Dear Family and Friends: Our dear friend Linda Ross Brenner just had a significant birthday. Here's the tribute I videoed for her. It's a bit crudely filmed, but I'm no Max Klaben in that department. Happy birthday Linda. Ron
Ethan Kadish is a 13-year-old boy in great need of the Reform Jewish community’s help.
On June 29, 2013, the afternoon peace of Shabbat at URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute(GUCI) in Zionsville, IN, was shattered by a lightning strike that left three campers unresponsive on the athletic field. Thanks to the skill, courage, and quick thinking of the GUCI staff, all three campers made it to the hospital and survived this unimaginable tragedy.
This heartrending incident tested the GUCI family, the URJ camp community, and the entire Reform Movement, but none more than the families of the injured campers. Their strength has been nothing short of inspirational. Two of those families’ children, thankfully, recovered and returned home; one even returned to camp. The third camper, Ethan Kadish, remains hospitalized in Cincinnati, OH.
To date, Ethan’s recovery has included a series of successes that began with his survival and includes milestones like opening his eyes, breathing independently, and responding to stimuli. Ethan is in the care of a fantastic medical team and undergoes several hours of intense physical therapy every day. His family looks forward to the day he will return home, but they recognize, too, that even once he’s home, his challenges will continue. Ethan will require regular therapy and constant medical care, which, once he leaves the hospital, likely will not be covered by insurance. Ethan and his family face a long, hard, and, yes, expensive road ahead.
The Kadish family’s remarkable strength comes largely from their faith – faith in the healing power of God, faith in the skill and wisdom of Ethan’s physicians, and faith in the support of the URJ and GUCI communities. We are pledged to maintain that support, ensuring that throughout the challenges ahead, their faith in our communities will not waver.
This week – the week before Ethan was to have celebrated his bar mitzvah – a fundraising campaign in his honor has been launched with HelpHOPELive, a nonprofit organization that assists the transplant community and those who have sustained catastrophic injury. The funds will help Ethan’s family meet immense financial challenges associated with uninsured therapies, home modifications, and other injury-related expenses. All contributions made in Ethan’s honor will be administered by HelpHOPELive, specifically and solely for his injury-related expenses.
Our tradition teaches that Kol Yisrael arevim zeh b’zeh (all Jews are responsible one for the other). Indeed, together with HelpHOPELive, the Reform Jewish family can honor Ethan and his family, sending a strong message that we stand together with all of them during this time of need.
To make a donation by check, make checks payable to: HelpHOPELive and include this notation in the memo section: In honor of Ethan Kadish. Mail to:
HelpHOPELive 2 Radnor Corporate Center 100 Matsonford Road, Suite 100 Radnor, PA 19087
Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by the law. This campaign is being administered by HelpHOPELive – a 501(c)(3) nonprofit providing fundraising assistance to transplant and catastrophic injury patients – which will hold all funds raised in honor of Ethan in its Great Lakes Catastrophic Injury Fund.
Dear Family and Friends:
A while ago I wrote a piece about John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath." I've recently been seeing retros about Henry Fonda which certainly bring to mind that great movie. Here is a recap of that post. Ron
Sometimes being a late-night
person pays off, at least in the “Watching Old Movies On TV,” department.
The other night I revisited the saga of Tom Joad and his family as they made
their trek westward out of the 1930’s Oklahoma dust bowl to the California
line. Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” never hit home with me like it did
that night. Granted, It was late and I was tired, but I sat mesmerized
watching Henry Fonda come home from prison only to find that his family had
lost the farm to the dust and the bank. It broke my heart to see those
old farmers kneel down and scoop up handfuls of dirt and remember that their
fathers and mothers were born and died on that land. Tom Joad’s
grandfather refuses to leave, holding on to a handful of dirt saying, “this
dirt is mine…. It ain’t worth nothin’…but it’s mine.”
This is a tragic story of folks
being forced off of their family’s land, and making their way to a new place,
living on a hope and a prayer. It’s the story that prompted so many of
Woodie Guthrie’s songs. He was an “Oakie,” and “Dust Bowl Refugee (one of
his song titles),” when he wrote, “Do Re Mi,” and told us that “California is
the Garden of Eden, a paradise to live in and see. But, believe it or
not, you won’t find it so hot, if you ain't got that Do Re Mi.” And out
of his dust bowl came, “Pastures of Plenty,” and “I’m Goin’ Down That Road
Feeling Bad (and I ain’t gonna to be treated this-a way).” In, “I Ain’t Got No
Home,” Guthrie wrote the saddest of verses saying, “My brothers and my sisters
are stranded on this road. It’s a hot and dusty road that a million feet have
trod. The landlords threw us out and drove us from our door. Now we ain't got no home in this world any more.” Along with the better known,
“So Long, It’s Been Good To Know You,” Guthrie put Steinbeck’s “Grapes of
Wrath” to music with “The Ballad of Tom Joad.” These are sad songs of
poverty and suffering, but all with a glimmer of hope and great
One of our Torah portions
came to mind as I sat in my family room glued to director John Ford’s
incredibly powerful visual masterpiece. How much like the Joads must Abraham have felt when he heard the words “Lech Lecha…” as he was ordered
to leave the land of his birth? How heroic to grit you teeth and
pack your belongings and hit the road. I also couldn't help but think of the tragedy
happening for all those modern-day, dusty refugees leaving their homes, like those in Afghanistan who made their trek
to the Pakistani line. This is not a comment about our war
in Afghanistan (that's a thought for a future blog post), but it certainly is heartbreaking to see anyone who, “Ain’t got
no home in this world anymore.”
I encourage you to go out and
rent “The Grapes of Wrath.” See if it doesn’t help you understand the
plight of the refugee and the heroism of the pioneer. God knows our
ancestors filled both of those roles throughout our history; refugees from
Egypt, Spain, Russia, Poland, Yemen, Ethiopia, etc. And heroic pioneers
called Chalutzim, who left the lands of their birth with nothing but a dream,
and came to Eretz Yisrael to build that dream in the form of
kibbutzim. They too scooped up handfuls of earth and said,
“This land is mine!” They understood the power of a personal relationship
with land, the strength and satisfaction that comes from working the land, and
because of that, the magnitude of the tragedy of being uprooted from your land.
John Steinbeck and Woodie Guthrie understood and taught all of these lessons
well. They just didn’t know how Jewish their message