Dr. Renate Justin surmounts tragedy to share her story In ‘What I Have To Tell: A Memoir’

By Scott Skillman

From time to time, the Temple receives unsolicited books for review, consideration or for no reason at all. One such book, What I Have to Tell: A Memoir by Renate G. Justin, M.D. (Crystal Publishing, Fort Collins, CO, 2019), caught my eye, as it was credited to a former member of the Terre Haute Jewish community.

In 163 pages, we are informed of a world of pain and how one person chose to rise above it. Our narrator makes clear a person can rise above her circumstances, but that does not necessarily mean she can escape them.

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Dr. Renate Justin met antisemitism with compassion, commitment to ease others’ pain

By Ken Turetzky

Following an early life of hardship, on the run from Nazis and then facing antisemitism in her adopted home of the United States, Dr. Renate Gabriele Lieberg Justin determined that she would heretofore treat others only with respect and compassion.

While Justin eventually rejected religious faith as insufficient to relieve the burden of tragic experience, she embodied Hillel’s Golden Rule: That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.

Justin wrote, “It is the pain I have experienced because of antisemitism that makes me wary of prejudging other people’s belief, of being intolerant, and thereby inflicting pain.”

Throughout her long career as a family medical practitioner and essayist — including a period from 1959-87 in Terre Haute — Justin observed, considered and wrote thoughtfully about her childhood, her family, her patients and life passages that ranged from gentle to nearly unbearable.

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The People of the Book can always benefit from a good group study session

By Betsy Frank

Jews are known as the People of the Book.

We have a long tradition of studying our sacred texts. We engage with these texts alone and in groups.

Not only do Jews study these sacred texts as part of life-long religious education, but this tradition of studying has led many Jews to careers as academics and professionals.

Our parents have encouraged us and we have fostered learning in our children and grandchildren.

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Guided by mentors, Caitlin Brazner prepares to carry the flame forward, l’dor vador

By Student Rabbi Caitlin Brazner

My journey to rabbinical school began with a meaningful conversation with my mentor, Rabbi Educator Vicki L. Tuckman, zichrona livracha.

After a great day working alongside Vicki at URJ Camp Harlam, a Jewish summer camp in Kunkletown, Pa., we found ourselves sitting on her cabin porch around midnight as the stars rose over the Mahoning Valley.

I still remember her exact words: “You’re going to be a rabbi — you just don’t know it yet.”

I laughed it off; a well-intentioned but incorrect prediction, I thought.

Eight years later, as I wrap up my fourth year of rabbinical school, it would seem an “I told you so” may be in order.

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