Victoria’s Secrets: An impactful week

Schools Chancellor David Banks, Queens BP Donovan Richards and Assemblymember David Weprin addressed students and staff at Hillcrest High School following an antisemitic rampage against a teacher who supports Israel.
Photo by Iryna Shkurhan

Sadly, with the media coverage of the war between Israel and the Hamas terrorists, I’m seeing and hearing extraordinary ignorance from many young and older people about who Hamas is. 

Why is it so clear to me that the al Qaeda terrorists killed innocent people in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and we went to war over it and now, 12 years later, Hamas terrorists have killed and tortured innocent Israeli infants, children, men and women and yet people still don’t have a clear understanding of what is really happening? Of course the Israelis had to go to war to defend themselves.

The Israeli hostages coming home have relayed horrific memories of their time in captivity under the Hamas terrorists.

In my beloved Queens, Hillcrest High School had a relatively small group create chaos at the Jamaica institution. The students, brandishing a Palestinian flag, were screaming and yelling hateful things about a longtime teacher who had gone to the Rally for Israel the previous week. They were terrorizing her by attempting to storm her classroom.

NYC Dept. of Education Schools Chancellor David Banks visited the school with other Queens elected officials to try and ease tensions, but it was a week after the wild rampage.

While that was a step in the right direction, I find myself wondering when they are going to do more. What will be changed so that hate and ignorance will be addressed in the schools? How are they taking the antisemitism heard all around us and doing something to effect change?

The Black Lives Matters movement saw an avalanche of sensitivity training and educating. The antisemitism we see today is comparable to the anti-Black sentiment following George Floyd’s murder at the hands of a police officer.

Silence by our leaders is not tolerable. This is not 1935 when too many people were silent about what was happening in European villages as Jews were killed, by the millions, and people in power did little. 

Never again!

Each of us must raise our voices and be heard. Hatred must not be tolerated.

The young Hillcrest students involved in the rampage had no clue about the difference between Palestinians and Hamas.

What will the Dept. of Education do to educate students about the Holocaust, how Israel was born and the current events?

I’m hoping that David Banks will help to effect change. 

Our country’s greatness is in our diversity and living peacefully side-by-side. It’s time to show that we can rise above this antisemitism. 

This is a season of love and celebration.

It was my daughter Samantha’s birthday and we shared dinner, along with my three grandchildren. 

I asked them if they learned about the Holocaust in high school and if they are being taught about current events and the war in Israel and Gaza. They all resoundingly said “no.”

There is a beautiful song written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein in the iconic “South Pacific.”

In the musical, a young American lieutenant falls in love with a “native” girl, which was taboo for the soldiers stationed in the South Pacific Islands during World War II.

The love-struck soldier sadly sings: “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear. You’ve got to be taught from year to year. It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear. You’ve got to be carefully taught!”

I believe in education in the home, in school and in the community. Now is the time for all of us to raise our voices and let it be known that we will not tolerate hate!

Fortunately, the boys who attacked the teacher were arrested. 

Let’s see what happens next…

On a happier note

The Americana Manhasset shopping center’s Champions for Charity weekend raised money for many nonprofit organizations.

Life’S WORC staff and clients at Theory in Manhasset

Life’s WORC, the group I founded, was at one of my favorite stores, Theory, greeting friends, family and clients to encourage everyone to shop! They did and so did I!

Smile Farms gala

Last month, I had the joy of attending a gala for Smile Farms, a group created by Jim McCann, the founder and chairman of 1-800-Flowers.com, Inc., whose mission it is to create meaningful employment with vocational and educational opportunities for people with special needs.

Jim McCann is the creator of this powerful and important cause, helping endless numbers of people find meaningful training and skills. The group is his “baby” and that night, his “smile” was ear-to-ear.

Jim McCann and fellow flower lover Frederico Azevedo

I was grateful that my next-door neighbor Jay Scansaroli, a Smile Farms board member, invited me to attend the sold out gala at the stunning Ziegfeld Ballroom in Manhattan.

Jay Scansaroli and Frederico Azevedo

To my delight, I also saw dear friends Norm and Elaine Brodsky from Brooklyn, who are great activists and philanthropists. It was too long since I had last seen them and we caught up on their great community work in Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick.

Norm and Elaine Brodsky

The honoree, COO and CFO of GreyLion Partners Dina Colombo, spoke eloquently about her decades long friendship with Jim and the appreciation she felt for the work of Smile Farms.

It was truly a night to remember and cherish.