Friday, December 23, 2016

Inspiration from the most unexpected source

What a year it has been! I never imagined when I embarked on this journey that it would take me down the path I have started to journey on.  Writing a book has always been a dream of mine, and to say I have finally realized that dream is a little unbelievable.  I have to admit. I have been hard on myself.  I know that I have reached so many people, but I feel like I should have reached more by now. Silly, I know. And yes, I have been told that by many. But, like I said, I am hard on myself.

My sister told me the a few days ago that even if I just touch one person, that is a life I have affected. It really hit home the other day when I received a package in the mail of some letters. Let me back up for a moment.  A couple of weeks ago, my dad and I presented at a teacher's workshop in Newark NJ. I had worked with a wonderful woman that helped write curriculum content and a lesson plan to accompany the book.  We were so excited and grateful when two schools in Newark requested the book and will be using it in the New Year as part of their lesson plan!

At one of the schools, the teacher had come back to her class and told her 6th grade students about meeting my dad and I. She then read them the introduction to the book, and gave them an assignment: Write a letter explaining why you want to read the book and why it is important to you.  Wow, is all I can say. These students are remarkable.  My dad and I were sent copies of these letters, some of them broke our heart!  These children spoke about wanting to meet my father so that they could perhaps learn some survival skills of their own. You see, they explained, they live in neighborhoods where people just shoot people, and they are always in fear for their lives. This is when you get your reality check, big time.

I really have no words for how this has made me feel. These children have inspired me. I am one of the lucky ones. I have heard horrible stories my whole life. I have learned about fear, and have heard about anti-Semitism. But the reality is that I have never really experienced true fear myself.  Yes, when I was younger, I had experienced a little anti-Semitism, but nothing like what I am learning more and more about through my work with the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the anti-BDS resolutions we are trying to pass in local municipalities.  Fear - of course we have all experienced fear in our lives. Fear of failure, fear of new situations, fear of roller coasters, and fear in strange places. But this fear is nothing compared to the fear day in and day out of death. I hope and pray that I, my family and you never truly experience this type of fear and emotion.  I can only hope that through my book, through my talks and through my efforts, we can try to make the world a better place, a safer place, and a more tolerant place.

My wish for all of you is for happiness in the New Year.  My father and grandmother have taught me to never look back, only look forward. So I choose to look forward with hope. 

From my family to yours -
A happy and healthy New Year to you all!

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