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                                                                                                   September, 2016 Dear Friends and...

Sunday, March 26, 2017

On Being Your Own Best Friend


Here is an old post .  I put it up again in response to a conversation I had with a student here at IU.  Still a good thought, I think.

Dear Family and Friends:                                                               March, 2017


Here's a question I'm pretty sure you haven't been asked before, "What's your
ace in the hole?"  An ace in the  hole, you know?  That's the one thing that
bails you out when all else fails.  The one thing that only you know, that is
sure, that you can always count on.  What is your personal ace in the hole? 
Let me give you a couple of tips.  ONE:  everyone needs one, and TWO:  if you
haven't thought about this, you should.

The real point here is that life is hard and often filled with disappointments.  What do we do when things fall apart?  What is our last line of defense when the blitz is on and there are no more blockers (sorry for the football analogy, but I'm still grieving over this Bears' season)? 

I think it is crucial that we all realize how important we are to ourselves.  That's
right!  No matter what happens, I am going to continue to be my own best
friend.  I like me.  And even at those times when I don't like me that much
because I have screwed something up (impossible, not the great Ron Klotz?), I
try to pep myself up, regroup, so to speak, and inevitably I regain my
friendship with myself.  I'm not talking about being conceited, cock-sure, full
of myself, or anything like that.  This is a personal thing - no one else knows
about it (until now).  It's strictly between me and myself, and it certainly is
my ace in the hole.

If you're interested, find a copy of Paul Simon's recording of "One Trick
Pony."  It is not a very well known album, actually the soundtrack from the
movie he starred in (I digress).  You will find a song there called, "Ace In
The Hole."  I have been thinking about that song and this idea for a long
time.  Paul Simon always asks important questions - you won't be disappointed
in this record.  He says, "Ace in the hole - lean on me - don't you know me,
I'm your guarantee."  And that is just what we all need, a guarantee.

We all know another great songwriter's work, Rabbi Hillel, who wrote, "Im Ain
Ani Li Mi?"  If I am not for myself who am I for?  The rest of the song is
important too, but without this first statement we are lost.  I think it is
good for a person to talk to him/herself (not out loud or people will start
looking at you funny).  Remind yourself of just how good you are, when things
are bad.  Be good to yourself.  Be a friend.  Do for yourself what you would do
to help someone else who is down in the dumps.  It's a private thing, and it
helps.

If this all sounds silly to you, well you can just toss this letter.  After
all, it's a private thing.  It's about MY ace in the hole - what's yours?

Ron

Thursday, March 2, 2017

It's an old fight...but Stand Up, Speak Out and be PROUD!

Dear Friends and Family:

I posted this three years ago.  I am sorry to say that it seems to take on added importance today.

Ron

Please find below the latest blog from AJC’s Executive Director David Harris. This blog was published in The Huffington Post and The Jerusalem Post.
By David Harris
(This blog was published in The Huffington Post and The Jerusalem Post.)
When my mother turned 80, she spoke out for the first time in “Letter from an Octogenarian.”
At the time, she wrote: “I never thought I would live to see the day when ‘Death to the Jews’ was again heard, as it has been heard in Europe, the Muslim world, and even North America, much less read the unsettling cover story in New York magazine (December 15, 2003) entitled ‘The New Face of Anti-Semitism.’”
Now, 11 years later, she feels the need to speak out once again. Here’s what she has to say:
My name is Nelly Harris.
I was born on August 4, 1923, in Moscow.
My parents, Ida and Lova, had moved there from Belarus, when it became possible for Jews to leave the Pale of Settlement and live in a major Russian city. Their hope was for a fresh start after the fall of the czarist regime and the end of the Romanov Dynasty.
But it wasn’t to be. The Bolsheviks imposed their own tyranny, and the Jews, among others, were to face daunting new challenges.
In 1929, at the age of six, I left the Soviet Union with my parents and older brother, Yuli. We were among the last to leave before Stalin totally shut the exit doors.
We arrived in France as refugees.
We had to start over – new language, new culture, new everything. And not everyone was especially welcoming to a Russian Jewish child, as I quickly learned in my new school.
Still, we were away from communism, and being Jewish became a personal choice, not the government’s decision.
All went more or less well until 1940, when the Nazis invaded France. Those who believed in the power of the French military and the invincibility of the Maginot Line were quickly disabused of their trust.
Once again, my family and I were on the road, this time trying to stay ahead of the advancing Nazis and their Vichy French allies.
For 17 months, we fled, feared, hid, waited, and hoped.
In the end, after knocking on the doors of the American consulate and countless others, we were lucky. We were able to get entry visas for America, when so many others could not.
In November 1941, we boarded a ship from Lisbon for New York.
We arrived in America on the eve of Pearl Harbor, refugees for the second time. Again, we had to start over.
But it didn’t matter. Most important, we were free, even as we worried about the fate of those Jews, including family members, still in Europe.
I’m not sure a native-born American can fully appreciate the meaning of the Statue of Liberty. When we saw it for the first time, it wasn’t the stuff of tourism. Rather, it was like a protective blanket, a message to us that we were now home and welcome.
Within months, I went to work. I learned English wherever I could, and continued working for the next 65 years. It wasn’t always easy, but not a day passed that I didn’t give thanks for the blessing of America.
Sure, this country has its flaws, but there’s no other nation that holds out as much hope for humankind. I only wish more Americans realized the gift they’ve been given by the chance to live here.
So, if all is so good, why do I now write? For the same reason I did 11 years ago.
The world is a more dangerous place and I fear for the future – not my own, as my life is nearing the finish line, but for those who follow me, including my precious grandchildren.
True, I’m a Jewish grandmother and worrying is part of the job description. But I also worry because I lived through some of the most tumultuous events of the past century. Even though America too often gives short shrift to the elderly, believing instead in a cult of youth, there’s one advantage older people have – real-life experience.
I know the world needs American leadership. Without it, a dangerous vacuum is created and bad actors step in.
I know the slippery slope that begins with anti-Semitic rants and chants in the streets of Europe. If allowed to continue, the path to dehumanizing the Jews becomes all too familiar.
I know what happens if Jews try to bury their heads in the sand, wishing to believe there’s no danger, or if there is, it’s about “other” Jews, not them.
I saw it in France. When the warning bells began to sound in 1940, some Jews tried to convince themselves it was about foreign-born Jews, not French-born Jews, or about religiously observant Jews, not assimilated Jews. How wrong they were!
Since the war, I’ve seen some Jews try to shed their identity, just make it go away. I can’t understand why. I’m proud to be a Jew and won’t give anyone the satisfaction of disappearing voluntarily because of their irrational hatred. 
And I see much of that irrational hatred now directed at Israel. It’s a new form of an old disease. Israel has as much right to live in peace as any other nation, yet it’s not allowed to. Moreover, it’s judged in ways no other country is.
Oh, and by the way, the Palestinians are not the world’s first and only refugees, though from listening to the discussions and reading the newspapers, you might think so.
The Arabs started wars. What wars don’t create refugees? But unlike other refugees, including my family, the Palestinians, it seems, would rather wallow in self-pity than build new lives. How sad!
Those newspapers, incidentally, include the New York Times, the paper I’ve read daily for over six decades. No longer. I just cancelled my subscription. There’s not a lot I can do at my age to fight back, but that’s one small gesture. I’m not paying for a newspaper that has a strange obsession with Israel, and fails to grasp the true nature of its enemies.
But then again, my neighbor’s daughter, Laurel Leff, wrote an entire book, Buried by the Times, on how shamefully the paper dealt with the Holocaust 70 years ago.
I don’t know where I’ll be on August 4, 2023, my 100th birthday, but I can only hope there won’t be the need for another cri de coeur.
Instead, I pray the world will look back on the past century, learn its central lessons, and ensure that others, Jews and non-Jews alike, don’t have to endure what we did.
Wouldn’t that be a worthy legacy to pass on to future generations