Friday, April 1, 2011

Martin the Tailor and Eva the Forgiver

Chances are if you’ve ever engaged the Brethren Brooks in a made-to-measure endeavour, Martin Greenfield and his shop probably made your suit. Alan Flusser has sourced Greenfield for years when offering a made to measure Flusser contrivance. Greenfield, along with Julie Hertling, is the last of a Brooklyn breed. When Martin and Julie hang it up, it will indeed be the end of clothes making era.
Martin seems peaceful and elegant to me…in an old European way. I’ve never met him but I know that a steely resolve and voracious tenacity are often lurking just below such elegant veneers. I also wonder how this man can seem so peaceful and gentle…post Holocaust…post Auschwitz and Buchenwald. On the other hand, after surviving the Holocaust, a trying day at the factory, awash in puckered Dupioni or mismatched windowpane cashmere is probably a walk in the park. I’ve never met Martin but I’d like to.
I borrowed a couple of Martin photos from The Selby. Click here to enjoy their visit with him. And then make sure to visit with Martin by way of the clip at the end of this post.
So I haven't met Martin but I did meet Eva Mozes Kor one night a little over a year ago. A friend called and asked if I’d like to stroll down into Old Town and hear Eva give a brief talk and do a book signing. I’d never heard of Eva Mozes Kor but I’m damned glad I spent some time meeting her and hearing her story. This is perhaps a bit macabre but I’ve touched the hand that was routinely touched by the monster, Dr. Josef Mengele.
Eva and her twin sister miraculously survived the wrath of Dr. Mengele and his dreadful experiments on twins. She and her sister Miriam are holding hands in the photo above. The rest of her family perished.  “When the doors to our car opened, I heard SS soldiers yelling, "Schnell! Schnell!" (Quick!), and ordering everybody out. My mother grabbed Miriam and me by the hand. She was always trying to protect us because we were the youngest. Everything was moving very fast, and as I looked around, I noticed my father and my two older sisters were gone. As I clutched my mother's hand, an SS man hurried by shouting, "Twins! Twins!" He stopped to look at us. Miriam and I looked very much alike. "Are they twins?" he asked my mother. "Is that good?" she replied. He nodded yes. "They are twins," she said ...Once the SS guard knew we were twins, Miriam and I were taken away from our mother, without any warning or explanation. Our screams fell on deaf ears. I remember looking back and seeing my mother's arms stretched out in despair as we were led away by a soldier. That was the last time I saw her...”

Eva Mozes Kor has dedicated her life to awareness and forgiveness. Awareness…of the atrocities and inequities that minorities and the disenfranchised often experience. And forgiveness, which for me was a huge lesson that Eva reinforced. Eva has formally forgiven Dr. Mengle and the Nazis. I’ve learned in my comparatively superficial moments of despair, that carrying anger burns through ones emotional reservoir at warp speed. I’ve also learned that forgiveness, as challenging as it is sometimes to subordinate ones ego to really, really forgive…is hugely liberating.

Here’s how Eva put it…“Here I am, this little guinea pig from Auschwitz, and I have the power to forgive Josef Mengele. And he can’t do anything about it. I stopped being a victim, and that makes me a very powerful person.”

And of course there are those who believe that Eva should carry her burden heavier than she’s chosen…heavier by not forgiving those who killed her family and subjected Jewish children to repugnant experiments. “In 2007, the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors called it “abhorrent to forgive this monster, Josef Mengele,” and the group’s president said other Mengele twins were very upset with Kor for talking about forgiveness.” Well let me just say that I’m with Eva on this one.
"Forgiveness is nothing more...or nothing less...than an act of self-healing"


So Eva says to me “never give up.” Indeed Eva, I won’t.

Onward. To the first LFG soccer game tomorrow.
ADG, II

 

Lessons from a Tailor. Directed by Galen Summer from Ed David on Vimeo.

Eva Mozes Kor



And a longer story...

18 comments:

Preppy 101 said...

Powerful. And humbling. After reading this, how dare any of us to hold a grudge . . .
Have fun tomorrow with Miss LFG. xoxo

Anonymous said...

"Here I am, this little guinea pig from Auschwitz, and I have the power to forgive Josef Mengele. And he can't do anything about it. I stopped being a victim, and that makes me a very powerful person."

If this lady is able to forgive this monster, then certainly I can bring myself to forgive the young woman who is responsible for my devastating injury.

" I've learned in my comparatively superficial moments of despair, that carrying anger burns through ones emotional reservoir at warp speed. I've also learned that forgiveness, as challenging as it is sometimes to subordinate ones ego to really, really forgive...is hugely liberating"

I've been home from the hospital for almost five weeks now, yet I'm still fighting off a bit of gloom. I will hold your words in my mind for the next couple of rough months ahead.

I bow to the Buddha nature in you, sir.

~Hilton

The Classic Preppy said...

Wonderful post. Thank you! Liz

Silk Regimental said...

Forgiveness and Love are more powerful than anything else that you can imagine - Eva is an example.

"When Martin and Julie hang it up, it will indeed be the end of clothes making era"

So how do we convince a new generation to learn the trade? - a serious question because as you know, the youngsters don't seem to want to take up the art - it's too slow for them, there's no instant gratification - they like things fast. Who will be their teacher?

Renée Finberg said...

forgiveness has been the thing that has freed me every time!!!

the last video blew me away.
it is really good that you posted this.
it reminds me of what i am never to forget.

Flo said...

Max, another spectacular masterpiece.

And to ~Hilton, blessings upon you.

ADG said...

Out the door for the LFG opener...I was actually hoping for a rain-out.

Flo...thanks.

Hilton...hang in there man. I'll send you a private email to catch up.

Silk Reggie...you can't teach a new generation to learn the trade. They'll make more money doing almost anything other than contriving things with needle/thread/scissors/...alas.

Classic Preppy...the people in the post are indeed...wonderful.

Renee...unfortunately I think we do forget things...too soon.

Preppy101...thanks.

Main Line Sportsman said...

I am always fascinated and inspired by Holocaust survivors and their stories. A gentleman spoke at my son's Middle School about his experience at Dachau and my son could not stop talking about it. We certainly can all learn from these stories...and forgiveness is one of the lessons.

Silk Regimental said...

You're right - the young must have it within them from the start (womb?).

old said...

I had the pleasure of having Mr. Greenfield measure me for a suit tailored by his firm three years ago. The garment, a Price of Wales glen plaid double breasted number, quickly became the flagship my wardrobe. He is the consummate gentlemen and arbiter of classic taste.

Nelle Somerville said...

Just when I think you are all fuzzy dice and green shoes you throw this our way. Wonderful and inspiring words from Eva. I've been to the Holocaust museum four times and learn something new and inspiring each time. I had the privelage of hosting the American Jewish Committee when I worked at the Reagan Building and met many, many survivors. It was awe inspiring to be in their presence.

Everyday Goddess said...

Amazing post with such a strong message. I gave you one of my weekly Goddess awards which you can collect if you like, at my place.

Beautifully written!

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Yuck. Too mawkish. More posts on Belgians, Cleverleys, and fancy pants, please.

LBF

ADG said...

Thanks everyone and...LBF...worry not, I've got some superficial stuff coming in a moment. And my Cleverley appointment is in about 4 weeks.

yoga teacher said...

Wow. Forgiveness leading to self-healing. Sounds so easy; so hard to do. I called my kiddo in to see the first one, and she asked to see the :30. The second video is buffering (my neighbor, so generous in sharing his wi-fi, changed to a slower service.) Thanks, ADG. I am glad you posted this.

Anonymous said...

Now this is a post that warrants Namaste.

Summer is a Verb said...

What a great teaching soul. I plan on adding her book to my Amazon queue although, it may take me awhile to work up the courage for the actual read...XXOO

Beth said...

I've been to Auschwitz with Eva several times. I've been witness to a young Polish man drop to his knees and take her hand, asking her to explain her forgiveness so that he could understand; I've been witness to a sobbing Australian woman struggle to understand that Eva's forgiveness has little to do with the perpetrator and everything to do with the victim; I've been witness to teenagers brought to tears when they meet Eva as she's sitting in front of the larger than life photo of herself at the January 1945 liberation in an Auschwitz barracks; I've been witness to my own students realize that they can overcome their own dismal circumstances simply by her example. I will forever treasure these moments with her, most of them on the grounds of the Auschwitz museum and I will travel again with her this June/July as she again leads a group to Poland and Romania to retrace her steps and give her firsthand account of her story as it happened and where it happened. You leave these places a different person - it can't be helped. COME on this trip. You'll be glad you did. Visit www.candlesholocaustmuseum.org for details.

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