The Charlotte Jewish news. (Charlotte, N.C.) 19??-current, December 01, 1988, Image 8
Page 8-THE NEWS-December, 1988 My Summer in Israel By Michael Scott Lass Hundreds Attend Kristallnacht Commemoration i f % In the Negev, Michael Lass (R) with great new friends (L to R) Mark Levin and Claude Grubair. On June 22, 1988 I was ex tremely fortunate to be able to attend the Summer Session of the Alexander Muss/High School In Israel program. This eight-week academic experi ence allowed me to see first hand a lot of the things that I have only seen in books and magazines or have heard about in school. Israel: the word can be ex plained with so many adjec tives. Before I left for Israel I had no sense of my Jewish background and pride. It is a place where I do not have to think before I express my Judaism. Even though the Constitution grants us the right to “freedom of religion,” in Israel I was not afraid of do ing so. I felt for the first time in my life that I was not a minority due to my religion. I was able to wear a “kipa” or pray without being stared at. I always thought that Juda ism was just a religion, but it is not just that. It is also a culture and a nationality. Israel allowed me to see that it is also my home and that I am always welcome. It is a home for all of the Jewish peo ple in the world. The AM/HSI program was uniquely designed to enhance the students’ education in Judaism and Israeli history. Upon arrival in Israel, we began our education. We started with the Biblical period and ended in the eighth week with modern day Israel and its conflicts. Inbetween were countless hours of fun and yes, studying. When we would learn a lesson, we would go on "tiyulim” (field trips) to where that particular event in history took place. We went on approximately 3-4 tiyulim a week. At these places we had class and very intense dis cussions. It was like no class that I ever had. For the first time in my life I was allowed to freely express my beliefs to any extent that I wanted to. The program was very chal lenging and rewarding. Whether it was hiking in the Negev, climbing Masada at three o’clock in the morning, hiking in the desert in summer heat for five hours or crawling on our stomach in unexcavated caves, all sixty-five of us found it very exciting and yes, fun. We gained a sense of self- satisfaction and achievement. If one would ask any of us if we would do it again, not one would probably say “no.” I gained so much knowledge and maturity from this pro gram. I am really glad I did not experience Israel on a tour from an organization or through a travel agent, because I probably would not have learned anything. I received credit at my high school (South Mecklenburg) and I was able to receive credit at any college through Miami- Dade Community College. I can not express enough how grateful I am to AM/HSI for the experience. I made the most fantastic friends from all over the United States whom I will never forget. We grew to be one family and it was real ly hard to say goodbye to sixty-five of the closest friends who lived together for two months. Lastly, I recommend this program to any high school Junior or Senior who wishes to experience Israel in the best way. I would like to thank the Charlotte Jewish Federation for awarding me the “Teen- Israel Summer Scholarship” for 1988. Without this scholar ship I would not have been able to obtain the most fan tastic experience of my life. “Bitiyuk, Toda Raba!” Calling All Teens It*s not too early to plan your wonderful summer in Israel. We can help: Call the Charlotte Jewish Federation Office, 366-5007, to see how you qualify. Teen Israel Scholarship Committee Charlotte Jewish Federation By Rita Mond More than 800 people, Jews and Christians, gathered at Holocaust Square on the even ing of Nov. 9, in commemora tion of the 50th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Worshippers of all ages held flickering candles as they formed a silent proces sion behind the men carrying the seven Torahs. They then filled the sanctuary of Temple Israel to overflowing. Rabbi Marc Wilson stated, “These singular flames repre sent the spirit of God that can not be extinguished in the human soul.” He then intro duced five eyewitnesses to Kristallnacht, all of whose stories were pain-filled mem ories of that night of Nazi vio lence. Speaking were Irving Bienstock (Dortmund, Ger many), Henry Hirschmann (Gross-Auheim am Main, Ger many), Alice Sternberg (Es sen, Germany) — her story was read by Rabbi Wilson. Robert Markmann, originally from Vienna, Austria, had his story read by his daughter, Elaine Markmann Chemotsky, and Henry Wasserman from Nuremberg, Germsmy had his memories read by his grand daughter, Alana Cooper. Rabbi Robert Seigel and Steven Haas led a special “Kaddish” (mourner’s prayer of affirmation) which recog nized the places of the mass murders of six million Jews: Maidanek, Mauthausen, Babi Yar, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, Auschwitz, Lodz, Gurs, War saw, Bogdanovka, Ravens- bruck, Treblinka, Chelmno, Vilna, Belzec, Buchenwald, Sobibor. Msgr. John McSweeney, Vi car General, Romzm Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, gave the Hundreds gathered at Holocaost Square: silent candlelight vigil. Note Torah processional on left Crowd entering Teaple Israel. Photos/Phil Joffe prayer of rededication, the prayer of St. Francis. The Rev. Thomas Graves, senior minis ter of St. John’s Baptist Church, offered the emotional benediction. Mayor Sue My rick read the proclamation dedicating the week of Nov. 4-10 “to the memory of those who suffered and perished in the Holo caust.” A highlight of the evening was the dedication of a Holo caust Memorial Torah, written in 1830, and rescued from a desecrated temple in Breznice, Czechoslovakia. This Torah was given to Temple Israel in honor of Celia Scher, a gift of her family, students and friends. Celia has disting uished herself by decades of commitment to perpetuating the message of the Holocaust by teaching Jews and non- Jews, young and old, the les sons of the Holocaust. She serves as a member of the N.C. Commission on the Holocaust and has taught for 29 years in Temple Israel’s religious school. The Kristallnacht Service was sponsored by The Char lotte Jewish Federation, The Jewish Community Center, Temple Beth El V’Shalom and Temple Israel. Refreshments after the service were provided by both of the temples’ sister hoods. 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