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Valuing What We Have

By Vice Mayor Larisa Svechin

(November 30, 2020) – Perspective is essential. Stepping back and taking stock of how much we have to be grateful for is important. I had that experience recently. In early November I had the honor of participating in Holocaust Education Week. It was a sobering event reminding me of how much so many families lost and how much my own family suffered.

I usually do not share personal stories, however I will share how stunned I was reading a children’s book to students about Anne Frank. The line in the book that choked me up was, “Judenschwein” (Jewish Pig). Reading that line and then explaining to the children how awful that word is was like a punch to the chest. The look on my face clearly confused the eight-year-olds. As a Soviet Jewish immigrant, I’ve heard slurs, and I felt like I had just said a curse word. I explained to them that children their age, including my late father, also hid from the Nazis, just like Anne Frank.

Seventy-five years later, I thought of all the children of the Shoah, who hid in deplorable conditions, who perished because of hate and prejudice. And then I thought about those who survived and built a legacy. We must value what we have, we must acknowledge how far humanity has come, and we must never forget.

This year, we will celebrate the holidays differently. Consider gifting kindness and empathy. Strive to raise up your neighbors and friends. I hope you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Chanukah filled with light and joy.