Friday, May 30, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 40 - 5 weeks & 5 days

Today is Hod she b'Yesod - a day of humility in a week of foundation.

What a long, short week this was for me. The Monday holiday was a work day for me, as was the Sunday before. I finished the week with a 27 hour work day--something I thought I left behind years ago. But while the pace was grueling and the obstacles at times frustrating, there were enough things in place that leave me tired but calm and peaceful as I turn my attention forward.

I feel pride in what I accomplished. I delivered quality work in an expedient manner facing very tight almost impossible deadlines. My clients were pleased with the work and the process. They appreciated my talents, skills, and efforts, and let me know how they feel. It does make a difference to me to work with people who are organized and communicative and realistic about the situation.

The coming week culminates in Shavuot, the celebration of the giving of the Torah. It's good to have this time reminding me how Torah so often guides my practice. I can't help think that part of the good will I feel right now is due having the help of this spiritual blueprint to give me a perspective that helps bring balance to my life--even in very unbalanced times.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 36 - 5 weeks & 1 day

Today is Chesed she b'Yesod - a day of loving kindness in a week of foundation.

In the US we have lost the rituals of our national commemorations. We move as many of our holidays as we can to Mondays, ignoring the significance of the day. Even when the original date is picked somewhat randomly, there is a meaning associated with that particular day. But whatever that association is recedes into a long weekend devoted to play, food, and shopping. Now I have nothing against any of those pursuits, but making every national holiday centered around things strips each one of its unique reason for being.

Memorial Day certainly fits that description. While the original date chosen-May 30-has no particular significance, the day was designated in 1868 to honor the Civil War dead. After World War I it became a day to remember all who were lost in war. But that seems lost to Americans these days. Even as our country is involved in warfare, even as young men and women are losing their lives in the midst of battles, most of us just revel in the time off with no thought to its kavannah, its intention.

I have added a personal commemoration to this day which allows me to honor the day as it was intended. On Memorial Day 2005 I wrote a post about my Uncle Eddie, my father's brother, who died in a Japanese prisoner of war camp after being captured when his B-29 was shot down over Malaysia in January, 1945. Last year I began a tradition by making Memorial Day Uncle Eddie's yarhzeit, the annual remembrance of a person's death.

This morning at minyan I once again observed Eddie's yarhzeit. I led the davening, and before reciting the El Malei prayer I shared my 2005 blog post with all who were gathered in the chapel. I was surprised by the deep emotions that surfaced; tears streamed down my face as I read. When I looked up, I saw tears reflected in the eyes of all around me. A special moment was created, touching all of us with the spirit of the day. As we honored my uncle, we honored all who have been lost in war.

Zichrono l'vracha, Uncle Eddie - today your memory truly was a blessing.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 35 - 5 weeks

Today is Malchut she b'Hod - a day of majesty in a week of humility.

I've obviously missed a couple of day of writing. I've managed to keep up the count, but with all that I've had to do in both my professional and my synagogue lives I've had to take the omer writing practice off my list of daily accomplishments. I'm not abandoning the practice, I just needed some days off.

One of the things I love about practice is that it is fluid rather than absolute. Since one element of practice is routine it needs to fit into your life. And since life is something that is in constant change, one's practice needs to be able to adapt to those changes. Some of the adaptations deal with time--different days, weeks, months, seasons, years. Some parts of practice need to flow with the unexpected movements in life. Sometimes the practice is in the moving away from the routine--coming back in new ways with fresh perspectives.

The saying goes that practice makes perfect. But perfection is an ideal, not a goal. There is no such thing as an ideal life--how stagnant that would be. Life is all about movement--outward and inward. For the most part, we do not know what lies ahead. Practice gives us tools to cope with whatever that might be.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 32; 4 weeks and 4 days

Today was Nitzach she b'Hod - a day of endurance in a week of humility.

I am continuing the count, but keeping up with the writing practice has become difficult. I have a heavy, time-consuming work load that makes this a chore. So I won't bore you with any forced drivel that I would come up with right now, and just bid you all a good night.

Omer 5768 - Day 31; 4 weeks and 3 days

Yesterday was Tiferet she b'Hod - a day of compassion in a week of humility.

On Monday night, Danya Ruttenberg was ordained as a rabbi. You can see the proof here.

Congrats, Danya!! I couldn't be happier. While I know she is headed to the East Coast, I also know she will have an affect on many all over the world. And we can all look forward to the summer release of her book:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 30; 4 weeks and 2 days

Today was Gevurah she b'Hod - a day of strength in a week of humility.

Three years ago I wrote a blog post titled "The Color of Money." If you click on the name you can read the post for yourself. I compare Australian and New Zealand money with American money. that post was triggered by a visit from a friend, but also am struck by the physical difference in money when I travel to other countries.

As you can see in the photos in the other post, the other money is not only more colorful, but the bills are different sizes. This makes it possible for the blind to know the denominations of each of the bills. Although I was looking at the esthetics rather than the practical matters, I did think it was time for the US to think about changing our notes as well.

It looks like that time may finally be near. The Associated Press reported a ruling handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. According to the article, the court ruled that, "the government is denying blind people meaningful access to the currency. . . The decision could force the Treasury Department to make bills of different sizes or print them with raised markings or other distinguishing features."

The court took into account the inevitable objections. From the article: "Given recent U.S. redesigns, the appeals court ruled the U.S. failed to explain why adding more changes would be an undue burden. More than 100 other countries vary the size of their bills, a federal judge said in 2006, and others include at least some features to help the blind. The appeals court said the U.S. never explained why such solutions wouldn't work here."

I'm sure we're many years of appeals away from any real change, but I hope we make the switch. Not only would it be practical and useful for everyone, but much more pleasing to the eye.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 29; 4 weeks and 1 day

Today is Chesed she b'Hod - a day of loving kindness in a week of humility.

While the counting of the omer does mark a passage of time from Passover to Shavuot, the ritual of the counting gives me an appreciation for each day. I don't think about how much time has passed or how much there is to go. I just treat each day on its own terms--the number just gives the day its name.

This came in handy when I was counting the omer in my year of cancer treatment. It was somewhat eerie how that whole experience was in sync with the Jewish sacred calendar. I was diagnosed during Hanukkah; I started chemotherapy on the first of Nissan--in the Torah, the first day of the year; I had my last infusion on the 49th day of the omer; and I finished radiation a couple of days before Rosh Hashanah.

Counting the omer in that year had special meaning for me. I didn't need to count the days until chemo was over--I just had to count each day. When the omer was done, so was that treatment. I didn't need any special calendar to tell me--I didn't need any more ritual. I just counted each day, noted the different characteristics brought to that day by the sephirot.

I'm glad to be six years removed from that time--quite frankly, I'm glad to be here counting once again. It's not something to take for granted--two of the women who went through treatment with me did not make it to see these days. While I don't want to spend my life counting each day, I'm glad to have this time to remind me how much each day counts.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 28; 4 weeks

Today is Malchut she b'Nitzach - a day of majesty in a week of endurance.

Today was Beth Sholom's official homecoming.

It was an emotional day--much more than I had imagined. I have never experienced anything like this. You could feel the joy emanating from this community finally coming into this amazing new home. We are all so invested in this place, in this space. I'm sure everyone had thoughts in the past two years that this day would never come--it just seemed so far away. But it is now our reality, we have our center. We can start new legacies that will carry forward to the next generations....l'dor v'dor.

There were many moments today when I just welled up with tears. It was bringing up the memories of friends who will always be a part of Beth Sholom for me though they are no longer with us--Goldie, Hans. It was hearing the voices of the kahal reverberating in our sacred spaces--the sanctuary, the chapel. It was seeing the kids run around, finding all the nooks and crannies, making the place their own. It was feeling the spirit circulating through the space. It was looking at the joy showing on all the faces around me.

Today we came home to the house we built together. While the newness will wear off, I hope the joy continues to fill the space for years to come.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 27; 3 weeks & 6 days

Today was Yesod she b'Nitzach - a day of foundation in a week of endurance.

It's appropriate that foundation and endurance are the qualities that mark this Shabbat, the last one before Beth Sholom inhabits its new space.

The endurance part is certainly true--it's been a very long two years. There were times when the uncertainty of the future of our community seemed in doubt. I will admit that there were moments when I feared we would have a beautiful new structure with few people to fill it.

But Beth Sholom is more than just a building, and the foundation built through the generations is strong. Tomorrow we will march our Torahs and ourselves into our new home. We have endured, and the foundations of our building and of our community are strong and will keep us vibrant for many years to come.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 26; 3 weeks & 5 days

Today is Hod she b'Nitzach - a day of humility in a week of endurance.

This morning was the last weekday Beth Sholom minyan that will be held in the Shapiro Room of the preschool. Starting Sunday we will daven in the Gronowski Family Chapel. It is good to know that the spirit of my dear friend Hans Gronowski, may his memory be a blessing, will be with us always.

A few days ago I wrote that I can't wait until being in the new building becomes second nature to me. Today I'm not so sure I want that to happen so soon. Along with the thrill of being in such a wonderful space, there's an appreciation for this community that I love so dearly. I want to hold on to the joy of us being back home once again.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 25; 3 weeks & 4 days

Today was Nitzach she b'Nitzach - a day of endurance in a week of endurance.

Two and a half weeks ago--day 8 of the Omer, since we are counting--I wrote about Forrest Benjamin's Bar Mitzvah. Today, Brian Geller emailed me with a link to the photos he took that day. Here are a few..

Here he is with Rabbi Hyman just after receiving his new tallit. You've got to love the smiles on each of their faces.

And here he is reading Torah, with his parents to his right and his two favorite rabbis to his left.

And here we are, teacher and student, as Forrest leads the Torah service. A proud moment for all.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 24; 3 weeks & 3 days

Today was Tiferet she b'Nitzach - a day of compassion in a week of endurance.

The transition from one season to the next may not be as marked here in San Francisco than it was when I lived in New York. But one way to notice the change in seasons is to shop at a farmers' market.

I'm so happy in the fall when the persimmons arrive, but at the same time have to face the reality that soon the selection of fruits and vegetables will thin with the onset of winter. Today I experienced more food joy as I came home from the Civic Center Farmers' Market with cherries and apricots and peaches. And as we are just on the edge of the summer crops, I don't have that autumn let down, just the anticipation of the ripe tastes ahead.

With Shavuot and its celebration of the first fruits three weeks ahead, I'm thinking that I will create a ritual for myself. Something to mark the season of fruits and vegetables bursting with flavor. Or maybe that can be my contribution to a Tikkun Leyl Shavuot.

But for now, I'm happy popping cherries in my mouth, enjoying the first taste of summer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 23; 3 weeks & 2 days

Today is Gevurah she b'Netzach - a day of strength in a week of endurance.

Although we're not in the building yet, I got to walk around the complex two different times today. I have no bearings in the space, and easily lose a sense of direction. I look forward to the time when it's all second nature.

As our time davening minyan in the Shapiro comes to a close, I'll share a photo from this morning. Yes--that's our can I not feel positive about the future....after all, look at his gabbai....

Monday, May 12, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 22; 3 weeks & 1 day

Today is Chesed she b'Nitzach - a day of loving kindness in a week of endurance.

I really feel badly for Barry Zito. I know I shouldn't--he didn't make the Giants give him that enormous contract. They offered and he accepted--who wouldn't take a guaranteed $126 million dollars. But he's pitching so poorly--his pitches have lost velocity, he can't make it more than 5 innings. He didn't do well last year, the first year of the contract. He's gone 0-7 to start this season, and the best he can hope for tonight is a no decision. The Giants' fans can't stand him--and show it.

I'm an A's fan, so I should be able to shrug my shoulders and say, "Ah, well...too bad....he was fine when he played for us...." But I can't. I like Barry Zito--he seems like such a good person. He's not arrogant; he's feeling the pain and taking the responsibility. He's working hard and taking all the advice. But none of it's working, and it hurts to watch.

I think major league pitchers have one of the toughest jobs in sports. So much of the game is riding on their shoulders. And their failures are so public as they take the team and the fans down with them. And it's hard to imagine how this cannot affect their entire being. Again--I know they get paid well and yes, that's part of the job that they just have to deal with to get the big bucks. But still, watching a high profile pitcher fail makes me squirm.

(Except if it's someone like Roger Clemens.....but that's a whole other story.)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 21; 3 weeks

Today is Malchut she b'Tiferet - a day of majesty in a week of compassion.

Last night was my monthly Mah Jongg game. Not only is it great to play, but the food brought by each of the participants is always a treat. Last night was no exception--zucchini two ways, in a beautiful terrine and as pancakes; steamed asparagus and roasted cauliflower with a creamy sweet mustard dip and noodles with peanut sauce. But this night, it was dessert that made it special.

On the second day of the omer I wrote about the matzah shortage. One of the consequences of the shortage was that when people found matzah to buy it was in the bundled pack of five one pound boxes. Given the choice of no matzah or too much, my friend Mindy chose the former. So two weeks after the end of Pesach she still had a lot of matzah. So she decided to make a fan favorite, matzah brittle.

Imagine small pieces of matzah coated with light caramel and pecans. I can tell you, it was divine. I was lucky enough to have this treat during Passover as well, since Katherine Hollander made a chocolate covered version that she shared with us at minyan. Next year I will find some recipes to add to the collection.

Eating the brittle last night inspired me today to make a small batch of Farfel Fantasies with the egg whites left over when I made the sweet mustard hollandaise-type dip. While I wasn't affected by the matzah shortage, I did buy a bit too much farfel and was happy to use my left overs. And Passover or not, they still tasted mighty fine.

So if you still have left over matzah, you could do some baking, as Mindy and I did. Others have some different ideas.......

Omer 5768 - Day 20; 2 weeks & 6 days

Yesterday was Yesod she b'Tiferet - a day of foundation in a week of compassion.

Like the Israelites standing at the edge of the Jordan River preparing to cross over into their land, we at Beth Sholom are at the edge of our own border crossing preparing to move into our new home. While our journey didn't take 40 years, there were times it felt as long as that. But in seeing the finished product, I believe it was worth the wait. We have built a foundation that will support us for many generations to come.

There is one way in which we have an advantage over the Israelites who returned to the land after their sojourn in the desert. The last book of the Chumash, Devarim (Deuteronomy) is filled with Moses' final words to the people he led through that difficult time. He was not with them when they entered the land. We are lucky to have found Rabbi Micah Hyman, our new leader who will take us into this next era of our community's life. He shares his knowledge, his compassion, and his joy with us. He will help us infuse our new space with a welcoming ruach, spirit, inviting to all who enter.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 19; 2 weeks & 5 days

Today is Hod she b'Tiferet - a day of humility in a week of compassion.

During a discussion with the producer of the editing project that has taken so much of my energy this week, I was taken to task about parts of the work I did. It wasn't that the work was bad, it just didn't conform with some decisions that were made by the production crew--decisions that I knew nothing about. Peter, the producer, asked me why didn't I call him with questions on what to do. My answer was that I didn't realize the questions needed to be asked. It comes down to a breakdown in communication.

There are many times in both our work and personal lives when communication between two people or within a group becomes stalled. We seem to focus on our individual answers when a better path would be to look for the questions--those to be asked and those not asked. Peter couldn't understand why I didn't ask certain questions--it was clear to him the questions needed to be asked. My response was that without certain information, I had no reason to know what questions to ask.

Peter and I are good friends and have worked together for many years. At this point we know how to get through these difficult "discussions" and resolve any conflicts to the benefit of our project and our relationship. But this reminded me of the questions I ask each morning at the start of minyan:
"What are we? What is our life? What is our piety? What is our righteousness? What is our attainment, our power, our might? What can we say, Adonai, before You?"
These are questions that we don't always know to ask, and we may not have any answers. But I believe that by continuing to ask these questions we can open the communication lines within us, to our souls.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 18; 2 weeks & 4 days

Today is Netzach she b'Tiferet - a day of endurance in a week of compassion.

I have endured three very long days, slaving over my computer, editing away. I need to have compassion for myself and go to sleep.

Omer 5768 - Day 17; 2 weeks & 3 days

Today was Tiferet she b'Tiferet - a day of compassion in a week of compassion

A double compassion day--and I need it. As things go sometimes in my profession, it's been an extremely long day. I'm working against a deadline, with too much to do and to little time in which to do it. Today I edited from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m., except for the hour or so break I took to have dinner with Ken, his brother Bern and Bern's wife Shirley. Bern and Shirl leave for Vancouver tomorrow evening. I haven't seen much of them but they will be back at the end of the month and I should--I better--have more time off then.

It's hard to edit in a crunch like this. I take pride in my work, but when time gets short compromises need to be made. Making those compromises is a skill in itself. I need to have some compassion for myself and remember that getting something to its proper state is not always the same as getting it perfect. A lesson for my work; a lesson for my life.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 16; 2 weeks & 2 days

Today is Gevurah she b'Tiferet - a day of strength in a week of compassion.

I didn't introduce my blogging the omer practice this year, thinking any regular reader would catch on the what I was doing. If you would like a short explanation of the practice, you can read last year's first entry here.

I like the discipline of having to write every day. I am forced to put the words together, for better or worse. Sometimes the topics are a bit bizarre, such as yesterdays ode to giblets. Other times I don't like the writing when I first create the post, but find that it works when I revisit the entry.

This practice reminds me that we all need to do things that we may not want to do at the time, or are not convenient. It's a commitment I've made and I keep. I can only hope that this discipline will help me keep other, more pressing commitments in my life. Once again, it's the practice thing---if you keep at it, you have a better chance at getting it right.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 15; 2 weeks & 1 day

Today is Chesed she b'Tiferet - a day of loving kindness in a week of compassion.

Ken's brother Bern and his wife Shirley arrived today from Brisbane, Australia. They will stay with us for a few days, then go up to Vancouver to visit their youngest son, and come back to us before they head back home. It's nice to have them visit, especially since we don't see them for years at a time.

Knowing that they would still be in jet lag mode and wouldn't want to go out anywhere, we had a nice meal at home--roast chicken, potatoes, asparagus, and salad. We shared a 1981 Pinot Noir magnum that Ken and I bought at the Beth Sholom dinner dance auction. It was a great meal, but did bring up something that's been bothering me for some time now.

It used to be that when you bought a whole chicken, the giblets--liver, lungs, "pupik", etc--was included. Following in my mother's cooking path, I would always roast those things separately in aluminum foil next to the chicken in the oven. They would be done first, and were a nice little snack before the main meal.

Nowadays, you don't get the giblets with the chicken--I don't know why. I guess I could do some internet research to find the reason. But knowing the reason will not bring back the giblets, nor will it stop me from missing them.

One more sign of the times in 21st Century America.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 14; 2 weeks

Today is Malchut she be'Gevurah - a day of majesty in a week of strength.

For the past two years I've taken on alot of the responsibility of keeping the Beth Sholom ritual, spiritual life alive while we've been rootless, without a home; and leaderless, with a rabbi who did nothing to help keep us together. With our move into the building imminent, now led by a rabbi who joyfully and energetically takes the reins, I can relax back into my prayer practice. This morning I read Psalm 30--a psalm I read each morning--and felt the power of its words. This was one of the psalms that I was drawn to when I first started to daven each morning. It draws me still....

Psalm 30
A Psalm of David, a Song for the dedication of the Temple
I extol You, Adonai, for You raised me up.
You did not permit foes to rejoice over me.

Adonai, I cried out and You healed me.
You saved me from the pit of death.

Sing to Adonai, you faithful.
acclaim God's holiness.

For God's anger lasts a moment;
divine love is lifelong.
Tears may linger for a night;
joy comes with the dawn.

While at ease I once thought:
Nothing can shake my security.
Favor me and I am a countain of strength.
Hide Your face, Adonai, and I am terrified.

To You, Adonai, would I call;
Before the Eternal would I plead.

What profit is there if I am silenced?
What benefit if I go to my grave?
Will the dust praise You?
Will it proclaim Your faithfulness?

Hear me, Adonai.
Be gracious, be my help.

You transformed my mourning into dancing,
my sackcloth into robes of joy --
that I might sing Your praise unceasingly,
that I might thank You, Adonai my God, forever

I am glad to start my day with the acknowledgement that there is a higher power, that I am not alone, that I will be thankful for the moments that I have. It puts life in perspective, using the words of my tribe to carry me through.

Omer 5768 - Day 13; 1 week & 6 days

Yesterday was Yesod she b'Gevurah - a day of majesty in a week of strength.

I realize that on the first day of the Omer I wrote about an impending Beth Sholom building inspection but never gave the results. As you probably can guess by my silence, there are still some things to get in order before we can move into our new home. But we are definitely only a couple of weeks away at the most. I know I'll have lots to say as we start to occupy our new space and make it our own. Until that time, I'll share an short essay I wrote for our synagogue newsletter, HaRuach. It will give you an idea of what we're in store for in our ritual spaces. And if you click on the photo, you'll be directed to an article written about the new building in the San Francisco Examiner.

Making Space for Traditions, Old and New

As I write this, the stained glass windows from the sanctuary in the old building are being installed in the chapel of the new building. This is a reflection of how we are taking the traditions that we cherish—the traditions of Judaism and of Beth Sholom—and melding them into our new home.

While the ruach, the spirit, of our community will permeate every room in our building, there are three spaces specifically designed as centers for our Jewish ritual practice—the main sanctuary, the chapel, and the meditation room. Each of these places creates space for different forms of spiritual expression.

In the main sanctuary we will come together on Shabbat and the chagim, filling that bowl with the sound of voices singing in prayer. Picture Ne’eilah, the last service of Yom Kippur, with the room filled to the brim. Look up and see the night sky for the stars that will herald the culmination of that day; look around at all the faces sharing that sacred time.

The chapel will be infused with the prayers of our daily minyanim, supporting those who feel the loss of a loved one. It will contain voices of our children as they gather weekly to learn and practice tefillah, bringing new life to these ancient prayers.

In the meditation room we can sit in quiet contemplation. It will be open before all services for those who would like to use that time as a prelude to communal prayer.

Our community stands between the stained glass of the chapel and the skylights of the sanctuary, honoring the past and looking towards the future. Together we will create a place of vibrant Jewish life for all the generations to come

Friday, May 02, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 12; 1 week & 5 days

Today is Hod she b'Gevurah - a day of humility in a week of strength.

My teshuvah of clearing in ongoing. While working on thinning out my file cabinets I'm coming across various handouts I've been given at different spiritual workshops I've attended in the past ten years. I'm also finding pads with my notes on those workshops, filled with the teachings I chose to keep with me.

There are two tidbits I'll share with you. I believe the source is either Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Rabbi Marcia Prager, or Savina Teubal, since the notes are from a weekend I spent at the Jewish Renewal Life Center in Philadelphia in June, 2000. It was one of a series of workshops called "Nourish the Soul, Repair the World."
Torah - It's not a book, it's a library

Go through the threshold, taking your life with you...everything you did--good and bad--comes together to enrich where you are going

While I don't remember the specific teachings that led to those notes, those words that resonated with me then still resonate now. And though I may have forgotten those specific moments of learning, their kavannah--intention--seeped into my being, keeping me on this path that I cherish today.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Omer 5768 - Day 11; 1 week & 4 days

Today is Nitzach she b'Gevurah - a day of endurance in a week of strength.

I write the description of the day--endurance wrapped in strength--knowing that today is Yom HaShoah--a day to remind ourselves of the imperative Never Again.

In 2002, Wiley Miller's cartoon strip Non Sequitur featured a conversation between one of his characters, Danae--an extremely bright but somewhat Gothic pre-teen girl--and an elder man. She notices the numbers on his arm, and remarks that it is "an awfully boring tattoo." He tells her that he keeps it as a reminder "of a time when the world went mad." He continues:
"Imagine yourself in a land where your countrymen followed the voice of political extremists who didn't like your religion."

"Imagine having everything taken from you, your entire family sent to a concentration camp as slave laborers, then systematically murdered. In this place, they even take your name and replace it with a number tattooed on your arm."

"It was called The Holocaust, when millions of people perished just because of their faith. . ."
The usually hard boiled Danae is shown in sadness, wrapped in a ball with her face down, hugging her folded legs. She then looks up and says, "So you kept it to remind yourself about the dangers of political extremism?"

"No, my dear," her replies, "To remind you."

As we move further into this new century and farther away from the time of The Holocaust, let us never fail to remind ourselves and the rest of the world of the dangers when rulers wield absolute power. And even more important, remember that keeping silent in the face of wrongdoing makes us complicit in the act.

The following video is not easy to watch, but the images must not be lost. These are my people, it could have been me. These are all our people, it could have been any one of us.

Zichronim l'vracha -- Let us keep their memories, to remind us, Never Again.