Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Gloria Yousha
Scene Around 

Scene Around


Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder

Papal wishes...

This is directly from The World Jewish Congress Digest:

"On September 2, World Jewish Congress president, Ambassador RONALD S. LAUDER, led a small delegation of WJC leaders to represent the global Jewish community before Pope FRANCIS at the Vatican.

The pope asked Ambassador Lauder to convey his personal wishes for a sweet and peaceful new year 5774 to all Jews.

On behalf of global Jewry, Ambassador Lauder presented the pontiff with a gift of a Kiddish cup and a honey cake.

At this milestone meeting, Pope Francis listened attentively to the concerns of utmost importance to the World Jewish Congress. The pontiff remarked that 'a Christian cannot be an anti-Semite,' and 'to be a good Christian it is necessary to understand Jewish history and traditions.'"

(Just an aside... Ambassador Lauder is the son of Estee Lauder. Also, my spouse and I visited the Vatican in Rome a few years ago.)

And on the subject of Israel...

Actually, we weren't on the subject of "Israel"... but in a sense, we always are!

Israel may be smaller than New Jersey, which is 8,729 square miles, and it can fit into the state of California 19 times... but the brilliance of its people, (in my opinion), and their breakthroughs in medicine and science are breathtaking.

Our people have maintained a continuous presence for more than 3,000 years, according to archeological and historical evidence and biblical text.

(And may they for the next 3,000 years and beyond.)

This was said decades ago: In the words of the late (and great) Winston Churchill, "It is manifestly right that the scattered Jews should have a national center and a national home and be reunited, and where else but in (then known as) Palestine, with which for 3,000 years they have been intimately and profoundly associated?"

("Palestine" was the name given to the region when the Romans conquered the more than 1,000-year-old Jewish nation of Judea in the first century.)

Kristallnacht remembered 75 years later...

While thumbing through a publication titled Rollins 360, I came upon a familiar name... SONJA MARCHESANO.

I've known Sonja for many years... many, many years (but we are NOT THAT OLD!). I have always felt like she was my sister, although we haven't spent significant time together. She is just that kind of loving, warm human being... easy to feel close to.

Getting back to the Rollins 360 publication, it contained a huge article on Kristallnacht and highlighted Sonja's memories of experiencing some of the horror when she was just a little child. Quoting some sections from Rollins 360:

"Sonja Marchesano remembers most vividly the boots... brown boots below brown pants and brown shirts... kicking in the door of her cousin's apartment, roughing them up, demanding to know where her uncle was, throwing furniture out the window, and trashing the place. She remembers fear, uncertainty, and anxiety; a small child, she didn't understand why these men were terrorizing them.

This was Kristallnacht, the beginning of the Holocaust, a violent pogrom the Nazi government unleashed on the Jews of Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland on Nov. 9 and 10, 1938. Sonja was in kindergarten. Her uncle had taken her to school that morning because her mother was in the hospital giving birth. When he picked up young Sonja that afternoon, the world as she'd known it had ended. He rushed her back to her cousin's apartment and disappeared; the Nazis were looking for him. Sonja's father was captured and taken to a concentration camp, where he was held for 10 weeks. Her mother escaped the Nazis by jumping out of a hospital window, leaving her newborn behind.

Kristallnacht, or The Night of Broken Glass, was so named because of the shards of broken glass littering the streets from the shattered windows of synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses and homes... at least 267 synagogues in Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland were destroyed, and some 7,500 businesses were vandalized. In all, at least 91 Jews throughout the Reich died during the pogroms, 30,000 Jewish males were, like Sonja's father, arrested and shipped off to prisons and concentration camps, where over the ensuing months, hundreds more would perish. There were untold numbers of rapes and assaults, and many suicides in the pogrom's aftermath."

(This is only a section of the article that covered two giant pages. And, of course, you... and hopefully the world... knows of the Holocaust that followed, the murdering of 6 million.)

Back to Rollins 360:

"After his imprisonment, Sonja's father, like many of the surviving Jews, was released on the condition that he leave Germany immediately. And so less than 24 hours later, the family-including a baby tucked away in a wicker basket-was on a train bound for England, where they lived for the remainder of WWII. Later, Sonja immigrated to Central Florida.

Looking back on those events from such a great distance, the lessons of Kristallnacht, she says, 'are that we have to be aware of what's going on and not have our heads in the sand, not to let it happen again.' And then her voice softens, becoming almost dispirited. 'It's happening all around us. I don't think we've learned a lesson, have we?'"

(I think Sonja may be right. The world is still filled with haters.)

I'm a pessimist...

Maybe it's because I'm getting old... (I didn't say "older." I said "old.") I just feel insecure. In fact, with each pregnancy, I felt so insecure that I kept asking my husband, "Are you sure it's mine?" A few times I almost ordered myself a DNA test. Actually, food is the only thing that keeps my mind off insecurity. Ask me what my favorite food is. Go ahead... ask me! The answer is SECONDS!  (Enough about me.)

A reminder... I promised to repeat this in my last column:

On Monday, Nov. 4, at the University Club of Winter Park, Dr. PAUL VILMOS will speak of his experiences as a young man during the Hungarian Revolution. He is a survivor of the Nazis as well, escaping the death camps.

The event is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at The University Club of Winter Park, 841 N. Park Avenue. Everyone is invited free of charge.

For information or directions, phone 407-644-6149.

Finally... I'm convinced!...

I always refuse to admit I'm getting old... but it's getting harder to deny when you're out with family at The Olive Garden restaurant in Winter Park, and your server is a handsome young man named NIVALDO.

He was wonderfully attentive... delivered on my every request and catered to my every whim (hmm order), smiled at me frequently and made me feel like I was "eye candy."

(Okay... Okay! He was just doing his job, but he did it so very well and he is truly a good looking young man and I'm NOT a cougar!)

One for the road...

On the subject of aging:

Hyman recently had a full medical check up.

When he returned three weeks later after the exhaustive lab tests were complete, his doctor said he was doing "fairly well" for his age.

Sonja Marchesano

Hyman was obviously a little concerned about that comment and so asked his doctor "Do you think I'll live to be 90, doctor?"

The doctor replied, "Well, do you smoke or drink beer?"

"Oh no", Hyman replied, "I've never done either."

Then the doctor asked, "Do you eat grilled steaks or barbequed ribs?

Hyman replied, "No, I've heard that red meat is very unhealthy."

"Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf?" asked the doctor.

"No I don't," Hyman replied.

Then the doctor asked, "Do you gamble, drive fast cars, or mess with women?"

"No," said Hyman, "I've done none of those things."

The doctor looked at Hyman and said, "Then why do you want to live to be 90?"


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