Monthly Archives: February 2013

Getting Satisfaction from Rock Legends

stonesIn a world where we find the time to get offended by the rantings of a fictional depraved talking Teddy bear, stories like this one do not seem to get the attention they deserve.  The Rolling Stones, 4 men who actually can influence people of common sense and intelligence with their music and image, defied the anti-Semites and hypocrites who put pressure on them to cancel their Israel tour celebrating Israel’s 65th Birthday. Rather than give in to the bullying, the Stones showed character and wisdom by not only refusing to cancel the tour, but by actually adding one extra day.   Mick Jagger, possibly the greatest front man for a rock group of all time was quoted as saying, ““We’ve been slammed and smacked and twittered a lot by the anti-Israeli side. “All I can say is: anything worth doing is worth overdoing. So we decided to add a concert on Tuesday.”  Are you paying attention Roger Waters?  This is what true character and wisdom looks like.

I’ve always loved the Stones, calling them my second favorite band of all time after the Beatles.  Not only does this make me like them even more, it makes me want to save my money in case they ever come through New York to perform another concert.  I had the great experience of seeing them live at Shea Stadium in 1989, and would be very happy to spend my money to see them again.

Thank you Mick, Keith, Charlie, and Ron.  I am very proud to call myself a fan of four genuine, decent, and immensely talented artists.  You do Rock music and all it is meant to stand for proud.

Presentation at the Museum of Tolerance

NYTC-BANNERS8I would like to thank my friend Aron Hier for allowing me the opportunity to make a presentation of my book “Jew Face” yesterday evening, February 19th at the Museum of Tolerance, part of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.  It was a great honor to speak in a location so committed to the protection of the Jewish people and the fight against bigotry of all kinds worldwide.  You leave a place like this knowing that it is crucial that as people we need to keep active in fighting for what is right.  Those out there who are evil, be it individuals, organizations, or nations,  are relentless in their quest for power, and without the resistance of organizations such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center they would have a much easier path towards their goal of destruction and their spreading of hatred wherever they can.

A Special Morning in Philadelphia

robyIt was my great pleasure to speak on Sunday, February 17th for the congregants and guests of Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir in Philadelphia.  I was welcomed with warmth and sincerity, and greatly appreciated the interest taken by everyone in the story of my parents as portrayed in the book “Jew Face”.  This day was organized, at least from my perspective, by my cousin Roby.  Roby is a cousin from my mother’s side, the Rodrigues side and can be seen with me in the picture posted on this page.  Thanks to Maryann for being a wonderful host, and to all the nice people I met.  You give Philadelphia a good name!  Thanks again to all of you,  especially Roby.

What is Love?

00000007When you title an article with a question so important to so many people, you run the risk of creating the expectation that you may actually have the answer to that question.  To be fair, I am not sure I can answer it accurately having a somewhat questionable track record of my own, but I can say unequivocally that even if I am not successful in conveying in words what love is, I can say that I did have one great advantage.  In my life I had the benefit of witnessing true love.

Those of you who have read the book “Jew Face” are well aware that my characterization of the good people in the book only deals with positive aspects of their personality.  I do this purposely in order to make a clear distinction between good and evil during a time when good and evil was so pronounced and easily identifiable.  Subsequently, in discussing the relationships between people I only show the positive, possibly creating an illusion of perfection.  I have always hoped that people reading the book realize my intent and know that although I never discuss it, nothing in life is perfect.  This is important when writing this piece, because although I have no intention of documenting specifics, I want to make clear that the relationship between my mother and father was like everything else in life.  Not perfect.

However, now that I got that out of the way, let me explain why I am convinced that in my life I did indeed have the opportunity to witness true love.  Love means different things to different people.  To many it is based in romance and intimacy.  Sometimes we know when these things exist between two people but often those are aspects people keep entirely private.  Even when we do think we know, we only know what the people allow us to see.  There are other things that are far more open and many would say more important, that truly define love.  These things are sacrifice, commitment, loyalty and companionship.  Many will say that these are the factors that truly matter, because when the excitement fades, the body ages and the looks dwindle, without something deeper, what masqueraded as love reveals itself as nothing more than infatuation and desire.

Spend 64 years with someone and inevitably you will at one time or another disagree, argue, yell, and hurt each other.  In fact, there are many who would say that without those things happening you won’t make it to 64 years.  My mother and father did.   In the wedding vows it says, “for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health”.   The greatness in these vows all comes together with the famous words, “until death do us part”.  Life is a lot easier when things are better, people are richer, and everyone is healthy.  But when presented with life’s difficulties, those who truly stay together until death parts them, being true companions who build something and are committed to their life together, they know a love far more profound and real than what most Hollywood romances portray.  In my life, in my parents, I saw this love.

I’ve always enjoyed summing it up this way.  During the horrors of the Nazi occupation my father saved my mother’s life.  My mother saved my father’s life every day since.  And although it was not perfect, it took the death of my father in June of 2007 to part them.  Make no mistake, the book “Jew Face” is very much a love story, focusing on the budding romance between my mother and father and building the foundation for a long life together that was filled with the better, the worse, richer, poorer, sickness and health.  So on this Valentine’s Day when buying flowers or a fancy gift, or when buying an expensive meal or gift for the one you love, remember the lesson of my parents and strive for a love that lasts, not just one that feels good today, because that is where the ultimate rewards truly can be found.  What is love?  It’s not easy.  But when you see it in action you end up feeling it is worth the effort and something worth believing in.

Coming Soon: What is Love?

With love being the theme of the coming days, Holland’s Heroes explores the question that has challenged and perplexed so many throughout the ages.  The question is, what is love?  I’ll give my perspective as I draw the connection to the great love story that IS the book “Jew Face”.

How Saving a World Leads to Great Things

mlgscrlgWe never know how things will end up in life, but we do know that saving one person saves an entire world.  As I write this, I know I am part of the world that was saved when my parents made it through the Holocaust and started building a world in 1945.  Many wonderful things have come as a result of the world made from my parent’s survival.   It all began with the birth of my oldest brother Marcel as seen in this picture with my mother Sipora Groen soon after his birth.  Marcel is now the subject of well deserved accolades in Pennsylvania politics which I am linking with pride to this post.  Life is funny like that.  We never do know how things will end up years later.  Well done Marcel!

Click Here for link.