Memorial Day Weekend May 2006

My Mom
Mom is really something, even at 98 years of age. A few weeks ago, we had seen in our local newspaper notice of a one day performance of the Lipizzaner Stallions. The Lipizzaner is a special horse, bred and trained to “dance” to classical music. These horses generally do not perform until they are 8 or 9 years old, and they have the longest longevity for horses. We know that Mom has always loved horses; she thinks they are the most elegant animals, so I asked Nathaniel to check the internet to see if tickets were available for the performance on Sunday. They were – and we went! Normally these days, Mom doesn’t enjoy large crowds of people. But that evening, despite the thousands at the Nassau Coliseum, she was in her glory. The stallions and their riders were in great form, the music was beautiful, and Mom had a grand time, and spoke of the performance on our way back to her apartment. Yes, Mom really is something – and has been so for her entire life!

102,000 copies of Four Perfect Pebbles in Dutch, or Vier gelijke stenen – Op de vlucht voor de holocaust, were just published in The Nederland, in Holland. That’s a lot of copies, especially for a first printing in Dutch. Why so many – and why 102,000? Why not just print a round number of 100,000? The publisher, Mr. Gerton Van Boom, of Uitgeverij Verbum BV, gives the answer this way. Holland did not have a very large population of Jews before World War 2, only about 120,000 in total numbers, but suffered the greatest decimation percentage wise. Of the approximately 110,000 deported to concentration and extermination camps from Holland, 102,000 were murdered by the Nazis, never to return to their homeland. This symbolism of 102,000 copies is Mr. Van Boom’s attempt to show young adults in Holland the magnitude of the atrocities perpetrated against the Jews of their county. Four Perfect Pebbles is also Mr. Van Boom’s attempt to introduce young Dutch adults to the difficult and troubling subject of the Holocaust. Gerton, thank you so very much for your great sensitivity to this very difficult subject!

Many letters and e-mails are received from students writing reports or projects regarding the Holocaust, and many as a result of their reading Four Perfect Pebbles. Much time and energy is expended on answering these letters, but well worth the effort. I must tell you about one special letter from an “11 ½ year old” from Washington State. She wrote, “Dear Marion, I have some questions for you, but if you are no longer living, perhaps your husband can answer them for me. And if he is no longer living, then perhaps one of your children may know the answers to my questions.”
Fortunately, I was able to answer all of the questions myself, and with G-D’s help, hope to continue answering letters and questions for many years to come.

Mazal Tov and Congratulations to Hayley & Gary!
As mentioned in previous Newsletters, much help for our web site comes from Advanceware Solutions(, whose principals are Anthony Lipshits, Hayley Jossel and Gary Durbach. Hayley & Gary are actually married to each other, and have been blessed with their second child, Eitan Meir Hillel Durbach, a little brother to their beautiful daughter, Noa. We wish this wonderful family a hearty Mazal Tov and congratulations!

Packing for a Trip
Packing for a trip – especially when it is an early Sunday morning flight during Daylight Savings Time always poses a problem. Because of the many restrictions of doing creative work on the Jewish Sabbath, which doesn’t conclude until an hour after sunset, it is not unusual to finish packing until 2 am in the morning, leaving only about 4 hours of sleep. Nathaniel says we should get Heinzelmanchen (elves) to do the packing for us. But these days, they seem to be in scarce supply, and Nathaniel will just have to understand the necessity of my staying up late, and getting everything done that needs to be done, prior to leaving on the trip.

Wal-Mart to the Rescue!
After a 3 hour layover in Houston, our flight to Tyler, Texas finally arrived at 8 pm, but one of the 2 pieces of luggage did not arrive on the flight – the suitcase containing my clothes for the morning presentation. What to do??? 
The solution – head straight to Wal-Mart, which was located close to our Marriott Residence Inn. And, with the help of our contact coordinator (and good friend) Dr. Ron Beals and Nathaniel, we quickly assembled an outfit, from head to toe, costing no more than 50 plus dollars. We then checked into the hotel sometime around 11 pm, only to get a call that the missing piece of luggage had turned up and was being delivered to the hotel.

The Tooth Fairy
After presentations, there are always questions to answer - many of them repeats heard at other presentations. But this night at the Weedsport, New York, Library presentation, with mostly adults in attendance, was a young girl, no more that 7 or 8 years of age. Her qustion - Did the Nazi guards steal the money given to you by the Tooth Fairy?

Online program about Libraries and Community Engagement by Tom Peters
(Quote) Greetings! If you`ve never participated in an online book discussion, here is a great opportunity to take the plunge! The OPAL schedule of upcoming book discussions, author interviews, poetry readings, and other events for book lovers is amazing in its quality and variety. There`s something here for everyone--fiction and nonfiction, current best sellers and classics, books for children, young adults, and adults. 
The discussions themselves are fun and relaxed. Sometimes we pan a book, sometimes we share our favorite characters or episodes, sometimes we agree to disagree, but we always have fun. 
All of these online events are free and open to all library users worldwide. There is no need to register. You`re welcome to attend and just listen, but I bet you`ll soon feel the urge to share your impressions and ideas.(End Quote) 

Looking Ahead
Monday, September 11, 2006 beginning at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 1:00 Central, Noon Mountain, 11:00 a.m. Pacific, and 6:00 p.m. GMT, Marion Blumenthal Lazan, co-author of Four Perfect Pebbles - A Holocaust Story, will be presenting a free program on OPAL. This program is sponsored by the Bensenville (Illinois) Community Public Library and will be held in the OPAL Auditorium. Be sure to let teachers know about this program, particularly those teaching history and social studies. Reserve your space early. Although any number of people can listen to the broadcast on any registered computer, there is space for only 1,000 computers to register and log on. To sign-up, contact: 

ISLMANET recently listed more detailed information about this program: Four Perfect Pebbles - A Holocaust Story is a tale of tolerance, kindness, and optimism in the face of unspeakable cruelty. Mrs. Lazan tells how as a child she and her family spent six years as inmates of concentration camps, including Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen. They were in a cattle car being shipped towards Eastern Europe when liberated by Russian troops. Now in her seventies, Marion is devoting the rest of her life to telling her story. She knows that in a few short years there will be no Holocaust survivors left, yet what happened must never be forgotten. Her story does not dwell on the horror of what she experienced. Instead, her message is one of hope and optimism in the face of extraordinary hardship. She implores us to be kind to one another, to embrace diversity, to always retain hope, to respect one another, and to never look away from intolerance and cruelty. Could there be a more powerful or appropriate message on September 11? Marion will speak to the children of the world on September 11, 2006, at 2:00 p.m. eastern time. She will speak for about 30 minutes, and she will then take questions. She will be speaking in an online auditorium, and there is no charge whatsoever to listen. Our hope is that thousands of children and their teachers will spend that hour on September 11 with Marion. She will tell a story of courage, hope, and the will to survive. Your students (and you) will be mesmerized and inspired.

I feel very honored to have been asked to participate in this special OPAL program, and thank Jill Rodriguez, Director , and Bill Erber, Assisant Director of the Bensenville Public Library in Illinois, for making this possible.

Please participate on Monday Septemebr 11, and tell friends and relatives to do liikewise. Many thanks!

Memorial Day Monday May 29 Our Flag is on Display – Is Yours?
Memorial Day is being observed this Monday, May 29, and I would be remiss not to mention the gratitude we survivors feel for the very many men and women who served during WW II, the many wounded, and the valiant heroes who made the supreme sacrifice that we might have a world of peace and freedom. 
When I mentioned Memorial Day at the Weedsport Public Library in up-state New York a tall, robust 89 year old veteran stood up to state that General Dwight Eisenhower ordered his soldiers to visit the concentration camps so that they could bear witness on their return home to the US, and let citizens know that these atrocities really happened. He gave witness that night that what I said, did in fact happen. He received a standing ovation, and we later embraced when I again thanked him for his military service during the War. So much for the deniers! (see photo at bottom of newsletter)
In addition to the barbeques, picnics and shopping, let us also remember and seriously honor these veterans, and all those who serve today, to defend our freedom and our way of life 
Let’s not take our freedom for granted. Let us redouble our efforts to be kind and good towards one another. With that in mind, I would like to share a quote from that great English philosopher and statesman, Edmund Burke, who wrote so many years ago that the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. 

I wish each of you a long, healthy, happy and productive life in a world of love and peace.

and Nathaniel