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And just as he had for so many other souls, Shlomo awakened in Neil "some spark of lost Jewishness."
Picture it, a busy Sunday afternoon with traffic moving briskly along Ocean Parkway, a major Brooklyn thoroughfare linking the brownstones of Park Slope in the north with the beaches and amusement parks of Coney Island in the south. Suddenly everything comes to a halt.
As the members of the I.D.F. lined up for the daily flag raising ceremony held on the Tel Hashomer Army Base outside of Tel Aviv, Gloria Schreiber approached the flagpole with a mixture of pride and awe. Standing at attention, dressed in fatigues, she grasped the rope, pulled gently and watched the white and blue flag slowly ascend.
"What's new?" It was a casual question, posed to me by Irene Klass when we met at a Jewish women's lecture during the fall of 1994.
When seven year-old Ariel tearfully ran into the kitchen complaining of pain it was his younger brother Shalom who came to the rescue. "Should I get you something to learn so you will feel better?" asked the six year old?
The idyllic countryside of Sobibor bears no resemblance to the large, efficient extermination camp once located in that remote corner of eastern Poland. Among the 250,000 Jews murdered during its 18 months of operation were the members of my mother's family. I didn't learn the details of their deaths until I was an adult, but I understood at a very young age that I had no grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins because someone called Hitler had killed them.
It's a story that's familiar to every student of American history. In 1620, the Pilgrims fled England aboard the Mayflower and founded the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, where they could freely practice their religion. A little known, but equally significant, historical event took place just a few years later in 1658, when another group seeking a haven from religious persecution sailed into Newport Harbor in Rhode Island and founded Congregation Jeshuat Israel.
As the freight train rumbles down the tracks running along East Cary Street in the historic Shockoe Bottom district of Richmond, Virginia, it passes by a former tobacco warehouse. Parked conspicuously in front of the massive building stands a train car that once carried a different kind of freight. Step inside and you discover you're in a cattle car used to transport Jews to the death camps that sprang up like poisonous mushrooms, throughout the European landscape. This is your entrée to the Virginia Holocaust Museum.
"My mother always made the Jewish holidays lots of fun when we were growing up, so is it any wonder I started my own Judaica business?"
Like The Stars Of The Heavens is a book that shines almost as brightly as the very stars in heaven.
It happened a few days before Chanukah. I was driving home from the local mall, my trunk overflowing with games and toys for my three young children, when the car suddenly slowed to a crawl.
The conductor gazed down at the orchestra, waved his baton and the stirring sounds of Grieg's "Triumphal March" began to fill the air.