.

So, here is the social media experiment:

In solidarity with my friend’s mezzuzah which was just vandalized, let’s show the haters we are not afraid.

Please email me photo of your front door mezuzzah to stacy.gittleman@yahoo.com. And please share this widely with your friends, family and community.

Let us bring light into this dark world.

Thank you.

Social Justice Jews: Standing Up for anyone but themselves

I believe in social justice. One of the most-quoted verses of the Torah: Zedek Zedek Tirdof – Justice, justice, you shall pursue – is one of the key life values in Judaism. 

I was raised on the values of Tzedek, Tzekaah and Tikkon Olam and social justice, and all those wonderful things, in my Jewish upbringing, including my involvement in United Synagogue Youth. In its leadership structure, there is even a position – Social Action Tikkun Olam – set aside to fundraise for various social causes, Jewish and non-Jewish

Social action meant collecting food and school supplies.

It also meant making phone calls and marching for our Soviet Jewry bretheren to be free to emigrate to the U.S. or Israel.

It also meant learning about and speaking out for Ethiopian Jewry.

It also meant studying the formation of the modern State of Israel and marching for her proudly in the Israeli Day Parade.

Being a Jew who believes in social justice for others does not mean that I believe in ideological or existential suicide.

I also believe in Jewish self-preservation. In the belief that Jews have a right to live freely and more than survive but thrive in their own ancient homeland and from there be a light unto the nations.

That is Zionism.

I do not believe in appeasing one’s enemies in the name of justice. That is simply suicidal.

The Jewish Voice for Peace Convention is underway right now in Chicago. Its key speakers are two Palestinian women who led the Women’s March on Washington, Rasmea Odeh is a convicted Palestinian Terrorist who murdered two college students in 1969 and the other, Linda Sarsour, recently was interviewed stating that Zionism and feminism are incompatible.    In my latest

 In my latest article about Jewish Millenials, when I asked them where they are in their own Jewish journey, three out of the four young, bright women I spoke to have actively been involved in Jewish Voice for Peace.

One is a rabbi. One is a lesbian. Which I completely do not get, because homosexuality is not a human right that is preserved too much under the magnanimous terrorist organization Hamas which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2005. 

Overall, in my opinion, which I can express here in my blog but not in my reporting, I think the work they do, fueled by Jewish values, is fantastic. 

It is fantastic that they fight for housing rights for the poor in New Orleans. Or the rights for the LGBTQ community in New York. These are all strongly tied to Jewish values. 

But Ahavat Yisrael – a love of Israel, and standing up for Israel and therefore the Jewish people and therefore themselves, is a value that you seemingly can no longer carry out in the name of all other leftist values. 

It troubled me that when it comes to Israel, these young people become involved not with AIPAC or Stand With Us, but Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization that does not question the meaning of the term “occupation” because if they did they would have to admit that it is the occupation of 1948, not 1967, that the oppressed that they so willingly and lovingly support are talking about. 

It troubles me that if they truly cared about Palestinian genocide, they would be calling out governments such as Lebanon and Syria, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been murdered. 

I could not write about this in my article. And I was so congratulated today by a reader that was “so glad” that the left is being covered in a Jewish newspaper. 

I am hoping that other readers read between the lines and see that this is a generation that has lost its moral compass and has little to no understanding of Jewish history. 

Avodah’s work toward social change attracts many Detroiters

Stacy Gittleman Contributing Writer

Perhaps it is because they grew up just outside a city that has seen its share of poverty and segregation or maybe it’s their strong desire to find meaningful ways to express their Jewish values through pursuing social justice causes.

No matter the case, many Detroit millennials have taken the directive “Justice, justice you shall pursue (Deuteronomy 16:20) to heart by spending a year participating in New York-based Avodah’s Jewish Service Corps. They said Avodah shaped not only their career paths in standing up against poverty and discrimination, but also forged a new and inclusive Jewish identity for them.

For nearly 20 years, Avodah has worked on social change and anti-poverty issues in New York, Washington, D.C., New Orleans and Chicago. More than 1,000 have participated in its Jewish Service Corps program. In the last four years alone, at least 15 of the organization’s alumni hail from Detroit, says Steve Bocknek, the organization’s senior director of external affairs, who is also a native Detroiter. Executive Director Cheryl Cook also is from Detroit.

Rabbi Alana Alpert of Reconstructionist Congregation T’chiyah participated in Avodah in 2006. The program inspired her to become a rabbi. In rabbinical school, she continued to organize communities for change on a range of causes, including prison reform, Palestinian rights issues in Hebron and in the LGBTQ community.

“I can’t imagine my career happening without Avodah,” said Alpert, also co-founder of Detroit Jews for Justice, a group that strives to make social change central to the life of Congregation T’chiyah and then spread these efforts into the entire Jewish community of Metro Detroit.

“I was empowered to do serious work at my placement right out of college,” she said. “I gained skills for leadership and self-care that sustain my work, and I joined a Jewish community that continues to nourish and support me.”

Just as she does with other Jewish holidays, Alpert engaged millennial Jews this Purim with a spiel that sits at the intersection of tradition and current events. Last year’s theme centered around the poisoning of the water in Flint. This year’s Haman was portrayed by Secretary of Education Besty DeVos threatening the schoolchildren of Detroit.

According to Alpert, this project is led by Jews in their 20s and 30s. They do not see synagogue membership as a mechanism to their Jewish identity, she says, but are making Judaism relevant to them. They want to immerse themselves in social justice causes, and this is the language and framework to which they respond.

Alpert said within Detroit’s younger generations of Jews there is a great desire to heal the rift that occurred between urban and suburban populations during the ’60s and ’70s. She says Jews for Justice wants to help heal Detroit. However, she cautions that alleviating the short-term symptoms of poverty — like collecting food and school supplies — may feel good to the volunteer, but real change will only come by influencing policy change at the city, county and state levels. She is looking to inspire a Jewish generation that is into social change and justice for the long haul.

While Avodah attracted transplants like Alpert, a California native, to make a go in Detroit, it also led others elsewhere.

Native Detroiter Elizabeth “Lizzy” Lovinger, 28, participated in Avodah in 2010 and now lives in Brooklyn. A longtime activist in the LGBTQ community, her work through Avodah with the Gay Men’s Health Crisis led to her current position in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

She said moving to a new city when you are young and single can be very lonely, and she is thankful for her year with Avodah and the professional and social support it provided.

“I lived with other Avodah participants that year,” Lovinger said. “After a hard day at work, I came home to supportive Jewish housemates. We cooked dinner together and talked about the challenges of our work and shared advice.”

Now, she enjoys the inclusiveness of the Park Slope Jewish Center, in addition to hosting Shabbat dinners where topics of conversation range from building communities for Jews of color to fighting racism.

She also is an active member of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), a Jewish American organization that supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, seeks an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and works toward a just solution for Palestinian refugees.

Avodah’s Bocknek says there is no relationship between Avodah and JVP.

Elizabeth Lovinger

Lovinger said her involvement with JVP, which developed independently from her involvement with Avodah, along with her activism in Brooklyn-based Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and at her synagogue, are central parts to her Jewish life in Brooklyn.

“I’ve long been opposed to the occupation, and I wanted to find a Jewish community that contained a wide variety of opinions and experiences about Israel and Palestine,” she said.

“This was actually something I was looking for when I started in Avodah, and something that is just as important to me as my community’s commitment to racial justice, economic justice, LGBTQ justice and ending other forms of oppression. By defining Judaism on my terms, I have truly found my Jewish community.”

Work In New Orleans

AvodahNewOrleans.jpgSeveral Avodah participants who grew up in Detroit headed south and worked for the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) to fight against housing discrimination issues.

At an early age, Lisa Tencer, 28, became aware of Detroit’s “extreme segregation issues” and decided anti-poverty work, through a Jewish lens, would become her life’s calling. Upon her 2015 graduation from the University of Michigan, she enrolled in Avodah’s program in the Crescent City.

Tencer continues to work at GNOFHAC and is now a testing coordinator monitoring trends in housing discrimination. She maintains her Jewish connections in her new city by living in the local Moishe House and being an active member of Jewish Voice for Peace.

“My childhood neighborhood in Huntington Woods was just a few miles away from neighborhoods vastly different than mine,” Tencer says. “When I moved to New Orleans with Avodah, I saw many of those same painful similarities. It helped me redefine my Jewish identity. Just because I do not attend a synagogue does not mean I do not have a deep connection to Judaism. I choose to identify through social action.”

Miriam Liebman

Another Detroiter who spent her Avodah year fighting for fair housing at GNOFHAC is fifth-year Jewish Theological Seminary rabbinical student Miriam Liebman, 30, of Farmington Hills.

During her Avodah year in 2009-2010, she helped GNOFHAC in its lawsuit that overturned a discriminatory “blood relative” ordinance in St. Bernard Parish that violated the Fair Housing Act. The ordinance prohibited property owners from renting to non-blood relatives. At the time, 93 percent of the population in the parish was white.

“What I saw and did in New Orleans through Avodah strengthened my resolve to someday return to my native Detroit,” said Liebman, who grew up going to Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills and had a day school education through the 10th grade.

“I know the reality of the job market for young rabbis, but someday I hope to be back to work and live in Detroit. To me, this is what it means to be grounded, to come home to a place where my family roots are.”

Liebman said her Avodah experience reinforced her knowledge of justice being a core pillar of Judaism.

“Justice affects how we see and look at other individuals and makes us realize they, too, are created in the image of God,” she says. “The question is: How can we mobilize communally in how we see and change the world around us?”

2015-2016 New Orleans Corps member graduation, with Corps members and alumni. Lisa Tencer of Huntington Woods is seated, third from left

Hate. Ignorance. This is what it looks like.

Over 25 years ago, when I was a student reporter at the Daily Targum at Rutgers University, I wrote a story on how students and campus officials reacted to a spate of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti that cropped up all over campus in the winter of 1990. The article rests in a dusty portfolio somewhere in my basement. 

It’s still all out there. The cowardice too. The kind of cowardice that makes a person go into the dorm suite at the University of Minnesota and draw a swastika and a concentration scene on the white board outside a Jewish student’s bedroom.  The student – a 3G Holocaust survivor. 

With the current person running the White House, I fear it will only get worse. 

Here is my current story in this week’s Detroit Jewish News. 

Following last week’s rash of antiSemitic incidents on two Michigan college campuses, including emails rigged to look like they originated from a University of Michigan computer science professor and a Valentine’s Day card delivered at a Central Michigan University event featuring the image of Adolf Hitler, administrators, students and several Jewish organizations are standing up against the hatred.

Campus Hillels continue to offer support to those disturbed by the incidents as well as programs that engage Jewish students and encourage dialogue with the wider student body.

At U-M, the FBI, along with campus police, continue to work to uncover the distributor of the emails. Though their origin is not clear, they read as if they came from Professor Dr. Alex Halderman.

The messages, sent to Computer Science and Engineering students on Feb. 7, read:

“Hi (N-word), I just wanted to say that I plan to kill all of you. White power! The KKK has returned!!!”

An email addressed to Jewish people read:

“I just wanted to say the SS will rise again and kill all your filthy souls. Die in a pit of eternal fire! … Heil Trump!”

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the emails were sent from a “spoofed” account attributed to Halderman. Unlike a hacked email where someone gains control of an email account, a spoofed email is a forgery designed to look like it came from out of the country.

“These messages were spoofed,” Halderman wrote in a statement on the U-M website.

“I did not send them, and I don’t know who did. As I teach in my computer security classes, it takes very little technical sophistication to forge the sender’s address in an email.”

In fact, computer science and engineering student Daniel Chandross, 20, of West Bloomfield, who received the spoofed email, said he and fellow students figured out in 15 minutes that the email was a fake.

In a Feb. 8 statement to U-M Hillel students, parents, alumni and donors, Hillel Executive Director Tilly Shames said Hillel is working with the FBI and U-M authorities regarding the next steps to take and are being kept informed of any developments in the investigation. “The messages sent to our students were deeply disturbing and upsetting to our Jewish community,” Shames’ statement said. “It is important we come together in this moment to show this kind of hate will not be tolerated. Hate has no place on our campus. We will not be defined by these hateful messages but rather by the way we come together in response to them, showing our support for one another. We stand with all students and faculty impacted by these emails, and will continue to seek ways to offer support and unite as a campus community.”

The leaders of the U-M Central Student Government in a written statement also expressed disturbance at the “overtly racist, anti-Black and antiSemitic” emails and stressed “they have no place on this campus.” “An offense against any member of this university is an offense against all,” the CSG statement read. “Even if you are not a member of a targeted group, it is still your place, today and every day, to stand against injustice and fight discrimination. To our Black and Jewish friends, classmates and peers: You matter, and you belong here.”

On Sunday, the Detroit FBI field office stated, in part: “If, in the course of investigation, information is developed suggesting a federal violation of law, the FBI will coordinate with the United States Attorney’s Office to identify the best course of action toward prosecution.”

CMU INCIDENT

At Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, another hate incident took place, this time involving a Valentine’s Day card distributed at a Feb. 9 College Republicans event with a message containing a photo of Adolf Hitler that read:

“My love 4 u burns like 6,000 Jews.”

A statement on CMU Hillel’s Facebook page and website as well as the Hillel Campus Alliance of Michigan site said they are “deeply concerned and disappointed students would use anti-Semitic rhetoric and references to the Holocaust in a joking manner. We find these references to trivialize an incredibly dark period in history when more than 6 million Jews perished.”

The College Republicans apologized for the incident, saying they were not aware someone had slipped such a note into one the Valentine’s Day candy bags they were giving out. According to the Associated Press, school leaders Feb. 10 said the woman responsible for distributing the card was not a CMU student and admitted her “misguided action.” CMU said members of the student group “were unaware of the card when distributing the party gift bag containing it.” ADL Detroit Regional Director Heidi Budaj said, “The message conveyed in this Valentine’s Day bag is outrageous and deeply offensive. This anti-Semitic distribution not only affects the campus community, but also trivializes the horror that Holocaust victims and their families have experienced.” Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon

According to the Associated Press, school leaders Feb. 10 said the woman responsible for distributing the card was not a CMU student and admitted her “misguided action.” CMU said members of the student group “were unaware of the card when distributing the party gift bag containing it.”

ADL Detroit Regional Director Heidi Budaj said, “The message conveyed in this Valentine’s Day bag is outrageous and deeply offensive. This anti-Semitic distribution not only affects the campus community, but also trivializes the horror that Holocaust victims and their families have experienced.” Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wisenthal Center (SWC) in Los Angeles harshly criticized the CMU incident and said universities do not go far enough in their reactions when such incidents arise on campus.

 

 

In an interview, Cooper said he was not satisfied the woman responsible for creating the card at CMU was not named by the university and still wanted to know who within the student organization invited her to the event.

“It is very nice the club apologized, but they still owe the community full disclosure as to how this vile incident happened,” Cooper said. “At the minimum, it is time to begin to name and shame such cowards.”

Cooper said harsher consequences for perpetrators of anti-Semitism and better protections for Jewish students cannot be implemented at colleges and universities because there is no legal definition of antiSemitism. According to Cooper, the SWC is working with other groups to pass legislation in Congress to sharpen discrimination and hate acts aimed at Jews. Late last November, the bipartisan Anti-Semitism Awareness Act was introduced to Congress and, in December, passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate. In response to the rising hate acts against Jewish students, the SWC in 2014 developed a mobile app called “combathateU” to help Jewish students and other supporters of Israel deal with hate, bias, anti-Semitism and extreme anti-Israel harassment on campus. Submissions to the app are answered within 24 hours so the SWC can elicit additional information and suggest possible solutions.

RESILIENT STUDENTS

On both campuses, Jewish students reacted to the events with shock and confusion, but also continued to engage Jewish students as well as non-Jewish students in inclusive programming to pave the way to dialogue and understanding.

Chandross, a U-M sophomore, said he was “surprised and confused” when the email landed in his inbox. But he and fellow computer science majors who received the same email learned quickly from the email’s metadata it was a fake.

“We’re all pretty much reacting in the same way,” Chandross said. “Some people are bigots and you just can’t let it phase you. It’s just not a way to move forward.”

U-M junior Mara Cranis, 20, of West Bloomfield, who has a leadership position at U-M Hillel, said that since September, there has been an increase in antiSemitism on campus.

The day after the email, she and other students and professional Hillel leaders were on hand at the Hillel building to serve as a support source for students. The organization also went ahead with its already-scheduled Jewish Engineering Students Associated Shabbat and extended the invitation to the National Society of Black Engineers.

Hillel at CMU President Hadley Platek, 21, of Woodhaven was preparing a Tu b’Shevat “unplugged” Shabbat event when she received a text from a friend containing the photograph of the offensive card. In response, she and other concerned students quickly assembled an anti-hate rally attracting approximately 60 students, where she shared her dismay about the card as well as her experience of visiting Yad Vashem on her recent Birthright trip to Israel.

“Many of my friends were shocked that something like this could happen at our campus,” Platek said. “I know that in stressful times people use humor to cope, but I don’t know how people can think this is funny. There was a clear lack of judgment from the person who created this.”

Platek, a senior, said this was the first time she could recall something of this nature happening at CMU and that, in general, she said there has been a “great coming together” against hatred and racism toward minorities, especially since the Trump administration’s temporary ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. “Our campus [student body] is very good about inclusion, coming together to make things better.” •

 

 

Eulogy for a Friend & Fellow Transplant

Amy.JPG

 

I hope you never have to write a memorial speech for a friend. I hope that by the time you lose a friend in life, you are too old to stand, your mind too weathered with old age to focus, your voice too weak to make a sound. 

But that’s not the case when you lose a friend when they are young. 

It hurts. But writing for a writer is a healing salve. Thank you, Peter, for asking. 

The first time I truly understood the courageous character of our beloved Amy was during a telephone conversation I had with her in the fall of 2011. I was a newspaper reporter writing about Rochester New York’s upcoming annual Ovarian Cancer walk. Amy, as she did many times in her short but brilliant life, offered to share her story publicly and candidly to put a face on the statistics.

Unfortunately, my call caught her driving home from a friend’s wake. Her friend had just died from ovarian cancer.

Deadline or not, I was afraid that the timing of this interview was insensitive on my part. So I gave Amy an out. I apologized for reaching her at such a sad time. But instead of not wanting to be interviewed, she did just the opposite. “No, I want to talk to you. My friend was so strong, such an inspiration to all of us. Any time a treatment was not responding, she refused to get down and would instead say to her doctors, what else can we try? What’s next?”

Does this sound like someone we all knew and loved?

Amy truly lived during the fight of her life. Just as she connected to life here in her new community in Michigan, Amy, with her feisty wit and that warm win-you-over in a heartbeat smile, was a vibrant presence back in Rochester.

She worked for over 20 years in real estate as an apartment rental specialist and served on many leadership positions in the community and at our synagogue back in Rochester, NY.

What truly drew us together was my second understanding of Amy’s courage to embrace life’s changes while she faced the realities of her cancer.  On a sunny October day in 2012, not unlike the one we had today, General Motors threw us all for a loop. It announced the closure of its Rochester-based research facility where both our husbands worked and the relocation of their jobs to Michigan.

I’ve moved around a lot. But Rochester was the only home Amy ever knew. That’s the town where her entire support network existed: family, friends, co-workers, doctors and other healthcare providers.   Moving away from everything familiar when you have cancer must have taken immense bravery.

During the moving process, we became comrades in relocation . We scoped out Detroit together on week-long house hunting trips. Back in Rochester, we met for walks and early breakfasts to discuss the move process, how we were staging our Rochester homes for buyers and how our kids were handling goodbyes with their friends.

We shared the frustration of long-distance house hunting,  in a post-foreclosure Detroit housing market and shared with each other listings we found on Zillow.

Once we found our houses, together we began to make them feel like home. Craig and I went to Amy and Peter’s house to hang up their front door mezuzah. Then, Amy and Peter came to our house before our furniture had even arrived to hang out on the rug in our family room, have a drink and play a cut-throat game of SET.

Amy, with her meticulous taste and her zest for shopping, went on to quickly decorate with a color wheel of paint samples to repaint the bedrooms upstairs, and wall hangings and picture frames with blank spots marked “reserved” for the main floor downstairs. It was as if she knew that time was not on her side, and she wanted to create the homiest home for Peter and Ben while her energies were still high.

As time went on, both of us gradually started making our individual paths. Though we joined different synagogues and our kids were in different school districts, we still found time to make new memories in our new town. I was amazed how quickly Amy plugged into life here, from her involvement and leadership in the PTO at Sheiko, her volunteer work for Blessings in a Backpack, and here at Beth Ahm, Amy quickly made an Army of friends. The next thing I knew it was Amy who was calling my kids to get them involved with planning the community-wide Purim carnivals.

Amy and I would talk on the phone. A lot. For a very long time. I cherished our lingering conversations because I knew there may be a time when I would no longer get to chat with my friend Amy.

Most of the time, we’d talk about our kids. School. The latest Groupon she scored. How we hated going food shopping here because once you shop at Wegmans, no other grocery store would do. Completely normal conversations between girlfriends.

On the occasion, and only when SHE wanted to bring it up, our chats were dotted with tumors that were either holding or shrinking. The date of an upcoming scan. When we needed to arrange to drive her to her next doctors visit or chemo treatment.

And then, we’d get on to talking about making social plans for date nights, either as couples or with the family.

You see, the Gittlemans and Harveys are forever connected by a few dates. Peter and Amy’s wedding anniversary is on my birthday. And Amy and my daughter shared a birthday on December 17. So, we celebrated on family date nights in search of a good Italian restaurant. Couple date nights where the four of us never got our meal served at the Bath City Bistro before seeing Howie Mandel. We waited two hours for their anniversary dinner that never came. Always the fighter, Amy made sure we did not pay a penny for our un-meal, not even for our drinks.

Then one winter we went to go see Amy’s boyfriend, STING, play at the Auburn Palace. The next morning, we met up to walk at the JCC and continued to swoon over her boyfriend’s performance.

But perhaps my favorite memory of our friendship was in the summer of 2014 when Amy and I took a girls’ road trip back to Rochester.

Anyone who has taken a long ride on the highway with Amy behind the wheel knows this. She had a lead foot.

We took her minivan.  She insisted – repeatedly –  on driving the whole way up and over Canada. For our listening pleasure, I brought along an audio book I thought she might like: “Confessions of a Shopoholic”  We also talked about our plans for the weekend and hoped that on the way back, a minivan loaded with grocery bags from Wegmans would not arouse suspicions from the Border Guards.

For one sweet summer road trip, we talked about anything but the Teal elephant in the car. We never talked about her cancer.

On the drive back on Monday morning, we got caught in some traffic snarls around Toronto. Amy was only worried about not getting home in time to get Ben off the bus. So her leaded foot got even heavier.

Now, I am a nervous driver. So every time Amy rode up behind a car in the left lane a wee bit out of my comfort zone, my right foot instinctively slammed down on the floor.

Coolly and calmly, Amy glanced at me and said: “I’m afraid to tell you this, Mrs. Gittleman, but you do not have a brake pedal on your side of the car,”

In an attempt to convince her to drive more slowly, I tried to come up with some solutions.

“Can’t Ben go to a neighbor?”

“No, I get him off the bus.”

“Can he even wait 5-10 minutes outside in case we are late?”

“Nope I get him off the bus.”

It was then I realized just how devoted, how strong and how fierce Amy’s love was for you, Ben.

Because, as long as she was around on this earth, as long as she had the strength, your mom was going to be sure SHE was the one to be the one to see you off that schoolbus at the end of the day.

I never knew a woman so dedicated to raising and nurturing a child as Amy. Ben, she was so involved at your school, and in this synagogue where she and your dad did and will continue to raise you to be the mensch that you are and will continue to become.

Social workers at Karmanos told me that above Amy’s being an inspirational role model to other young cancer patients, they never met a woman who spoke so lovingly about her husband and son. Always with a smile. As sick as she felt, they said, Amy made sure to always advocate for Ben: preparing him for the future, Ben made it to his art therapy classes, and right after, Amy whisked him off to Karate.

Ben and Peter, I know nothing can replace Amy’s love, the clear blue of her eyes and her sweet voice. All the arms in the world cannot replace the loving embrace of her arms, but I do hope that you can feel us embrace you, not only tonight, but in the months and years to come.

On the morning that Amy died,  the rain fell and it seemed that it would never stop. Just like that song Fragile, by Sting  “On and on the rain did fall, like tears from a star, like tears from a star.”

Though we cry now, Peter and Ben, please know your friends and family who gathered here promise to stand with you, to give you all our love and support at this difficult time.

 

 

May you be comforted by the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

 

 

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