Hold It All

Category: Hedy Epstein

The Good News, 3.4.2017

The Good News is that Dianne Lee sent me the following letter, which reminds me of Hedy’s sharp wit, deep commitment to the Palestinian people, and support of people seeking justice.

Hedy letter to Burke


Saturday Share the Wealth: The Last Two Months with Hedy Epstein

Local and global activist Hedy Epstein  was diagnosed with cancer in early April of this year. She died at the age of 91 in late May.

This week’s Share the Wealth will be  stories  by several of Hedy’s care givers who accompanied her  in the last weeks of her life.

Join us
SATURDAY 8 October 2016
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 pm
Sharing begins at 6:45
At the home of Fatima Rhodes
4406 A Laclede Avenue
Central West End
Saint Louis



Hedy, on the right; Gaza Freedom March; Cairo, 2010

This Is It

Sitting with Hedy
At the end

Is like sitting with Mev
At the end

Breathing in, calm
Breathing out, present

This quiet moment
This only moment

Hedy at Breakfast 5.20.2016

On the Phone with Hedy

Even her detractors might agree:
Two of Hedy Epstein’s characteristics—
Pertinacity and indomitability

I’ll add a third and fourth
Tenderness and compassion
As when I called her from Ramallah

To explain why I was unable the day before
To pick up her and friends at Ben-Gurion Airport
After their long flight from Saint Louis

The IDF had detained me and friends for hours
Granting me the most infinitesimal taste
Of what Palestinians routinely undergo

Hedy took this in …
Then the tremulous softness in her voice as she asked
“Did … they … torture … you?”


for Hedy

45 phone calls on 8.15
82 guests at birthday party
1948 arrival in USA
5 attempts to reach people in Gaza
2 grand-daughters
20+ years working fair housing
1982 wake-up call
2 parents with tenderest love
1 conscientious speech on a rickety chair in Cairo
1 massage received on a boat
Countless planetary comrades
90 years remembering, struggling, raising voice, extending hand

Share with Wealth with Hedy Epstein: Remembering Is Not Enough

Our next Share the Wealth will be with Hedy Epstein, a long-time activist in Saint Louis and beyond.

Hedy will share stories about growing up in Germany, which she left on a Kindertransport to England in 1939 not long after Kristallnacht. She will talk about some of what she learned from her beloved parents, who were killed at Auschwitz.

She will also speak about her commitment to the people of Palestine and her participation in Women in Black, the International Solidarity Movement, the Gaza Freedom March, the Freedom Flotilla, and the Saint Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee.

Hedy will be open to our questions about her life of remembrance and activism in solidarity with people who have been marginalized and oppressed.

Join us!
Sunday 17 November
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Hedy begins sharing at 6:45.
At the home of Fatima Rhodes
4406 A Laclede Avenue
Central West End


The Daily Mail

The following is a short chapter from Hedy Epstein’s memoir-in-progress, Remembering Is Not Enough.  Dianne Lee and I are both privileged to be assisting Hedy on this project.

In those first years of the Nazi regime, it was hard for me to grasp the import of  politics writ large.  However, I would soon come face to face with discrimination on  a regular basis.  Whereas I   once enjoyed walking to the post office to pick up our mail, it soon became a repetitive nightmare.  Mr. Link, the father of one of my classmates, was the postmaster and he came regularly dressed to work in a  Nazi uniform. He began to refuse me the use of the office stepladder, which made it very difficult to reach the slot where the mail was.  To make me work even harder, he pushed the mail as far back in the compartment as possible.  One day he even chased me out of the building with his dog. I ran to  the nearby home of a Jewish family, where I slowly regained my composure.

I complained about all this to my parents, “I’m not tall enough, it’s hard to get to, and he’s putting it all the way in the back.” My father said, “You have to figure out a way to deal with this.”  He wasn’t going to relieve me of that responsibility.

My solution: Each time I went, I brought a little footstool.

At the time, I thought my father should make life easy for me, which he wasn’t doing, and I resented it. Instead, he saw that I had this obstacle, and I would have to find a way to address it. He wasn’t going to tell me how to do it. And he was’t going to accompany me, either.

Later, when I was separated from my parents, I finally understood what he had been trying to teach me then, and I had to agree with him, because it was many of these everyday struggles that later helped me to survive.

Present Moment, Only Moment

One day last fall Dianne told me on the phone
“I think Hedy is dying of pancreatic cancer”
I didn’t believe it

But in any case
All there was to do that day
Was to sip the Steak and Shake vanilla milkshake with her

Massage her feet
Argue with her over whether or not
To get involved in the South African free speech case

And notice her beaming at me
With such love
Like I’m a treasured, incomparable son

A Yiddish proverb goes
“Sleep faster
We need the pillows”

No, live more slowly, mindfully
Love Hedy in the present
Let go of the rest

This and That

Just heard from an attorney in Jerusalem that my book
Elie Wiesel and The Politics of Moral Leadership
Is in the Israeli National Library
I hope it also carries Hedy Epstein’s Erinnern Ist Nicht Genug

Wiesel book FB