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A Wonderful Gift At Crystal Bridges

20 Jun

With so much focus on people acting in mean and nasty ways, I think it is important to focus on people who do unexpected nice actions.   My friend and I were the recipients of one such wonderful gift.

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Outside Chihuly Exhibit 

This past weekend I went to Bentonville, Arkansas, to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Crystal Bridges Museum.  I love Chihuly’s art and was looking forward to seeing both the inside and outside installations.   My friend was kind enough to buy our tickets in advance, so that we had no problems getting in and seeing this amazing sampling of his work. (See link below for more on Chihuly.)

While we were walking outside, I saw the Frank Lloyd Wright House that had recently been moved and renovated on the museum’s grounds. The Bachman Wilson House is a wonderful example of his style. We walked up to the house, even though there were no longer tickets available for the day, hoping to at least see the outside.

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Kiosk with info about the house… And the couple who gave us the tickets!!! How lucky that I had unknowingly taken their photo.

On the way to the house is a small kiosk with information about Wright and his more famous structures. We spoke to a couple who were also reading the information. And had a lovely conversation about Wright. Then we all walked up to the house.

When we got there, we asked the attendant if we could at least walk around the house even though we did not have tickets to enter. She said, “Of Course.” So we went on our way.

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Frank Lloyd Wright house.  No photos are allowed inside.

A few minutes later she called us back. The couple we had met, had been to the house when it first opened, and gave us their tickets!!! They wanted us to be able to see the inside as well. My friend started to cry, she was so happy.

At first, we declined, we did not want to disrupt their visit. But they insisted. I turned to the attendant and said, “That is so nice.” She agreed and said to them, “Why don’t you go into the house as well.” So they had the opportunity to see the house as well, but without the headsets to hear the history of the house. Those they insisted that we use.

Visiting Bentonville and the Crystal Bridges Museum is well worth the trip south.   But the added bonus is meeting such lovely people. Seeing this house from both the outside and the inside made such an impression.

We thanked them several times that day….as we crossed their path in the museum. It was such a wonderful gift!

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2016/06/10/chihuly-stunning/

My Time As A Candy Striper

16 Apr

My 45 year old Candy Striper cap.


I still have the red and white searsucker cap that I wore as a Candy Striper at Hudson County Hospital, New Jersey, in the 1970s. I am proud of the time I volunteered to cheer up patients and help the nurses. 

Our job then was pretty easy to do, we did whatever the nurses asked us based on the rules issued by the office of volunteers. For me it was important to help others, and visit the sick. 

Several days a week, after I finished my classes at North Bergen High School, I would go home and change into my white and red pinafore and take the bus along Park Avenue to the hospital.  Once there I would check in to the volunteer office and get my day’s assignment. I usually worked for two hours. That was perfect as my Dad would pick me up on his way home from work. 

My favorite assignment was to go and visit with the children who were in the hospital.  I knew how to create creatures from paper having learned the art of origami when I was 10.  I often brought some square origami paper with me.  When I ran out the nurses would find colored paper for me to use with the children. It was two hours of fun for all of us!

I tried to visit every room with children. In those days visiting hours were restricted. Parents could only be with their children for several hours a day.   I knew from my own stay in the hospital how sad and lonely it can be. 

Making origami figures


 

It made me happy to bring a bit of joy to a younger child and leave behind a little gift of a bird or box or frog. 

But I did not always get assigned to the children’s ward. To be honest I did not like having to help in the adult rooms.  You never knew what you would see, especially on Mondays.  Often on Mondays, the results of a weekend of carousing were evident in hospital beds filled with adults who had been in car accidents.  I really did not like to see people in traction and stitched up.  I would get a little sick to my stomach when ever I entered a room. But since, in those days I wanted to be a nurse, I did whatever I was asked. So into a room I would go carrying the sheets or other items as requested. 

My time as a Candy Striper lasted not quite two years. It was on a Monday…accident day… that it ended.  I remember entering a room,  then waking up in the volunteer office and seeing my Dad talking to the director.  It was my last day. 

I did not do anything wrong. Just walked into a room, as I was told to, and ended up being there just as a man died.  I passed out. I am not proud of that, nor of the fact that I did not go back. But the sight of blood and death did not make a positive impression. I realized then I would never be a nurse. 

It made it difficult, years later, when I married a medical student.  While others would visit their spouses when they were on call, I did my best to avoid the hospital. For me heading over to the hospital for a chat was just not my idea of fun. 

As the years pass, I learned to let go of my discomfort in hospitals.  I no longer get a sick feeling in my stomach when I enter a hospital. I am aware of the good aspects along with with difficult ones. 

Overall I have good memories of my time volunteering as a Candy Striper at Hudson County Hospital. I believe that the time I spent with the children and helping others were the part of my upbringing that enhanced my belief in the importance of volunteering. My time as a Candy Striper made a positive impact on my life. 

Donating My Holocaust Books to the Right Place

12 Jul

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My husband and I are members of the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education (MCHE) in Kansas. There is an important reason for our support. I was named for my great grandmother who was hidden during the Shoah and then murdered by the people who stole her property. In her memory I feel it is important to keep contact with Holocaust organizations.

Since MCHE started, I have attended a few events and made financial donations. This year, we were among those honored for our 20 years of support. But two years ago, I became a bit more involved. I started serving as a preliminary judge for its White Rose Essay Contest. Open to students in eighth through twelfth grade, it is held each year in the Kansas City area. Preliminary judges help to weed the multitude of admissions down to ten in each category 8th and 9th grade/ 10th – 12th grade.

I enjoy reading the essays. It is amazing what some of these students do under the guidance of their teachers. The students have to research a specific topic, which changes each year, using both internet sources and books, many of which are held in the MCHE library.

I look forward to the essay contest each year and being a part of this process. I learn the stories of survivors as I read these essays, which has helped to encourage me on my path to discovering more about my family.

I have a collection of Holocaust books, both non-fiction and fiction. I have way too many books to be honest. Even with a Kindle, I still cannot let go of books very easily. But this weekend I had an urge to purge my bookshelf of books I no longer read.   And a thought occurred.   I had read all these Holocaust books, some several times. Perhaps the MCHE could use them for the White Rose contest, as well as for other researchers.

With that goal in mind, after two days of sorting through my books, I found 17 I was willing to part with and which I thought could be used for research. These 17 non-fiction books pertaining to the Shoah only touch the surface of my collection. But for me it is a positive start.

I contacted MCHE and offered my books.   There were six the historian definitely wanted for the library. The books were already in the car waiting to go. As soon as I got the email, I sorted the books into two groups and took all of the books over.

When I entered the Center, the director said, “Were you waiting in your car for my email?”

I smiled. “The books were in the car,” I admitted.

I did arrive within an hour of getting her email. To be honest, I really wanted a good home for these books where they would be used and appreciated. I think I found that home.

But on the other hand, I was worried that I would go through the books again and change my mind. It is difficult for me to relinquish a book. I even emailed my daughter with a list of the books and asked her opinion.

“I am planning to donate the following. If you have a feeling for any of these books speak now,” I wrote her.

She responded with one word: Donate.

The books they did not want for their library they will offer for sale to their members. That would be fine with me, as the income would still go to MCHE.

However, as I spoke to the Director I suggested they review my books. All were in excellent shape. Perhaps they should replace the books on their shelves with my almost pristine copies? She agreed this was a great idea. It made me feel even better. Perhaps even more of my books would remain on the shelves of the library.

Whatever MCHE and its historian do with my books, I am glad. I am letting go. When I get my letter acknowledging the donation, I will think about those who will continue to read and use my books and know that I donated my books to the right place.

 

 

http://mchekc.org/white-rose-student-essay-contest/

 

Trouble with the Office: An American Bialystoker Story

21 Mar

The following is a report my Great Grandfather, Louis Goldman, made in a 1937 issue of the Bialystoker Stimme. It explains the reason why the Bialystoker Bikur Cholim decided that the organization needed its own offices. It seems asking for help from the community was just not working out. It gives the history of the decision to rent its own office. I think this might have be the precursor of the Bialystoker Home for the Aged, which was built over two years in 1929-1931.

Here is his article, as translated by my friend Blumah and edited a bit by me for clarity.

“The Bialystoker landsman in that time mostly lived in the East side (of New York City). The Bikur Cholim decided to put in that neighborhood a place for the sick people to receive help without difficulty. So they would be close to their neighborhood.

They arranged for a doctor and arranged for a pharmacist to get them medicine.

It was decided to give to the poor sick people a free pass to see the doctor and also pay for the medicine.

A certain landsman, who had a hot dog /salami store on Essex Street, gave his store for the sick people to come to receive these passes and papers. This became the office where they could get the papers. But there was a problem: The store keeper would give out these free passes like a prize to his own customers who would buy meat from him. (This was not what was intended so,) It was decided to rent a place somewhere else.

Next they found a butcher store from one of the landsman, Philip T. However there was not very convenient for several reasons.

They moved the office again to a new place. To “Fisher” who had a printing shop on Clinton Street. But Fisher started asking every month for new ‘additions’. (Not sure if he wanted more money or what he is wanting. Probably more money.)

So the Bikur Cholim decided once and for all to rent a permanent office for themselves. It was decided that this office could also act as a club for the active members. Also there would always be a secretary who would be paid and who would take care all of the cases for the Bikur Cholim.”

As my great grandfather, or the editor of the Bialystoker Stimme, entitled the article, “Trouble with the Office,” I think that was a fine assessment.  Personally I loved how the store owner gave out free medical passes to his customers.  One way to build a clientele, even though it was not ‘kosher.’  I know that they were trying their best to help their landsmen in need, without using the money needlessly.  Building an office might have seemed that way to them.  But eventually, having a paid secretary made more sense.

The history of the Bialystoker Home For the Aged and the Bialysotker landsmanshaft, immigrant organization, can be found in the NY Landmarks Preservation Commission Report of May 21, 2012. See link below:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/2529.pdf

The part of this story that impacts my great grandfather’s article, is this small section from the report:

“In its first year of existence the Bialystoker Center was located in an old building at 228 East Broadway just few houses down from the basement location of the Bikur Cholim. In 1922-23 it replaced the aging structure with a new five-story headquarters, which included office space not just for its own use but also provided meeting rooms for affiliated associations.”

So I assume the offices that my great grandfather is writing about was this office on 228 East Broadway. Eventually, definitely by 1937 when his article was written, the Bikur Cholim offices were included in the beautiful building that was finished in 1931.

As I have said in earlier articles about my great grandfather,  I am so proud to be his descendant.  Each of these articles brings him to life.

 

Louis of the Blessed Heart

8 Mar
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A photo of my great grandfather, Louis Goldman, and the article about him.

 

I knew my great grandfather, Louis Goldman, had a good heart. His Hebrew name, Baruch Lev, ‘blessed heart,’ echoed his kindness. Now thanks to the books I found in the Catskills’ bookcase, I know even more of what a “mensch” and a “guttah neshumah” he was to many people.

I found two larger articles about my great grandfather in the bound Bialystoker Stimme magazines I found last summer. And finally, I was able to meet with my friend, Blumah, who translated these articles for me. What a blessing and what a joy! This blog is about one of the articles.

The article from 1938 honors him on the 50th anniversary of his arrival in America. So I now know that he arrived in 1888, when he was a teen. I already knew he married my great grandmother in January 1894.

The article is in praise of Louis Goldman, born Baruch Lev Litvak.  This is paraphrased, but close to the translation:

“It is already 50 years that Goldman is an American, and he still looks like a young man. He remembers things as if he had just yesterday came off the ship. He is like a walking encyclopedia,   He knows things as if they are ‘in his vest pocket.’ In general he knows many people.

He has the honor of being president of the oldest Bialystoker organization the ‘Somach Naflim,’ helping the fallen (Free Loan Society). And he is the vice president of the Center. (Bialystoker Home for the Aged.)

He acts with great warm love with the Home for the Aged. ‘He is the one and only one in the way he gives love and warmth, there is nobody that can be compared to him.’

In addition to bringing in friends whom he strongly interested in this project (Home for the Aged), his beloved institution, he also brought in his wife, children and grandchildren to be involved.

The grandchildren Goldman are already involved.   (This included my Dad and his siblings.)

With out a doubt, the children and grandchildren honor their father/ grandfather. If these children do not outshine him, they will put out less effort.   They will not do less than what you expect a human being to achieve.

Such an exceptional feeling!

From good dough, the saying goes, good baked goods will come out. (Such a wonderful analogy as his parents were bakers.)

Few fathers and grandfathers have the merit to have such an influence on their families. Especially in our world .

We are proud of the true, great honor of Louis Goldman!

A little bit of jealousy we could feel about him. But we still hope that he will bring his great grandchildren to the same level.”

WOW! My heart was so filled with love  and joy as Blumah read and translated for me.  Some of the words I could understand with my limited Yiddish.  But the overall sentiment was so loving. It made me proud to be his great granddaughter.

My Great Grandfather’s legacy continues into the next generations.   My Dad was president of his synagogue for 11 years and remained on the board until his death. My parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles would go to the Bialystoker Home for the Aged benefit dinners each year.

I continue work for the Jewish community as a board member of our synagogue, and many other Jewish and secular organizations.

My daughter works for the Peres Center for Peace in Yaffo, Israel. I think my great grandfather, her great, great grandfather would kvell with naches.

But it is not just my immediate family that continues in this tradition. My siblings, my cousins and their children also live a life of gemalut chasidim, doing good works.

I believe that our ancestor, Louis Goldman would be proud of us as we are of his good works.

The gene to do good, to be agents of tzedakah, is strong in our family. It is our Force. And I am so proud to be descendant from this man, Baruch Lev. Louis of the blessed heart.

 

(See links below to other blogs about Louis and the books I found.)

Mensch, good person; Guttah Neshuman, A good soul; Kvell, bursting with pride; Naches, proud enjoyment; Gemalut chasidm, doing good works.

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2015/08/16/treasures-in-the-bookcase/

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/12-delancey-street-and-my-family/

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/another-bialystok-treasure-investigated/

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/take-mom-to-work-day-at-the-peres-center-for-peace-in-jaffa-israel/

 

Another Bialystok Treasure Investigated

21 Oct

The book's cover is not in great shape, but the book itself is wonderful.

The book’s cover is not in great shape, but the book itself is wonderful.

Among the items that became part of my custodial responsibility was the book: Bialystok Photo Album of a Renowned City and Its Jews The World Over. Compiled and Edited by David Sohn, in 1951. The book attempts to show life in Bialystok before World War II; information about the Holocaust and the 60,000 Jews from Bialystok who were murdered; and show that life continued for those who survived and who lived throughout the Disapora. One two-page spread is so emotional as it lists the horrible events that happened to the Jews of Bialystok during the Shoah.

Two important pages.

Two important pages.

My great grandparents, Louis Goldman (Baruck Lev Litwack) and his wife, Ray Goldman (nee Rachel Wolff) were extremely active in the Bialystok society in New York City and were part of the large number of landsmen from Bialystok who helped to create the Bialystok Home for the Aged in NYC.

Although my Great Grandfather died in 1941, my family was still active in the Bialystok organizations in NYC. And my Great Grandmother Ray continued in a leadership role after her husband’s death.

I had placed this book in a pile of other books about Europe, but had not really searched through it for a while. I know I looked at it when we cleaned out our parent’s apartment and kept it as something worth investigating. But it went to the side as I dealt with other issues.

This week I decided to really look at it and see what I could fine. Thanks to my Aunt Leona, who passed away just four years ago, I did not have to look far. There was a handwritten note from my Aunt, with page numbers and identifications. I loved my Aunt Leona.

My Great Great Grandfather, a leading baker.

My Great Great Grandfather, a leading baker.


My Great Great Grandmother.

My Great Great Grandmother.

Photos of one set of my paternal great great grandparents are in this book.   Jacob Zev Litwack and Rashe Goldman were the parents of my great grandfather Louis Goldman.   I was a little confused at first because I knew that in Europe my great great grandparents went by the names Yaacov and Rashe Litwack. But I realized that Rashe Goldman could be changed for two reasons. First her maiden name was Goldberg, so this could be a mistake. Also, since her son took the name Goldman when he came to the USA, the name on the photo could just reflect his new name.

Whatever, the case, my Aunt definitely identifies them as her grandfather’s parents.   It is also exciting to see that their occupation is also mentioned: leading bakers.   When my great grandfather came to the USA, he became a tailor.

There are many photos of my Great Grandma Ray. One by herself and several in group shots.   And then there are pages of the “Deceased Leaders of Our Landmanshaft.” On one of those pages is my Great Grandfather Louis. Right there it says, Chairman of Bikur Cholim and a co-founder of the Bialystoker Center and Home for the Aged.

It makes me so proud that my great grandparents were so active in tzedakah and good deeds.   It is a tradition that continues in our family. So many members of my family have been active in volunteer work for the Jewish community. My Dad was the president of his synagogue for 11 years, and served in many volunteer roles throughout his life. My parents were always supporters of the Bialystoker Home, as were my grandparents.

And I like to say that the tradition continues on in my daughter. I think her great great great grandparents would be proud to know that she lives in Israel and works for a non-profit that promotes peace, The Peres Center for Peace.

But there was a surprise. There is another Ray circled in the book. Ray Nosoff. I had not heard that name before. But my aunt’s notes came in handy. Ray Nosoff is the niece of Louis Goldman. Her maiden last name was Kramer and her mother was Louis’ sister. She lived in Brooklyn.   After googling her name on line, I found out that she was born in 1887 and died in 1966 and was buried in Washington Cemetary in New York. Which makes total sense as my great grandparents are also buried there!   I also found the names of her two of her children.

This was exciting, as Louis Goldman was the next great grandparent that I wanted to investigate.   I had already found out much about his wife, Ray Wolff Goldman. But had not much to go on for Louis.

I now know his parents were bakers. His sister also immigrated to the United States and their family was also active in the Bialystok organizations.

I have more investigating to do, but I have started on another genealogy journey thanks to another Bialystok treasure.

 

 

To view Ray Wolff Goldman’s family: https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/serendipity-wins-in-finding-a-family-connection/

Major Recycling Provides a Wonderful Feeling

18 Oct

Yesterday my husband and I were on a mission. I had read that the community was holding a major recycling event , the Recycling Extravaganza,” close to our home. This was not for the regular items that we recycle each week. Or for the glass that I take monthly to the recycling center near our home. No this was for electronics, paper that needed to be shredded, household items, fabric and home building items.

Phones recycled at a cousins's company in Israel.

Phones recycled at a cousins’s company in Israel.

I am a major recycler.  I hate when people throw things away needlessly.  In my world of doing good, recycling is one of the most important to keep the world clean and preserve resources. We even have cousins who own a recycling company in Israel!  It is one of the small things we all can do to practice Tikun Olam, repairing the world.  For me recycling is a form of ‘tzedakah,’ rightousness.

I was ready. I have been saving electronics for months. I had two old televisions, VHS players, old recorders and other sundry electronics ready to go. I also had the pedestal sink that was removed from a half bath during a remodeling.

I figured I had close to 90 pounds of items to go! And that was important because whenever they talk about recycling, the newspaper always says how many pounds was collected. We were doing our little part to help.

So first we loaded my little C-Max Hybrid with all the electronics and drove the three miles to the parking lot of a local business.   We just had to follow the signs and the cars. Soon we were directed by a volunteer to the right to join in a long line that led to the electronics recycling.ALl of these items will be recycled by Surplus Exchange. Every few minutes the line moved forward as four cars at a time were emptied by volunteers.

It made me so happy to see so many teens participating and helping to empty the cars. What a great service project to do on a weekend! You might hear about teens getting in trouble, but how often do you hear about teens doing community service! This added to my feeling of wellness.  Teens doing good deeds,  gemulat chasidim.

Within minutes our car was emptied. My husband just stood on the side and watched. He did not have to do anything. The teens were like busy carpenter ants just scurrying around and taking out the items from our car and the other cars lined up near us.

We then joined the line of cars leaving the parking lot.

Our drive home was fun. I said, “I feel as if the house is lighter with all that gone!” My husband was more excited about emptying out the garage.

“We need to go back with the sink. It just takes up too much room in the garage,” he said.

Of course we were going back! Recycling was my mission for the day.

He loaded the two heavy sink pieces into the trunk of my car. We drove back to the parking lot. This time we were directed to go left.

“They will be so happy to see you,” the woman directing traffic told us!

There was not a long line leading to the recycling trucks that took the fabric, household goods and other items. But we were soon stopped. A car in front of us was filled with 2 by 4s that needed to be emptied. We were two trucks away from the truck that was used for collecting our item.

Two young men who were working another truck came to help my husband. (I think the grey hair helped.) They removed the two heavy parts of the sink and carried them over to the ReStore truck. We were done! Recycling completed!

Mission accomplished. Our house was lighter. Our items were not in a land- fill but rather would be used by others or taken apart and recycled.

Tikun Olam, repair the world. I might not be able to control all the world’s crisis, but I can no my little part to keep the world a cleaner place. Recycling really does give me a wonderful feeling.