Stirring Memories

Synagogues can create community and become “The Center of our Jewish Life.” Google WJC and you will see this tagline on our website. The moniker is not just an expression; it means something to each of us as to how it relates to our own Jewish life. Being part of the WJC community can create stirring memories for each family and individual.

For Jen and me, each holiday evokes thoughts of our family and the preparation and celebration unique to each one. We remember who loved which holiday, which tradition, which prayers the most. Passover is around the corner as I write this column. If ever there was a Jewish holiday to stir memories, with all of the preparation, celebration, unique foods and family get-togethers, Passover has got to be it.

Synagogues can be “simcha machines” and WJC is no exception. Brisses, Baby Namings, B’nei Mitzvot and Aufrufs are but a few examples. But they aren’t the only simchas that stir memories. For some, it can be the Early Childhood Center, Religious School or Hebrew High graduation. For others, it can be the teen trips for Tikkun Olam or other projects. These all stir memories.

Some memories can be bittersweet or even painful. While holidays and happy lifecycle events can be a source of fond memories, they can also remind us of those family members who are no longer here to share them with us. Many of us remember that at the time of our grief, our synagogue family was there for us to help us through those difficult moments. As a community, Yom HaShoah commemorations remind us of part of our painful past. It is comforting to remember together. Being part of the WJC community can bring with it years of memories.

I don’t generally consider the weather “column-worthy,” but it was last month. Weather events created hardship for many of our families. We opened our doors to families without power, food, and internet. Thank you to our staff and all those involved in helping our families in need.

We had our spectacular Purim Carnival (another stirring family memory). The Carnival was simply packed, the busiest I have ever seen it. Thank you to Aleza Kulp and the Parents Association Chairs, Laura Grill and Mia Mandel. And thank you to all the parents and teens who helped run the booths, food, and prizes. To say Randy Heller and company outdid themselves with this year’s Purimshpiel would be an understatement. Bravo and thank you for such creativity, bringing our community together and giving us so many laughs.

On April 8, our Holocaust Learning Center (HLC) is assembling a memorable program with guest speaker, Noah Lederman, presenting his book: A World Erased: A Grandson’s Search for His Family’s Holocaust Secrets. Noah will speak about his family stories gleaned from his grandparents’ painful, and long-suppressed memories of the Holocaust in Poland. Thank you to HLC’s chair Dan Berkowitz and our librarian Arlene Ratzabi for putting together this program.

Also this month, we will feature a special evening on Tuesday, April 24 with Holocaust survivor Peter Somogyi. Peter was born in Hungary and was sent to Auschwitz with his family. There he and his twin brother were selected by Mengele for his barbaric cruel research and experimentation on twins. Peter will be speaking about his experiences during the Holocaust and how he rebuilt his life thereafter.

Also, don’t forget to tune in to the second and third programs in our series on Jewish Pop Culture: Exploring Judaism Through TV & Film on April 11 & April 18th. Check out the calendar for the details and join us for these fascinating guest speakers.

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