Jewish Journal


February 4, 2013

The Power of We



Helen sits beside Israeli soldiers at a Righteous Conversations PSA Screening. They join in common cause as "the ideal relationship in which partners are committed not only to each other, but to objectives beyond themselves." Rabbi Mosheh ben Maimon (Rambam) describes this friendship (haver lideah) as one that "reflects a joint dedication to a common cause, values and goals." -Rambam, Mishnah Avot 1:6

(Special thanks to Rabbi Sharon Brous for sourcing this teaching)

The world needs to RSVP the power of one—plus one. Even Sir Richard Branson has acknowledged that the success of his Virgin brand comes from working with others--the "We" factor.  Granted, individuals can have great ideas, but they become real with the partnership of others. Which leads me to Remember Us and The Righteous Conversations Project. We are committed to partnering with all organizations who understand the importance of Holocaust survivors passing on their stories to the next generation and the power of the "We“.  We have been able to reach a larger audience by working together. One great example of this is when we invited Hope for Heroism to bring ten Israeli soldiers visiting Los Angeles to one of our events.

My mother Helen Freeman, a 91-year-old survivor of Auschwitz, was at the event.  When the soldiers met her they all hugged her and with tears in their eyes began to sing Am Yisrael Chai. This brought tears to my mother’s eyes and she said, "I lived to meet you, to thank you for protecting our Jewish State.” One of the soldiers shared with her that his grandmother who recently passed away was also a survivor of Auschwitz and had never shared her stories with him.  He was so grateful and moved to talk to my mother about her experiences, something he felt had been missing from his own Jewish narrative.

Who would think that a few weeks later I would have an e-mail forwarded to me from that same Israeli soldier.  He wanted my mother to know how much it meant to him to meet her, and how much she inspired him.  He wrote about when he was back in Israel and went to a hospital to visit a survivor there.  When he looked for her he found her sleeping on a bed in the hallway, barely covered by a thin blanket.  He tried to arrange a private room for the woman. He covered her with more blankets and made sure she was comfortable. He learned that she had no family, and from that moment on he made a commitment to continue to visit her. He now felt that he had a new meaning in life--to learn her story and ensure she would never be forgotten.  Survivor of the Holocaust to injured veteran of Israeli war, finding a reason why they are alive.

“We” reached out and as a result impacted our community, and now the Israeli community.  We must actively connect to be partners in our work; to honor the survivors and their stories, to battle intolerance, and to give support to victims of hatred in the present day.

Cece Feiler is the current Board President of Remember Us and Co-founder (with her daughter Jamie and a small group of Harvard-Westlake students and mothers) of The Righteous Conversations Project. She holds an MA from USC in Counseling and Psychology and was a practicing Marriage and Family Therapist for over 15 years. She is now a member of the newly formed Resnick Neuropsychiatric Board at UCLA.  Feiler is a longtime active supporter of The Jewish Federation, including the last 14 years as a Lion of Judah. As the child of Holocaust survivors, and in their honor, Cece has been passionately involved in passing the history, the relevance and the important lessons to the next generation.

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