good people

Someone had reminded me about a presentation i gave at CSD re: Deaf Holocaust survivors where when someone asked me how i got interested in the topic, I remarked about how as a young teenager i was manually turning the knobs to three channels on our captionless old TV searching for something that might be more visually easy to follow and hit some back and white footage of the liberation of one death camp at the end of WW 2. I sat down and was stunned. Tears streamed down my face and my dad came in – looked at the tube sat down next to me and held my hand. I asked “Why did G-d let this happen?” to which dad replied “G-d didn’t do this, man did.”

so i thank this person (named C) for reminding me of this story big time because:
1. when i study the Shoah (the Holocaust) it always teaches me that in the face of great inhumanity there was great humanity

2. that when folks turn and look the other way during genocide- bad stuff happens

3. how much i love Simchat Torah – this is one of my favorite Jewish holidays because it is so centered around recognizing the gift of the torah – folks dance with it – tonight at shul, one torah was unrolled from beginning to end with all of us holding it up – Jewish folks and Gentiles a like – while little ones – the next generation, danced and waved flags and then the Rabbi read the last words of the end of the torah and the first words in the beginning of the torah to show how it is never ending etc. They also consecrated all the newest children entering religious school. They said when a Jewish community is formed – they set up a school before they set up a synagogue – next after the parents, schools are our biggest agent of socialization

4. C’s reminding me of this story with my dad is really really important because i just learned of the passing of a beautiful soul – Sonia. Sonia was a hearing survivor of the camps who lived in Rochester and when I sought out a woman with a Polish accent to do the voice over for a Deaf-Blind survivor we videotaped – Sonia agreed to do the job for nothing.

Imagine! Imagine being willing to re-tell someone else’s Holocaust experience. She told me she had already been interviewed by the Shoah Foundation herself before so her story is documented. On the day we did the recording – she had some trouble reading the captions – she doesnt know ASL and with age she had alot of vision problems herself. We had to pause alot. She was so kind and serious about this work. when we were all done she looked at me and said “I admire this woman. I am glad I have gotten to know her and her story.” I almost burst out crying. When I tried to give her some money in addition to a star of David stainglass present I had brought her, she said “no, nothing. I need nothing.” When i got a little more insistent (you can imagine i am no fun to argue with) “She said well maybe you send something to the Jewish Federation, yes.”

Yes, indeed, yes. When i asked, how many prints of the DVD would you like for yourself or family – she said well one will do. “I can share with my daughter and when my son comes to visit he can watch it.” I said “I will send you three.” OKay she shrugged as if to say – if you insist.

Whatsmore, Sonia was good friends with , another local hearing survivor who had spoken to many of my classes in the past and who had died the year before. Angie’s proverb always rings true in my mind “hatred is simply a waste of time.”

Thank u C for reminding me

Much peace

There are more good folks than there are bad. They need to stand up and be counted.

NOTE: the short documentary of Doris Fedrid (Worry: A Deaf-Blind Survivor Shares Her Story) that Sonia did the voice over for is at


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Don G.
    Oct 10, 2009 @ 08:18:45

    Thanks for sharing this, Patti. How is the whole congregation able to hold up the whole torah unrolled when you’re not supposed to touch the parchment with your hands?

  2. pdurr
    Oct 10, 2009 @ 08:52:11

    hi don

    seems in reformed u r allowed to touch the top and bottom edges of the scroll

    no one touched the text

    the rule of no touching the text still applied last night – that whole oil from ur fingers and smearing the ink and the words r sacred so use the silver pointer (often shaped with a small index finger at the end – really beautiful but the name of it escapes me right now)

    another thing with the torah – at this synagogue when they take it our during service / holidays etc and its wrapped up i always love watching the folks hold it – u can see a serenity come over them – often the person holding it ends up rocking with it as if rocking a beloved infant

    it is really beautiful



  3. Valhallian
    Oct 10, 2009 @ 10:41:15

    Patti, wow, that was a very powerful documentary that you put together. Thanks for posting that link.

  4. Dianrez
    Oct 10, 2009 @ 12:53:03

    The pointer is called a “yad”, isn’t it? Although not Jewish, odd facts tend to stick as I share life with my Jewish friends. It’s a beautiful tradition and we all profit from experiencing it.

    “It’s not God, but man who did it.” Explains a whole lot about the low points of human history.

  5. Linda Slovick
    Oct 10, 2009 @ 13:50:28


    WOW, I missed this blog until now, because it was in between the other two.

    Powerful video!

    Powerful traditions!

    So VERY sorry for your loss, but also happy that the good people and beautiful traditions were there to help!

  6. Pam
    Oct 10, 2009 @ 16:19:51

    Yes, it’s called a yad. Yad is the Hebrew word for “hand.” The congregation is most likely Reform, not Reformed. It is not only in Reform congregations that the Torah is unrolled on Simchat Torah, which is actually tonight and tomorrow, not Friday. Many congregations do this. In some, everyone is given white cotton gloves to put on, similar to the type that archivists wear, when they hold their portion of the Torah.

  7. pdurr
    Oct 10, 2009 @ 18:57:01

    valhallian glad u checked out the video
    there are alot more visual histories of Deaf survivors in the site under VIDEOS

    Dianez and Pam – thank you for helping me – as soon as I saw it the word i was like YES that’s it.

    Dianez i agree with ur assessment re: humankind being the culprit for alot of tragedies and also alot of amazingly wonderful things. The horrors of the Shoah are so profoundly unbelievable that I am always amazed when I see people’s testimonies. Once we had a 4 college online discussion about Maus (graphic novel memories) btw Gallaudet, LaGuardia, NTID and a Hearing Orthodox college in Tel Avis – and someone was remarking on one of the main characters, a survivor, and saying he was bitter and a bit racist himself etc and one of the Israeli students said, “to me he was a hero because every day in the camps he decided ‘I will wake up.”

    I have long remembered that – so while we are all imperfect beings we must always strive to be our best even in the face of inhumanity and sometimes our best means – just deciding to get up, stand up.

    Pam – thank u for the correction re; Reform not Reformed. That is VERY important. Thank you and also thanks for adding the translation of “yad” for hand. Perhaps the Unity of Reform Judaism has it on fri and sat as Reforms don’t observe the no work on Sabbath strictly – is this it? im just guessing.

    Pam i dont know if u do any blogging – but it would be lovely to see someone blog about Jewish holidays and traditions and personal meaning etc

    Linda Thanks



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: