It’s not something I’d go out of my way to encourage my kids to do – win the “most arrested” title. In any category.
But when you meet and chat with “the most arrested rabbi in America,” you do get a little curious about the circumstances. I'll get back to this shortly.
I spent the beginning of this week seeing the weight and impact of our history.
On Monday I watched my daughter march in the Scotch Plains/Fanwood Memorial Day Parade, recognizing our armed service men and women. It was a lovely, moving ceremony, honoring our veterans.
I was especially moved to see local Shoah (Holocaust) survivor Marsha Kreuzman lead the parade. Born in Krakow, Poland, Marsha was rescued at the door of the Mauthausen Crematorium by the U.S. Army 11th Armored Division. And on Monday she stood next to a local Fanwood resident whose father was one of her rescuers.
Marsha has worked with our Greater MetroWest Holocaust Council for some years, educating as many people as possible about what she experienced. She’s been the “twin” to some 65 young people, telling her story and educating them and their families.
And on Tuesday I saw the amazing work of our Holocaust Council as several hundred children from local schools took part in a full day of learning. These schoolchildren had participated in life-changing visits to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Hosted by our Morris Rubell Holocaust Remembrance Journeys Fund, these mostly non-Jewish students learned about the Shoah, the survivors, and the importance of history.
But on Tuesday evening these messages came together. At a lovely, elegant, and fun gala, The Jewish Historical Society of New Jersey celebrated 25 years of Lasting Impressions. We honored the achievements and community service of the wonderful Howard Kiesel. We celebrated the dedication and commitment of my colleague Linda Forgosh, JHS Executive Director, and her dedicated lay and professional team. And I got to meet and chat with Rabbi Israel Dresner, Howard’s rabbi – and America’s most arrested rabbi!
Rabbi Dresner stood up against the British mandate and was arrested for demonstrating against the return of the ship Exodus to Germany; he stood up against the Soviets and was arrested while demonstrating for the release of the refuseniks; he stood alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was arrested numerous times for this.
It was an honor to spend the evening hearing Howard, Linda and Rabbi Dresner remind us about our deeply rooted values.
Robert Rose, JHS President, made a lovely comment at the beginning of the evening: “If we see further than those that came before us,” he said, “it’s because we stand on their broad shoulders.”
I saw those broad shoulders this week.
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