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Posts Tagged ‘Moldova’

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 8/27/10

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Dear Readers,

As has been corroborated by the various letters this column receives, these are challenging times. Then again, among the multitudes that walk G-d’s earth there have always been the troubled and troublesome. Many will surmount their difficulties and furthermore be strengthened by them, while others unfortunately buckle under the stress of their burdens and use hardship as an excuse to lead a worthless life or become a non-believer.

As human beings, we seem to have the tendency to focus on the negative and take “good” and “normal” for granted; in this column, however, the calling attention to problems is meant to evoke discussion that will, hopefully, lead to positive results.

The following is based on a conversation between this columnist and a young lady (whom we shall refer to as “Debbie”) who has overcome substantial adversity in her own life, in a most remarkable way. It is our hope that her spirit, courage and bearing throughout her less than ideal upbringing will inspire others and help them prevail in their own struggles.

Rachel: You come from what may be termed a disadvantaged background (I refer to your early childhood years). How old were you when you found yourself embarking on a “new” journey in life and were separated from your mom?

Debbie: I was 8 while still in Moldova I had no understanding of responsibility whatsoever. I remember traveling around with my mom from place to place, being a happy-go-lucky little girl who had no concept of danger or worry. I can recall nights spent at the train station (since we didn’t have a house at the time and no friends or relatives to host us), but to me it was more of an adventure.

Before I turned nine, we somehow became affiliated with the Yeshiva in Moldova. It was so cool to learn Hebrew and to discover new things about being Jewish. I must have been viewed as the Yeshiva’s pity case, but I had no concept of that.

When I found out I was going to America to live with a family, I was excited – through the roof. I don’t remember ever being worried or sad about it. Looking back I probably had no inkling of what was really taking place – the fact that I’d probably never see my mom again, and that a language barrier would lead to discord (much of it as a result of misinterpretations) but in my mind everything was good. I don’t think I ever contemplated that evil existed in the world.

Okay, you were by nature optimistic and a happy little girl. So when you got to America, what were the immediate challenges that you recall coming face-to-face with?

The family that adopted me was very different from me. They were very uptight and rigid. I was used to having a place to explore, run around and grow in. All of a sudden I was thrust into a place where I couldn’t be myself. I had to sit at the Shabbos table from beginning to end. Not only did I have to read the Medrash Says on the parsha every week, (truthfully I loved that part), but I had to say a d’var Torah and answer parsha questions at the Shabbos table, too!

And it wasn’t just a Shabbos table comprised of family; there were always Shabbos guests.

Not going to shul was not an option. I had to go! My adopted sister and I were the only women in shul Friday night and the first girls in shul on Shabbos. During Torah reading I had to sit with Eema and follow inside the Chumash with my finger.

All this and so much more before I even reached the age of 12! I guess you’re getting the picture all the fun was taken out of life. Yiddishkeit didn’t seem as exciting as it once had. I became an aggressive little girl who lashed out and didn’t want to follow rules at home. I remember dreading coming home from school in 6th grade. When most kids could hardly wait for school to be over at the end of the day, I got the nervous butterflies about 45 minutes before the school day was out.

Sibling rivalry is a common phenomenon. Would you say that yours (with your adoptive sibs) was of the common kind or did you feel yourself trapped in a Cinderella’ish predicament?

The oldest boy at the time was 14, the girl was 10, and there was a baby boy of 3.
I wouldn’t exactly term it a Cinderella’sh bind – it was more like their kids were perfect. In reality they really were, compared to me. The sister was in all honor classes and as studious as they come, as well as well behaved and organized. She followed all the rules without questioning. The oldest boy was a learner who left shortly after I arrived for a very prestigious yeshiva.

I felt that I was treated very differently. In truth, I guess I had to be, but in no way was it constructive. I always felt picked on as the “black sheep,” but that might have been because I was the black sheep. I was different and no angel, neither studious nor well-organized. And there were “consequences” for not following the rules.

My sister didn’t need “consequences” because she always followed the rules. Besides, her parents were always understanding towards her. Because she was more “responsible” and “mature,” she could make her own decisions, whereas I was not allowed to.

I must add that as we grew older she became my biggest advocate and supporter when it came to disagreements with her parents. She would stand up for me (my older brother did too when he was around) and argue with her parents on my behalf. Sometimes it would work and she would rejoice for me when I would avert the “consequences.” I felt that the parents enjoyed punishing me, while my sister was really sad for me.

Considering all of this, did a bitterness born of resentment creep into your conscience? Did you ever feel that life was unfair?

Sure, I’m human and did get very bitter and resentful at times, but it was never towards life it was more towards the parents. I had no reason to believe that life was mean to me – after all it got me this far. I felt that they were blocking my life.

To be cont’d

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

Holocaust Educational Web Sites

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

         Last week’s anniversary of Kristallnacht reminded us that the Shoah happened in a relatively cultured society. Not only has it happened in the past generation, even today there is a popular movement of Holocaust denial. The results of this denial and misinformation lead to the possibility that any future genocidal act can be disbelieved or ignored.


         The best way to fight this wave of ignorance, and outright denial of facts, is through education. Not everybody has access to lecturers or museums but, in today’s computer age, the Internet has become an excellent teaching tool for the truth. Sadly the deniers also use it to spread their lies that lead to hate.


         This week I present a list of web sites that offer the truth of what happened:


http://www.galiciajewishmuseum.org/  - The Galicia Jewish Museum In Krakow.

http://www.holocaustresearch.pl/index1(en).htm -  Polish Center for Holocaust Research.

http://www.beisolam.jewish.org.pl - The Warsaw Jewish Cemetery.

http://fzp.jewish.org.pl/english/engind.html - The Polish Jews Forum.

http://www.jewishmuseum.org.pl/index  - Museum Of The History of Polish Jews.

http://jewish.sites.warszawa.um.gov.pl/  -Jewish historical sites in Warsaw.

http://www.jewish.org.pl/wroclaw/english  - The Jewish Community in Wroclaw.

http://www.dialog.org/main.html  - Platform for Jewish-Polish Dialogue.

http://www.npajac.org/mission.html  - National Polish American – Jewish American Council.

http://www.jewish.org.pl/english/foundati/TSKZ.html  - Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland.


http://www.ajcf.org/  - Auschwitz Jewish Center.

http://www.jewishinstitute.org.pl/ - Jewish Historical Institute.

http://www.jewishgen.org  - Jewish Genealogy Society

http://www.yorku.ca/tftf/ - The Mark and Gail Appel Program in Holocaust and Antiracism Education.

http://www.judaica.pl  - Judaica Foundation Center for Jewish Culture.

http://www.rslfoundation.org/ - The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation – Poland.

http://www.yivoinstitute.org/ - YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

http://www.jewishgen.org/Galicia/ - Special Interest Group For Jews whose roots originate in Galicia.

http://www.routestoroots.com/ - Tracing Jewish Roots in Poland, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus.

http://www.jewishfestival.pl/ - Jewish Culture Festival In Krakow.

http://www.wiesenthal.com - Simon Wiesenthal Center.

http://www.midrasz.pl/ MIDRASZ.

http://www.ushmm.org/ - U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

http://www.belzec.org.pl/ - The Museum of the Belzec Death Camp.

http://www.fodz.pl/ - The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland.

www.jdc.org - American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

www.wjc.org.il - World Jewish Congress.

www.jdc.org - American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

http://www.jafi.org.il/ - The Jewish Agency for Israel.

http://www.ecjc.org/ - The European Council of Jewish Communities.

http://www.jewishgen.org/cemetery/e-europe/poland.html - International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies – Cemetery Project.

http://www.avotaynu.com/ - Avotaynu, Inc.

http://www.nizkor.org/ - Holocaust education site.

http://www.yadvashem.org/ - Yad Vashem.

http://www.mznet.org/chamber/ - Chamber of the Holocaust.

http://www.claimscon.org/ - The Claims Conference/Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

Interesting Polish Jewish Web Sites

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

      I am often asked, “Where do you get all the information that you write about in your weekly column?” The answer is as varied as the columns I write. Most of the material I get comes from any one or a combination of over 1,000 books in my private library. Various web sites on the Internet provide another major source. Here are a few of the hundreds of sites I have visited in the past year during my research.


        http://www.galiciajewishmuseum.org/ – The Galicia Jewish Museum In Krakow

        http://www.holocaustresearch.pl/index1(en).htm - Polish Center for Holocaust Research

        http://www.beisolam.jewish.org.pl/ - The Warsaw Jewish Cemetery

        http://fzp.jewish.org.pl/english/engind.html - The Polish Jews Forum

        http://www.jewishmuseum.org.pl/index - Museum Of The History of Polish Jews

        http://jewish.sites.warszawa.um.gov.pl/ - Jewish historical sites in Warsaw

        http://www.jewish.org.pl/wroclaw/english - The Jewish Community in Wroclaw

        http://www.dialog.org.main.html - Platform for Jewish-Polish Dialogue

        http://www.npajac.org/mission.html - National Polish American – Jewish American Council

        http://www.jewish.org.pl/english/foundati/TSKZ.html - Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland

        http://www.auschwitz-museum.oswiecim.pl/html/eng/ - Auschwitz /Birkenau

        http://www.ajcf.org/ - Auschwitz Jewish Center

        http://www.jewishinstitute.org.pl/ - Jewish Historical Institute

        http://www.jewishgen.org - Jewish Genealogy Society

        http://www.yorku.ca/tftf/ - The Mark and Gail Appel Program in Holocaust and Antiracism Education

        http://www.judaica.pl - Judaica Foundation – Center for Jewish Culture

        http://www.rslfoundation.org/ - The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation – Poland

        http://www.yivoinstitute.org/ - YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

        http://www.jewishgen.org/Galicia/ - Special Interest Group For Jews whose roots originate in Galicia

        http://www.routestoreroots.com/ - Tracing Jewish Roots in Poland, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus

        http://www.jewishfestival.pl/ - Jewish Culture Festival In Krakow

        http://www.wiesenthal.com - Simon Wiesenthal Center

        http://www.littman.co.uk/polin/ - Journal of Polish Jewish Studies

        http://www.midrasz.pl/ - Midrasz

        http://www.ushmm.org/ - U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

        http://www.belzec.org.pl/ - The Museum of the Belzec Death Camp

        http://www.fodz.pl/ - The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland

        www.jdc.org  – American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

        www.wjc.org.il  – World Jewish Congress

        http://www.jafi.org.il/ - The Jewish Agency for Israel

        http://www.ecjc.org/  – The European Council of Jewish Communities

        http://www.jewishgen.org/cemetery/e-europe/poland.html  - International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies – Cemetery Project

        http://www.avotaynu.com/ - Avotaynu, Inc.

        http://www.mizkor.org/ - Holocaust education site

        http://www.yadvashem.org/ - Yad Vashem

        http://www.mznet.org/chamber/ Chamber of the Holocaust

        http://www.claimscon.org/ - The Claims Conference/Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.


         Shmuel Ben Eliezer can be reached at jpolin2@aol.com

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