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June 14, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 14, 2013 PAGE 13A seven By Debra Rubin The year was 1935. Ye- hoshua Abramowicz, just 14, was leaving Poland to join his father in England. His mother told him, "Try to be a good Jew." By all accounts, the boy who became Stanley Abramo- vitch and never again saw his mother--she along with two of his brothers, one of them his twin, perished in the Holocaust--did just that. For nearly seven decades, Abramovitch, who died May 13 at 93, worked for the Ameri- can Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), traveling throughout the world and dedicating himself to the weUbeing and education of the Jewish people. In 2009, he told The Jerusalem Post that he couldn't imagine a life "without making a contribu- tion to the Jewish people." Contribute he did, immers- ing himself each step of the way in the life and culture of the people with whom he was working, learning to speak French, Farsi and Rus- sian, in additio~ to English, Hebrew and his native Yid- dish. "If I hadn't known the local languages, then I never would have been able to com- municate" with the people with whom he was working, Abramovitch told the Post. "Stanley was basically the embodiment of the Joint," as JDC is often called, Asher Ostrin, a JDC executive in Jerusalemwhoworked closely with Abramovitch in the for- mer Soviet Union, tells JNS. org. "And if you look at the places where we work, Stanley was basically at the epicenter for all of that." His life's work began at age 25 when he volunteered to help Holocaust survivors after World War II. JDC sent him to a displaced persons camp in Germany; for four years, he helped survivors rebuild their lives. JDC then sent him to Tehran, where he spent another four years, pri- marily working on programs for Jewish children. An ordained rabbi, Abramo- vitch then went to Paris to work on JDC's "Jewish Mar- shall Plan," designed to assist Europe's Jewish communities in reestablishing their formal and informal Jewish educa- tional system. In 1956, while he was .participating in a Jewish seminar in Switzerland, he met the love of his life: an Israeli woman 14 years his juniorwhowas studying in the seminar. "He was handsome, very clever, very witty," says hiswidow, Noemi. She recalls returning home to Israel and telling her parents, "By the way, I met someone I think I'm going to marry." By the next year, the couple were married and living in Paris. Afew months later, JDC sent them to America so that Abramovitchcould study for a master's degree in educational administration at Columbia University in New York. By the time the Abramov- itches, now with baby daugh- ter Edna, returned to Europe, J DC had movedits office from Paris to Geneva. Headquar- tered there for the next 15 years, Abramovitch continued his peripatetic lifestyle, travel- ing to help Jewish communi- ties throughout Europe, as well as in the Middle East and NorthAfrica. He often carried a suitcase filled with food so as an Orthodox Jew he could keep kosher properly Meanwhile, the couple had two more children, Joseph and Moshe, although Moshe woul0 tragically drowpo, caught in riptides, in 1978 at age 18. (Abramovitch also is survived by 15 grandchildren and, "so far," says his wife, 20 great- grandchildren.) The family had moved to Israel in 1972. JDC eventu- ally sent him to the former Soviet Union, putting him in charge of the Asian republics during the transition from communism. "He was out of touch with a wife and young children literally for months at a time," Ostrin says. "He was driven by this notion that he was makin~ a contribution in his way to the Jewish people. He subsumed any of his own need for creature comforts. He was in places where the physical conditions were unbearable. He sometimes slept outside, slept in swamps, slept in cars." Former JDC CEO Michael Schneider, now secretary- general of the World Jewish Congress, called him "prob- ably among the two or three best professionals in the history of the organization," a religious Jew who "was tolerant, open minded and mixed comfortably and easily among much more secular Stanley Abramovitch (left) receives rabbinical ordination Eliyahu in Israel, November 1995. members of our staff and the community." Abramovitch had a knack for connecting with people, says, and for helping American donors understand their own connection to and responsibility for Jews in far- flung places. When American Jews wouldvisitaJDC project, Ostrin says, "he wasn't show- ing animals inthe zoo, he was showing people among whom he lived. He could bring an understanding of who these Jews were .... They may speak differently, dress differently, have a different routine, but they are us, and you have a responsibly for them." Those who knew Abramo- vitch marvel at his charisma. "When his name comes up, there's an awe and holiness about him," says Ostrin. Abramovitch had "a kind of shining persona that ev- erybody gravitated toward and appreciated," Schneider says. "There was an aura about him." The author of From Sur- vival to Revival: A Memoir of Six Decades in a Changing Jewish World and Lighting Up the Soul: Stories from a Changing Jewish World, as well as three children's books, Abramovitch officially retired in 2008. But he continued as a consultant, making at least weeklyvisits from the family's Ramat Gan home to the JDC Jerusalem office, where, as Ostrin put it, "he held court," giving advice based on the JDC from Chief Rabbi Mordechai wisdom of his years. . The results of a routine blood test in August led to a diagnosis of leukemia, which was kept in check until just weeks before his death. "He worked as if it was nothing," says his wife. About a month before he died, Abramovitch came down with an infection that could not be controlled. Ultimately, his system shut down. But even in the hospital, he was telling the staff stories, "and he was making them laugh and making them feel good," his wife says. "There was something about him," Noemi says. "Wherever he went, he came into a room and he was the center." Bravo The cast of'Princesses" Long Island," a new reality show on the Bravo network. By Jana Banin "Princesses: Long Island," the new reality show on Bravo, appears to be as bad for the Jews as we had feared. Like some other cultural gems on the network, such as the "Real Housewives" fran- chise and "Shahs of Sunset," the new offering centers on a few spunky, wealthy women who live to shop, date and throw tantrums. These princesses live in a magical land called Long Island, where 20-something Jewish women wait for Jew- ish men to arrive from Wall Street and sweep them off their feet and out of their parents' suburban castles. On the premiere episode that aired June 2, the Jewish angle was established almost immediately: The camera panned to welcome signs for Jewishly dense towns like Great Neck and Roslyn, along with images of a synagogue and Judaica store. First we meet Chanel, a "Modern Orthodox" 27- year-old. "We keep kosher, keep Shabbos, and we live at home until we're married," she says of her religious affiliation. Chanel is having a hard time. Not only is she dealing with the breakup with her boyfriendof 10 months, who left her for a !9-year-old, her 24-year-old sister is marry- ing before her. Chanel also is a friend of Erica, who in high school was known as "the hottest girl on Long Island." Next up is Ashlee, who we meet while she is having a pedicure with her adoring dad, who laughs at every awful comment that comes out of her mouth: "My father is amazing," the 29-year-old gushes. Enter Amanda, 26, who lives with her overbearing, codependent mother, Bar- bara, who "thinks she's my best friend." Amanda is one of the lucky ones--she's in a serious relationship with Jeff, a 38-year-old guy she met on the Long Island Rail Road. Amanda's familial and romantic relationships are the source of some of the show's juiciest material. She is certain she's going to marry Jeff, and she talks about it--a lot. Meanwhile, her meddling mothe~ is calling in the middle of the couple's ,'hof" date and tagging along when he takes Amanda shopping for bathing suits. "Jeff loves to see me in a bathing suit, and I'm bring- ing my mom so she can pay," Amanda says. Jeff, who speaks in the same whiny Long Island drawl as his girlfriend and her friends, has a creepy vibe. At a pool party Erica throws ather cousin's "ridonculous" mansion, a sassy woman named Sarah accosts the happy couple and pisses off Amanda by announcing she is Facebook friends with Jeff. It turns out the SarahJeff relationship .online isn't so innocent. Jeff, like, totally stalked Sarah on Facebook, and he is, she confirms, a freak. Then Sarah describes him using a gay slur and all hell breaks loose. Insults are hurled, tears are shed, drinks are thrown. The party not only permits the requisite reality show drama, it's also a device to convey the geography and class distinctions of the area. Sarah is a "typical South Shore girl," while the main characters hail from the much more upscale North Shore. Sarah was invited to the party by fellow South Shore resident Joey, who we met earlier when Ashlee picked up Sarah for a shop- ping trip. "Oy, I'm in Freeport and it's not what I'm used to," Ashlee exclaims over the phone to her dad as she drives through Joey's neighbor- hood, He calms his daughter by telling her to appreciate what she has. "I know people don't live like us," she says. "I want to give everyone a hug and then get the hell out." Daniel ,il ......... www.winterparkcash.corri The Rear Estate Market is BacM Earn 10% Net Short Term 1st Mortgages! Sell your house fast! Top $, Quick Sale! Call J.E. "Jack" LeMieux 305-607-7886 or 407-599-5000 43 Years Experiencefl