April 26, 2015
I need a drink every time I visit a place like this.
Housed in a small, lovely building, displaying a variety of secular artifacts and religious icons, the Jewish Museum of Greece carries the appropriate name - a museum - the lifeless panorama of history.
Jews lived in Greece for more than two thousand years. But in large numbers, Jews arrived in Greece following their expulsion from Spain and Portugal in the late Fifteenth Century. For more than four hundred years, communities thrived here, especially in the northern city of Thessalonica, known as the “Little Jerusalem.” In 1940, the Jewish population of Thessalonica exceeded 53,000 children, women and men.
March 22, 2018
The Chasids know how to party!
This month I was invited to two celebrations.
Rabbi Moshe Hadad and his wife Elisheva invited me to the Bris of their son Yaakov Yehuda.
The ceremony took place in our* temporary shul. A new one is under construction across the street.
The Bris itself was part solemn and part joyful. But the luncheon served later was 100% joyful.
On Sunday March 18, I was invited to attend the Bar Mitzvah of Yaakov Hadad, the son of Rabbi David and Mrs. Nechama Hadad, the brother and sister-in-law of Rabbi Moshe.
The Bar Mitzvah meal was creative and delicious and bountiful. But the dancing! Oye, the dancing! Joyful does not begin to describe this celebration.
Federal Republic of Germany
October 29, 2016
My Cousins and the Stolpersteine
Otto Polatschek is gone but not forgotten.
Lisa Polatschek is gone but not forgotten.
In Ulm, Germany, Otto inherited a retail shoe business from his parents Alois Polatschek (1879-1929) and Paula née Brumlik Polatschek (1883-1932). But as the Nazi menace in Germany became more threatening, Otto sold his business to the Werdich family and fled with his wife Lisa to Berlin.
Shliach is the Singular of Shluchim
November 8, 2015
I met Harley Greenberg in Chengdu, by chance....
Harley Greenberg and I first met in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China in the fall of June, 2010. We have been friends ever since.
Harley was a Peace Corps Volunteer in China. He smiles, a warm and caring smile.
Harley and his wife Helen live in Chengdu (population 9.6 million). They have a darling infant daughter who they named Jeanne. From the recent photos he has sent, Harley appears to be one of the most affectionate men I have ever known. He overflows with gratitude and joy and love as he embraces his wife and child.
Harley and Helen operate the Windhorse Tour travel agency in Chengdu – the gateway city to Tibet. In 2010 they helped me with my local plans and also booked me on the Yangtze River Three Gorges Cruise.
In the spring of the 2011, I called Harley from Bangkok. During the course of our conversation I happened to ask him if he was planning to attend a Passover Seder in Chengdu. Not only did Harley have no idea if there were any other Jews in Chengdu, he was quite unaware that Passover was soon to arrive.
As we spoke, I did a search and found a small group of Jews in Chengdu who were gathering to conduct a Seder. I gave Harley the information and encouraged him to make contact.
Two weeks later I called Harley again.
September 20, 2015
My Birthday weekend has come to an end. It was a quiet day today after two wonderful events.
On Friday night, my actual Birthday, September 18, I decided to attend synagogue Sabbath services where I gave a brief talk appropriate for the day and the location.
On Satuday night, I had a typical birthay party with both old friends and new friends. We enjoyed a variety of Thai food dishes and two birthday cakes: fruit cake and mocha layer cake.
Of course, I gave a short speech and thanked my friends for celebrating with me. (Photos attached.)
And thank you all for your birthday wishes from around the world.
Below is the text of my remarks at Synagogue.
Temple Beth Elisheva
September 18, 2015
My Dear Family. My Dear Friends,
I am Jan Robert Polatschek. I live here in Bangkok. I am a member of the congregation Temple Beth Elisheva.
Today, September 18 is a special day for me.
On this very day in New Rochelle, New York, Ruth Rebeka Lifson Polatschek and Otto Siegfried Polatschek became the proud parents of a six pound eight ounce baby boy. The date on the Hebrew calendar was 15 Elul.