Kudos to Joy Kurland
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Kudos to Joy Kurland

Count me as one of the many saddened to hear of Joy Kurland’s departure from Federation’s Community Relations Council (“Thank You, Joy” May 1).

I agree with Rabbi Neal Borovitz about 1) the difficult challenge in replacing her, and 2) the rise of “conflict and competition between and among religious and ethnic communities.”

That’s how I met Joy Kurland two years ago.

Palisades Park is a small town that once had a large enough Jewish population to first support then expand the Sons of Israel congregation. In the 1940s, when my immigrant grandparents opened a store on Broad Avenue, they sought to be good Americans. The store signs were in English and they employed every type of person who lived in the primarily Italian-American town for the 50 years they did business here.

No more. Today’s Jewish population is a mere handful. The majority Korean population considers it acceptable to put store signage/menus in Korean only and to employ only Korean speaking staff. The Italian–Americans, who still hold the majority of municipal positions, do nothing to address this form of discrimination. Korean-only signage is now moving northward and can be seen in Leonia. Where next?

In addition, there’s a growing movement to attach the WWII issue of the so-called Comfort Women (aka sex slaves of the Pacific War) onto Holocaust exhibits and institutions across America. The Comfort Women, numbering perhaps 200,000, were the tragic spoils of war, as were millions of other abused women. But they were not victims of a sustained campaign of genocide.

Worst of all, in Palisades Park, the public library that devotes resources both inside and out to elevating the Comfort Women issue out of all scale to the overall events of WWII. Pre-Joy Kurland, this shameful public library never acknowledged the Holocaust.

Last winter, following events too long to detail here, Joy Kurland and two local rabbis traveled to the Palisades Park library. Thanks to Ms. Kurland’s efforts, the library board agreed to put up a display about the Holocaust – the federation supplied the materials. They also hit Ms. Kurland up for a donation of books. (My family has paid taxes on our store, our home and employee taxes for more than 50 years, so I find this offensive. This library can afford to buy books.)

Last fall, the library snubbed any mention of D-Day. Last month they put up a half-hearted exhibit to commemorate the Holocaust. Will they even acknowledge V-E Day? Don’t hold your breath.

Palisades Park remains an excellent example of what happens when history is re-written to suit a changing population demographic. And it’s very scary.

So thanks Joy Kurland. I’ll never forget.

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