If you've been following my posts, or you are part of my Facebook life (does anyone else's spouse hate Facebook as much as mine?), you know that The Next Step, the community-wide campaign day for Women's Philanthropy of MetroWest, was last Friday. When you try something new (and lots of things are new this year at Women's Philanthropy!), when you work closely with lay leaders and staff to make it a reality, it's very rewarding to see it come into being and be successful. But as great as last Friday was, there is one story that emerges as the real truth of why we hold events and make the phone calls and do all that we do here in MetroWest. The real truth is the profound human connection we call Jewish peoplehood.
Our speaker for the morning was Kati Marton, a Hungarian-born journalist and author, whose most recent book, published just last week, is Enemies of the People: My Family's Journey to America. In the book, Kati recounts her family's life in Communist Hungary, where her parents were the two last reporters for the free press in the 1950s. Kati shares in the book, and recounted to us, her discovery, in her early thirties, that her maternal grandparents were killed in Auschwitz. Kati had no idea of her Jewish heritage. Her mother would not discuss her grandparents with her, even after Kati found out the truth. The topic was clearly too painful. There were no pictures of her grandparents, no mementos or keepsakes - the small but precious things many of us take for granted.
We sat spellbound as Kati then described how our MetroWest community was able to provide Kati with a "picture" of her grandparents. A member of our community, a woman named Hedy Brasch, saw the advertisement for The Next Step. Hedy is a survivor of the Holocaust, from the same village in Hungary as Kati's grandparents and her mother. Hedy had been on the same cattle car to Auschwitz as Kati's grandparents; she survived and today speaks throughout the community about her experiences. Hedy contacted Barbara Wind, the director of MetroWest's Holocaust Council to tell her about this connection. The Holocaust Council, funded by our UJA Campaign dollars and coordinated under the umbrella of the Community Relations Committee, brings together a wide range of community-based organizations actively engaged in commemorating the Holocaust, including a speakers' bureau, support and workshops for educators in colleges, universities, and area private, public, and parochial schools. The Holocaust Council also helps synagogues, churches, museums, and government agencies coordinate and publicize commemorations and observances of such events as Kristallnacht and Yom HaShoa. Perhaps you've seen the outstanding exhibit "From Memory to History," about the experiences of MetroWest survivors, produced by the Holocaust Council.
Barbara contacted Sarabeth Margolis Wizen, the director of Women's Philanthropy and the connection with Kati and Hedy was made. When I proposed the concept of The Next Step, I knew it was an event that had the potential to connect the wonderful, powerful women of MetroWest. In my wildest dreams, I never thought that we would also be connecting our speaker with such an important piece of her Jewish story. My deepest thanks to Hedy, to Barbara, the entire staff of Women's Philanthropy and UJC MetroWest - and most of all, to you for keeping MetroWest a place that supports the Holocaust Council of MetroWest and the many, many facets of the jewel that is our Jewish community.