Featured Post

(You Gotta) Accentuate the Positive and Eliminate the negative...

Pay no attention to the number by the month.  Here's a good thought for the New Year.  Shannah Tovah. Ron                        ...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Part One

July, 2012
Dear family and Friends:

 It never ceases to amaze me that whenever we are in Israel family-like things happen.  I wrote an article in 1990 titled, “Israel is Family,” and here I am writing about the same idea twenty-two years later.  You can find that old article by looking back in the blog to that year.  Israel and I had a rough start together.  Back in 1969 I ventured to Machon Hayim Greenberg for a year of Ulpan.  Jerusalem was very small city back then and there were not many Americans there.  Growing up in a non-Jewish neighborhood in Chicago, and always feeling like the “Jew” in the crowd, it came as a shock for me to actually go to Israel and suddenly feel like the “American” in the crowd.  But it was a case of adjustment on my part, and once I made it, I began to feel at home in that dusty stone-build ancient city.  Learning Hebrew made all the difference. 
Juca and I lived in Jerusalem for two years.  I traveled back several times over the years and we were lucky enough to spend part of last and this summer back in Jerusalem.  When I step off of the plane at Ben Gurion airport I find the Hebrew signs and announcements welcoming rather than strange.  It is like coming home.  And, Israelis are family.  Not that we like everyone in our family or want to spend time with every family member.  No, there are family members we would rather avoid.  Same with Israelis.  But most are like cousins, and there is certainly a family connection.

Two family-like experiences happened on our last visit.  We decided to travel to Haifa to visit one of Juca’s lifelong, Brazilian, childhood friends.  Michelini (now Michal) was born in Egypt, immigrated to Porto Alegre, Brazil where she and Juca became close friends, and then made Aliyah to Israel.  We were going to spend an afternoon with her in her home in Haifa.  To go, we had to travel to the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem, a place with its own tempo and rush of people.  Let me tell you, that tempo ain’t no waltz.
I negotiated the tickets and found the gate where we waited for the particular bus that would take us on the 1½ hour ride to the particular station where we would meet Michelini.  A woman approached me at the gate.  She excused herself and asked if she could speak to me in English.  I am never mistaken for an Israeli and took that as a compliment.  She asked me if that was the right gate for the bus going to that particular station in Haifa and I assured her that she was in the right place and that she could sit and wait with us for the 30 minutes until the bus came.  When the bus arrived, I nodded to her to come on board and she followed is on.

When we were about to arrive in Haifa, I called Michelini on the cell phone, spoke to her for a few seconds in Hebrew and gave the phone to Juca.  Juca, of course spoke to her old friend in Portuguese.  When we got off of the bus, that same woman who had asked me about the bus in Jerusalem came up to Juca and spoke to her… in Portuguese.  That was a surprise.  What came next was even more surprising.  It turns out that the woman was born in Egypt, immigrated with her family to Porto Alegre Brazil, later made Aliyah, and was now living in Haifa.  Her story was Michelini’s story, exactly.  As we heard her tell her tale, Michelini approached us on the platform.  The family scene now played itself out as Michelini, Juca, and the woman connected all of the dots and exchanged phone numbers.  What a mix of languages, continents, and family histories.  It was as if long lost sisters had found each other. 

Hey man; like I said, Israel is family.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mike Klotz performing with a Phish cover band in San Fransisco
July, 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Three generations of Klotz
Jeremy, Maya (5), Ron, and Zoe (8)
Cincinnati, 2012

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Some of you have questioned the possibility of a personal “no more tears” policy.  I think it’s more of a goal than a promise.

There is another side to the coin that I did not get into in the last posting.  That’s the anger factor.  It is hard to describe the deep anger that boils up like an unquenchable heartburn when confronting the Nazi’s calculated and inhuman dehumanizing of our relatives, their calculated brutality, and their calculated murder machine.  All this directed toward innocent Jewish families (and homosexuals and Gypsies and political prisoners and others.  But mostly Jews).  It was all so planned and documented and so heartlessly carried out. 
Our presence at the death camps in Poland bears witness and testimony.  It is a statement of our continued fortitude. 

But you can’t avoid the anger.


Monday, July 9, 2012

No More Tears

                                                                                                                       July, 2012

Dear Friends and Family:

We had the good fortune to be in Jerusalem last week and the further good fortune to be invited to Eve Lustig’s Bat Mitzvah at Beit Shmuel.  The service was held out on a terrace overlooking the Old City.  Magnificent.  Everything about that Shabbat morning was beautiful.  Eve gave a powerful extrapolation of her Torah portion, which she had read without a flaw.  It was great being with old friends Amy and Bruce, celebrating Shabbat in Jerusalem, walking the streets where Juca and I met forty-three years ago.  Priceless!

At the luncheon following the Bat Mitzvah, Marcus, Eve’s older brother, sat down next to me and asked me a question.  Knowing that Juca and I had just come from seven days of trekking around the Czech Republic and Poland with eighty North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY)  high school students, he asked me if I thought it was really so important for us to visit places like Auschwitz.  I had a lot to say in response.

First of all, I told Marcus that I could only answer for myself.  I said that I had read extensively about the Holocaust and seen almost every movie and documentary possible.  Maybe when I was just finishing college I was a little obsessed with it.  I told him that I had taught a course to Hebrew High kids in Chicago on the Holocaust, using the book “Mila Eighteen” as our text.  I knew the facts.  I had seen “Night and Fog,” which graphically presented the atrocities.  I had it all in my head. 

When I first actually saw the train tracks going through the brick building at the entrance to Birkenau, and the cattle car which brought 400,000 Rumanian Jews to be murdered in that place, and the barracks, and the crematorium, thoughts, words and images became reality and it seared my soul and hammered my heart.  The pages of the books and the movie screen could no longer filter the depth of the tragedy from me.  I was there.

I told Marcus that this was my third trip, second with NFTY kids, to the ghettos and the camps, and that each time tears came at various moments along the way.  He asked why we return if the trip is so difficult?  I had asked the same question to David Solomon our incredible educator and director of our particular NFTY Eastern European program.  We sat at an outdoor cafĂ© in Warsaw.  He said that he felt it was (traffic was great and I missed the next word) a Mitzvah/mission to educate our children regarding the Holocaust.  He also stated that we need to teach our kids about how heroic our people were in trying to maintain their humanity under the horrid conditions they experienced.  Resistance came in all shapes and sizes.  He also told us that he had no more tears to shed.  That he had shed enough and now it was time to teach.  No more tears. 

It is uplifting to travel from the depths to the heights, from the ghetto to Jerusalem.  It is inspiring to walk the Tyelet in Talpiot and look down on the ancient and the new, to sense the life of our People.  It is heartwarming to hear one of our children chant Torah across the valley from the Jaffa Gate.  If we can, Juca and I will take the Eastern Europe NFTY trip again next summer.  At each stop along the way I’ll think, Am Yisrael Chai, the People of Israel Lives!  And, no more tears.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

We Are All Woodie's Children by former UAHC songleader Doug Mishkin.  A must see and hear at:

http://www.woodyschildren.com/index.php?page=homepage.  Please check it out.