Day 20 – Two Reflections on Women of Valor

20 Elul 5775

On Meeting Madeleine
by Cheryl Escoe

I recently had the pleasure of seeing Madeleine Albright being interviewed at the Nixon Library. I saw her famous pin collection the week before and was amazed how each pin that she wore had some significance to an event in history.

She was so open about her experiences as Secretary of State. She spoke with dignity, grace and a great sense of humor. Probably the most significant part of the interview is when she told the audience how she felt when she found out she was Jewish. Having been brought up Catholic and Episcopalian she needed some convincing. Her siblings were able to verify the information and on to a new chapter in their life. Just recently Madeleine and her daughters paid tribute to the 26 family members who were killed during the Holocaust by placing a plaque at Treblinka.

I left the interview wanting to hear more, and found out that others had already heard her speak 6 times before. I was in awe of this immigrant woman who was able to communicate in perfect English how much she loved America and what it stands for. Madeleine’s pins will be on exhibit until September 27, at the Nixon Library.

A Woman of Valor
by Sarah Schweitz

“A Woman of Valor more precious than rubies. She acts with compassion, speaks with wisdom, and is guided with kindness.” Inspired by Proverbs 31: 10:31.

Who was Alice Tovah Barouh? She was the third daughter of Sarina and Eli as Roussos. She was beautiful. Her light complexion had a smooth texture, she had pearly white teeth, the color of her eyes was medium green with flecks of gold. She was the personification of cleanliness, neatness, and freshness. She was a very talented and creative person. She graduated first in her class from a private all girls’ school. She designed clothes, knitted sweaters, and sewed dresses. Everything she did was perfect. She was a creative cook; the food she prepared was healthy and appetizing. She was an artist and painted landscapes and still lives. She wanted to become an architect but Jewish women of her generation were not permitted to attend professional schools in Greece.

Most importantly she was an honest, compassionate, kind person. She dedicated her life to Jewish causes. She was the best daughter, wife, mother, sister and friend. This lady was n1y 1nother. She was a loving mother, teacher, and friend. She instilled in me the love of learning and the love of Judaism.

For every Jewish holiday she prepared special foods, sweets, accompanied by the story of the holiday. In Greece, girl s were not allowed to attend Hebrew School, were segregated from men during Temple services. My mother did not approve of this custom. When she became President of the community at the age of twenty five she eliminated the Mehitza at our Temple.  My mother and I were seated on the second level during services and were able to see the arc, the Torah during services.

One of her memorable accomplishments was to design a biblical garden for our new Temple. The elders of the community bestowed this honor on her and she was very happy to do it. She was twenty years old at the time.

In the Biblical Garden she planted fig trees, pomegranate, peach, plum, apple, and an Almond tree.           In addition a palm tree, very rare for Trikala, Greece was planted. In the garden she planted flowers of every color such as climbing roses, jasmine, gardenias, azaleas. In the middle of the garden was a water well reminiscent of Miriam’s Well as mentioned in the Torah.

After the Holocaust the Temple and the garden were destroyed but most importantly was the loss of life. Every family in Trikala was in mourning for loved ones. Fifty members of my family perished during the Holocaust. The temple in Trikala, Greece was the center of our religious life. Without our Temple the community was like a body without a soul.

Again the community asked 1ny mother to renovate the sanctuary and the Biblical Garden . My mother and I went to the sanctuary and prayed under the Ner-Tarmid the Eternal Light, for guidance. My mother said “Sarah you will help me to restore our Temple.” I was five years old, my mother was crying softly and I joined her. I missed my beloved Grandfather and the family and I was hoping for a miracle.

During the renovation of the Biblical Garden, my mother and I planted hundreds of King Alfred Daffodils. When the daffodils emerged from the ground, the trumpet like coronas of its yellow flowers resembled small heads as if those who died during the war were reborn.

Temple Beth Shalo1n was destroyed during a devastating fire in 2014. The return of the Torah’s to the Temple will take place August 30, 20 1 5. Temple Beth Sholom has risen from the ashes and I am grateful, and fortunate for this blessed day. I am grateful for God’s help and the generosity, kindness, and hard work from the members of our congregation. We have a Holocaust Torah at Temple Beth Sholom which survived the war and it will find the place of honor in the arc on August 30, 2015 . I was honored to read from this Holocaust Torah when I became an adult Bat-Mitzvah at TBS.

May God bless all of us with good health, happiness, prosperity, and Shalom. May all your memories be happy and bright. L’Shanah Tovah.




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