Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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Well, since it’s February, I guess we’ll want to talk about Valentine’s Day or love.


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Or, not hating.


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Excuse me? I know they say there’s a fine line between love and hate, but I’d prefer a “feel good” topic.


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But, sometimes “not hating” can be about hope, perseverance, and finding meaning.


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Care to connect those dots?


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Think about all the personal stories recently in the media as part of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

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They were incredible! I found myself in awe and admiration as I listened to Holocaust survivors and, although you’d think they’d want to forget what they went through, they were determined the world should “never forget.”

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They were stories of hope, not hate.

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You’re right. I didn’t hear one word about hate. But I saw the love between a 98-year-old survivor, Lily Ebert, and her great-grandson, Dov Forman, as together they created TikToks to fulfill the promise she made herself while imprisoned that, “I will tell my story.”

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A story that has now reached millions of people, including younger generations who may not be familiar with the Holocaust. A story that not only “warns” of what can happen but also shows the importance of hope and determination.

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It’s similar to the video Natasha sent us of Alina Peretti, who had sterilization experiments done on her at Auschwitz, but instead of condemning her captors, she focused on how she survived. I had to smile when, in that very British understated way, she said, “Bloody hell, I’m very lucky that I came out of it.”

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Again, not a hateful word. Just explaining what she experienced (the experiments did not prevent her from having children), and amazement and gratitude that she survived.

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I’m not sure I could be that understanding, that generous, that brave. I think if I had survived such atrocities, or had family that had perished, I’d be full of hate.

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The problem with hate is it is contagious and becomes a vicious cycle. If you find a reason to hate someone – their skin color, religion, sexual orientation, political opinions, whatever – and those who are targets of hatred, in turn, hate their haters, it will never end.

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True. But it takes a special kind of person to not only “turn the other cheek” but go out of their way to confront hate with hope.

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Like the Italian street artist who uses spray paint to cover up graffiti of swastikas and racial slurs with images of food. Replacing hate with art.


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When I first saw the subject line on your email, “Swastikas & Cupcakes,” I thought it was another one of your strange connect-the-dots, not a “feel good” story.


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No, those are two things even I could never connect.


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What I found so inspiring, besides the obvious, is that the artist said, "The important thing is to rediscover values that we may have forgotten … We must remind ourselves of these values." But how does one do that? Can it even be done?


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Yes, but it takes a conscious effort. And, what better time to begin than Valentine’s Day?


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I’m sorry, but do I need to remind you that Valentine’s Day is about chocolates, flowers, and greeting cards? And if you’re lucky, maybe a romantic dinner.


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Sorry, but that is the commercial side of Valentine’s Day. Although brands are feeling pressure to allow customers to “opt out” of Valentine’s Day ads and promotions.


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Are you kidding me? I’m not sure I want to know the logic behind that, but suspect it has to do with the whole “let’s not offend anyone” culture we now live in.


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Basically, as brands bombard you with marketing, they want to appear to be sensitive that “celebrating relationships” can cause stress, and even depression, for some people. Similar to how this year, you may find Mother’s Day harder than in the past.


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Fine, but Valentine’s Day isn’t only about romantic love. I can remember when we were growing up, Daddy always gave us those heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and a card. And you’ve always given the girls Valentine’s Day gifts.


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Because I believe Valentine’s Day is about showing someone that you love them. Or, are thinking of them. This year, my quarterly teeth cleaning happens to fall on Valentine’s Day, so I plan to buy heart-shaped cookies for the office to let them know they are appreciated.


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I hope they’ll be sugar-free ones. Seriously, you might be the only person who gives their dentist’s office something for Valentine’s Day! But I guess there’s no reason why we all can’t think about someone whose day we can brighten. Even if it’s just a phone call or text message.


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Exactly. Rediscovering values we may have forgotten does not have to be as extreme as turning hate into love by turning swastikas into cupcakes, but we all have the ability to make a difference. One person at a time.

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I think you’ve inspired me. This Valentine’s Day, I may “show some love” by sending cards to people just to let them know I’m thinking of them.


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Good idea. I wonder if Hallmark has any cards that say, “Happy Valentine’s Day … I may not love you, but the good news is that I do not hate you.”

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

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I may not celebrate Rosh Hashanah by going to temple, and now that the girls are no longer home for the holiday, I don’t prepare a seder with the traditional foods . But I know and appreciate that it’s one of the most important Jewish holidays, as it’s a time for reflection on the past and hope for the future. And this year, between world events, where I feel surrounded by so much negativity, and on the personal front, with Mom’s passing, it seems more important than ever before.


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Although Rosh Hashanah is filled with traditions, like apples dipped in honey because it is believed apples have healing properties (think of the rhyme, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”), and the honey signifies the hope for a new year that will be sweet … it is still incredibly relevant. In today’s hectic world, a contemplative holiday where you stop and think about the road you have traveled over the last year (including any wrong turns) and where you would like to go in the future may be exactly what we all need.

We wish everyone who celebrates Rosh Hashanah a happy and sweet New Year. And remember, you don’t have to be Jewish to look back and reflect … and then try to do better in the future.

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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So, I had to smile when Sawyer came to visit us at Mom’s estate sale. And even though I had seen her only a few hours before, I gave her a hug.


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Yes, you make it rather obvious that you are warm and fuzzy. And, a hugger.


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But what made me laugh was when she greeted you by acknowledging that you weren’t a hugger. Now there’s an understatement.


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No, it is merely a fact.


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I never realized, though, just how much both Natasha and Sawyer are like you. Although they begrudgingly let me hug them, they’d both be just as happy with a handshake. If that.


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Maybe a fist bump?
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Credit: Photo by Maha1450 on iStock


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I know you celebrate Labor Day by just, well, laboring away on Red & Black. But that’s how you celebrate most holidays. For me, I always enjoy celebrating the last three-day weekend of the summer, although the challenge will be deciding what to do this Labor Day. Escape to a movie (ok, my passion’s the popcorn), go to Dunkin’ for a leisurely coffee (it always brings back memories of growing up in New York), read, or climb into bed and watch old episodes of Downton Abbey. Or, maybe “all of the above”!

But before you say anything, yes, I’m well aware that today’s more than a day off and a potential “cut-off” for wearing white (😊). It’s about honoring American workers and all the many contributions they’ve made and continue to make.


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I know you love history, but do you know the history of Labor Day includes violence and a deadly railroad strike? And, was a way for politicians to “prove” they cared about workers? It is too bad people do not typically walk around thanking others for the work they do (imagine the impact if we did), but maybe you will get inspired by these Labor Day quotes.

And, in terms of me “laboring” today. Of course, I am. I look forward to the quiet time of weekends, especially long ones, to work on strategic projects needing large blocks of uninterrupted time or one of my passion projects. To you, it might appear as if I am “working”, but I am doing what makes me happy. Although tomorrow morning, you may not be happy when you find all my emails that will be waiting in your inbox.