Picture by David Beatson

Monday, December 5, 2011

Help others this season

Help a family meet their mortage:

Give to your local food bank.

Help our vets with a new lounge at For Belvoir, VA:

Help reforest sacred lands in New Mexico:

Give your shoes you don't wear:

If you have business clothes you don't wear:
careergear.org (for men's clothes) and thewomensalliance.org (women's clothes)

Give your stuffed animals a new home:

handsonnetwork.org and volunteermatch.org

Keep a home warm this winter:
(also, I went to my local companies and paid a little $$ on a family's bill I knew needed help)

Adopt an Olympic team!

A Provocative Icon

A Provocative Icon
The silent Christ statue speaks to employees in ways that cut across religion, nationality, class and culture

The Story of a Statue
The famed sculpture under the dome is actually a replica of a piece done in 1820 by the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. The original stands as the central figure grouped with the twelve apostles in Copenhagen’s main cathedral. Presented to the Hospital by donor William W. Spence, the Hopkins replica was made for $5,360 in 1896 by a Professor Stein of the Danish Royal Academy of Arts.
The finished work—cut from a single block of Carrara marble—arrived by ship at the foot of Broadway in Fells Point, where it was placed on rollers and hauled up to the hospital’s main entrance at 601 N. Broadway. The doors to what is now called the Billings Administration Building were taken off their hinges so the statue could fit through. Three brick columns were installed under Billings’ marble floor to support the statue’s weight.
Here in a hospital famed for modern medicine, a 10-and-a-half-foot marble statue of Jesus rises beneath its historic dome. Elsewhere, such a prominently featured religious symbol might be cause for controversy. But at Hopkins Hospital, "Christus Consolator" has managed to defy its traditional symbolism and garner respect from nearly all who pass.

Long a source of solace and hope for patients and families, the Christ statue also has meaning for hundreds of employees. For many it signifies healing, hope and compassion; for others, it means faith and tradition and even freedom. To a few, it is simply a work of art, or even a throw-back to a less tolerant time. Muslims, Jews, Christians, atheists-all interpret the statue in ways that feel right for them.

Claudia Costabile, an administrative assistant for Johns Hopkins International, moved here from Brazil last year. The statue doesn't seem out of place to her, she admits, perhaps because she was raised in a Catholic country. "I cannot separate the sculpture from my upbringing. When I look at it, I immediately think of my family." In Islam, says International client coordinator Omar Zidi, while Jesus has a very special place as a messenger, a key principal is to keep God in the abstract and eschew images of God or the prophets. But, he says, "It's hard to satisfy everybody. So for me, the statue serves as a reminder of my own faith."

Some like Adrian Dobs, professor of medicine and a practicing Jew, are less accepting of the statue. "I see how the statue means a great deal to our patients and their families. It engenders a sense of hope and comfort to many-something extremely important in the field of medicine," Dobs says. "But if it weren't already there, I wouldn't be in favor of erecting it again. It has an obvious religious significance, and in today's world, we need to be careful about imposing religious beliefs on others."

That's not an issue for Mikyong Hong, a patient services coordinator and interpreter for international services. Hong, who came to Hopkins a month ago from Korea, is an atheist but says the statue doesn't bother her. She points out that many religious Asians-many of whom are Buddhist-could be uncomfortable with the size and meaning of the statue and would avoid passing it. When Hong arrived at Hopkins, someone told her it was good luck to rub the statue's toe. "Now it's a habit," she says. "Every time I pass, I rub it."

Stop for a while and watch the people hurrying past the Christ statue. Not one five-minute period goes by without someone acknowledging it. Like Hong, they might rub the toe. Or, they might say a brief prayer. Some kneel in front of it. A few even high-five it. "Every time I walk by I have to touch it," says Norma Green, a transplant finance coordinator who has been at Hopkins for 37 years. "I leave all my problems there so I don't bring them to the patients.."

Founder Johns Hopkins was an ardent Quaker devoted to the establishment of a non-sectarian university, hospital and medical school. To Hopkins, "non-sectarian" meant acknowledging the power of personal faith without aligning his institutions with one particular religion. In 19th century parochial Baltimore, such a philosophy was considered heretical.

So when the University was dedicated in 1876 without so much as a benediction, many Baltimoreans considered it blasphemous. For years the rich and religious hounded the University's first president Daniel Gilman about the oversight. Finally, on Oct. 14, 1896, Gilman quelled the controversy with the stunning statue that stands at what was then the physical epicenter of the hospital, its ornate rotunda. He downplayed Jesus' religious implications; to him the statue represented the ultimate physician, the "Great Healer," who "wrought," he said, "more wonderful cures than any physician or surgeon that had ever lived."

Today, many share Gilman's take on the statue as a symbol of healing. Kate Hicks, raised Catholic, now not religious, says that when she joined Hopkins as a research data assistant in the Department of Psychiatry she heard the statue was a Greek medical figure. "I still think it's a beautiful work of art even though now I know it's Jesus, but I'd get more out of it if it were something different-maybe a human assisting another human. Something more about helping or healing than a religious figure."

For people like Nadia Sawaya, the statue represents much more. Sawaya lived through civil war in her native Lebanon, witnessing burning churches and other acts of violence fueled by religious differences. Today she is a project manager for external communications for Johns Hopkins International. "When I see the statue standing there without being torn down, it feels like freedom to me," she says. "It reminds me that in this country you can be proud of your faith, that you will be respected as a human being and a citizen no matter what you believe."

Cardiac surgeon Levi Watkins, a longtime civil rights activist, has brought everyone from Rosa Parks to Maya Angelou to see the statue. For him, it's not just a symbol of compassion and healing, but activism. "Jesus talked about feeding the poor, like some sort of ancient welfare system," he says. "The statue should remind us of our charitable mission here."

Situated in the historic Billings Administration Building, the iconic landmark is a stopping-off point for sight-seers, a starting point for Christmas carolers, and a gathering place for employees meeting for lunch. Although people from so many cultures pass through daily, very few official complaints about the statue have been recorded. No one would know better than Sandy Johnson, the employee orientation program coordinator for the Hospital and Health System who conducts weekly tours that always end at the statue. "I've been doing this seven years and I've never had a negative response from anyone. I've had everyone from Muslim to Baha'i in my tour groups. I think people just respect it as a symbol of faith, period."

For more than a century, the statue has left an indelible first impression on both patients and staff. "Every once in a while, I'll just stop and watch what's going on," says neurologist Michael A. Williams. "When you see how many people come to that statue, it tells you the value of faith and spirituality that people hold and maybe speaks louder than any spreadsheet could for enhancing our ability to give, not only through a beautiful silent statue, but through the services we provide here."

- Lindsay Roylance
A Not-So-Silent Night
Every Dec. 24 at 7 p.m., the Memorial Baptist Church choir gathers in front of the Christ statue to fill the historic halls with song. After several carols under the dome, the choristers embark on a two-hour tour to different units, often leading a procession of patients and families through the hospital. “We get so much enjoyment ministering to those who can’t be with their families during the holiday season,” says Rev. Calvin Keene, pastor of the 86-year-old church on Caroline Street.
It was the gratitude of such a family that began the tradition decades ago. On July 27, 1926, Abraham Lincoln Johnson was filling the gas tank of a truck when gas spilled onto his clothes. The driver struck a match and Johnson was engulfed in flames. He was admitted to Hopkins in the early evening with second degree burns on his body, neck and face and was a patient for months. When he finally recovered, his mother persuaded the choir of her church to sing carols at the statue’s feet on Christmas Eve as an offering of thanks.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lorenzo Perrone~Moral Courage

“..An Italian civilian worker brought me a piece of bread and the remainder of his ration every day for six months; he gave me a vest of his, full of patches; he wrote a postcard on my behalf to Italy and brought me the reply. For all this he neither asked nor accepted any reward, because he was good and simple and did not think that one did good for a reward.
…I believe that it was really due to Lorenzo that I am alive today; and not so much for his material aid, as for his having constantly reminded me by his presence, by his natural and plain manner of being good, that there still existed a just world outside our own, something and someone still pure and whole, not corrupt, not savage, extraneous to hatred and terror; something difficult to define, a remote possibility of good, but for which it was worth surviving.
…But Lorenzo was a man; his humanity was pure and uncontaminated, he was outside this world of negation. Thanks to Lorenzo, I managed not to forget that I myself was a man.”
Levi, Primo, If This is a Man, New York:The Orion Press, 1959
Lorenzo Perrone, born in 1904, in Fossano, in Cuneo province, saved the life of the famous author, Primo Levi, when they were both in Auschwitz. Levi, a resident of Turin, worked as a chemist specializing in paints and varnishes. In 1943, as soon as Italy was occupied by the Germans, he joined a partisan band in his native Piedmont. He was arrested in the roundup of December 13, 1943, by the Republican Fascist militia and imprisoned in Aosta until January 20, 1944. Then he was transferred to Fossoli camp and deported on February 22, 1944. After he arrived in Auschwitz, he was sent to slave labor in the I.G. Farben factory in the Buna-Monowitz camp.
As a chemist, he was given a job in the synthetic rubber factory. When Levi was assigned to a squad that was erecting a wall, he met his rescuer Perrone, a mason. He was from the Piedmont region and belonged to a group of skilled bricklayers who were civilian workers, hired by the Italian firm Boetti. The meeting between the two Italians occurred one day, during the summer of 1944, when Levi heard Perrone speaking to another worker in the same dialect as his. From that day on, Perrone brought Levi food every day for half a year, until the end of December 1944. Then, with the front getting nearer, the foreign workers were sent home. The extra food, part of Perrone's food ration, saved Levi’s life, and he also shared it with his friends. Perrone also gave Levi a multi-patched vest to wear under his prisoner’s uniform to keep him warm. He also agreed to send postcards to a non-Jewish friend of Levi’s through which Levi’s mother, Esther, and sister, Anna Maria, were informed that he was alive. Levi’s sister and mother, who were in hiding in Italy, succeeded, through a chain of friends ending with Perrone, to send Levi a package of food, including chocolate, cookies, and powdered milk, as well as clothing. Perrone, an exceptional man, risked his life to save Levi. He did not expect any reward for what he did. He only agreed to have Levi arrange to fix his torn shoes at the camp’s workshop.
The last meeting between the two occurred one night after a heavy Allied bombardment. The blast had burst one of Perrone’s eardrums, and earth sprayed by the explosion had spewed sand and dirt into the bowl of soup he was bringing to Levi. When he gave him the food, Perrone apologized for the soup being dirty, but did not tell Levi what had happened to him, because he did not want his friend to feel indebted to him. Perrone reminded Levi that there was still a just world outside Auschwitz and that there were still human beings who were uncorrupted. Levi believed that he survived Auschwitz thanks to Perrone. After the liberation, Primo Levi was in touch with Perrone, visiting him in Fossano. During Perrone’s last illness, Levi was the one who got him admitted into the hospital. Perrone died in 1952 of tuberculosis. Levi named his two children after Lorenzo Perrone: his daughter, born in 1948, was called Lisa Lorenza; and his son, born in 1957, was called Renzo. Levi died in 1987. Lorenzo Perrone appears in Primo Levi’s autobiographical narratives: If This is a Man; Moments of Reprieve; Lilit; and the stories “The Events of the Summer” and “Lorenzo’s Return.” In these writings he told about the bricklayer from Fossano to whom he owed his survival. He called him “a saint.”

On June 7, 1998, Yad Vashem recognized Lorenzo Perrone as a Righteous Among the Nations.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ludwig Worl~Moral Courage

Ludwig Wörl (1906-1967) spent 11 years of his life as a political prisoner in Nazi concentration camps.
He was first arrested by the Gestapo in 1934, and sent to Dachau for distributing a pamphlet informing the public about the horrors of the camp. After spending some nine months in a dark detention cell, he was first transferred to the camp’s joinery and later, as a trained medical orderly, assigned to the camp’s sick-bay. In 1942, he was sent to Auschwitz together with 17 other male nurses to deal with an outbreak of typhus, which threatened not only the prisoners but also the German camp personnel.
Appointed as the Lagerälteste (the camp elder) of the hospital barracks, Wörl, against the express orders of the SS, employed Jewish doctors, thus saving them from certain death. He also put himself at risk in order to obtain at least a minimum of the required medicines and medical instruments for the treatment of the sick. He would forge selection lists in order to save Jewish patients from death by gassing. As a result of consistently countermanding the orders of the SS doctors aimed at decimating the number of the sick, Wörl was dismissed from his post and incarcerated once again in an isolated detention cell. After a while he was released and, by virtue of his nationality and seniority, put in Güntergrube, a forced-labor camp near Auschwitz.
In Guntergrube, as in Auschwitz, he protected the 600 Jewish prisoners from maltreatment by sadistic German Kapos and saw to it that they get their due share of food and clothing. Even prisoners with tuberculosis were able to survive because Wörl exempted them from hard work and protected them by various subterfuges from the inspection of the SS doctors. At the time of the evacuation of Auschwitz, he helped prisoners escape from the infamous death marches. After the war Wörl, who became chairman of the Organization of Former Auschwitz Prisoners in Germany, dedicated his life to perpetuating the memory of the Nazi crimes and bringing their perpetrators to justice. In 1963, he took the stand as one of the key witnesses in the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt am Main.

On March 19, 1963, Yad Vashem recognized Ludwig Wörl as a Righteous Among the Nations.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Jerzy Bielecki~A Story of Moral courage

Jerzy Bielecki
JERZY BIELECKI: A story of moral courage

(As told by Stanlee Stahl Executive Vice President, JFR
Jerzy Bielecki and Stanlee Stahl).

We drove from Zakopane, Poland to the nearby town of Nowy Targ on a warm August morning, eager to meet rescuer Jerzy Bielecki for the first time. Jerzy is somewhat famous at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Musuem, because he was one of the few prisoners who managed to escape successfully from the camp in July 1944 with
During the winter of 1944, Jerzy decided to attempt to escape from Auschwitz. He begged Cyla to join him. “You are the only one left in your family,” he told her, “maybe I can save you.” Cyla’s parents and brothers, who had also been deported to Auschwitz, had already been murdered. Although she initially did not take Jerzy seriously, she eventually decided to join him. Over several months Jerzy made the necessary arrangements by securing food, documents, clothing and shoes for Cyla, and an SS uniform for himself.

On July 21, 1944, Jerzy, dressed in the stolen SS uniform, arrived in the laundry room where Cyla worked. He told the SS woman in charge that he was summoning Cyla for interrogation.Together they began walking through the camp. As they approached the guard house, an SS guard stopped them. Jerzy showed him a stolen pass authorizing one guard and one prisoner to return to a nearby work farm. The guard let them through. At this point, Jerzy and Cyla had passed the guarded area of the camp. They were still
in grave danger, however, because they both had camp numbers tattooed on their arms that would have easily identified them as Auschwitz escapees. Capture by the Germans would have meant certain death.
They walked for ten nights, hiding in the fields during the day. Cyla and Jerzy eventually reached the home of one of Jerzy’s relatives. They stayed there for several days. In one of the towns that they stayed in, Jerzy coincidentally reunited with his brother, Leszek, a member of an underground resistance movement,
and Jerzy decided to join the underground. Jerzy found Cyla a permanent hiding place with a Polish family. They lost contact, and when the war ended, each assumed that the other was dead.
After several years, Cyla married and moved to the United States to find some distant relatives. Jerzy also married and remained in Poland. In 1983, Cyla learned that Jerzy was still alive and traveled to Poland to visit him. Jerzy greeted her with 39 red roses, one for each year they were apart. Following their reunion, Cyla and Jerzy saw each other fifteen more times, until Cyla died in February 2005. Jerzy is 84 and lives in Nowy Targ, Poland.
Cyla, the Jewish girl with whom he had fallen in love. When we pulled up to his apartment, Jerzy was at the third floor window watching for us. He waved as we got out of the car, and we quickly walked up to his apartment.
Jerzy greeted us warmly. He is a charming and vivacious man and amazingly robust for 84 years old. He lives alone in a small walk-up apartment; his wife passed away a few years ago. Jerzy made tea for us and we sat down to talk. Jerzy said how grateful he is for the JFR’s support, which he has been receiving since January 1997. He uses the funds mainly to pay for home heating fuel and medication. He told us to pass on his thanks to everyone in America for helping him. I invited Jerzy to meet with our Alfred Lerner Fellows in July 2006 when we are at Auschwitz during the European Study Program. He was touched by the invitation and has already put it on his calendar. The educators who join us will no doubt be moved and inspired by Jerzy’s story.

AUSCHWITZ, POLAND... SUMMER 1944 – Jerzy Bielecki was in the first transport of Polish political prisoners that left Tarnow, Poland for Auschwitz on June 13, 1940. Upon arriving at Auschwitz, Jerzy was given number 243. During his more than four years as an inmate at Auschwitz, Jerzy worked in several places, including the grain warehouse. There he met and fell in love with Cyla Cybulska, a Polish Jew. Although men and women were not allowed to communicate with each other, Jerzy and Cyla were able to exchange a few words every day.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forget

Ten years later, the pictures and stories still cause my tears to flow.

Never forget.
Never forget the innocent lives lost.
Never forget the nation that came together in grief and support.
Never forget the brave rescuerers, doing their job.
Never forget the way our nation prayed together.
Never forget the God who held us in His hand, comforting us, crying with us, there for us.
Never forget that God is still there for us.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Free-to-Roam Friday


Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

farewell Summer


Saturday, July 30, 2011



Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Righteous Mother

“There is nothing in this world as personal, as nurturing, or as life changing as the influence of a righteous woman.”

Friday, July 8, 2011

Free-to-Roam Friday


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

Free-to-Roam Friday

 I would love to roam here!

Free-to-Roam Friday is the day we get to daydream about going anywhere in the world with absolutely no restrictions.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Sunrise Friday


Friday, June 10, 2011

Monday, June 6, 2011

WOnkY NoSe

“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
Roald Dahl (1916-1990);

Friday, June 3, 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011



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