Rabbi to talk about losing her mother to terrorism
HEALING FROM TRAGEDY: On July 18, 1994, Julia Susana Wolynski Kreiman was among 85 people killed in the terrorist bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.
Her daughter, Rabbi Claudia Kreiman of Brookline, did not speak publicly about the bombing for a long time. However, she said, she came to believe it is important to vocalize loss and pain.
“People need to know we all go through hard times,” she said.
On April 1 at 7:30 p.m., Kreiman will co-present “September 11th to the Marathon Bombings: How Do We Heal?” at the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center, 333 Nahanton St. in Newton. She will be joined by One Fund Boston administrator Ken Feinberg and Needham resident Susan Retik, who cofounded the nonprofit Beyond the 11th after her husband, David Retik, lost his life on Sept. 11, 2001.
Kreiman, associate rabbi at Temple Beth Zion in Brookline, grew up in Chile and moved with her family to Argentina at age 18. Her mother died while at her job helping find jobs for the unemployed.
“There are no words to explain all the ways [the bombing] changed my life,” said Kreiman, recalling that it took a week for her 48-year-old mother’s body to be recovered. “It was a very traumatic experience that I only remember parts of. But I do recall, very vividly, feeling later that I needed to get back to some kind of routine and regular life.”
Kreiman honored her mother’s memory by continuing her work at the temple with which Wolynski Kreiman had been actively involved. She eventually moved to Israel and then to the Boston area, where she has often enjoyed watching the Boston Marathon. Her first thought after the twin blasts last year: “It can’t be happening here also.”
However, the tragedy reinforced her belief that healing from intentionally induced trauma requires the conscious decision to “live a life with meaning, realizing what we can do to somehow make this world a better place.”
“It can be very hard, but the only way to keep going is believing that we, as humans, are capable of better,” she added, “and then spreading that message into the world.”
LGBT PRIDE: Sarah Libbey and her husband, Don, could tell that something was upsetting their son during his freshman year at Needham High.
“David seemed to be so sad, and he was spending more time in his room,” she recalled of the period five years ago. “I have to give my husband credit. Once when he was driving with David, he started guessing. He finally said, ‘Do you think you’re gay? Because you need to know we love you because of who you are.’ ”
Libbey said that recollection demonstrates the importance of keeping open lines of communication, and also knowing as a parent when additional resources are necessary. Since being referred to the website for Greater Boston PFLAG, she has become actively involved with the Waltham-based nonprofit organization, which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth and their families.
Libbey, president of Fidelity Charitable and executive sponsor of Fidelity’s PRIDE employee resource group, is one of three cochairs of the Greater Boston PFLAG Pride and Passion gala and auction on April 3 at 6 p.m. at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston.
The others are Lexington resident Stanley Griffith, a retired attorney and chairman emeritus of Greater Boston PFLAG; and Holly Safford, founding president of The Catered Affair in her hometown of Duxbury. Milton resident Joanne Jaxtimer will be honored for her efforts to spearhead corporate diversity and inclusion programs.
Libbey said she is just one of many who are enthusiastic about helping parents support their own children’s paths to self-acceptance. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LGBT kids who are rejected by their families are eight times more likely to attempt suicide.
“The most important thing that parents can do,” she said, “is simply to love their child.”
For more information, call 781-891-5966 or visit gbpflag.org/prideandpassion.
DARK SALEM HISTORY ILLUMINATED: After reading a bicentennial guidebook produced by the city of Salem in 1976, Marilynne K. Roach of Watertown took the commuter rail to see the sites for herself. Although intrigued by the Salem witch trials, she recalled: “Some things just didn’t ring true to me. I thought I’d look into it and see what really happened, and I’ve been stuck ever since.”
An author, illustrator, and president of the Historical Society of Watertown, Roach has made the Salem witch trials the subject of three of her nine books. She will discuss her most recent title, “Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials,” on April 2 at 6:30 p.m. for the Author’s Night series at Stellina Restaurant, 47 Main St. in Watertown.
The 472-page book provides a humanizing, biographical sketch of six of the most famous accused and accusers: Rebecca Nurse, Ann Putnam, Mary Warren, Bridget Bishop, Tituba, and Mary English. In addition to recounting the historical details, Roach begins and ends each chapter with short, fictional passages about the experiences of those who suffered during the period.
By the end of the trials, which lasted from March 1692 to May 1693, Roach’s records indicate that 20 were put to death, five died in prison, an additional 164 were formally accused, and approximately 70 were “afflicted.”
“I hope the book gives a general idea of what it was like to live through that period,” she added, “or not – whichever the case may be.”
The event is free and open to the public.
DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI: Richard K. Miller, the founding president of Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in his hometown of Needham, has been named one of the California Institute of Technology’s 2014 Distinguished Alumni.
Miller earned his PhD in applied mechanics from Caltech in 1976, where his research focused on making buildings more resistant to earthquakes. He was appointed the president and first employee of Olin College in 1999.