Washington column for March 21

‘Horrendous Evil, Saving Grace’

I hope everyone had a green St. Patrick’s Day and that a bit o’ Irish luck and a bit o’ Irish cheer snuggled down inside your heart and will stay all through the year.

Please join the Rappahannock Historical Society on Sunday, March 24, at 2 p.m. at the the Town Hall, 485 Gay Street, Washington for a moving presentation, “Horrendous Evil, Saving Grace.”

Holocaust survivor Dr. Arye Ephrath was born in 1942 in Bardejov, Czechoslovakia (present-day Slovakia), the same day the first deportation of Jews from his hometown was implemented. The Jews of Bardejov had been ordered to report to the town square that day, but his mother, Miriam Friedman, ignored the order. To avoid detection by the Nazis, Miriam gave birth in the basement of their home with the help of a housemaid. Fearful for their new son’s life, Arye’s parents decided it would be best for Miriam to return to her hometown in Hungary. Over the next couple of years Miriam moved from inn to inn to avoid detection by authorities as Hungary had enacted their own anti-Semitic policies and became an ally of Nazi Germany. Arye, meanwhile, was hidden in an orphanage and was not allowed to interact with his mother for their own protection.

In 1944, Arye’s parents escaped to a village in western Czechoslovakia. A local priest agreed to hide his parents, but not Arye as he posed too much of a risk. A local shepherd and his wife agreed to take Arye but required that he dress like a female and change his name to Annicka in order to avoid suspicion from the townspeople.

On Arye’s third birthday, the Soviet Army liberated Czechoslovakia and Arye was reunited with his parents. The family lived in Czechoslovakia for three years before relocating to Israel in 1948. After finishing his military service Arye studied aerospace engineering in Florida and eventually received a scholarship to MIT to obtain his Master’s and PhD degrees. He became a professor of Engineering and worked in various laboratories during his career. He now volunteers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

In his talk Dr. Ephrath, who is a graduate school friend and colleague of Society president John Tole, will fill in the details of his family’s WWII ordeal and his perspective on how these events have shaped his life. This is not an easy topic but one that remains of vital and perpetual importance. Please join him for what is sure to be a moving presentation.

Belated wishes

Weeble celebrated his birthday on St. Paddy’s Day, March 17. Photo by Joan Platt

Our pets are not animals that are fed and then left alone. They are like our children and our friends. They become an inseparable part of our lives. There’s not a day that passes by that they don’t do countless things to put a smile on our faces or make you laugh. Every creation of God has its special birthday, and for “Weeble” his day was on St. Paddy’s Day, according to his owner, Joan Platt. He turned 11 and had a wonderful birthday party. Joan and Weeble are residents of Washington.

Child Focus

On Friday, March 15, the Child Care and Learning Center Board and staff met with 40 community residents to discuss the results of the assessment completed by the consulting firm, Child Focus. The assessment was commissioned to provide additional information on child and family needs in Rappahannock County.

On Friday, March 15, the Child Care and Learning Center Board and staff met with 40 community residents to discuss the results of the results of the assessment completed by the consulting firm, Child Focus at Reynolds Memorial Baptist Church, Sperryville. Photo by Lisa Paine-Wells

Among other findings, the assessment suggested that lack of affordable child care, the need for local mental health services, food insecurity, and affordable housing were key issues in the county. Next steps include use of this data in Zero to Five planning underway as part of the Mixed Delivery Grant awarded to Rappahannock County by the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation in December 2018.

Have a wonderful week.

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