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How to remember, how to atone, how to forgive



Holocaust survivor Henny Simon visits the Memorial Museum that was once the Jewish Landscape and Gardening School in Ahem, just outside of Hannover, Germany. Her father, Ludwig Rosenbaum, painted those walls. During the war, the Nazis converted it for use by the Gestapo. The museum recalls the history of the building. (Courtesy of Jerome E. Fischer)

Published in THE DAY January 08. 2017 12:01AM 

by Jerome E. Fischer

Are there sins so grievous that atonement is unattainable? Are there wounds so deep that forgiveness is impossible.

Given the realities of the Holocaust, I would have answered “yes” to both questions. That changed after I recently accompanied 91-year-old Henny Simon to Hannover, Germany.

The occasion was the 75th anniversary of the roundup and expulsion of the Jews of Hannover to a ghetto in Riga. The Nazis would later take many of them into the forest, line them up, shoot them and bury them in the pit they fell into, dug for that purpose.

Ludwig and Jenny Rosenbaum were Henny’s parents. Ludwig had fought for Germany in World War I and received the Iron Cross, 2nd Class, for his meritorious service. After the war, he returned to Hannover, went to school and became a master painter, qualified to train apprentices.

In 1933, the Nazis came to power. In 1935, Ludwig and Jenny’s only daughter, Henny, an athlete and scholar, was excluded from public school. On March 12, 1940, after refusing for years to believe that Germany would turn on its Jewish citizens, Ludwig received a passport and visa for Shanghai, China. On April 8, 1940, he left by way of Italy.

On Dec. 4, 1941, Jenny Rosenbaum and Henny received passports and visas to join him in Shanghai. On Dec. 7, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. German officials cancelled all exit visas, trapping the mother and daughter.

On Dec. 15, they were among the thousand and one Jews who the Nazis rounded up, took to the small train station of Fischerhof, and transported to the ghetto in Riga. Among those murdered in the forest outside of Riga was Henny’s mother. Henny, by wits, luck, and help from friends Ursala Tasse and Margie “Putti” Israel, survived the war.

She returned to a Hannover destroyed by Allied bombing. Learning her father had reached America, she decided, after first considering Palestine, to come to America with her husband and new son and reunite with her father.

Click HERE to finish reading Jerome Fischer's recount of Henny Simon's trip to Hannover, Germany.


2017 Kallah for the Inquisitive Begins Sunday, January 8 at Temple Emanu-El



Mark your Calendars: Kallah for the Inquisitive, Sundays, January 8, 15, 22 and 29


As year-end 2016 fast approaches, the Jewish Federation and area rabbis are finalizing the courses for 2017’s "Kallah for the Inquisitive," which is set to begin on Sunday, January 8, 2017. Formerly known as the "Institute for Adult Jewish Studies," this annual January program underwent a name change in December of 2015.

This year’s line-up of enrichment courses range from Holocaust poetry to the Kabbalah to understanding the Talmud for the 21st century to Hasidic stories.

Program Basics

Here are some program basics that you need to know if interested in attending. The Kallah meets for four consecutive Sundays in January – 8, 15, 22, and 29. All sessions are being hosted by Temple Emanu-El, 29 Dayton Rd. in Waterford because of its central location. All sessions begin at 2:00 p.m. and run through 4:15 p.m. All sessions are made up of two parts. The first part, from 2-3 pm, is a one hour enrichment course where participants choose one of the four courses being  offered and learn about a specific subject for four weeks. The second part, from 3:15-4:15 pm is the Community Forum, where participants from the first hour enrichment course come together and listen to a speaker address the audience on a topic of interest.

The fifteen minutes between the two sessions is for a short break, to come together to schmooze and nosh before getting down to business again. The Community Forums take place during the first three weeks and on January 29 the Kallah will conclude with a festive meal during the second hour to celebrate the four weeks of learning.

Registration is required whether in advance or the day of on January 8. A registration form will be available in the December 30 Jewish Leader.

Cost for the four-week session is $20 per person and includes the first hour enrichment course, Community Forums, and the concluding meal. If you only want to attend the Community Forums, the registration fee is $5 per Community Forum and can be paid the day of the forum.

If you have any questions, contact Jerry or Mimi at the Federation 860-442-8062 or office.jfec@gmail.com. Also, check the Federation web site for full course descriptions and registration form at JFEC.COM.

Following are the course descriptions:

Kabbalah taught by Rabbis Ken Alter & Marc Ekstrand

During this four-week Kabbalah class we will discuss passages from some of the greatest mystical texts: the Bahir, Sefer Yetzirah and the Zohar. We will be using meditative techniques and discuss how we feel after we quiet the mind. Please join us for this beautiful mystical and spiritual journey.

Holocaust Poetry taught by Rabbi Jeremy Schwartz & Jerry Fischer

Theodor Adorno said, “Writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.” And yet poetry was written. It needed to be written. For our souls to respond to the tragedy that is beyond all rationality requires a form of communication that creates meaning beyond the rules of reason. It requires poetry. We’ll read some of the most important poetry written in Europe, Israel, and America during the Shoah and respond to it to deepen our understanding, if such a word may be used, and strengthen our own response.

Understanding the Talmud for the 21st Century taught by Rabbis Julius Rabinowitz & Aaron Rosenberg

The Talmud was written about 1500 years ago to reflect the debates of our rabbinical ancestors. But did you know that these teachings also help us understand the challenges that we face today? Come join us as we look at selected excerpts from the Talmud in English, and then discuss their applicability to our lives in the 21st century.

Hassidic Stories taught by Rabbi Avrohom Sternberg

A selection of Hasidic stories from the sages, the Chassidic masters, and contemporary Jewish stories will be reviewed and connections made to life in today’s busy world.


Holocaust Survivor, Henny Simon, 91, to Speak of Ordeal in Germany


Holocaust survivor Henny Simon of Colchester talks at her home Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, about her experiences during World War II being expelled by the Nazis from Hanover, Germany, and her hopes for her return trip to Hanover to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the expulsion. A photo album of Simon's that was saved by an aunt lies open with a photo of Simon as a teenager. (Tim Cook/The Day)

Taken from THE DAY; click here to read the rest of Henny Simon's story.

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Lady of Gaga, Ya'ara Moses, Guest Artist at Connecticut College


Ya'ara Moses, a teacher of the Israeli dance form Gaga, is a guest artist in the College's Dance Department this semester. Ya'ara Moses, a teacher of the Israeli dance form Gaga, is a guest artist in the College's Dance Department this semester.

When you ask Ya’ara Moses what the Israeli dance form Gaga is, she puts on her hardhat.

“I like to think of it as a toolbox,” said Moses. “It’s a set of tools that you offer to a dancer and they bring out what they find.”

Then she changes her mind with a laugh. “Gaga is actually everything; it can be so many things.”

Gaga is what you make of it and what you feel in the moment, explains Moses, a world-renowned Gaga instructor. She is a guest artist in the Dance Department at Connecticut College this semester, an opportunity made possible by the Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artists Program. The program, an initiative through the Washington D.C.-based Israel Institute, brings Israeli artists for residencies at top colleges and universities in the United States.

The dancer from Tel Aviv is now a leading teacher of Gaga, a dance form she learned with the Batsheva Dance Company under the tutelage of artistic director—and Gaga inventor—Ohad Naharin. At the College, she is teaching a Gaga class three times a week and also training students to perform a well-known dance by Naharin to the Hebrew song, “Echad Mi Yodea,” for the Dance Department’s concert, Dec. 9-10.

Like many dancers, Moses started out at a young age with ballet and modern forms of dance. By 18, she was introduced to Gaga and “fell in love,” she said, and began to train at Batsheva. She was drawn to Gaga because there were no mirrors, which she said “make the world two-dimensional.”

“With a mirror, you move like how you look and not how you feel,” Moses said. “Gaga really opens up your heart. It connects you to your true passion from the inside.”

More about feeling than precision, it’s considered “a movement language” rather than a dance; a way of expressing yourself. Unlike ballet where all of the dancers are working in sync, each dancer is performing the same move but in a different way. It can be as noticeable as the quickness of a move or as subtle as the expression on a face.

“You see people for who they are. You’re not seeing robots,” Moses said.

Teaching Gaga to dancers who are trained in classic and modern dance forms, Moses said, is challenging. She encourages her students to “be soft and let go;” to initiate movement through emotion. She wants to “reach into their guts”—figuratively, of course—to help them find what’s inside.

“I want them to know they don’t have to be correct,” she said. “It’s OK to make mistakes. It’s OK to laugh at yourself and look ugly and feel something different. Connect to your instincts and be the animal you really are.”

This type of pedagogical approach has impressed David Dorfman ’81, dance professor and chair of the Dance Department, a renowned performer and instructor himself. Dorfman was the one who invited Moses to come to Connecticut College and has already seen her magnetism draw in students.

“Her manner of being overall is one of gentle generosity with moments of ferocity that are absolutely exquisite, especially when teaching Gaga,” said Dorfman, who has joined Moses’ classes to learn the dance form. “Ya’ara is an unbelievable role model for our students. She absolutely loves what she does and spreads that love to everyone.”

Moses’ reconstruction of “Echad Mi Yodea” will be highlighting the College’s Dance Department Concert on Dec. 9-10 in Palmer Auditorium.


Delegates from Connecticut College Hillel with Jerry Fischer at 2016 General Assembly


Delegates from Connecticut College Hillel participate in the 2016 General Assembly with Jerry Fischer. To read more about the experience, please click here.


Tal and Guy, 2016-17 Young Israeli Emissaries 

Tal and Guy, this year's Young Israeli emissaries, arrived on August 31 to Eastern CT. To read their updates, please click here