A Holocaust Survivor’s Story


My best friend growing up, Ellen Jacob, had parents who had both been in the Holocaust. I knew Ellen was very close to her father. Every time I would see Mr. Nebel, he seemed kind, and I liked him.

I was really impressed with some of the things Ellen had at her house. When I would ask her about something, she would say, “Oh my Dad made that.” Even as a silly teenager who wasn’t very materialistic,  the furniture made an impression on me. After watching this video, I realize where he first learned his craft.

Yom Kipper, an important holiday on the Jewish calendar, is coming this week. It’s about forgiveness. It’s a time to forgive others and yourself.

Mr. Nebel passed long ago, and this interview, edited by Ellen, is quite emotional.

You will have to click on the link to get to it. It is worth your time, especially if you don’t know much about the Holocaust. As the years pass, the Holocaust gets

A picture of Holocaust victims from Poland.

A picture of Holocaust victims from Poland.

further and further away from us. It is a cautionary tale everyone should know about.

https://www.facebook.com/ellen.b.jacob/videos/10205049160737263/

 

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Do you practice age discrimination against your peers and yourself?


A beautiful, positive woman. my 93-year old Aunt Ruth

In this youth oriented society, it is not cool to be old. As someone I know said, It’s knowing what comes next.”

After turning 64 last year, I got the nerve to go into a Senior Center in my suburb which is mainly conservative. Not exactly my cup of tea, but why not?

I asked the director, “Am I too young to join this place.” She looked at me with a funny look; probably because I am way over 55 and don’t look as young as I think I do. So, I joined.

I joined the Senior Chorus, and its been a fairly good experience. They go sing at nursing homes

and rehab centers twice a month. I get to go out in the audience and talk to the people. It is community service. The people in the chorus are pretty nice, and it is fun. The music is just as old as the chorus, but there has only been one song in a year I never heard before. Most of the other songs I already know by heart. I know anyone under 50 would probably not know all the words like I do.

I am still not accepting my age.

Today, I went to a style show at the Center and positivity shone through 

Some members were  modeling clothes from a thrift store that gives their proceeds to cancer.

First, we said the “Pledge of Allegiance” which I haven’t said in a long time. (I wonder if my kids learned the words in school because they don’t say it anymore at schools.)

We ate this great meal because they all brought homemade stuff. Who can argue with that? I, not being exactly a cooking person, bought store-bought sugar-laden cookies.

A group from the chorus came out and sang an old song. They also did a little dance. One of the audience members was quietly laughing at them which I resented. It might not have been Broadway worthy, but at least they were trying!

The ladies came out and modeled the clothes, and they looked like a million bucks. They stood up straight acted proud, and smiled. Some of them wore those clothes beautifully. You still can look good after the age of 65. I guess it all has to do with a positive attitude.

The last model came out in a walker, and lip synced to the song, “Second Hand Rose.” That was a lady with a positive attitude and spirit. She was really giving it all she had.

Suddenly, I looked around and realized, like it or not, I fit in with this group. I am no spring chicken, but that doesn’t mean I’m less valuable than people younger than me. I think it’s too bad that this society devalues age so much, and I have to feel this way.

Inside I don’t feel old because I am physically active, and don’t take tons of medicine. I use exercise and singing as my defense against physically falling apart, and so far it’s working!

What do you think? How do you think people should accept their age. Should they join places like Senior Centers, or is that admitting you’re over the hill?

The enclosed picture is of a close relative of mine who is 93 years old. She has always looked at the bright side of life, and it shows.

10 things I learned after joining a Senior Citizens Choir


You're never too old to sing.

You’re never too old to sing.

1. Just because you’re older, you can still have fun. This choir puts on hats, cowboy scarves, Berets, necklaces, and whatever costume fits the songs. The choir director is a bubbling, optimistic person. The piano player finds joy in the music, and rarely makes a mistake.

2. Age is just a number. You can learn a new musical interest when you’re quite old. Look at Mick Jagger: he fills stadiums!

3. You will meet people with all kinds of life stories: retired army heroes, teachers, nurses, musicians, rich and poor people. Some really enjoy retirement, and other’s have a harder time living on a pension.

5. There are all kinds of old age diseases, but the secret is to just ignore them and keep going. It’s all in the attitude. Find joy in something, like singing and it won’t bother you as much.

6. Even if you’re old, you can sing for others and they will appreciate it. Giving to others never goes out of style.

7. Even if people are older, they are still concerned about the performance. How they sound, look, and stand. One choir woman in particular, always dresses beautifully, wears makeup, and cares about her appearance. If you’ve lived a good life, it shows on your face. This lady is 87!

8. You’re never too old to want a solo, duet, or quartet. There are no shortage of volunteers for this.

9. The repertoire is older songs, but I recognized every one of them. Enough said!

10. There is a chance I may someday sing at a current member’s memorial service. Just keep going!

A lovely California wedding


 May 7 didn’t start out as a usual day. What was different? My husband and I were  going to spend the next few days celebrating our  son’s impending marriage.

When I got off the plane at The Bob Hope Airport in  Burbank, California, the weather wasn’t wedding friendly. It was a drab, cold day. Was this a joke? Isn’t it a rule that the sun is always supposed to shine in California?

So, after rolling our suitcases for at least a mile, (Okay a 1/8 of a mile that seemed like 5 miles), we  rented a car at the airport and headed to Hollywood. My son lives there, and booked us a room at a Best Western “Hollywood Hotel.”

Hundreds of movie stars were permanently residing at this hotel. Unfortunately, most  of them are no longer with us, but their likenesses and autographs were everywhere: the elevator, the bedroom, the hotel walls, and even the bathroom.  Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, John Wayne are only a few of the featured principals. Millenials wouldn’t have a clue to some of their names. “Fame is fleeting.”

I encountered the other two wedding guests in the hotel lobby, my lovely daughters. ( My son-in-law and grandson could not attend). My mind’s eye flashed back to 1982. I saw myself and three little children going around the neighborhood block; my eldest daughter leading the way,  pedaling her shiny, blue, two-wheeler with training wheels, and her brother and sister in the double stroller. After a few seconds I catapulted back into the 21st century. In front of me I saw three responsible likeable adults.

The next day the family headed toward Santa Barbara, the wedding destination. I thought, how can this be bad when the place and I share the name, Barbara? The place is breathtaking. How can you go wrong with the Pacific Ocean, and mountains, and no honky-tonk; The shopping area is away from the beach and is very quaint.

My son’s  future wife is English and is a woman with good looks and spirit.  With her English accent, she sounds so “proper.”  Many things are “lovely.” During one of our conversations, we learned that people often wear hats to weddings in the UK.

The next day we got up, and went to the shopping district sans the bride and groom. One of my daughters saw a hat shop, and suggested we make it a “proper” English wedding. We happily tried on hats for an hour. I almost bought one of those english hats that they wore to Kate and Will’s wedding, but I figured the royals aren’t going to invite me, so  I settled on an American style  floppy white one.

Finally, the day of the wedding arrived. We arrived at the beach where the wedding was going to take place. It was an idyllic setting.The officiate, wearing an appropriate white blouse and black slacks arrived and told us where to stand.( Nobody minded the cute little dogs walking the beach with their owners.)

As if on cue, the sun decided to shine. It was like an old-fashioned film. (The era before they blew up buildings, people and chased each other in moving cars.)

The officiate earnestly performed the ceremony she’d written, based on the information the bride and groom gave her. She brought up William Shakespeare and his views on marriage. She also acknowledged our long 42-year old marriage. My daughter-in-law picked her parent’s wedding anniversary to marry. What a tribute!

Finally, they exchanged unique rings flown in from Hawaii. They were finally man and wife. The passionate kiss after the pronouncement made it official.

The small intimate wedding they planned together was lovely.

A delicatessen documentary makes me cry : “The Sturgeon Queens”


A documentary about a delicatessen in the lower east side that survived for more than 100 years provoked tears from me today.

It was about the family that still runs a deli on the lower east side of New York called “Russ and Daughters.” Documentarian, Julie Cohen interviewed Hattie Russ Gold, 100, and Anne Russ Feldman 92 , the daughters of the original owners, who took an active part in the business. The current owners, Joshua Russ Tuper and Nikki Russ Federman were also interviewed.

Cohen  also interviewed some loyal customers including Maggie Gyllenhall, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Food is a powerful drug: it fills us up, and works on our emotions too. Sometimes, it can remind us of a happy childhood.

The Deli was celebrating 100 years! It is a true testament to that family to have kept it going so long.

If you have this in your background, I’d suggest seeing this documentary. Warning: it may make you cry.

Traveling in a time machine

Me grandpa, Harry Zelivyansky

My Grandmother, Miriam Zelivyansky when she was young.

It brought back memories of my grandparents, and the extended family I came from. Although she was born in the United States, my mother’s first language was Yiddish. She didn’t speak much English until she entered kindergarten. My mother had 3 brothers and 1 sister. When I was a little child we often got together.

My grandfather was a small, handsome, man who learned the craft of tole painting in the old country, and liked to sing. Grandpa had a headful of white hair, and stood up very straight. I knew all the members of the family respected him. Their children called them “ma and pa.”

My grandmother was a stout lady who I do remember hugging every Sunday when we came to visit. My mother and I would also take Grandma shopping at the local grocery store every Thursday. When I was being good, she would hand me a square of Dentyne gum. I’d carefully unwrap it, anticipating that burst of flavor.

I remember going to their house every Sunday and visiting them. Sometimes I didn’t want to, but I knew they were an essential part of our lives. My grandpa would watch me sing and twirl my skirt. They had a stained glass window in their house, and I liked to look at it, and imagine another family living on the other side of it.

Although  both my grandparents spoke English to me, their main language was Yiddish. Sometimes, when my mother didn’t want me to know what she was saying, she’d speak Yiddish to both of them.  She also would also loudly argue with my grandmother in her native tongue, but never my grandpa.

They came to our house for every holiday.  We’d have to pick them up at their house, and my grandma would say, “is the machine (car) ready for us?”

My grandma never made us any meals. The closest thing she would come to was offering fruit. My mother always said, “She’s tired from feeding 5 kids for years, and is now retired.”

I know my mother really liked food Jewish style.  She made a few Jewish things: real matzoh ball soup, and chopped liver. Other than that, she got it from Cleveland, Ohio, Jewish eateries like: Davis Bakery, Corky & Lenny’s and Solomon’s.

Why did a movie about a delicatessen provoke tears?

One way my mother shared the Jewish culture with me was through the food.

Every weekend, my mother bought the traditional Jewish food : tongue, pastrami, and corned beef. She also bought some bakery items like: chocolate cupcakes and coconut bars. She also got a dozen bagels, and a loaf of rye bread. For herself, she’d buy some creamed herring which I found revolting. She must have bought the same thing every weekend because I distinctly remember the white paper, boxes, and the smell of the whole stash of food. Later in my life I developed a taste for the herring and the salty lox.

When she was at the end of her life, I would try to return the favor by taking her out to a deli and helping her order a tongue sandwich on rye bread. By then, she was blind, and not the same woman I’d grown up admiring. But, she still enjoyed a good tongue sandwich, and was still attempting to be fiercely independent.

And so that’s why a movie about a delicatessen on the lower east side of New York provoked tears from me. A deli where people still come to feel that sense of family. A place where the help spoke Yiddish to the customers.

That side of life is nothing I will ever see again. It’s gone. Just like my parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles.

Me and my cousin Sheridan with mom's sister, Lil and her husband Al

Me and my cousin Sheridan with mom’s sister, Lil and her husband Al

L to r: L to R : Aunt Lillian, Uncle Sam, mom, Uncle Phil (blonde) & Uncle Phil

L to r:
L to R : Aunt Lillian, Uncle Sam, mom, Uncle Phil (blonde) & Uncle Phil

My sister Marilyn and me with my Dad outside of Grandma and Grandpa's house,

My sister Marilyn and me with my Dad outside of Grandma and Grandpa’s house,

L to R: Eileen, Dad holding me, and Marilyn.

L to R: Eileen, Dad holding me, and Marilyn.

Mom's brothers and sisters getting older

Mom’s brothers and sisters getting older

 

Should the Pitbull be put to death? Should the babysitter go to jail or pay money?


I can’t believe how people think dogs are equal to humans. They are animals. Dogs and cats give us something that feels like unconditional love and that is very comforting.

A little boy, who was staying with a babysitter, walked over to a dog and took the bone out of his mouth. The dog mauled the little boy, and he is now permanently disfigured. One of his eyes got pulled out of the socket, and one side of his face is scarred. He was adorable before this incident. Now, what is his life going to be like?  How are people going to look at him now?

The dog is an animal, and reacted like one. Maybe they should put the babysitter in jail while they’re putting the dog to sleep, permanently.

I can understand people’s love of their pets. I did have birds once, and was even attributing human characteristics to them and they didn’t even like us. Every time we tried to hold them, they bit us and furiously flapped their wings.  (They did like music, and I felt they kept me some type of company).

I’ve seen people who prefer their animals over people. I can understand that too. But, most dogs, if given the chance will happily run away from their owners.  So what does that tell you?

Should the dog be put to death?

Should the dog be put to death?chance, will run away. What does that tell you?

In my opinion, they should kill the dog and make the babysitter pay the family restitution,  or send her to jail for a few months. It was irresponsible behavior on her part. She is about as guilty as the dog, but we don’t put humans to death unless they kill another human.

When I found out there was a website pleading for this dog’s life, I couldn’t believe it. Have people lost their minds?

I see no reason to keep a dog like this alive. Doing something like this once, he’s bound to do it again.

What do you think? I’m open to your opinion.

Why I Like the TV Show, “The Little Couple.”


imageThere aren’t many reality TV shows that hook me in, but I do like “The Little Couple.”

These are people who suffer from a genetic disorder that makes them shorter than the rest of us. When watching the show, it’s quite easy to forget about their disabilities in the first few minutes. I guess you could argue that it’s like a freak show, but I don’t agree. I think it is allowing people to see that little people are just like the rest of us. They have personality flaws, and good points too. This particular couple are very appealing because of their positive attitudes and love for each other.

I went to graduate school with a little person, and I did forget about her disability in no time at all. I must admit that I wasn’t sure how I should interact with her at first. I quickly figured out the only real difference between us was height.

Naturally, being that small presents enormous problems with every day getting around. Reaching things like car doors, cooking in the kitchen, etc. The show, “The Little Couple” addresses these problems. It shows ways to cope with them.

This little couple is very accomplished , judging from the house they live in and the jobs they hold. Bill is a business owner, and Jen is a doctor. They both have engaging personalities and are truly in love. The show is all about their marriage. Recently it’s been about them adopting two children ( also little people) from different countries.

Three year old Will seems to be a very insightful, compassionate and a smart child. He comes from China and calls Bill Baba (Chinese word for dad). When the couple adopted Zooey (from India) she was quite upset, but in recent episodes she appears happy and well-adjusted. The little couple are good parents and seem thrilled about parenthood.

You can’t help but like Bill because he is so easygoing and interacts with the children in such a sweet, caring manner.

Jen is little, but she has a big presence. Watching her go through chemotherapy for a rare cancer, and putting her newly adopted children above herself is truly inspiring.

I’m not alone in liking this show. It has a huge following on Facebook and on TV. Everyone needs inspiration, and they get it from this show.

Are you a fan of this show? Why?