In what could be described as Australia's Yom Kippur, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd last week expressed the one word his predecessors refused to utter to indigenous Australians: Sorry.
When six German teenagers entered the beit midrash at YULA boys high school, there was an indescribable sense of tension in the air. The four girls and two boys seemed hesitant and slightly anxious as they faced 60 Jewish boys eager for discussion. As a natural skeptic, my personal attitude toward conversing with people of possible Nazi ancestry was not very optimistic.
In the door pocket of my car I have one road atlas of Israel, one map of the streets of Tel Aviv, one map of the Galilee and, at last count, no fewer than five of Jerusalem. I am always apprehensive of taking the wrong road, and winding up where I might be perceived as an unwelcome intruder.
I have cancer. It's thyroid cancer, which has metastasized. In every bone in my body there is a tumor eating it from the inside out.
That's why I was at the Cedars-Sinai Outpatient Cancer Center on June 25, 2003, having a bone infusion. I sat there on one of those comfortable chairs as the drug slowly slipped into my veins to make my bones stronger.
And that's where I saw her -- an old friend and a former client who emigrated from Iran. We were so happy to see one another. She was there with a friend, who was there perhaps for a reason similar to mine.
One Friday night 33 years ago, when Yisroel Richtberg was 12 years old, an older boy sneaked into his dorm room at his Chasidic yeshiva in Israel, pulled off Richtberg's pajama pants and raped him. The same thing happened the next Shabbat.
These are the Ten Plagues of Prison Life, and we take a drop of grape juice out of our cups for each: Damage left in the wake of destructive addiction. Abusive relationships. Low self-esteem. The embittered spirit. Wrong attitude. Weakening mind and body. Daily degradation. Deprivation. Captivity. Separation from loved ones.
Murray Cohen and his wife of 52 years, Lillian, were both Holocaust survivors. Since Lillian's death nine months ago, Murray spends most of his days inside. Without the attention of his daughter Barbara, Murray would hardly eat, shower or speak.