Elie Wiesel spent his life speaking against injustice because silence equals acceptance and participation. It is up to us to do the same.
“Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere.” (Elie Wiesel, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize)

I remember the first time I read Night—in high school. I was moved by Elie Wiesel’s words, but I was also distracted by high school naivety and the superficiality of my very safe, very stable world. Night impacted my 17-year-old soul, but not nearly as much as it would in the later years of my life. I had yet to comprehend the true impact this great man was having on my world. I had yet to accept his challenge of standing against injustice with my voice and actions. 

Eight years later, I became the teacher of Night to my own high school students. I remember re-reading it as an adult and preparing for my lessons. Would my students understand the magnitude of this work? Would they comprehend that he himself was a teenage boy when he entered Auschwitz? Would they be able to imagine the horror of it all and why it was so important that he wrote his story and told the world? Would they feel what I wanted them to feel, and understand how relevant Elie Wiesel’s words were in their own lives?

And now I think about Elie Wiesel’s life and his work, from the perspective of a mother. I think about the mothers of the Holocaust whose children were ripped from their arms. I think of Elie Wiesel’s own mother, sent immediately to the gas chamber with his sister, as her life was deemed worthless. I think of the children who prayed for their mothers’ comforting arms and never felt their embrace again. I think of the mothers and fathers and children sent to their deaths because they were Jewish. Or disabled. Or homosexual. Or unworthy of life for any myriad of reasons.

I am no longer a classroom teacher; I am instead a writer who discusses issues of social justice. I write about those who are oppressed. Who are victimized. And I often wonder if it’s enough. Is anyone even reading this? I ask myself. What if I am attacked in the comments? I worry. Do I have a tough enough skin to tackle such controversial issues? Am I brave enough to sit at my computer and put my thoughts out there, regardless of the consequences?

When I learned today that Elie Wiesel had died, I read this quote:

“…And then I explained to him how naive we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must–at that moment–become the center of the universe.” (Elie Wiesel, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize)

And then I had my answer. The truth is, I am not brave enough to handle vicious verbal attacks from those who read my words—from those who express bigotry or racism or hatred. But it’s not about being brave. It’s about knowing that silence is just as dangerous. And it is about fighting for humanity, for a better world for my children and for your children.

“And action is the only remedy to indifference, the most insidious danger of all.” (Elie Wiesel, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize)

Elie Wiesel and his fellow Holocaust survivors have forced the world to face this genocide—a truth many wanted to ignore or forget. But he did not allow that, as his life’s mission was to ensure that those who suffered were never forgotten. And soon the last of the Holocaust survivors—the true witnesses to the genocide of the 20th century that all future genocides would be measured against—will be deceased. What happens when there are none left? Wiesel himself worried about who would be the Holocaust’s last witness, who would have that burden. But he provided this as comfort:

“But to listen to a witness is to become a witness and that consoles us.” (Elie Wiesel, npr.org)

So here is our charge. This is where Elie Wiesel’s legacy lives on. It is up to me, as a mother, a teacher, a writer, to witness in the only way I know how—by telling his story and by standing for those who are victimized today, in my lifetime. For those who are hunted as the Jews were hunted. For those who are targeted and whose dignity and safety is stripped away from them by hate and fear. I will not be silent.

I will witness for you, Elie Wiesel. May you rest in the peace you so greatly deserve.

This post was originally published on Sammiches and Psych Meds and was also featured on The Huffington Post

What is happening? A snack is required for every activity our kids do these days, even art camp, apparently.A common criticism of this current generation of spawns is that they are weak. Coddled. Unable to handle adult challenges. I am partly annoyed and offended by this judgment; the other part of me completely agrees. I am thankful that my kids haven’t had to face war, starvation, death, and real fear beyond a spider. But I am also concerned that if and when a true obstacle comes their way, they may not be ready—that any of our kids will be ready. Because when that challenge faces them, you know what might not be there? A fricking snack.

That’s right, parents. This is a real problem. The need for a snack to magically appear in our children’s hands at 30-minute intervals throughout the day is making them spoiled and believing that snack is an actual meal. And a necessity.

I have adjusted (not entirely willingly) to the after-game / after-practice snack trend. You know the one. If your kid plays a sport or does any physical activity beyond blinking for more than 30 minutes, you are required to sign up to bring snack one week. Not sure how or why this is a thing. Pretty sure we played for 3 straight hours growing up and our parents threw us a Cheerio or two afterwards, but whatever. Such is life in 2016 suburbia.

I have also accepted that “snack expectations” are continuously evolving. Just when I thought I was all good with bringing Gatorade and cookies, I was met with the “snack bag.” After my 3-year-old’s “game” every week (quotation marks needed Continue Reading

I don't condone unnecessary violence. However, if someone messes with my kids, I teach them to stand up and and fight back.

I want very much to raise kind, compassionate kids. My husband and I try to model generosity and philanthropy for them. My son is a Cub Scout. We talk to our kids about what they should do if a shy kid at school is struggling to make friends—go up to them, give them a compliment, and invite them to join an activity. I follow groups like The Bully Project and share these stories with my kids, as I believe we all need to do our part to combat bullying.

We do not promote violence in our house. We have two boys, and like many boys, they make anything and everything into a gun. We instill in them the knowledge that guns are weapons and can hurt or kill. We reprimand our children if they hurt each other. They often wrestle for fun, but if someone gets hurt, the game stops and apologies and hugs are shared.


I teach my kids to fight, or more precisely to fight back. For as much as we value raising children who are loving, giving, and kind, we also want our kids to survive and feel strong. The harsh truth is that our world is unkind. Kids can be mean and mean kids often grow into mean adults. We refuse to allow our children, our smart, unique, funny kids, to be pushovers. We refuse to let them accept bullying, to let someone victimize them. No one is allowed to crush their spirits. And for that reason, we teach them to fight back against anyone who attempts to do so.

We have two boys and one girl. All three are taught this same lesson: If someone attacks you, you defend yourself. You get back up, stand up tall, look that person in the eye and show courage. Show strength. Show that person who hurt you that you will not be hurt again. We know that bullying often becomes a cycle, and a child who is targeted in first grade can be continuously harassed throughout childhood. Therefore, despite our commitment to kindness and compassion, we are also realistic. We are committed to preparing our children for the realities of this world.

I’ve read article after article lately asserting that the appropriate response to bullying is to address the cause of the behavior and work to prevent it. I completely agree. It is our job as parents to ensure we do not raise bullies. It is the job of educators and administrators to address bullying in schools and work to keep our kids safe. But if you tell me that I should not teach my kids to fight back against a bully, I call BULL-shit. Because that ain’t happening around here.

I know that too often a bully is bullied at home. He or she learns this aggression somewhere, and it saddens me to think of a child suffering, even a kid who is being mean to mine. I wish all children felt loved and validated at home and were taught about kindness. But I am realistic, and I know the sad reality. My children will encounter mean kids and mean adults their entire lives, who have been raised without compassion—that is an unavoidable fact. I believe passionately that my job, as their mother, is to teach them to survive. With dignity and pride—and with the strength to continue on, after being hurt.

We’ve enrolled our kids in karate, taught them effective wrestling strategies, and how to punch the right way. We teach them how to carry themselves. Even if you are afraid, we say, you don’t show fear. You stand up tall, look that person directly in the eye, and let him or her know with words first that you will not be victimized. And if you are hit, you hit back. Hard.

Cyber-bullying is trickier. How does my kid “hit back” if she is attacked online by her peers? I am still figuring that one out. But my hope is that if she sends the message from early on, two effects occur: First of all, she lets kids know she is not to be messed with and secondly, her confidence strengthens as she grows up and she believes she can handle whatever comes her way. My goal is that my kids feel empowered and see themselves as leaders. If they are picked on, whether with words, physical action, or via the internet, I hope they realize that they can stand up tall, rise above, and come out on the other side—strong and proud.

So yeah, I teach my kids to fight. And I’m not sorry about it.

This post was originally published on Scary Mommy.