10 November 2007


What might have been!

November 9.

My paternal grandmother’s birthday.

Gittel, meaning Good.

After whom I am named after.

Were it not for the Nazi Regime, she might have been sitting around our Sabbath table
last night celebrating with us.

Celebrating my eldest son, Ari, completing his exams, finishing high school.

As we sat around the table surrounded with family, my father reminded us that it was his mother’s birthday.

They look identical, my father and his mother.

An auspicious day for another reason.

November 9 we commemorate Kristallnacht.

The night of the broken glass.

The night of the burning books.

Jewish homes along with 8,000 Jewish shops were ransacked in many German cities and villages.

The SS destroyed Jewish buildings with sledgehammers.

Streets houses and shops were covered in smashed windows — the origin of the name "Night of The Broken Glass."

Unlike windows of residential homes, shop windows at that time were made of expensive, high quality Kristallglass (crystal glass). Hence the term Kristallnacht was not meant to be ironic but alluded to the enormous number of shop windows, mostly owned by Jewish shopkeepers that were broken during the night.

Jews were beaten to death.

30,000 Jewish men were taken to concentration camps.

1,668 synagogues were ransacked;

7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed

267 synagogues were set on fire.

Torah’s and Holy books were burned. Sacrilege to Jews.

Jews never throw out Holy books they are buried like a person would be.

My father, every year recounts the stories of that horrible and terrifying night.

He was a young boy, 11 or 12 riding the streets on his bike.
He saw what was happening in his town, got on his bike and raced to the next town. He was in a panic, knocking from door to door of Jewish homes and shops that he knew warning them of the impending danger. He ran to tell other family to hide, to run, to get out – whatever!

Door after door.
House after house.

Calling out as loud as he could to get to as many people as he could.

Who knows how many lives this young boy, my father, saved?

Kristallnacht assemblage piece.

Based on a conversation we had, Michael did an assemblage piece on Kristallnacht. It is a very meaningful piece.
It is here in Sydney with me.

I thought it to be a pertinent time to post it here.

I was not sure but after a discussion with Michael today we have decided to list it on my ETSY site.
10% of the sale will be donated to the Holocaust museum in Sydney.

I need to take some detailed photos which I will upload in the next post and then list it.

But now what is!

This Friday the 16th we will turn 90.

This Friday coming, my twin brother and I will turn 45!

This Friday around the Sabbath table we will sit together and celebrate that
and we will be celebrating because were it not for my father surviving, I would not be here writing this.

So rather than lamenting more grey hair, we celebrate existence and how very fortunate we are to live in easy times compared to what was.

We will celebrate living freely and I have the good fortune to share my birthday on Friday with a twin with whom I am extraordinarily close and for that I am grateful.

Thanks to everyone who has commented on my blog.
I am in the middle of n extremely busy period right now so if I do not email you with a thanks please understand – my time is just so very limited trying to complete many projects.

Ciao and have a lovely weekend with your loved ones.



Sue McGettigan said...

A very Happy Birthday to you and your brother!

I remember learning about Kristallnacht (I might be spelling that wrong?) in History class and being astounded - it's a good thing that your family and many others around the world honor the tradition of passing on this history on so no-one forgets.

Karen Cole said...

Mazel Tov to you and your family, Judy. You SO have your grandmothers eyes. An amazing resemblance.

You are so lucky to have so much to celebrate. 45?.....a baby...though I am not old enough to be your mother!!

Bobs birthday is the 12th. OYE VEY, another Scorpio!!!

Michael, Michael, Michael. An amazing collaboration if I may say so.

Have a great weekend, my friend.


Lissy said...

amazing :)

and Happy Birthday :)

Julie H said...

Judy as you missed your Grandmother last night I am sure there were other families sittign offering prayers of thanks for your father's bravery.
The holocaust so brutally interrupted the circle of life, it seems unfair that you did not grow up knowing your beautiful Gran.
Amazing art work form Michael. I look forward to seeing more pics.

jo said...

What an amazing story and an icredibly brave feat by your father. Your stories continue to astound me. Special thoughts at this time of your family and Grandmother and a very happy birthday to you and your twin!!!
Love Jo xoxo

Kristen Robinson said...

My dear friend I wish you lots of joy as you celebrate your birthday!!!

The violence of such atrocities twsits my heart truly awful. Oh if you only your Grandmother had been here I know she is proud.

Amazing piece to honor such a tragedy.


Judy Wise said...

Every day I hear of atrocities too happening here in our present time. There is so much to be done to counter the forces of evil. There was a time I did not believe in evil but that time is passed. Thank goodness for you, Judy, for people like your father, who cared enough to help others, and for artists everywhere who do all they can to make the world more humane. How can we live in comfort and forget the suffering that was visited on so many?

Jen Crossley said...

Oh Judy what a touching story,Your dear Grandmother would be so proud of you keeping the memory of her and many like her alive so we never forget what can happen to innocent people.
Happy Birthday My dear friend Judy and many more.
I love the piece you and Michael have done,a very touching piece it gave me chills

Judy said...

hi guys, I didn't do the piece - Michael did. it's all his.

Ro Bruhn said...

Happy Birthday Judy to you and your brother, what a great looking pair, neither of you looking your 45 years. Was it yesterday or is it next Friday?
You come from an incredible family, your father sounds like a very special person.
Congratulations to Ari on completing school, with all the support you've given him he'll do well.
Great piece of work by Michael, look forward to seeing the details.

vivian said...

mazel tov judy. hope your year will be full of blessings and happiness. you deserve nothing less. take care.

nina said...

hello dear judy...i thought of you (as always, but more so) yesterday when i read my daily newsletter from garrison keillor's writer's almanac - that said this:

"Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night in 1938 when Hitler ordered a series of supposedly spontaneous attacks on Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues. The idea was to make the attacks look random, and then accuse the Jews of inciting the violence. In all, more than 1,000 synagogues were burned or destroyed. Rioters looted about 7,500 Jewish businesses and vandalized Jewish hospitals, homes, schools, and cemeteries. The event was used to justify barring Jews from schools and most public places, and forcing them to adhere to new curfews. In the days following, thousands of Jews were sent to concentration camps. The event was called Kristallnacht, which means, "Night of Broken Glass." It's generally considered the official beginning of the Holocaust. Before that night, the Nazis had killed people secretly and individually. After Kristallnacht, the Nazis felt free to persecute the Jews openly, because they knew no one would stop them."

i've seen first hand the magnificent piece of artwork that michael created, kept there on your living room side table - i've held it in my hands, and speechlessly marveled over it, very much in awe of both his talent and the extremely deep meaning behind it. that you would be willing to part with it astounds me....it is my very favorite piece that michael has created, and i told him as much that night when the two of you were showing it to me. i urge you to hold on to it!!!
i know that your grandmother's spirit is there with you now - and i see your face in hers (or, hers in yours, i should say). such beauty, such grace.
wishing you and your gorgeous brother a very happy birthday - thank your father for me for saving who knows how many lives - and also for bringing you into this wonderful world. yes, there are evil people in it, but also beautiful spirits like yours and your father's as well (and let's not forget michael!) xoxoxoxoxoxo

Karen Cole said...

By collaboration, I meant you guys as a couple.

It's a great piece, Michael.

lindaharre said...

What a handsome duo!!!!! I didn't realize you were a twin:D So...first off.....Happy BIrthday, Happy Birthday! Secondly, the piece that Michael made to commemorate "the night of broken glass" is so touching. Thirdly, congrats on becoming 45 and still looking like you are 30! That is an achievement all by itself:D Enjoy your day Friday.....

Audrey said...

your father did an heroic thing for such a young boy, he must of been terrified. A horrible time for all. Thank you for sharing, I too remember learning about this at school and seeing a particular movie(I think it was the diaries of Anne Frank??)watching this particular scene played out, but how easy we forget past atrocities. I love reading your blog.
Happy Birthday.
Michael's piece is spectacular.

Steph said...

You grand mother is still with you , I'm sure she's one of your many angels ...
Happy 90th birthday to you and your brother ...
Michael's art work is amazing!
Take care and be well!

Karen Owen said...

Happy Birthday, Judy, and to your brother! You look so much like your grandmother. Your father was an extremely brave boy. Thanks once again for sharing a remarkable story. Also, Michael's piece is amazing.


Pearl Maple said...

Happy Birthday

Thank you for taking history out of books and keeping them in the human perspective from the eyes of your family. Every family who lived though this era has their own story to tell, in doing so, we can only hope that we all learn from lessons learnt the hard way.

Lisa Cook said...

It is my daughter's birthday on the 9th as well, so now I will think too of Kristallnacht each year on this date. Thank you for sharing some more of the unique history of your father. Imagine the sum of all those individual gestures and efforts made by so many many people. It must add up to a very large amount of lives saved.
Happy Birthday this week!


many happy returns Judy!!!!

hmmm coincidence??? im working on a peice on my grandmother at the moment also...
amazing story, thanks for sharing

mizcarla said...

The photos break my heart. I simply cannot fathom the losses during that time.

On a more cheerful note--Happy Birthday wishes. I didn't realize you were a twin--how cool!!

Love the piece Michael made for you, and also want to add your Grandmother was beautiful. I agree w/ Karen... I see a definite similarity in her eyes, your eyes and your brother's.


megan said...

What an amazing tale of survival - thankyou once again for enlightening me on a history I have learned so much of from you. Again and again the will of human survival reminds me of the freedom we so readily take for granted. What a wonderfully significant artwork Michael made in memory of those who survived and those that were lost, It's nice that you are ready to pass it on to another. Happy Birthday for Friday, what a great year 62 was! Congrats to your big boy for finishing High School - best of luck for whatever he chooses to do in the future. Good luck with all the projects too!

Lani Gerity said...

Thank you for being a culture bearer!!!
You are wonderful!

sue said...

I hope you had a wonderful birthday, shared with a twin-how special! Thanks for sharing and educating in this post, when I read it, I realized how little I really know of the holocaust and all that went on. I can't even imagine how horrifying, but am certainly grateful that your father survived, giving life to you who is making this a better world to live in.

katie said...

what an amazing and poignant post, thank you for sharing all this with those of us who care about you. the piece michael made is amazing even in photos, i imagine all the more so in real life.

wishing you and your twin brother a beautiful birthday celebration of life; 45 is a good age, as are they all.
xo katie

rochambeau said...

Happy early Birthday to beautiful you and your handsome twin. Yes!! there is so much to celebrate! Mazel Tov and may the party continue!!
Congratulations to your son too!

Cre8Tiva said...

monday was my 56th birthday...congrats on your 45th...i have twin sons...have blessed sabbath and birth day...blessings, rebecca

craftyhala said...

Happy Birthday to the both of you!
As always a beautiful and enjoyable post :)

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Sweet girl!! And happy birthday to your brother.
Thanks for sharing your story with us. You have had many remarkable people in your life.

Leslie said...

I am always touched by your blog Judy. Here I sit with goosebumps and tears welling as I read about Kristallnacht, your father, and your grandmother -- you do share a strong resemblance. Bless your father. How proud you must be of him!

And Michael's piece! So wonderful. Like Nina, I think you should reconsider giving it up. Speaking of Michael, I am so excited to be taking one of his classes at Art and Soul in Virginia next May!

Happy birthday sweet girl!


Barbara said...

happy birthday ...and what a touching story.

paris parfait said...

What a very touching and powerful post. Happy Birthday to you and your twin! That is a fantastic piece Michael created.

Izabella~ said...

oh so tragic, I can't even imagine the horror they must have experienced on that night~ Last night I watched "Life is Beautiful" gawd I cryed like a baby! what a beautiful movie in the midst of turmoil~

thinking of you!!

xo ~Bella
p.s. I know your extremely busy, no need to reply ;) & I received the goodies! oh such wonderful treasures~

Susan Tuttle said...

Hope you had a beautiful birthday my dear!--you don't look a day over 30!

Thank you for educating me about Kristallnacht. Michael's piece is so powerful--he has captured the feeling and sentiment perfectly.


Katie McClellan said...

Your words and your art carry the resonance of your family's soul into the hearts of the world. I cannot begin to express how touched I am by your blog. This past post was read behind a wall of tears. Your father was so brave. I shall never think of breaking glass in the same way again.

My birthday was the 11th and seeing this post straightened my spine a bit. I didn't welcome my 49th year with regret for the new wrinkles and defiant gray hairs, but with gratitude for all of my blessings.

Thank you and happy birthday to you and your brother!


Q said...

Dear Judy,
Blessings. Happy Birthday. Always your posts are beautiful. Your spirit is bright and your love of family so true. I am touched by your family; brave and kind people.
It is always an honour to read your posts.