Edie Brodsky | Jewish Long Beach Board of Directors – VP Governance
I have been involved in our Jewish community for many years now. I would like to share my personal reasons with you. As some of you may know, my parents are both survivors of the Holocaust.
As in many homes of survivors, life during the holocaust was a forbidden topic as I was growing up. As a child, I quickly learned that my parents lived through something awful and terrible things happened to them. I knew my father had lost his parents and six of his eight siblings. So, my brother and sister and I quickly understood that to speak about it would drudge up bad memories for our Mom and Dad. Instead we were to be happy, to get educated, and to succeed in ways that they were unable to because of their past. It was quite a burden at times. For example, if we didn’t eat our dinner, we were told of the hunger they had known. If we complained about teenage dates and problems, we were reminded that at least we had a teenage life that they had been deprived of. Yes, we had little in the way of stories, instead we had many clear messages of the horror they experienced.
For a while, the stories went untold and their three children made them happy. Until the time my father became very depressed.
In addition to the depression, my father had other medical problems, which led to a scheduled surgery. When he awoke from the anesthesia he was back in “Nazi Europe.” The nurses were startled, but this was only the beginning. He became so depressed that he was in and out of the Neuropsychiatric Institute at UCLA. The psychiatrist told us that my father harbored so much guilt for leaving his family and running away from the Germans. That, along with the guilt he felt for doing horrible and illegal things to survive, which was now haunting him. He needed to remember the past and he needed to talk about it, but he couldn’t.
So, I will never really know all that happened to my parents during the Holocaust. But, what I do know is that I am alive because they dared to do whatever it took to survive and were fortunate enough to bring their family to a free land. I have come to realize that I may not know all their stories but I am free to make my own. I am the hope that was worth surviving for. WE are that hope. It is me and YOU that not only must make sure that this never happens again, but that their survival means something.
I give of my time and my funds to Jewish Long Beach so that Israel may survive and so that we as Jews have a homeland to go to whenever we want or need to go. I give so that here in Long Beach we have the programs and facilities to provide our children, ourselves and our community with Jewish culture and education and to help needy families in times of crisis, which we have been able to do as the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded.
I have been fortunate. It’s easy to rationalize that one cannot raise their pledge or give at all: a new house, a remodel, childcare expenses, etc. But the reality is that those of us with the ability to do our part, however small, must give. Real suffering is what Jews experience and will continue to do so as a people if we don’t help ourselves. You have a chance to step forward and make your Jewish difference. Let us each make our Jewish story one of which we can be proud.
Let’s make ours a good story.