Highlights from Hamburg-A Delicate Balance

Throughout the week, most of our group quickly bonds. It is as if there is an unspoken familiarity, and we somehow find a balance between listening to each other’s stories, sharing our own, and finding and wondering about common experiences and crossed paths. The balancing act is, at least for me, a constant process throughout our visit to Germany. 

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Looking Further Back – Holocaust Survivors and Families Meet in Hamburg

This is my second time coming to Germany. And, again, I feel an intense ambivalence and strange mixture of anticipation and apprehension. When I came three years ago, I wrote about this same feeling:

“In a million years, I never thought I would be on a plane on my way to Germany.  I grew up with a powerful and clear message; ‘We don’t buy German,’ we write ‘No Krups or Braun’ on our wedding registry, and we certainly don’t go to Germany.  When we have strayed from this edict and bought German, like our now defunct Bosch dishwasher or my grandfather’s used Mercedes ‘lemon,’ we are punished by dishes that don’t get clean and motors that need to be rebuilt. The reason? We are a ‘Survivor Family’ with all that means, all that comes with that identity.  And that also happens to be the exact reason that I am on a plane to Munich right now.

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Visiting Yad Vashem: An illegal photograph and a shoemaker whose children have no shoes.

I hadn't been to Yad Vashem in more than 25 years. Established in 1953, it is the world center for documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust. Here, too, much had changed, and much remained the same. The location is as breathtaking as I remembered it to be: set high on Mt. Herzl, overlooking Jerusalem, with an expansive vista of hazy mountains, clusters of Cyprus trees and the golden city below. There are pristine connecting paths and spaces between the visitors center, the main museum, the museum of holocaust art, the hall of names, the research buildings, the beautiful gardens and memorial sculptures throughout the grounds of this world-renowned memorial center. There are plenty of places to pause, to think, to feel, to attempt to take in the enormity.

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The International Oral History Conference at Hebrew University in Jerusalem

Judy Kaplan-Weinger and I take the light rail to Har Hatzofim (Mt. Scopus), the main campus of Hebrew University.  This is where – more than 30 years ago, as a University of Michigan undergraduate – I had embarked on my study of social identity in American and Israeli women. In Israel, I had worked under the mentorship of Dr. Amia Lieblich – a professor of oral history who will be the keynote speaker of the conference I'm attending. Once again, I find myself looking back at then, now.

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Finding Connection to the Holocaust and Hamburg, in Jerusalem

I take the bus to Jerusalem on Friday, arriving before Shabbat to meet my friend and co-researcher, Judy Kaplan-Weinger. We meet at the apartment I've rented for our stay in Jerusalem. It’s in a beautiful old building around the corner from the Bezalel Art School and located within walking distance of the city center and beyond it, the Old City. The chamseen (hot desert wind) has passed, and the weather is sunny and clear, with a perfect temperature for strolling and exploring.

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For Child of Holocaust Survivor, Professional and Personal Meet at Looking at Then, Now

This is the first blog of “Yonit’s Journey: Light Out of Darkness,” a narrative of Yonit Hoffman’s month-long trip to Israel and Germany to attend Holocaust-related events – some public, some personal. The director of JCFS’s Holocaust Services program and an authority on the psychology of Holocaust survivors, Yonit is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and descendant of Holocaust victims.

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Light Out of Darkness: Yonit Hoffman to Blog a Journey of Holocaust Discovery

“Yonit” is a Hebrew name – literally “dove of peace” – given by Holocaust survivor Gershon Hoffman to his daughter when she was born in Israel.

Yonit, who lost her grandparents and uncle in the Holocaust, grew up to become a Jewish Child & Family Services manager of the Holocaust Community Services program, a joint effort of JCFS, CJE SeniorLife, and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. It is one of the busiest and most important social service programs in the Jewish community.

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Ask A Clinician: Tips for Traveling with a Child

Q: We are planning an upcoming trip to see Grandma and Grandpa, but are nervous about traveling with our child who has autism. Do you have any suggestions to help?

A: A vacation or a trip can be an exciting adventure, but sometimes, getting there is the hardest part. When traveling with a child with autism, one of the best things you can do is have a plan.

Traveling can be a stressful experience on anyone.

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Breaking Bad: An Intervention For Bad Habits

Do you bite your nails, smoke, spend too much money, overeat, lose your temper or play on Facebook for hours?

So much of my work with kids, parents, adults, and couples involves helping people to break patterns of behavior, or habits, which interfere with their goals. Sometimes we work together to start healthy habits and sometimes we work to stop unhealthy ones.  Most often, we work to do both.

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