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A Celebratory Luncheon
July 26, 2011
A Celebratory Luncheon

Posted by Ellen Ogintz Fishman

Sy Friedland, our CEO, has been an integral part of Schechter Holocaust Services since its first years in the early 1990s. In honor of his upcoming retirement and in honor of the dedication of our Advisory Committee members, we held a celebratory luncheon in June. The following is excerpted from my remarks that day.

I started JF&CS Holocaust Services eighteen years ago in 1993, and Hakalah was created in 1996, so I come to this gathering with a very long perspective. A lot of us have been working together for eighteen years. I like to think that among the many other things all of you on the Advisory Committee do, you also have engaged in life by doing this work that is profoundly meaningful and necessary. You give of your hearts and souls to make Hakalah the best it can be. You have not only survived the catastrophe that was the Holocaust, but you have all chosen to help others who survived age with dignity. Your efforts and energy and devotion enhance the quality of life for all Holocaust survivors who benefit from our services.

You have all been so committed to our Advisory Committee meetings and Allocation Committee meetings.

It turns out that the USPS does not have a creed, but rather "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" is an inscription on the James Farley Post Office in New York City,[1] derived from a quote from Herodotus' Histories (8.98), referring to the courier service of the ancient Persian Empire. This is what I think of when I think of your attendance at the Allocation Committee meetings. You have unfailingly attended, every month, every year, whether it’s icy or snowy or rainy or 100 degrees. You even graciously bore with the difficult parking situation in Newton. So, I want to take this opportunity to thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Sy, it seems that from the moment of your arrival you were very much a part of Schechter Holocaust Services. I remember, before everyone at JF&CS had a computer, you and I sitting at the hallway computer in the Newton office, hammering out the bylaws for the program that we were working on with Izzy. You and Ira and I spent hours and hours talking about this program and working on it and working with members of the Advisory Committee in the early days. It seemed as though, besides being the executive director of JF&CS that you were a full-time staff member of Holocaust Services. Your intelligence and wisdom and psychological astuteness were invaluable in the development of every aspect of Schechter Holocaust Services. I, personally, have learned a great deal from you at every step of the way.

Personally, too, your retirement is significant for me. You came to the agency not long after I did and in addition to Schechter Holocaust Services I’ve always enjoyed talking with you about books, psychology, children, and photography. Your presence at the helm of JF&CS has always meant a lot to me. I will truly miss you.

Ellen Ogintz Fishman started Holocaust Services at JF&CS in 1993. Combining her clinical skills and interest in history she has shepherded the program through its evolution as the major provider of services to aging Holocaust survivors in the Boston area. She does freelance writing on the Holocaust and other topics. She graduated from Brown University and received her MSW from Simmons College.

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