Harold Klein

Our Bris And A Challenge To The Joy

Please G-d help me say this right.

This past week marked another incomparable blessing in our Jewish Journey through life. Our beloved children Janine and Max gave birth to Eitan Naftali Klein. To add to the Nachas, he was named after my father Naftali ben Zvi Hersch Z”l, who was a Holocaust survivor.

So much going through my mind, body and soul. Gratitude to Hashem, appreciation of the moment and of our children committed to rearing Eitan Naftali in a Torah way of life.  But also questioning, am I worthy of such joy? How could I be experiencing ongoing blessings when our people has experienced such tragedies, horror, loss and challenges to their existence.  Why me not them, why them, not me?

When creating or building a new home, tradition holds to leave part undone so we remember the destruction of the Temple. Part of me is undone, and if you read further, something will become undone in you. In fact, I pray it becomes a burden to you. Allow me to explain.

Around 5 years ago, our son Joe created a documentary for a middle school project that shared the story of over 30,000 (at the time, now it is less) Holocaust survivors in these United States living in poverty. This notion was so unfathomable, his teacher, she rejected it, not allowing him to pursue the assignment on the grounds, it could not be possible. Joe, collected proof and proceeded to create an enlightening and disturbing piece, “Surviving Surviving,” revealing a truth that is difficult to accept. Holocaust Survivors who experienced unimaginable loss, the horrors and hunger of the concentration camps are hungry again, here, in our communities. No, please G-d no. It was and is true.

I have been thinking about them every day since. A great lady, Ida Stewart (VP of Estee Lauder for 40 years and a mentor) once told me in her southern drawl… “Harold, listen, thinking is bad for you. Action is good.” How true, especially relevant to what I am trying to communicate.  G-d please forgive me, how could have I waited till now to stop thinking and start doing.

There is a small window of opportunity for the readers of this to help make a difference to what is perhaps the worthiest cause, no, an obligation in front of us today, not tomorrow. That is to intervene and relieve the suffering of those who must not, cannot be suffering any more.

If I was here during the Holocaust, what would or could have I done. I have joined the chorus damning the silence, the inaction, the indifference that occurred when our people were tortured and slaughtered, with no help in sight. Indifference is greater than the evil. * So, now this is our test.

I chastise people when they diminish the impact of a term or word in describing something, like “he’s a Nazi”, or “it’s a Holocaust.” I dare say though for some, the ravages of the Holocaust are happening again.

We learned from Joe’s film, many will not admit to themselves or anyone that they are going through this again. They don’t ask for help, many refuse restitution funds from Germany (my father included) as it is seen as blood money for the extermination of their families. They are cold, ill, hungry, afraid and very alone.

I submit to you, remembering is not enough, in fact it is only a thought. If you have ever heard or said or thought the phrase “Never Again,” I ask you to stop thinking and start hearing the cries of the 6 million pleading to help their family that is in this world, needing us to take action, now. I can’t imagine our lost loved ones are in peace when their loved ones continue to suffer here.

We can end this war. Clearly, a check can be written which is good. Time can be volunteered and that is good. We can contribute and passionately spread the word to all that we touch and that would be very good.  מאד טוב .

There are a few organizations that help. I am currently working with The Blue Card that provides care for the neediest of the Survivors. Below is a link to their website and their upcoming dinner at the NY Public Library honoring Elie Wiesel. It should be noted, the volunteers at Blue Card feel they have maybe five more years left to do their jobs.

May all those who have suffered enough experience the blessings of our blessings.

* “…morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”

 Abraham Joshua Heschel

About the Author
Co-founded with Nan Klein in 1976 one of the country's first video companies. We produce programming for the top organizations in the world. We live a fully Shomer Shabbat life in Woodmere, NY.