Sunday, January 31, 2016

International Holocaust Memorial Day

In honor of Holocaust Memorial Day, January 27th, the day Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp was liberated, I lifted this picture and caption from Facebook.

In the Kutno ghetto, this lovely Jewish woman manages to smile for Hitler's personal photographer. She was almost certainly murdered by the Nazis in the years to come. 

The Germans first murdered all the elderly residents. 6,000 Jewish men, women, and children were then deported by truck or by freight train from Kutno to the train station at Kolo.

From Kolo they were sent by railway to Chelmno death camp where they were murdered in gas vans. 

For that final journey, they were stripped of their luggage. Each soul had to pay between 12 and 20 marks for their ticket to death. 

This week of International Holocaust Remembrance, we mourn for her and so many, many more. 

This woman has never been identified. Her inner beauty shines through in this photo, the only one known of her. Never forget her.

Interesting article

Fascinating article about the exodus of Jews from France to Israel. Worth a read.

The ongoing Jewish exodus from France, in 2 charts

Friday, January 29, 2016

Did you smile at your kid today?

It's so easy to get caught up in the day to day, moment to moment, errand to errand, laundry load to laundry load, dishes to dishes to more dishes... that it's easy to have the day fly by without smiling at your child. Really. I'm talking to myself here. I love my children. I love being at home with them. It's also really hard at the same time. You find yourself saying the strangest things like they are normal... get off the piano... get out of the fridge. Stop drawing on the television. Please don't disassemble the couch... get out of the toilet... stop, don't clean the bathroom mirror with the toilet brush!

It's easy to get hung up on the small things.

I try and remember something I heard from Rebbitzen Tziporah Heller many years ago. Rebbitzen Heller and her husband a"h, successfully raised 14 children. Yes, fourteen. To paraphrase what she said about raising children, what is really important is to focus on what is consequential. What is important, she said, was the children's character traits. It's easy to get upset about everything going on, but that isn't the correct way to do things. If a child is lying or hurting someone - *that* is when you get upset, to deal with something that isn't going to correct itself by the time the child is 20 years old.

Another example she used was about a child who jumped on the dude shemesh, the hot water heater, on the top of the building (because it was fun, obviously) and broke it. The mother didn't get upset - rather, she took the child to every neighbor living in that building to apologize for breaking the heater. Then, if I remember correctly, she made the child help pay to replace the heater. There was no reason to get upset. The child learned the lesson - don't jump on hot water heaters, and certainly don't break them. This is not behavior you'll see repeated again at the age of 20.

Character traits don't fix themselves. Problems must be identified and worked on. It's the parent's job to work with the child to become a better person. A child sees very quickly what their mother or father get worked up about and internalizes that. When they see us adults get upset about petty and silly things, they cannot prioritize and learn about what is most important.

It's important to not only focus on our children's character traits but on our own. The same way children notice when we get upset, they also notice when we are happy... when we smile and when we laugh. So take a moment from the mundane, a deep breath and be grateful to have the blessings that we have. Smile (and make sure they notice) at your children. It's important.