Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Tribute to My father.

Dear Friends,
I had to write something about Memorial Day. I know this is a day for barbecue. It is a day that should hold more importance in the mindset of our nation. In Israel it is a big deal because everyone has either lost someone in battle or knows someone was killed in war.
Yet why do we not consider this day as sacred? Sure lots of veteran organizations do their best and parades try to capture the honor that is due the fallen. Somehow it does not seem to unite our nation. What will unite our country these days?
I lost my father in 1999. He was a staff Sargent on Utah Beach on the  the first day of D-Day. He was one of the unspoken heroes of WWII. He did not brag about his service record. He was proud of what he did and as a disabled war veteran he carried on with his life and was a fantastic father that both my brother and I loved dearly.
I will tell you this story.
He told me once that after he had returned home and had endured a year of numerous hand surgeries after getting a shrapnel wound at the Ziegfied Line (Battle of the Bulge) he was working part time in a grocery story. He struggled to pick up boxes given that his left arm had atrophied during the surgeries. He was probably 23 at the time when he heard twopeople  saying, about him; "Look at that man! What is wrong with him? Why didn't he serve in the army?" My father was convinced they were talking about him. I asked him what did he do? He said, "I just laughed under my breath." Staff Sargent Oscar Bloom- Third Division.

One more vignette.
Before he died he had the chance to see "Saving Private Ryan." One of my favorite movies of all time. I asked him, "Dad, what did you think of the movie?" He said, "Well , it was definitely the best and most realistic movie made about D-Day. But one thing was missing." He paused and I said, "What Dad?"  He replied, "The smell. A movie can't capture the smell. I remember the smell of war. Horrible"
There are times when I think to myself that all the good in my life was due to the fact that he served his country at the most important moment in modern times. His bravery is a protecting shield over me. I know it sounds strange or weird but I sort of sense it that due to the z'chut avot, the merit of the fathers I have enjoyed a good life.
Staff Sargent Oscar Bloom -Dog tags with the letter H which stands for Hebrew-Jew. My Dad. I wish you could have known the sweet man he was all his life.

Religion and the Schools can be Partners
 Here is the article I wrote in my column for the Island Packet Newspaper. It turned out to be a productive experience for the kids. The kids learned something. But what I hope will happen is that we will have the chance to meet with the faculty. We were supposed to do so but they cancelled the meeting. I think it is important to receive their feedback to our program and for them to  understand the impact of this teacher's alleged anti-semitic remarks to the student and her alleged manhandling of the same student in a classroom had upon the Jewish community.
My own view is that we need to cultivate more bridges of understanding between the Jewish Community and the school authorities as well as other public institutions. We are a growing Jewish community with a wider array of interests. But the other lesson of this event is not just about speaking out. It is about remembering that that different religions joined us to address this highly publicized event that went viral on the internet and wire services. A Catholic Priest and Protestant minister and the school authorities worked together with us. We cannot forget to respond willingly when others outside the Jewish community are in need of our support on issues we care about as well.