Letters Week of Dec. 28, 2011


Let's hope things have changed in schools and an article in the Exponenet brings a survivor and liberator together.


Choice of Photo for Ad Was Not Meant to Offend
I am writing in response to concerns about ads that Abington Friends School placed with the Jewish Exponent for our December open house.

AFS is a diverse community based on principles of respect and inclusion. Our students come from many neighborhoods, racial and ethnic groups, family structures and religious backgrounds, and we value this richness of perspectives across differences. It is with these educational goals in mind that we advertise in the Exponent and other publications.

I regret our choice of photo for the ad, which has caused concern and confusion. In our print ads, we have featured photos of AFS families and this family photo came from a recently published guide to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah written by our Jewish Families Affinity Group for our larger community.

While we intended the ads to be a celebration of our families and their backgrounds, I'm sorry that this photo crossed a line for readers in its possible interpretation as a description of the AFS school experience.

Finally, I am grateful to my peer school leaders, the principals and heads of our regional Jewish day schools, for their letter of thoughtful and appropriate criticism of our choice of photograph. The tradition of Jewish education in the Philadelphia region is one of depth of community and academic excellence that I greatly respect and appreciate.
Rich Nourie
Head of School
Abington Friends School

Let's Hope That Things Have Changed in Schools
The Dec. 15 cover story "Holidays Chalk Up Time in the Schools" made me remember incidents from my past. I grew up in Wilmington, Del., and there were few Jewish students in my elementary school class.

I vividly remember one Christmas season when the teacher went around the class and urged each child to talk about the presents he or she had received for Christmas.

A Jewish girl who I was friendly with whispered that she was going to substitute the gifts that she had received for Chanukah. I couldn't do that because all I ever received for Chanukah was a little gelt from my grandparents.

So, I decided to lie. I pretended that I had received the same kinds of gifts as the other students. It was very sad that I felt the need to fit in.

Years later, when my daughter was in second grade, she approached her teacher and asked her why the school's music teacher sang only Christmas songs and no Chanukah ones. Her teacher encouraged her to speak to the music teacher.

However, when she did, the woman yelled at her and said that she'd ruined her day. My daughter was devastated and related the incident to her teacher, who happened to be Jewish.

Perhaps things have changed and people are more tolerant of those who worship differently.
Lucille Sopinsky

Article Brings Survivor and Liberator Together
A hard rain fell on Wednesday, Dec. 7, but the sun was shining on two men: a liberator and a survivor of Dachau.

Ernie Gross saw my article in the Nov. 10 issue of the Jewish Exponent titled "Redemption for Vet Who Saw War's Horrors." He wanted to meet my husband, Don, to thank him for his part in the liberation.

Contact was made, and a memorable lunch followed. Ernie related the horrific events that happened to him and his family when Germans invaded their town in Romania. They were sent to Auschwitz, where his parents and young siblings perished.

He lied that he was 17 in order to be sent to a labor camp. When ill health took over, he was headed to Dachau. Scheduled to arrive on April 28, bombing by the Americans fortunately delayed the train by one day.

It was Saturday, April 29, 1945, when Gross, 16, was to be exterminated and Greenbaum, 19, entered the camp along with the Third Army (283rd Field Artillery Battalion).

Who could imagine that the two would meet 66 years later?

At the age of 83, Ernie is charming, with a great sense of humor. His stories, though, were about brutality and survival. But when asked if he was bitter, his response was "no."

We are looking forward to our next meeting.
Shelley Greenbaum
Bala Cynwyd



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