Thanksgiving Day 2004

This coming Thursday, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day, and as Americans, we have much for which to be thankful.

It was only a week ago that we observed Kristallnach, the Night of Broken Glass, the infamous night 66 years ago when the Nazis smashed the storefronts and business establishments of Jews in Germany, burned Jewish holy books and torahs, rounded up thousands of German Jewish men and carted them off to concentration camps. This was the beginning of the Holocaust that resulted in the murder of 6 million Jewish Souls, among them, one and one half million children, fully one-third of the then pre-war Jewish population.

5 million non-Jews also died, and among them were the “Righteous Gentiles,” incredibly courageous men and women who risked their own lives, and those of their families, to save Jews. There is a Path of the Righous in Jerusalem`s Yad v`Shem to honor these special heros and heroines.

Two days after Krisallnach, on November 11, we observed Veterans Day, paying homage to all past and currently serving members of our armed forces. We, the survivors, are surely indebted to the allied forces that liberated Western Europe. I am most particularly grateful to the Russian Army who liberated our train at Troibitz in Germany.

As an American, I am very much indebted to the more than 6 million men and women who served in uniform during WW 2, the 614,000 wounded in action, and, especially, to the 405,399 valiant heroes who made the supreme sacrifice so that the world would be free of tyranny. May their actions not have been in vain.
Now, we must pray for the troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas of the world, who continue to fight for the freedom we all hold dear, but too many of us take for granted. Let our troops return home safely, as quickly as possible.

This past October, we were back to Illinois for the umpteenth time. Nathaniel has been keeping count and he says that we have been to more than 90 communities in Illinois, from the south to the north, from the east to the west, and certainly in the center. Illinois is a wonderful state to visit, the Land of Lincoln.

But prior to making presentations in Peru, Ottawa, Grand Ridge and Seneca, I had the distinct honor of being inducted into the Centurion Society of Bradley University in Peoria. It was an awesome, humbling and wonderful feeling walking in the procession down the aisle wearing Cap & Gown along with 4 other inductees, and accompanied by high-ranking officials of Bradley. This really was one the great moments in my life, and I thank all at Bradley University that made this event so meaningful and memorable. The photo pictures Mr. Willam Engelbrecht, Vice-president for Advancement at Bradley, congratulating me, after having had the handsome Centurion medallion placed around my neck by Dr. David Broski, President of Bradley University. Others who were so wonderful to both Nathaniel and me at Bradley included Karl Taylor and Nancy Ridgeway.

The Centurion Society honors Bradleyites who have distinguished themselves nationally or internationally in their fields of endeavor. I am not sure that I have accomplished this lofty goal of the Society, but I do feel that if I have reached but a single individual during a presentation with my story and messages of tolerance, and he or she became a better individual, then I accomplished my mission. I have made it my life’s work to share my Holocaust experiences with as many students and adults as possible, for as long as I am given the strength.

The Spring 2005 schedule is already looking crowded with many presentations planned. In January, a visit to Oxford, Mississippi, in February, a visit to Tipp City and Dayton, Ohio, in March, visits to Andover & Wichita, Kansas, in April, visits to the Memphis, Tennessee area and the University of Montevallo in Alabama, followed by a return visit to schools in Germany. And in May, a return to the beautiful Finger Lakes Region of New York, and then on to the Albany area of New York State, including Schuylerville. This does not include many presentations to be made in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. For more detailed schedule, please visit my web site

Tiring and exhausting it is, but it is so very rewarding. Meeting so many wonderful people in our travels is the extra bonus. A young married couple drove 260 miles each way from a small town in Wisconsin to Ottawa, Illinois to be at a presentation. Yes, today’s students and young adults are the very last generation to hear these stories first hand. Time is running out. We, the Survivors, must make the most of every precious minute available to reach as many young adults as possible.

I wish each of you a wonderful Holiday Season with your family and loved ones in good health and with Shalom – Peace.


P.S. I am thrilled that the documentary, Marion`s Triumph, produced by John Chua, and narrated by Debra Messing, will be coming to many PBS stations in April, 2005. If you would like your own personal copy, please call Customflix toll free at 1-888-304-0049.