Home Culture and Society Speaking of messages… – Barry Koplen

Speaking of messages… – Barry Koplen

Here’s one for Ye, i.e., Kanye.

One of the men I most admired was a man I wish you could have met. Chances are that, for at least one of you, your meeting would have been eye-opening.

Unfortunately, he, Solly Ganor, passed away. His home was Kovno, Lithuania and he and his family were Jewish like me. I met Solly after we connected on the Net when we traded essays about Hitler and the Nazi concentration camps. Solly and members of his family had been imprisoned in those camps where many of his closest family were murdered.

As a tribute to their memories and those of close friends he lost in the Holocaust, Solly wrote Light One Candle, a remarkable book that all of my students in my Humanities classes had to read.

Each of those students, as their final paper for every term, had to write an unusual term paper. Their assignment was to send a statement to Solly about the impact that reading his book had on their lives. At the end of the first school year that I did that, I took all of my students’ papers with me when I met Solly for the first time near his home close to Tel Aviv in Israel.

Solly loved them all and was deeply touched by what he read. For years after that, he communicated with my classes and me. Many of my students have told me that they never forgot that most meaningful connection.

In fact, a number of my students thanked Solly in a very special way. They shared something I could never have anticipated, something so significant that I think it’s important to share with you.

Those students wrote to Solly about their ancestors, ancestors who had been slaves. What they sent to Solly was so important and endearing that I think you will consider it to be as meaningful as I did.

My students mentioned to Solly that, until they read Light One Candle, they didn’t know how to make peace with the fact that their ancestors had been slaves. After reading Solly’s book, my students wrote that they were able to see that their ancestors had been heroes, heroes whose later generations survived and overcame and achieved what their ancestors may have only been able to dream of.

I’d like to share Solly’s message with you and yours, especially now that Jews and Christians are celebrating festivals of joy and light. In a most meaningful way, right now, our fellowship can be significantly uplifting for us all.