Sunday, July 28, 2013

Jewish Mothers and how Israel keeps Holocaust memories alive

Practice Creative Solutions

When you fear a confrontation in which you might become angry, mentally picture yourself handling it calmly and self-confidently. Keep repeating this picture in your mind until you feel fairly certain that you will be able to remain calm in the actual situation.
When you are walking or waiting in a line, utilize the opportunity to think of difficult situations, and find various options you have to deal wisely in those situations. If you live those situations in your mind, they can serve as positive resources from which to gain confidence in your abilities.

 Love Yehuda Lave
How Israel keeps Holocaust memories alive

Celebrities on their Jewish Mothers

Jason Alexander's mother wept when he told her he wanted to become an actor…

According to Dr. Bruno Halioua, author of "Meres Juives des Hommes Celebres" ("Jewish Mothers of Famous Men"), about 12,000 of France's 150,000 physicians (8 percent) are Jews, whereas Jews make up only 1 percent of the country's overall population.
"We got to talking, about our mothers," he said. "And I realized that most of my Jewish colleagues got into medical studies because we were prompted to do so by our mothers. It's the same all over for the children of Jewish immigrants – medicine or law!" laughs Dr. Halioua. "I think that is the secret of Jewish mothers, in giving not only love like all mothers, but tremendous self-assurance to their children."
"I was the first Jew to study medicine at the big medical cave."
I'm proud to say that I was the first Jew to study medicine at the big medical cave. ... I graduated in a week. ... My mother was the first one in history to say, "This is my son, the doctor." She coined that phrase. – Mel Brooks as the 2000 Year Old Man
Over the years, I've been privileged to interview and research many extraordinary people for my books and calendars. In honor of Mother's Day, I bring you their equally fascinating comments about their Jewish Mothers.
Michael Medved, Nationally Syndicated Conservative Talk Show Host: "My mom insisted on buying one day old meat and baked goods. As a pre-teener, I was embarrassed, but she made the point that there's nothing embarrassing about being sensible. She'd say, 'People have better things in life to do than watch you.'"
"My mother was sloppy. When I was applying to college, she cleaned up the living room for my interview with Harvard. I was scrubbed, and put on a skinny tie. This guy comes in, and my dad who happened to be home, says hello ... in his underwear. She shrugged. My mother took the point of view (about the interviewer), 'Don't worry about this [shmegegge]. So I went to Yale … The Jewish Mother knows values and insists her children share them, live them. She's treasures tradition. The keeper of the family welfare .... that's her purpose in life. Her waking hours are spent figuring out ways to make her child and husband more successful and she will sacrifice. "
Susie Essman, comic, actress (Curb Your Enthusiasm: "My mother's from the school that the minute you walk in the house you have to eat," she said an interview, describing her mother Zora. "She asks, 'What can I get you?' and if I say, `Nothing,' the question just continues. One Thanksgiving, there were only six of us, and she had two 20-pound turkeys – plus brisket. Not to mention the eight sides and 15 pies and cakes. And halvah. I went onstage that night to do stand-up and I just read the menu from her dinner."
When I spoke to mama Zora, she had a slightly different take on the matter. "My kids don't know this part of me ... a lot of it is, but it's really not me. The fact is, I do make two turkeys on Thanksgiving but ... I'm trying to please everybody ... one likes this dressing, another likes that dressing. My children say I have a brisket under my skirt ... not me."
Fran Drescher: "I was fed when I was sad, I was fed when I was good, we ate to celebrate, we ate to mourn … and in-between, we'd discuss what we were going to eat later."
The remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served us nothing but leftovers--Calvin Trillin.
Mallory Lewis, entertainer, writer, producer, daughter of the late Shari Lewis: "My mother's best quality was that in her eyes I was perfect. She was always on my side," said Mallory, whose "sibling" was a puppet named Lambchop. Was she ever jealous of her "little sister" who, when Mal was young, got all the public attention? She laughed. "Not at all. I knew she was a sock. But Lambchop was a source of comfort. Today, my own son will tell Lambchop secrets which mom will never hear!" Like her mother, Mallory is convinced her progeny is perfect. "Whenever we have a disagreement I convince him I know best because, I tell him, 'I made you in my tummy.' My son is going to be a wonderful hubby. Like my own mother, I support him totally."
Norman Lear, producer: "[Some] years ago, I was pleased and honored-and amused-to address the National Press Club on .... faith, vision, and values in American life," said Norman Lear. "The amusement was occasioned by a vivid memory of my late Jewish mother. I had phoned her and said: 'Mom, the TV academy has just established a Hall of Fame and guess who the first inductees will be? Milton Berle, William Paley, David Sarnoff, Lucille Ball, and Edward R. Murrow, and me.' After a short beat, my mother said: 'Look, if that's what they want to do, who am I to say?'"

Jason Alexander: actor, "Seinfeld" fame. When Jason dropped out of college in 1980 to become an actor, leaving his New Jersey home for a studio apartment in Manhattan, to become an actor, "She wept," he said. "That's what Jewish mothers do. I was throwing my life away." He told her, "Mom, in 10 years I'll be doing Tevye on Broadway." He beat his own prediction and did Tevye nine years later in Jerome Robbins' Broadway. His parents, Alex and Ruth Greenspan, attended the opening – and his mom wept throughout the show, which of course, is what Jewish mothers do.
"My mother, Lily, was a phenomenal parent," says actress-singer Tovah Feldshuh. "She was the connoisseur of tough love. She would say:
  • 'Selfish people are the loneliest people in the world.'
  • 'Never beg a man for a hat ... you buy your own.'
  • 'When you walk into a room, see what's wanted and needed in that space.'
  • 'Be ruthlessly honest.'"
Tovah, herself the mother two, has her own philosophy. "To be a good mother, Jewish or otherwise, you need to do two things: love your children unconditionally – and show up."

We Jews: Pioneer American Jewish Mothers

As Mother's Day approaches we salute three great pioneer American Jewish mothers.

Much has been written about Jewish male early settlers in America. Less documented are the hardships that Jewish pioneer mothers faced, especially when they ventured into untamed territory. Imagine shlepping two sets of dishes and Menorahs in the 1800s to the frontiers of America, or trying to maintain a Kosher home in the wilderness? These Yiddishe mamas not only used great resourcefulness for example, raising livestock and growing their own veggies, but once settled they often contributed mightily to the growth of the outreaches of the American West.
Imagine shlepping two sets of dishes around in the 1800s to the frontiers of America!
As Mother's Day approaches, we honor three of these extraordinary Jewish mothers, many of whom had to summon enormous courage to support their husbands' dreams, pass on their heritage to their children and to their burgeoning communities.


Rosa Katzenstein Drachman: Born in Baltimore in 1848, Rosa married Philip Drachman in 1868 in New York. Talk about a honeymoon! The couple got on the Overland schooner to San Francisco to put together provisions for the Western wilderness. They departed for Tucson in October, 1868, traveling by hitching a four horse ambulance! The trip took a month, as they camped across the desert among the Indians. They finally arrived in Tucson, which wasn't exactly teeming with Jews. In fact, while there were Anglo men, there was only one other white woman. Rosa, eventually the mother of ten (she named first child Harry Arizona Drachman, the first Anglo child born in the area) had a difficult life. Her husband died young leaving this Yiddishe Mama and the kinder to run his saloon and cigar store.
Despite her load, Rosa became confidante, teacher, social worker and advocate to the new influx of women. There were a number of Jewish men who had married Mexican women. They turned to Rosa to teach them Judaism and Yiddishkeit, including how to keep a proper home. More, Rosa made sure all the kinder could read and write English.
Rosa died on July 25, 1918. Her tombstone reads: "Mother Drachman," for the great matriarch who helped build Tucson's community.
Rosa's sister-in-law, Jennie Migel-Drachman and her husband Samuel were devoutly religious. In 1887, less than a day after their son was born, Jennie was on a stage to California – despite rutted paths and Indians – to find a mohel to perform the circumcision in time. More, she organized Tucson's first Purim Ball, and was active in the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society while Sam was the first president of Temple Emanu-El. The couple were a major influence, succeeding to keep Judaism alive in the desert southwest.


Julia Frank Zeckendorf: Born in Germany in 1840, Julia immigrated as a youngster to New York. At age 18, she married William Zeckendorf. Also from Germany, William went to work with his brothers in New Mexico, then Arizona. The couple honeymooned by train across country. Departing San Diego, Julia was shocked as her new husband changed into his western garb – pistols on hips and rifle in hand. The couple left for Tucson and had four children. Julia entertained elegantly for the Jewish community. Eventually, they returned to New York, but the Zeckendorf name is part of the historical records of Arizona and New Mexico for their involvement in merchandising, mining, cattle raising, and farming. In New York, generations of Zeckendorfs built a real estate empire. Julia's grandson put together the land parcel that John D. Rockefeller donated to the United Nations.


Rebecca Machado Phillips: Born in 1746 into an eminent Jewish family of Portuguese crypto-Jews all this changed when in 1762, at the age of sixteen, Rebecca married Jonas Phillips (1735-1803), an Ashkenazic Jew, born in Prussia and reared in London. The couple first lived in New York, where Jonas was a businessman. Within a year, Rebecca had given birth to the first of their twenty-one children. The business failed due to England's colonial trade restrictions and the family became debtors. In 1765, Jonas secured a position as shochet and bodek, (for which he was trained in London) for Congregation Shearith Israel, a role he held for four years.
In addition to childbearing and child-raising, Rebecca, made cloth, clothing, soap, candles, and prepared processed comestibles to serve as their winter food supply. As observant Jews, Rebecca also supervised her kitchen to make sure all was done according to Halacha.
The years 1763 to 1772 were filled with both tragedy as four of Rebecca's children died before reaching their first year, but also with financial success. In 1769, Jonas again went into business, but this time in Philadelphia, where Rebecca's family resided. They became quite wealthy and contributed generously to Congregation Mikveh Israel, where Jonas became powerful in the Congregation while Rebecca took an active part in communal affairs and fund-raising. At age 55, in 1801, she was one of the founding members of the Female Association for the Relief of Women and Children in Reduced Circumstances. The organization, assisted yellow fever victims, supported a 'soup house,' and provided food and clothing to indigent women and children.
Two years later, Rebecca was widowed, leaving her a single mother of sixteen children.

Yet, at age 74 she served as first directress and one of thirteen managers serving on the board of the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society of Philadelphia, created in 1819 to assist the Jewish indigent.
Rebecca Phillips was an uncommon colonial mother who bore 21 children, raised two of her grandchildren, yet was a tireless community activist and philanthropist – roles that Jewish mothers would continue to embrace in this new land.
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