“Then they came for me…”


This post may be one of the most controversial posts that I have ever written. But here it goes…

This is a photograph of a poster I purchased at the  Holocaust Museum more than a decade ago.  “I didn’t speak up … and then they came for me”.

I interpret the words of  Pastor Martin Niemoller  as an important lesson. We need to be the voice for the voiceless.  We should never forget humanity and to help the less fortunate. For if we do… then what?

Yet, I am afraid that  many of us might have forgotten, as now we are filling our social media timelines, newspapers, magazines and on – air programming with comments that are often unkind words towards others or filled with vile protests. How can that be when the United States is a human tapestry full of cultural richness?  The majority of who are reading this blog can trace via Ancestry.com their roots to a place across the great oceans of this world.  And, while most of us were not refugees,  we are largely the decedents of immigrants who may have left their homelands due to oppression or in times of war.

Related: 2013 the US accepted 2/3 of the worlds’ refugees

I know that my ancestors arrived during what we may call  “different times”.   Before the 9/11 era. Before the Paris bombings a week ago.

However, the concern a parent has over the welfare of their child is a concept that is timeless.  The hunger of a child is just as upsetting and real in 2015 as it was in 1915.  A parent who loves their child will stop at nothing to protect them.  Mothers and fathers will persevere and risk great danger solely because they are motivated by love and a dream to find for their family a safe harbor where they can raise their family in peace.

So when the refugees from Syria arrive in California  I will show my support and greet my new neighbors. I will find a way to bring food and other supplies to help out these families that have traveled so far and experienced so much adversity.

My helping those from Syria also will not mean that I am turning my back on the needs of those who are already in my community. I promise you that.  In fact feel free to join our family as we help the FRIENDS MOVEMENT feed the homeless on Thanksgiving Day.

And if you wish – check out these websites that are ways to help refugees from all over the world be safe.


INTERNATIONAL RESCUE ORG  (providing help to those already in California)

Thank you for being a reader of my blog.  Happy Thanksgiving to all –




Who is Nelly Toll and why is her story important?


There are many paths to becoming an art therapist or counselor.  As a School Psychologist I have heard many accounts about why people have chosen these fields of study and practice. So, when I learned  about Nelly Toll – an art therapist AND a counselor who works with victims of violence –  I was a bit taken aback. You see her biography reads like a book of fiction as  Nelly was a  counselor who as a child had survived the most harrowing of times.  An artist who used her limitless imagination while forced in to isolation.  A survivor of one of the worst atrocities to befall the human race – the Nazi era and WWII.  A child who was with her mother was forced in to hiding for two years until she was able to safely get passage to the United States.  And now the newest addition to my list of heroes.

I have raised two creative kids – and I could not fathom either or both of them in seclusion – quietly – for two years.  But, that is what Nelly Toll purportedly did.  She used the deep burrows of her imagination to create a world of wonderment and normalcy in a world that made absolutely no sense to any adult – let alone an eight year old. She painted with watercolors on bits of paper and now her creations are telling a story that gives hope and inspiration to many.

While I have known for decades about the story of Anne Frank, I am embarrassed to say this month is the first I have heard of Nelly Toll.  So to get up to speed I did a bit of research and found this awesome website with learning tools for teachers. For Judaica teachers this would be a treasure trove full of information that gives balance to the story of the Holocaust – Shoah.

Also, there are efforts to bring Nelly’s story as a documentary.  IMAGINING A BETTER WORLD, The Nelly Toll Story is a film that will be made shortly about how this young girl was able to be so resilient. Now this young lady holds a doctorate, campaigns for anti – bullying programs and is a sought after speaker.

Here is how the filmmakers describe their project:

In this exclusive one-hour documentary, the viewer will travel with Nelly through her two worlds, as she leaps into her bright future, escaping her present living hell. Vérité cinematography and rare archival footage will be combined with visually stunning 2D & 3D animation of Nelly’s watercolor paintings.  Virtual reality recreations will amplify the telling of Nelly’s time in hiding and her inspirational career as a teacher, counselor and art therapist after the War.

Follow the ongoing news about the Nelly Toll Story – Imagining a Better World via TWITTER @NellyTollStory