Now more than ever

My grandparents came to the United States well before the second world war fighting poverty and anti-Semitism. On my father’s side, my grandmother Regina for whom I am named left Hungary (she said she was from Budapest to be elegant but was from a small town) and traveled here on her own at 11 years old. Her husband, my grandfather Harry, came from Scotland. Ironically now again, many Jews are leaving Scotland. On my mother’s side, my grandfather traveled with his mother from Romania and settled in Egypt for a while before traveling to the United States. Family lore had it that there was extended family in Egypt that included a successful group of belly dancers (clearly not from a Frum crowd there). And, my mothers mother Jenny came from Poland. She always claimed she was from Warsaw to extol the strength & knowledge of her family. I do believe now the original anti-Semitism I encountered was in regards to Polish jokes most likely dating back to those caught during the Holocaust by the Germans and jokes made at their expense which were widely told decades ago in the United States.
My family sought refuge and a new life in New York City. My parents, the first of their families to go to College, sought a new life. We lived in Armonk New York for a while after my parents moved “up in the world from the Bronx to Yonkers.” And while Armonk is very Jewish now, it was very un-Jewish then and quite uncomfortable. My parents quickly moved back farther South to Scarsdale, NY to the Jewish mecca (which became quite famous due to the Scarsdale diet). At the time, there were many Jews attending the local High School.
There were many Aunts, Uncles & cousins lost in the Holocaust but this was something that wasn’t discussed as a child. With the passing of the family, I feel true sadness not being able to honor the memories of those who were not able to escape.
While College and early work life had its moments of brash anti-Semitism, I safely moved to Beverly Hills with my family. In Beverly Hills, currently all the elected officials are Jewish. The City makes a strong effort to partner with Israel and celebrate events together. And, within the City of Los Angeles, officials have been as friendly as well. In truth, we are in a warm blanket of safeness and comfort.
So, as we approach Holocaust Remembrance Day, this year more than any other, I am filled with a longing and a sadness. Our blanket of safety has been taken away. The bubble has burst. The internet & media are filled with incidents of anti-Jewish hatred. While, we could hide before, now we cannot. Most of all,we cannot allow ourselves to hide. The rampant hatred of Jewish people is pervasive.
As Chairperson of Women’s International Zionist Organization in Los Angeles (WIZO), we work incredibly hard to help women & children in Israel thrive. We have made it a priority here in Los Angeles to bring forward a new generation of Jewish girls instilling a love of Israel and training them as leaders. This year and going forward, it is not enough. This year we must take a step to recognize Holocaust Remembrance Day in Los Angeles as a step to ensure our future as a Jewish people. While the official Day that notes the liberation of Auschwitz is January 27th, we will come together as a community on January 30th with a Women’s Learning Session, studying Torah and sharing prayers. We study for those who could not and study because we can.
We invite each of you to learn with us on Wednesday, January 30th at 8:30 am  with Rabbi Pini Dunner. It will take place at Young Israel of North Beverly Hills 9261 Alden Drive. Please email nikki@wizola.org to join us at no cost for this special morning as we pay tribute.

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