Honoring Those Who Lost Their Lives at Auschwitz

Honoring Those Who Lost Their Lives at Auschwitz

A dedicated high school student starts an online petition to change how visitors pay respect at the Auschwitz Memorial 

Christian Barbour is a young man on a mission. A senior in high school, while he’s not Jewish himself, he is passionate about making sure the memories of the more than 1 million men, women and children who lost their lives at Auschwitz are honored properly and not disrespected by visitors to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial. He’s doing this through an online petition that, to date, has received over 13,000 signatures, raising awareness, and the hopeful creation of a nonprofit organization. 

“What inspired me to start this petition was a TikTok comment that I received when I first started my TikTok journey saying that there should be some kind of change to the number of disrespectful visitors that come to Auschwitz and other camps like it,” Christian says. “The video that I had posted and the comment was talking about several instances where there had been disrespectful visitors in Auschwitz in 2019, which was the last primary year that they had their usual 2 million visitors.”

The petition’s idea is to establish an honor guard at Auschwitz. According to the petition and Christian, this is the general idea: “The goal is not to remilitarize the camps. The term honor guard can be used loosely here instead as a blueprint for what I am trying to accomplish—the honor guard functions solely for ceremonial purposes… It would exist as a never-ending formal funeral with a specific number of people to represent a particular part of the history of the camp, such as the number of years or the number of victims or the number of survivors. This is not to draw in tourists but to preserve and protect the memory of those who have died and maintain the level of respect that the site commands.”

“The people that will do this will also not be holding any type of firearm, such as The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” he continues. “They will have candles as it’s customary to light candles on Holocaust Remembrance Day or, in general, when referring to the Holocaust, candles are associated. The goal is not to remove the tourist aspect from the site entirely but rather add more emphasis on the memorial as a historical site in human history. One of the goals is to stop the picture taking, specifically selfie-taking and other disrespectful acts toward the campsite.”

Christian adds that this idea is flexible and he’s still in the planning stages. He encourages those who support this effort to sign the petition but there will be more work to make his idea a reality. 

“I have been in contact with members of the Polish government in order to get this done,” he adds. “I have not talked to them in a couple of months, mainly because Russia invaded Ukraine, which put everything on hold, so I need to contact them again, but that is a significant step in formulating this process.”

In addition to signing the petition, he is also in need of help to start a nonprofit organization.

“Currently, I’m in the process of creating a nonprofit organization in order to show that I have a way to fund my project,” he explains. “I am looking for people who have suggestions or are interested in shaping my project further because I have a rough outline of what I want to do. I have created my presentation, I just need other opinions, especially ones from the Jewish community and those communities that were affected to approve of everything that I’m doing or add their take.”

At the helm of this effort for nearly two years, Christian is passionate about making it a reality.  

“I believe this is important because at the end of the day, places like Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Sachsenhausen, Sobibor, Treblinka, and many others that are lesser known graveyards or mass graveyards, are some of the worst tragedies to ever happen on the face of this earth and it’s not something that if you go visit should be a one-stop, check-the-box, get it out of the way visit,” he explains. “It should be a time to reflect, learn about the past, and learn from our mistakes. I believe in showing people how important this place is. Just because it happened a lifetime ago doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still have repercussions.”

To sign the online petition, go here. To connect with Christian, e-mail christianmb11@outlook.com

Brimstone

Brimstone

Brimstone, pro wrestler and radio host, has spent his life building a brand. Now he wants to show his fellow Jews they can ‘kick some ass’

Building a personal brand is something of an art form, one which Brimstone – who calls himself “a serial entertainment entrepreneur” – has been perfecting most of his life. Condensing his career to those three words, he says, is simply “easier than trying to explain the five million different things that I’ve done.”

Ask him what he does for a living and you’ll understand right away. Brimstone, or Brim as his friends and family call him, doesn’t do just one thing. Look at his website therealbrimstone.com and you’ll find that over the course of four decades he’s been an actor, musician, marketer and salesman, professional wrestler, voice actor, author, comic book and video game hero, celebrity spokesman, corporate CEO, blogger, food critic, hot sauce slinger, podcaster and more.

But whatever piece of the career puzzle this “Swiss Army knife of entertainment” is
currently putting into place, he said he always stays laser-focused on two things: building his brand and taking care of his family. And as a proud Jew, he would love to show the wider Jewish world how to kick a little ass.

Brimstone grew up William Kucmierowski on Long Island, New York, where he still lives with his wife and children. His long and circuitous path in show business began as his mother’s idea. When he was about 5 or 6 years old she got him a spot as a child actor on “Romper Room” and “Sesame Street,” where his most vivid memory is looking up during a break on set to see two men pulling the top half of Big Bird off and thinking, “Oh my God! They just killed Big Bird!”

His mother was also the parent who taught him to value his Jewishness. “She always kept it right there, smack dab in my face,” he laughed, acknowledging that these many years later he appreciates her tenacity.

He booked a few commercials, too, but as a little kid with divorced parents vying for his time, acting had to be set aside – at least for a while. Brim would later return to it with a vengeance, starring in multiple films, television shows, documentaries, music videos and as a voice actor in several video games.

Music and being a drummer in a band − “Man, oh, man, drumming - that was my thing” − was what propelled him back into performing. It allowed him to be completely ensconced in life as a working artist and to play the storied music venues of New York City, places like CBGB and The Continental. He incorporated the musical influences of his youth, which were many given all the back and forth between his mother’s more diverse Uniondale and his father’s more affluent Dix Hills. He learned hip hop and metal and much in between, including how to accept and appreciate people from all backgrounds.

But being on tour all the time and “living in a van eating scraps” wasn’t working so well when he got married and was expecting his first child. He fell back on a steadier, more 9-to-5 job in the music press, doing marketing work for various publications. In this way he was still a music insider but was “making as much money as possible to take care of my family,” he said.

Ironically, it was in the course of this more sedate work that he stumbled into his next big show business venture: professional wrestling. He went to an event to take photos for his publication. The Iron Sheik, a well-known Iranian wrestler, was there. He took one look at Brim and said, “You look like you’re going to be a wrestler.” Brim was surprised by the famous man’s offer to train him and introduce him to this world but the Sheik was “iconic, legendary,” Brim said. He took some time to consider, but soon enough he accepted and thus entered a new phase of his life, one in which he started to build his brand in earnest and where the name Brimstone was born.

He was encouraged not to think about any of those things until his training was finished, but he said, “I came from music and understood that in order to make it anywhere you have to have a viable brand. I’m very big on name value and branding and building a business no matter what you’re doing.”

Choosing the name Brimstone was always kind of a joke given its association with a fiery afterlife, he said, “because as a Jew, we don’t believe in hell.” He sometimes has to explain that to people who accuse him of playing fast and loose with the dark side.

While he was wrestling, he was one of only a few Jewish wrestlers and he was often approached by rabbis to come and talk to Jewish kids. “I would always go simply to make sure that these kids, these young Jewish boys and girls knew that they could grow up and they could be a strong person, an athlete or whatever they wanted to do,” he said. He told them they could overcome stereotypes and stigma even if they did go on to be doctors or accountants. “I wanted them to know they can kick some ass, too!”

The Brimstone brand opened the door to everything he’s done since he stopped wrestling. He became the co-founder, president and CEO of Hound Entertainment Group, and from there he’s not only created comic books, something he adored as a kid and dreamed of writing, but has expanded his base of Brimstone-branded products, including children’s books, video games and toys – some of which have been featured on “The Big Bang Theory.”

He started a web-based celebrity food show called “Food Hound: Tidbits,” and most recently, he became the host of The Grindhouse Radio, a pop culture podcast with a weekly audience of close to four million people worldwide. He said he likes to keep the conversation light in general, but he will sometimes rant about things, especially racial and sexual injustice and gun violence on his personal companion podcast “Within Brim’s Skin.”

These are just a few highlights on a very long list, all of which he’s very careful to weave into his brand.

“Everything I do,” he said, “is intertwined. People who pay attention, get it, people that don’t pay attention, don’t get it. And that’s OK too. But it’s subliminal. For example, little Brimstone memorabilia was all around the guys’ apartments in “Big Bang Theory” for a few seasons.”

The brand of Brimstone is at the top of his priority list, but right now it’s Grindhouse radio that takes most of his attention, as it’s what allows him to stay home more with his family.
He’s also hoping to do more in the Jewish community. “This is my community,” he said. “I have always been somebody that’s holding the torch saying, ‘Hey, you know, I’m Jewish,’ and I would love for my own community to embrace me and to show me some love back.”

Just like in his wrestling days, he wants to be the one telling Jewish kids to stand up for themselves, a message he stands by and shares when he can. He said he’s not expecting anyone to “go gaga over me,” but he wants Jews to know who he is and how supportive he is. “I would do more,” he said. “I would do a lot more if I was asked.”

interview with a celebrity

interview with a celebrity

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BRCA2 GENE PLAYS ROLE IN PUBERTY AND HEALTHY OVARIES

BRCA2 GENE PLAYS ROLE IN PUBERTY AND HEALTHY OVARIES

Researchers at Hadassah Medical Organization in Israel have linked the essential role of the BRCA2 gene to puberty and healthy ovary development and function, announced Ellen Hershkin, National President, Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America Inc., which owns two world-class research hospitals in Jerusalem.  The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, reveals a new role for the BRCA2 gene and highlights its importance to the puberty process.

Dr. David Zangen, director of pediatric endocrinology at HMO is principal investigator of the study. His collaborative team includes Professor Levy-Lahad at Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Dr. Offer Gerlitz at the Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Medicine, both based in Jerusalem.

Dr. Zangen recalls the origin of the study: “A few years ago, a mother brought her teenage daughter to see me at HMO. … (I)n imaging studies no ovaries could be detected.  Fast forward a few years, and the girl’s sister came to see me and she, too, did not reach puberty, and she also had no ovaries.”

Through full gene sequencing, Dr. Zangen and his collaborative team discovered that both sisters had the same mutation of the BRCA2 gene.

Dr. Zangen and the team knew that BRCA2 has a crucial role in DNA repair and explains: “Throughout our lives, our bodies’ cells undergo cell division. When all goes well during this process, the DNA is copied exactly. But when it does not, the body must collect the mistakes and correct them.”

“Uncorrected mistakes can lead to cancer or to other disasters,” Dr. Zangen adds.  “And so, it was for these two sisters.  Because the correction failed to occur, they failed to develop ovaries.”

 

FOODS THAT BOOST YOUR IMMUNITY

FOODS THAT BOOST YOUR IMMUNITY

With the ongoing pandemic, not to mention cold and flu season, it’s more important than ever to take care of our health. We all know that getting enough sleep, lowering anxiety, exercising and getting outside is all good for our immune system, but what we eat can also boost our immune system and increase our chances of staying well.

Immunity boosting foods have a positive effect on our gut microbiome and can be the first line of defense against illness and disease. Try the following recipes for a happy gut!

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY OVERNIGHT OATS

(Pictured above)
Recipe courtesy FitLiving Eats

Protein-rich peanut butter, fiber-packed oats and chia seeds that are loaded with healthy fats make for a perfectly balanced breakfast that will keep you full for hours. Also, the oat base is made extra creamy with plain kefir – a probiotic-rich yogurt that is tangy and thick. You can buy either whole milk or dairy-free kefir made from almond milk or cashew milk depending on your preference.

Ingredients

2 bananas
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 cups plain kefir
2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
1/4 cup maple syrup, optional
2 cups strawberries, chopped
1/4 cup peanut butter

Instructions

To make the oat base, mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl. Add the oats, chia seeds kefir, almond milk and maple syrup (if using). Whisk to combine.

Make the strawberry puree by adding the strawberries into a blender and blend until smooth.

To assemble, divide the oat base evenly among four 16-ounce mason jars. Top each with one tablespoon of peanut butter. Equally distribute the strawberry puree to finish the overnight oats.

Screw on the lid and store in the refrigerator for up to four days.