Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On the Cusp

It is December 31st, 2008. In less than 10 hours, the clock will strike midnight, and it will be 2009!

Hard to believe that we're on the cusp of a new year, nearly nine years into the new millennium.

Where did the years go? Where did the months go? Where did the days go?

Many bloggers review their year by re-sharing some of their significant posts. That helps summarize their personal & professional lives and the world at large for the previous 365 days.

I won't do that this year. Suffice it to say that this past year had its ups and downs.

A year ago, today, my mother in law had brain surgery for an aggressive tumor discovered less than 48 hours earlier in a hospital emergency examining room. Thus the tone was set for the year.

My family became too familiar with hospitals and specialists and medical jargon this past year.

But amidst the dark and difficult days, we celebrated our eldest child's bar mitzvah...a major milestone in any Jewish boy's life and that of his parents.

Who knows what 2009 will hold for us and for the world? How will the small country of Israel fare? Will she gain more enemies worldwide and some unexpected friends along the way? How will Barack Obama prove himself a leader? What changes will he bring to office? Will the national economy have to dip further before it begins to slowly climb back upwards?

Let us hope and pray that 2009 can be a good year for all.

In a few hours, on this side of the world we'll be saying, "Live...from's 2009!"

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told... apparently a lie.

Publisher Cancels Rosenblat Memoir After TNR Exposes Hoax

Berkley Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, announced tonight that it was canceling Herman Rosenblat's Holocaust memoir, Angel at the Fence: The True Story of a Love That Survived, which was set to be published on February 3.

In a statement, Berkley's director of publicity, Craig Burke, said: "Berkley Books is cancelling publication of Angel at the Fence after receiving new information from Herman Rosenblat's agent, Andrea Hurst. Berkley will demand that the author and the agent return all money that they have received for this work."

Just yesterday, Berkley released a statement defending the author and his memoir. Shortly after Berkley's new statement was released, I spoke with Harris Salomon, who is producing the $25 million film adaptation of Herman's story.

"It’s unfortunate he told a lie," Salomon told me. "The man is tragically flawed, but his story had value." Until this evening, Salomon had been a wholehearted defender of Herman's story. But he said he spoke to Herman and learned that his story is a fake. Salomon said he had no knowledge of Herman's fabrication, and is angry that Herman lied to him, to his agent, Andrea Hurst, and to the publisher. "Obviously, this is a surprise to me. Obviously, I am extremely angry. He let me down professionally and personally. We get used to dealing with people of all stripes in this business. This is the business and the society we live in today, that allows people to lie, but also feeds off people lying and asking for forgiveness."

Salomon said he thinks there is only one way for Herman to bring closure to his story. He asked Herman to go back on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" with his wife, Roma, and tell his true story and explain why he invented his tale. He said Herman has agreed to appear on "Oprah" if her producers will have him. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" could not be reached for comment tonight.

"This is the one thing I want Herman to do," Salomon said. "I told Herman I want him to go back on the 'Oprah Winfrey Show' and apologize to Oprah. Apologize to me, to Andrea Hurst, his agent, to Penguin, the American people, and the memory of his mother and father and all the people who died in the Holocaust."

I find it somewhat sad to have learned this.

Yes, it's disappointing to have someone fabricate such a tale and then learn that it's not true.

But didn't reading or hearing the story have men and women shyly smile and let out huge sighs of wistfulness? Didn't it give countless people a belief that in spite of all the evil that these death camps represented, something good could come of them?

Didn't this internationally reported tale give something nice to people to believe in?

Yes, to falsely lead on print and radio journalists, television audiences, major publishing houses and movie companies and countless individuals is not nice. In fact, it's wrong. But did Herman have a reason for doing so? Did his wife have a reason for going along with her husband and his fairy tale?

Oprah said of Herman & Roma's tale: "...the single greatest love story, in 22 years of doing this show, we've ever told on the air."

Holocaust scholars, Herman's family and friends were disbelieving of the tale for some time, but never did bring their thoughts to the public eye. But now that the truth is out, what will people say when they learn the reason of the deceit?

My compassionate side worries for Herman; will it be too much for him to bear to appear on national TV and retract his story, too much for him to handle the aftermath of his deceit, too difficult to go on with his life once again? How is his medical situation? How is his emotional situation?

Part of me thinks: "Who was he hurting anyway, with this story?"

But apparently, the answer is "COUNTLESS NUMBERS."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Chanukah

Very shortly, my husband, children and I will go to my parents' house to light the first Chanukah candle with them. I hope we can do it together for many more years to come.
Wishing you all a very happy and BRIGHT Chanukah.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Now Showing...

Swindlers & Victims: The Bernie Madoff Story
Just when you thought the economy couldn't get any worse...along comes Bernie! Always whistling a happy tune: "Money, Money, Money" by Abba.
But apparently, he'll be changing that tune to "Jailhouse Rock" soon enough.
Okay, everybody all together, on the count of three: ONE...TWO...THREE...NOW SPIT!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Flattered...but Flustered...

...because Robert Avrech of Seraphic Secret tagged me to do the meme for "20 Favorite Actresses."

Robert, a Hollywood screenwriter/producer, expects me to even know 20 actresses? He can recite biographies and film histories of countless actors and actresses, and I have to think hard to simply come up with names.

Here goes nothing:

1. Sally Field
2. Ginger Rogers
3. Diane Keaton
4. Meryl Streep
5. Lucille Ball
6. Doris Day
7. Shirley Temple
8. Judy Garland
9. Julie Andrews
10. Judi Dench
11. Marilyn Monroe
12. Shelley Winters
13. Carole Kane
14. Molly Picon
15. Barbra Streisand
16. Geena Davis
17. Goldie Hawn
18. Meg Ryan
19. Marjorie Main (of Ma & Pa Kettle fame)
20. Pearl Saban (thought I'd throw that in as a wishful thinking favorite actress!)

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Road Ends Here

I went to a funeral this morning for a girlfriend's dad. He's suffered from Alzheimer's for nearly a decade and as a result was put in a nursing home some eight years ago. Two weeks ago he became sick and was put in hospital, which is where he passed away on Shabbos...his daughter and wife at his side.

I went to the funeral chapel and to the cemetery, as well. With car blinkers flashing and with police escort at major traffic intersections, we made our way in a procession to the cemetery.

My blood began to roil. Why? Because I could see that there are very chutpahdik drivers out there, who cut in to these funeral processions. It's not as if one ought not to know that this is a procession; it's easily recognized with the many cars, their blinkers and the funeral chapel's placard sticking out of the front hood of each car.

But on at least two occasions en route, someone from the center lane cut into my outer lane, driving in front of me. The second "interference" (for lack of a better word) actually used this tactic for his gain. With the policeman moving us speedily through red lights, and a couple of back streets, this "schnorrer" (for lack of a better word) took advantage of his position in our procession. The minute we hit the main street again, he jumped into the center lane and was off on his merry way.

I immediately called my husband to complain about the chutzpah of some people; he said there ought to be a name for such a person. No doubt there is, but it wouldn't be polite of me to put it in print.

So I challenge any and all of you to come up with a name for "a person who cuts into a funeral motorcade but doesn't belong there." (Maybe together we can come up with some new term that can be entered into that famous Washington Post -- I believe it is -- word contest for new expressions.)


And on my way out of the cemetery, as I tried to merge into the main intersection, I saw a sign across the street on an empty lot in this residential area. The sign said something like:

How cruel, I thought, to be placing such a Jewish institution opposite a Jewish cemetery!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I saw the following meme on Robert Avrech's blog, and decided to complete it on my own blog. Here goes...five:

5 things I was doing 10 years ago:

1) I was copy editing romance novels
2) I was celebrating 5 years of married life
3) I was mothering two toddlers
4) I was reading bedtime stories to my kids
5) I was stepping on many pieces of Lego

5 things on my to-do list today:

1) Take the first shift of kids to school
2) Take the second shift of one kid to school
3) Make my 11:00 a.m. appointment at a placement agency
4) Visit my parents
5) Pick up all 3 kids from school

5 snacks I love:

1) shelled sunflower seeds
2) ripple potato chips
3) a piece of hard cheese
4) clementines
5) any kind of chocolate bar that has nuts inside

5 things I'd do if I were a millionaire:

1) start a family foundation and give donations to countless worthwhile medical, educational and social causes
2) share my wealth with our siblings and their families
3) take our children, our siblings and their children on a really nice family vacation
4) invest for our children's future
5) make my parents' lives as comfortable as possible, with the right medical care and home care

5 places I have lived:

1) Toronto --my childhood home
2) Toronto -- our apartment when we married
3) Toronto -- our first home after the apartment
4) Toronto -- our current home
5) Israel

5 jobs I have had:

1) Copy editor
2) Proofreader
3) Administrative assistant in a Jewish day school
4) Assistant in the book return dept. of a university library
5) Assistant in a Jewish community information service

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Mission of Love

Please take the time to watch this video compilation about the victims of the Mumbai Chabad House.

It is most moving.


Was in a mall today and saw a sign advertising a shop where they sell smoking accoutrements -- tobacco, rolling papers, cigars, cigarettes, cigarillos, etc. The shop is called HOLY SMOKES.

What a great name, I thought.

But I also thought that such a store, with such a name, should be serviced by a bunch of nuns and priests.

Could you just imagine the scene? Nice Jewish girl goes in, looks around, sees a nun playing with the rosary around her neck.

"Can I help you?" the nun asks.

"No, just looking. I wanted to see what the store offers."

"Hmm. Well, smoking is truly bad for your health, but we raise funds through our sales to help support the children in our orphanage. Our bodies are truly our sanctuaries, and we must honor them for as long as we can...but if you've got to smoke, well then just think how you're helping our children."
And with that, she hands me a button that says, "HOLY SMOKES....Save the Children."
(I don't mean to insult anyone with my absurd imagination. Sorry if I might've.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Conehead Wannabes

On Motzei Shabbos we rented movies and one of them was THE CONEHEADS, based on the Saturday Night Live skits. We had "family night" and together with drinks and bowls of popcorn, we gathered in the family room to watch...and laugh...and laugh...and laugh.

Our family's new "buzz phrase" is "We come from France" as said by Jane Curtin and Dan Akroyd. We use the same inflection as their characters do, and my kids have it down to an art already.

I learned just how much of an impact the movie made on our kids when I went grocery shopping this evening with Adina. While we were in the produce section, she suddenly let out a shriek a la Jane Curtin's character.

Why? you ask.

Adina had spotted a display of eggplants.
She had the voice/scream perfect, and I burst out laughing alongside her. And as I relayed the story to my kids upon coming home, I couldn't help but burst out laughing again.
Live ... from Toronto ... it's the CONEHEAD WANNABES!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Check Out This Blog

For some reason I can't add new blog names to my sidebar, so in the meantime, this blog is worthy of a post instead, pointing you in the right direction. (in my case, westbound on Highway 401!)

I discovered this blogger a couple of weeks ago, and Carmi's posts have not disappointed me yet. His visual creativity and his creativity with language are entertaining.

Do check out and tell him pearliesofwisdom sent you.

My Favorite Word... PNEU, the French word for "tire".
The "P" is pronounced, and so the word almost gets blurted out. I think it just sound so funny.
I was teaching my youngest son the word, and when he repeated it, I told him it sounds like a sneeze, and so I said "Bless you!"
Now, as I researched the word, I learned:

Indo-European Roots

To breathe. Imitative root. 1. sneeze, from Old English fnosan, to sneeze, from Germanic *fneu-s-. 2. snore, snort, from Old English fnora, sneezing, from Germanic *fnu-s-. 3. apnea, dipnoan, dyspnea, eupnea, hyperpnea, hypopnea, polypnea, tachypnea, from Greek pnein, to breathe, with o-grade nouns pnoi, -pnoia, breathing, and pno, breath. 4. Suffixed form *pneu-m. pneuma, pneumatic, pneumato-, pneumo-, from Greek pneuma, breath, wind, spirit. 5. Germanic variant root *fnes-. sneer, from Old English fnran, to snort, gnash one's teeth. (Pokorny pneu- 838.)