Tag Archives: Nazis

An Open Letter to Earth’s Angels, the Nurses

thank_you_card_maker_app01Dear Nurses of the world,

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to have a friend of mine who is an emergency room nurse share a few minutes of  her time to chat with me on Facebook messenger.  The things I said to her, clearly made a difference, even if only a small one.  So with that in mind I write this following letter to the people I like to refer to as, Earth’s Angels, the nurses.

I have great appreciation for all medical professionals.  They are all indeed the front  line in this war against the Coronavirus and even in the best of times people on who we critically depend on .  Back when I was married in 1992, the woman I was married to spent 5 months in the hospital.  The first 2 1/2 months of that time she was in a private room in Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.  During that time in which I was able to sleep in her room, I learned something I believe to be true to this very day.  There are many wonderful doctors out there and the work they do is often awe inspiring, but it is you, the nurses that determine the greatness of a medical institution more than anything else.  You are indeed angels.

They say that you should write what you know.  As someone who sits here with immense appreciation for the sacrifices made by you, our nurses, having had the benefit of having a mother who worked as a nurse during the worst of times, I will share something with you I hope will provide you with some added strength during this very difficult time.

It is human nature to look to history to provide a perspective  that helps us understand and navigate not only the present, but the future as well.  However, with every offering of past perspective we must also be aware of the different challenges presented by each situation.  In 1943, my mother, then a 21 year old woman, was working and living in a hospital in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam.  Although she dealt with a different threat and fear than the one facing all of you, had she been alive today, knowing her as I did, I am sure she would have been more than willing to share her perspective and support.  This is not a competition.  So many of life’s challenges and difficulties are different.  I know from my conversations with my mother that she never tired physically from helping someone to who was ill.  The mental exhaustion was a much greater challenge.  During the time I am referring to in 1943, she cared for and comforted the sick, fully aware of the fact that on a regular basis Nazi thugs would raid the hospital and incrementally take patients away to be murdered.  On August 13, 1943, as the last of the patients were removed by the Nazis in their final raid on the hospital, my mother’s first instinct was to go with them. I sit here able to write this letter to you today because frankly, on the insistence of the man who would turn out to be my father, that is not how things turned out.   Had she gone with them, she too would likely have been murdered, and would never have been able to help anyone ever again.

As a child I remember at least 2 instances in which my mother cared for a terminally ill individual by going to their home and caring for them in their final days.  She later became a Director of  a Senior facility in the city of Arnhem in Holland.  When she referred to the war and discussed all that she lost and her sadness during that time, it was always clear to me the strength she not only acquired, but was able to access from the help she gave her patients.  Yes she saw terrible things,  but the lessons she learned from that time were of enormous value to her for the rest of her life.  But, as any mere mortal would, she needed those who would support her, love her, and give her purpose during the course of her life.  When she passed away at the age of 95 she was a happy and fulfilled woman. She faced tragedies and difficulties most of us could never fathom, but she faced them and lived a good life.

So this is my message to all of you angels out there.  No one knows what our worlds will look like when this crisis ends, but we all need to do our part.  You are all already doing more than seems humanly possible and yes, from what the stories seem to already tell us, making an enormous difference.  What I and people like me need to do is to offer you that support, encouragement, love, and mostly gratitude for being there when we all need you the most.  I want you to know that the main reason I shared part of my mother’s story with you today is to help you realize that God willing you all stay healthy, the exhaustion, frustration and sadness you feel today, that you sometimes replace with numbness, will not endure.  There will come a time when you will look back and know that what you did meant the world to us.  To those who got sick, and to those who stayed healthy.  And you once again will move on to live, love and enjoy your lives as you so deserve to do.

Lastly, I don’t think that the words of gratitude and encouragement I share with my friend yesterday make the difference in her abilities to move forward in her very difficult task, but I do know it helped a little. When I thanked my friend on a thread for all that he does as a nurse, I am not even sure he had the time to even read it, but I know if he does it can only help.  All of us can only try to understand the challenges and difficulties facing those who are working so hard under these terrible conditions.  Of course by now we should all know that we need to do our part in helping to not spread the virus.  But what I encourage everyone to do is to take the time to give words of gratitude, support and encouragement to all of those in hospitals on the front line of what many are referring to as a war.  Like anyone else going through trying times, the support they get will be critical in keeping them going. Take the time to offer that much needed help to those who are giving all of their time to help us.

So today I am thanking those who I refer to as Earth’s Angels, our nurses.  Thank you for all that you do and may you be blessed with all the strength and health you need to get us through this and to a time when life can return to normal, and when you can enjoy the time you cherish with those you love and all that makes you happy in life.

With thanks,

David Groen

 

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During the Coronavirus crisis, the lives of Holocaust survivors can offer us some much needed perspective

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Make no mistake.  The Coronavirus is a serious problem and one that the larger percentage of people recognize as being something that needs to be taken seriously.  Everyone reacts to things differently and everyone is frightened by different things.  Some more than others.  Fear or lack thereof in a situation such as this one is not what distinguishes cowards from heroes. It is the actions in light of those fears that speaks more to a person’s character.  Part of my reason for saying that is because despite my relative lack of concern for my own well-being, my behaviors are more out of a communal sense of responsibility and decency towards others, I say without any degree of false modesty that I am no hero.  But my lack of panic or fear has made me ask why I feel this way.  Although there are many others who share my approach for different reasons, I believe mine comes from an education I received at home from a young age from my parents.

There is a difference between scaring people and giving them perspective.  I attempt to do the latter.  To consciously try to sensationalize and scare people at a time like this is not only destructive, it is unethical.  So the lessons I learned I pass on in the hope that it helps people deal better with this situation moving forward.

As someone who has studied and written about what my parents experienced in Holland between 1940-1945, I’ve learned to look at things more as they are than how I think they could be or how I would like them to be.  Yes, it is great to dream.  The best line from the movie Flashdance, in my opinion, was the line, “if you lose your dreams, you die”.  That being said, looking at things as they truly are and understanding the reality, is critical at a time like this.  So first I look at the aspect of isolation and the true extent of the discomfort or inconvenience that it causes.  Once when I was about 16 years old, I found myself depressed over the silly nonsense that is likely to depress someone of that age.  And back then, as someone who was living in London away from my parents who were in Holland, much of my communication with my parents was through written letters.  In one letter my father wrote to me one of the most poignant and helpful things he would ever share with me.  He told me that even though I may see my problems as not that large compared to “real” problems, since they were my problems they were the most serious to me.  I share that because that comfort and understanding given to me by my father, someone who had survived the Holocaust, needs to be understood by those who might say to you, relax, it could be worse.  Whatever it is you are going through today, and I hope and pray it stops short of health issues for you or your loved ones, it is your most serious problem.  But that still doesn’t have to stop any of us from using the experiences of previous generations as a perspective check, one that might just make it easier for us to handle during these difficult time.

I live alone.  I am not saying that out of self-pity or in search of attention.  I say that because I consider myself fortunate.  I have electricity, heat, running water, enough food, contact with the outside world, and as long as my actions do not put others in jeopardy,  freedom of movement.  I also say that because the isolation people are asked to apply to their lives, is, assuming people respect it and with God’s help, a relatively temporary measure.  So I look to a 16 month period of my mother’s life for perspective.  The last 16 months in Holland, at the end of World War II. During this time my mother slept every night in a small room underground and probably in a space no bigger than many  people’s bathrooms.  She had a candle and a bucket, and when the weather turned bad, rising water that she had to walk through and a damp unpleasant room that she slept in.  Every night, Lubertus te Kiefte, the righteous man who together with his wonderful and equally righteous wife Geeske, gave my mother a relatively safe environment and food to survive, would take my mother to the back of his workplace where he had built her this room.  Once she was in the underground, he would put sandbags on top of the entrance to hide the room’s existence.  This was necessary because on any given day the possibility existed that the Nazis would raid people’s homes.

We all would love to go to work, go to gatherings, eat at restaurants, go to school or pray in our houses of worship. I get it. But perspective helps.  And considering what my mother dealt with for 16 months in cold, dark and unhealthy conditions, conditions that when relieved were replaced with the constant fear of being caught by the Nazis, maybe those us who need a perspective check and are miserable over having to stay home in conditions that offer us most of our basic needs over a time period that has not even hit 16 days, need to consider what my mother experienced during that time.  But maybe most importantly we all need to know that, even with the losses she suffered and the pain she experienced, she went on to live to be 95, build a family, and other than missing her husband, my father, died a happy woman.

The uncertainty we feel, the feeling we feel is so devastating, I put into perspective by understanding, to the best of my limited abilities, my father’s 5 years in Nazi-occupied Holland.  Before the war my father was on track to live a life as a Judaic scholar. His knowledge of Judaism and his involvement in the community were the core of his upbringing. Then came the war, and a 5 year period in which he was an active member of the Dutch resistance and someone constantly on the move, living through that time with a false identity, and, for lack of any other way of saying it, putting his Jewish life on complete hold.  For 5 years. Let’s use that as a perspective check before we panic about having to put our lives on hold for 5 weeks or even 5 months.  Why? Because when the war was over, my father married my mother, became a Rabbi and went on to live a rich and fulfilling life.

Everyone has their stories.  Some worse than others, some better.  This is not a competition.  This post is not designed to belittle anyone’s pain or fear.  What it is meant to do is offer some added perspective. Not just as to how much worse things can get in life, but more importantly as to how we can not only move on, but if we are fortunate enough and resilient enough, maybe even restart the lives that we have.

I have often said that the basis for my personal happiness is the teaching from Pirkei Avot, Ethics of our Fathers, about who is a happy person.  It is someone who is happy with their portion.  That lesson has never been a more important one than it is today.  When things are going the way you would like them to go it is easy to be happy with what you have.  But during times of struggle and hardship, that teaching becomes even more important.  Look to what you have in life and be grateful for it.  Let it make you happy.  If that doesn’t work, than hopefully some of these lessons on perspective will.  The reality is what the reality is.  Your way of looking at it is entirely up to you.

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Open Letter to Bernie Sanders: How dare you?

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Dear Bernie,

I decided that before I begin sharing with you my feelings on your stance towards Israel I would first research your comments condemning the attacks by Palestinian terrorists on the civilian Jewish population.  So, in fairness, to begin I will post those condemnations before I proceed with what I would like to say.

 

Now that I have finished with that I will continue.  No, I did not forget to cut and paste anything in this letter and I skipped a line on purpose to bring attention to the blank space.  The truth is that I was unable to find any time in which you condemned acts of terrorism against the Jewish population of the State of Israel.  Of course it is easy to find times in which you condemn Israel.  Everyone is very aware of that, however in order for you to be an honest broker, would it not be required to address the issue from an objective standpoint rather from the vacuous self-serving pandering place from which you wish to start?

Mr. Sanders, I have no problem with people criticizing Israel or its governments policies.  A large portion of the Israeli population does the same.  The difference is that the larger percentage of these people, besides having to live with the consequences of their opinions, also have served in the Israeli military.  The vast majority of these people do not have to answer to anyone for their motivation.  You however, seeing as you believe yourself worthy of the presidency of these United States can indeed be questioned as to your motivation for all of your political viewpoints.  To me your motivation regarding Israel is clear.  You see it as far more politically expedient to attack Israel than support her.  When do you stand with any representatives of the State of Israel?  Even those opposed to Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.  I see you standing proudly and with joy next to those who openly hate Israel.  To people like Linda Sarsour, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, people who at best laugh off blatant anti-Semitism, at worst contribute to it and perpetuate it.

I will not listen to the argument from you about how you can be against the State of Israel and still care about the fate of the Jewish people when you have done nothing to show yourself as an honest broker.  Where are your efforts to help the people you claim more and more to be part of as you get closer and closer to primaries in states with a larger Jewish population? And in case you claim to not know why Israel is connected to the fate of Israel, something I believe you do know but conveniently ignore, allow me to enlighten you.

The Jewish people have been victims of persecution throughout time, culminating into what was the most systematic and organized mass murder of one segment of the population the world has ever seen.  Out of the ashes of the Holocaust the modern State of Israel was born.  It was not created as a business venture or for political gain.  It was created as a safe haven for the Jewish people.  History shows us that the very survival of the Jewish people, YOUR people, may very well depend on having a Jewish state ready and able to protect and shelter us.  So while criticizing its government is a democratic process permitted and accepted in what you refer to as a racist government, supporting people, as you do, who attempt to grow organizations determined to bring Israel to her knees and destroy it is totally unacceptable.  To say in a New York Times interview 4 years ago that Israel killed 10,000 people in Gaza when that was way more than the terrorist group Hamas fraudelently claimed were killed is unacceptable.  To argue on behalf of the dignity the Palestinians while keeping quiet when it comes to the survival of Jews is unacceptable.

When asked recently what it means to you be to Jewish you responded as follows.

“I can remember very vividly, as a kid, looking at picture books about what happened in the Holocaust. As it happens, my father’s family was wiped out by Hitler.”

To this I say to you the following words. How dare you?  As a son of Holocaust survivors I see the most poignant words in your answer as being “As it happens”.  As though it’s a side point.  Forget being Jewish for a minute, something I imagine should be easy for you, your response shows a disrespect for your father and his ancestry. As it happens?  Did you only just find this out because you felt it would help your campaign?  Or is it, as it happens, on a side note, my father’s family was wiped out by Hitler.  Or, and this is how I see it, you felt that by making it too big of a deal you wouldn’t properly pander to a base you see critical to your political ambitions.  If I were to invoke the Holocaust as the one thing I see as what it means to be Jewish, let me tell you how I would answer. “Having learned about the Holocaust from a young age, having never had a grandparent because of it and knowing that 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis, I will never sit quietly when people threaten my people again, and I will do my best to be the kind of person who will stand up to any groups that look to persecute and wipe out any group of people.”  That is what I would say Mr. Sanders.  It wouldn’t be a soundbite that sounds so disingenuous that I have to fight the urge to question if it is even true.

As a Jewish American I will conclude by saying that as long as you continue to behave in a way I believe to be the ways of a traitor to his own people, you will not only not get my vote, you will get my active opposition.  You see Mr. Sanders, if you can’t show an ounce of loyalty to your own people, background and heritage, why would I ever consider someone like you, someone I see as a disgrace, to be a leader in the country I proudly call home.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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Why we need to stop the misuse of the word “Nazi”

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In recent years there has been a growing and concerning trend in regard to a word as familiar globally as any other word.  That word is Nazi. The trend I speak of is in the use of the word in a descriptive, subjective form, as opposed to the literally specific form necessary to keep an understanding of the evil it represents.

A number of people who knew that I intended to write this piece have actually thanked me for doing so.  Any attempt to try to change the thought pattern of an anti-Semite or other form of bigot that uses Holocaust denial as a means of forwarding a perverse agenda is a waste of time.  A more worthwhile venture is to make sure those who have open minds and pure hearts are afforded the opportunity to know the truth.  The truth is that improper use of the word Nazi dilutes the horrors of what took place under the Nazi-occupation in Europe.

This post is neither a political statement nor an apology for those that misuse power.  This is more of a perspective check. Calling someone a Nazi because they do something damaging to other individuals, or even worse calling them one because it is your perception they are doing so, detracts from some critical facts.

Adolf Hitler’s Nazi war machine sought out and killed in staggering numbers.  According to jewishvirtualibrary.org the numbers break down as follows.

Jews: up to 6 million

Soviet civilians: around 7 million (including 1.3 Soviet Jewish civilians, who are included in the 6 million figure for Jews)

Soviet prisoners of war: around 3 million (including about 50,000 Jewish soldiers)

Non-Jewish Polish civilians: around 1.8 million (including between 50,000 and 100,000 members of the Polish elites)

Serb civilians (on the territory of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina): 312,000

People with disabilities living in institutions: up to 250,000

Roma: 196,000–220,000

Jehovah‘s Witnesses: around 1,900

Repeat criminal offenders and so-called asocials: at least 70,000

German political opponents and resistance activists in Axis-occupied territory: undetermined

Homosexuals: hundreds, possibly thousands (possibly also counted in part under the 70,000 repeat criminal offenders and so-called asocials noted above).

As a son of Dutch Jewish Holocaust survivors, the Jewish number hits very close to home, as it does or has done for many others I have known or still know over the course of my lifetime.  The Nazis destroyed entire worlds.  They wiped out an entire Jewish civilization in a large percentage of Europe.  They tortured, they raped, they conducted experiments, made people dig graves before shooting them in cold blood, and put together one of the most efficiently cruel means of mass murder by gassing to death multitudes of people.  Frankly, although these facts are accurate, this does not capture the true horror of what took place.  For that one needs to research the numerous pictures and accounts of the events that took place.

And yet many people today refer to anyone with ideologies opposed to their own as a Nazi.  This is not a left and right issue.  This is also not a justification nor a means of disregarding dangerous viewpoints or ideologies.  What this is instead is a specific statement as to what separated Nazi Germany from much of what people refer to today as Nazi behavior.  I’ve seen people on the right call Barack Obama a Nazi.  I’ve seen people on the left call Donald Trump a Nazi.  You can criticize, even despise the Iran deal or the situation on the border, but neither of these facts put either president even close to being in the same category as Adolf Hitler.  Furthermore, even if one would feel strong critique for Israel’s handling of the Palestinian situation or feel a disdain for Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, invoking Nazi atrocities as a comparison to today’s Israel is nothing more than a disingenuous use of a term to promote a dangerous anti-Semitic political agenda.

None of this is to say that we should turn a blind eye to the dangers that exist both in our respective countries or abroad.  But it is important to note, that if one is to learn from history it starts by doing everything necessary to study it accurately.  What the Nazis did  between 1933 and 1945 is perpetrate an evil unlike anything the world had ever seen.  To improperly identify and remember what took place not only dishonors all those murdered, it puts us all in greater danger of seeing it take place once again.

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Why this is my most important Tisha B’Av

 

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This year, starting on the evening of August 10th till the evening of August 11th, the Jewish people commemorate the day known as Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av.  It is the day that commemorates the destruction of both Holy Temples in Jerusalem and as it is universally recognized as the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, it is also a day in which the Jewish people remember the greatest tragedies in our history.  Specifically for those of us in this generation, the murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust.  For me personally, in many ways this is my most important Tisha B’Av.

When I wrote the book Jew Face, telling about my parent’s experiences in Holland during the Nazi-occupation, one of the most remarkable aspects of writing it was that I felt as though I went back into time and was with my parents as young adults.  This experience, for lack of a better term, was an incredibly “cool” experience and to be honest one I loved experiencing.  But as is the case with so much in life there is a flip side.  In my recent trip to Amsterdam that same, I guess I will call it sensation, returned for the first time since writing the book.  Except this time it was not as pleasant.  Walking through Amsterdam, specifically the former Jewish neighborhoods, I felt the horror that took place between 1940 and 1945.  Standing in front of what was once the “NIZ”, the Dutch Jewish Hospital,  I could almost sense the Nazi trucks approaching, the soldiers storming the building, and knew that I was within meters of the place where my mother shouted to the chief Nazi administrator, ” why are you doing this?”, to which he replied, “ask the Rabbis”.  I walked on the street that was likely my father’s favorite street on any given Shabbat and could feel what was once an incredible presence of Judaism.  I walked through the streets of Amsterdam at times feeling what I could only describe as the presence of ghosts in what to me was in some ways a graveyard of what was once a thriving Jewish community.

I recognize that I can not know how much of this experience was real and how much of it was just something I felt from within, but since it was more an experience than an overall state of mind I don’t feel it matters one way or another.  What does matter however, as I get close to the commemoration of the saddest day of the Jewish year, that I felt the greatest sadness I have ever felt as a Jew for the plight of my people.  Intellectually I have understood the importance of Tisha B’Av for much of my life.  Emotionally however, I have never understood as I do today, and go into it with an understanding that makes this my most important Tisha B’Av.  A Tisha B’Av in which I have a better emotional understanding of the pain and suffering this day honors and remembers, and the hope that that same pain and suffering is not only never something the Jewish people ever experience again, but that the evil that causes it is never given the power to do that anywhere again or to anyone again on this earth.

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Open Letter to President Donald J. Trump

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Dear Mr. President,

I hesitated in writing this letter, partially because I questioned whether or not it would make a difference and partially because I realized I may anger or offend some people in the process.  I chose to move forward regardless out of an obligation and responsibility I felt to the history and memory of all those lost in my family and other Jewish families in the Holocaust. Although I take issue with much of what I see coming from your office, I recognize and respect the office of the President of the United States and will address you appropriately, even if I often question whether or not you share that same respect.

I am one of those rare few who is willing to break from his position if he feels it is the right thing to do.  I did not vote for you, and do not support much of what you appear to stand for, but will speak positively about you when I feel the situation merits it.  For example, I supported your tough talk directed towards the leader of North Korea.  I believed it was an example of not trying to be reasonable with an unreasonable person and felt that a show of strength was necessary in this instance. I also have come to the conclusion, one shared by many of my fellow Jews, that you do indeed like the Jewish people.  I recognize that many people who lean to the left as I do felt differently, but that is not what forms my opinions. My opinions are formed by my personal history, my family’s history, and the values instilled in me both by my parents and my understanding of the world around me. Sadly I find you to be heading down a path that puts you progressively on the wrong side of history.

I find myself wondering if you have a clear understanding of what the Nazi Party was and what people who suffered under their rule, primarily Jews, went through during that time.  Unlike many others who are not fans of your presidency, I do not underestimate your intelligence.  So I must ask myself, are you detached from the reality of what this all means, do you not care, or does your very large ego lead you to believe you are smarter than everyone else?  No matter how bad some protesters on the left may behave, protesters that represent the Nazi philosophy have chosen to represent brutality unlike anything the world has ever seen. I know your supporters that see this letter will come back with all kinds of information about how bad certain liberal elements are, but no matter what they come up with it will not justify any defense or the establishment of a false equivalency with the Nazis that marched this past weekend in Charlottesville and the fanatic that killed an innocent woman. Your supporters may choose to sell their soul in the name of what they call Conservatism, but make no mistake, supporting you when you do not make the clear distinction between the KKK & Nazi marchers from the marchers on the left is indeed the selling of a soul.

You debated with reporters as though you represented the groups on the right. What about the Alt-Left was your retort?  You spoke of what you called “violence on all sides”. Would you have condemned “violence on all sides” after the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto rose up and fought against their Nazi oppressors?  I am a Jew and a Zionist that takes issue with what I see as a hijacking of the left by the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, pro-Palestinian block looking to push their occupation agenda. That being said, they are no more comparable to the Nazis than you are to Hitler.  I have disagreed and debated with many who have chosen to compare you to him since you exerted yourself into the presidential race and ultimately the presidency.  I find the comparison to be  unfair and unjust. I still do.  I even debated it with my late mother who passed away this past April. She would refer to you as “another Hitler”. My response very simply was, to be compared to Hitler you have to be a murdering fascist, something you are not and I believe never have any intention of becoming.  That being said Mr. Trump, because of your lack of desire to rid these modern day Nazis of oxygen, on the contrary your words have given them life, I actually found myself happy my mother was not alive to see this.

Maybe this is not entirely your fault.  After all, you are only human. You too feel empowered when you can say anything, no matter how unethical or immoral and get no push back from the holier than thou Mick Huckabees and Mike Pences of the world. These men who claim to be so devout and so committed to God and decency are notably silent when it comes to criticizing you at times when you deserve criticism.  But they too have sold their soul, finding whatever financial gain or acquisition of power available to them is worth forsaking their values for.

I’ve tried as hard as any person on the left to give you the benefit of the doubt.  That being said, there is no compromise or acceptance coming from me when Nazis are involved, and to any of my fellow Jews, that includes your daughter and son-in-law, that feel there is compromise, shame on you. Shame on you for allowing even the slightest bit of life or existence of a group who would kill you at their first opportunity. Frankly Mr. President, I suspect that by Hitler’s standards and rules you would also be killed.  After all, you are the father and grandfather of Jewish children.  Maybe you should remember that the next time you wand to say, “what about the Alt-Left?”

I met you once many years ago in the Plaza when you were married to Marla Maples. I too was married at the time, and my then wife who was normally very shy, asked if she could take a picture with you and Marla.  Before you left I asked you if it would be tacky if I gave you my business card.  Your response was, “yes, but do it quickly I am on my way out”. As funny as that was it told me something about you that possibly applies to what is happening here today.  It tells me that  just because something is tacky or even wrong, you still might be willing to do it.  That is all good and well when taking my business card, but that doesn’t fly with me or much of the country when it comes to dealing with Nazis.  You owe it to too many people, including your own family to do better, before it’s too late.

I realize that to you I am no one of significance.  Sadly I believe it possible that only your supporters are significant to you.  That being said, I am an American, I am a Jew, and as a voter I am not happy with what I am seeing.  You may find that many people who did not once feel as I do, may feel that way now. You should see that as significant.  In the meantime I urge you to put your ego and sensitivity aside and lead this country as it is meant to be lead, with decency and deference. After all, as President of the United States that is your sworn oath and responsibility. Whether you like it or not.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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An Angel Departs

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I sit here today writing what is without  question the most difficult thing I have ever had to share with you. This morning, my beautiful and loving mother Sipora Groen passed away peacefully in her home in Florida.  She was the most remarkable person I’ve ever known.  Her love of life was inspirational to everyone who knew her. When my father died 10 years ago, my mother lost her partner in life of more than 60 years.  She mourned him when he left her and remembered her for the remainder of her life, but rather than let her life wither away she reinvented herself and lived a full life till the very end.

I started Holland’s Heroes to honor those whose strength and character helped keep the Jewish people alive after the devastation of the Holocaust. There were soldiers that fought the Germans, member of the resistance such as my father who battled the evil whenever possible, the martyrs murdered by the Nazis, and the survivors that rebuilt their world. No one exemplified that last group better than my mother.  With the loss of her father, brother, fiance and either running and hiding from the Nazis or witnessing their evil for close to 5 years, my mother, together with my father, the man who helped her through that awful time,  went on to build a new life rich with 5 children, 12 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

My mother lost her mother when she was a young child of 13 and with the war and its horrors of 5 years lived a life filled with the saddest and most terrifying of memories. Despite all of that she was a woman filled with joy, enthusiasm, optimism, and most of all, love.  But she was also a woman who slept with nightmares.  She experienced everything life had to offer with the exception of one thing, and that was what she is finally experiencing today, as the nightmares end, and that is the peace she deserves so much.

Sipora Groen was loved by everyone who knew her, being called Mom and Oma by countless people who were thrilled to have her in their lives.  What I and my siblings have lost today can never be replaced, as God has opened up his doors for the angel that is my mother.  I have been so truly blessed to have the love and to have loved this wonderful woman, and today this world has lost a true hero.

In the past 10 years she has enjoyed most of what her life had to offer, always missing just one thing, and that was the man she loved, my father, Nardus Groen.  Today they are reunited and my Mom is finally at peace.  I love you Mom and always will.

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IN CONJUNCTION WITH GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL