To all our veterans: thank you


Good morning dear U.S. service men and women, veterans, and Americans everywhere.

I am writing this on Veterans Day, the day in which we Americans pause to pay tribute to you for all you have done and are still doing to keep America a safe place.

Thinking back to my childhood, I can remember the day we got the news in Overtown, that World War II was over. I was 7. And the picture of Ms. Mamie, one of Mom's friends, running down the stairs with the news she had just heard on the radio, is still fresh in my mind.

The war was over and Overtown rejoiced! People walked up and down Northwest Second Avenue hugging each other and dancing in the street. There shouts of joy everywhere.

The war was over. That's all that mattered at that time. But there were still more wars to come: Korea, Vietnam, Iraq.

So, as I think back on the first war that I can remember, on all the wars that have followed throughout my life, on the many soldiers who didn't make it back home, and on those who came home bearing the scars of the war forever, I say, thank you.

My uncles Buster and Joseph Lawton, served in World War II. My only brother Adam Johnson, served in Vietnam. When my sons served in the Army, we were at peace.

As a child, I remember hearing the story of how, when Uncle Buster came home after the war, he couldn't stop talking. My Grandma Susie (who died in 1993) said he was walking down the street from the Greyhound bus station, duffel bag slung across his shoulder, talking to himself about his experience in the war. She said it wasn't a pretty sight.

Uncle Buster had fought on the front lines, only to come home and have to ride in the back of the bus, although there were seats up front. Sadly, this talented artist, my uncle, could never forget his experience and died years later an alcoholic.

After the war overseas, Black American soldiers came home to find another war. This war was led by Dr. Martin Luther King —for freedom for all Americans. And though we have come a long way, it is a war that isn’t over.

Yet, as I write this, my heart if filled with gratitude for all those who gave their life — abroad and at home — so that today we can live peacefully in America.

Parish to remember Ukraine’s ‘Forced Famine’

November is a month to remember other significant dates such as the 80th anniversary of the Ukrainian Forced Famine from 1932-33.

According to information from Oksana Piaseckyj, this was "a horrific act of mass destruction by Stalin and his Collectivization Plan".

Piaseckyj is in a member of the Parish Advisory Committee for the Assumption BVM Ukrainian Catholic Church of Miami.

Piaseckyj said Stalin was exporting grain to the western world, while taking every grain away by force from the farmers and peasants of Ukraine. "At first, it was taking away grain and then taking every bit of food away. If caught hiding any food, people were shot or thrown on wagons and taken to Siberia and other remote areas of the Soviet Union. During just that one year, about five million people were starved or shot or died in the gulags.”

To remember the victims of this dark period in world history, the Ukrainian community in Miami will have a commemorative liturgical service at 3 p.m. on Nov. 24 at St. Mary's Cathedral, 7525 NW Second Ave. The Choral Requiem Divine Liturgy will be led by the Rev. Jaroslaw Shudrak of the Assumption BVM Ukrainian Catholic Church. A solemn procession will precede the liturgy.

The community is invited. For more information call Piaseckyj at 305-798-0190.

Hanukkah Fest set for Nov. 24

Temple Beth Am at 5950 N. Kendall Dr., will celebrate the Jewish Festival of Lights with a Community Hanukkah Fest on Nov. 24.

Sponsored by the PJ Library, a program of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, a highlight of the event will be at 2 p.m., when renowned Jewish musical performer, composer and recording Elana Jagoda will be the featured guest artist.

The gates to the festival will open at noon with a community-wide picnic on the green. Guests are asked to bring their own blankets and picnic lunches, or purchase food from vendors at the on-site Food Truck Rally.

General admission is $5 per person and $18 per group of four. To purchase tickets in advance, visit:

The PJ Library is a program that promotes love of reading while sharing Jewish values and traditions. Families in Miami-Dade, with children from six months to eight years, can sign up with PJ Library to receive free Jewish-themed children's books, music and DVDs sent directly to their homes each month. For more information, call 786-866-8572.

Kids can enter writing contest

The deadline to enter the Annual Student Creative Writing contest is Friday.

Sponsored by the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, this year's theme is How food acts as a tradition in the home, complementing the museum's current exhibit: Growers, Grocers and Gefilte Fish.

Students may write an essay, poem, monologue, dialogue or short story about the following: "What foods spell 'tradition' in your home and why? Describe a meal you shared with family and/or friends that has special meaning for you and tell why was it significant."

The contest is open to all Florida students in grades six through 12. Only one entry per student. All submissions must be received by mail or delivery by 5 p.m. Friday. No email entries will be accepted.

Prizes will be awarded to three middle school and three high school students: First prize is $125; second prize, $75, and third prize is $50. The winners' classes will also receive a free school group tour of the exhibit. An awards ceremony recognizing the winners will be held at the museum on Dec. 8.

For information on where to bring your entries, call Chaim Lieberperson, Museum Education Manager, at 786-972-3187 or send an email to:

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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