Holocaust survivor will discuss book at Jan. 7 luncheon
By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP
Reflection, reconnections, and the relishing of friendships new and old are certain at the 2018 IntraFaith Sisterhood Brunch. This year’s luncheon will be hosted by Temple Emanu-El’s Women of Reform Judaism at 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 7, and catered by Simcha Kosher Catering. The featured speaker will be community member and author Jack Repp.
“Sisterhoods across the country connect, advocate, and act and Temple Emanu-El’s WRJ couldn’t be more thrilled to host this year’s gathering,” said Celia Rose Saunders, co-chairing the event with Elise Mikus and Sue Weiner and Honorary Chair Sarah Yarrin. The co-chairs are excited that the event is open to both women and men (ages 15 and over), hoping to see the generations represented.
“Everything that Sisterhood stands for is meaningful and to have Jack Repp as our guest, a man we honor, admire and really love so dearly, here to share his own story that is so important, is a gift to us all,” Saunders said. “We’ve opened the event to men and women and to teens, and we’re bringing in Simcha Kosher Catering hoping those from all the congregations, and those who are unaffiliated as well, will join us together — as one — as Jews — to experience and strengthen what we know as community.”
Each Sisterhood IntraFaith Luncheon, this one the 15th annual affair, is hosted by a different Dallas-area congregation, bringing together the members of the sisterhoods of all branches of Judaism. The women of each chapter create the program and menu, and coordinate the afternoon with previous event themes related to cooking, the environment, the history of Jews in Texas, the arts, career planning and more.
“Sisterhood is about our heritage and an incredible forum for friendships and connections at the many ages and stages of life,” said Rachelle Weiss Crane, who serves as Temple Emanu-El WRJ co-president with Kay Schachter. “The relationships that are built are treasures and the platforms of issues, of youth, education, social action, world Jewry and more cross the lines of the branches of Judaism and are concerns to all of us as Jews, as women and as Jewish women.”
Repp, known for speaking to groups large and small throughout the community, will reflect on his experiences during the Holocaust as shared through the publication of his book Dreams & Jealousy; The Story of Holocaust Survivor Jack Repp as told to Dan Lewin. After his lecture and a question-and-answer session, Repp will sign copies of his book, available on Amazon and which will also be sold at the event.
“I started my life as Itzik Rzepkowicz in Radom, Poland and now I get to tell my story to children and adults, in schools and in museums, and here in the temple that I love,” said Repp, who is excited about speaking to the intrafaith sisterhood audience, and this the rare occasion for men to share in the celebration. “I am so glad that this program is open to everyone in the community. To me, if you believe in God, you are a religious person and it isn’t about Reform or Conservative or Orthodox. I was born twice — once to my parents, and once again when I was 15 and instead of going to the crematorium, I went to the other line. God has watched over me all my life and everything to do with Him has turned my life in a positive direction.”
Repp’s struggle and survival are the focus of the book that tells his story. Just 69 pounds and 99.9 percent dead when liberated, he is grateful — and amazed — to have still had his mind. “I’m not educated but I can recall 70 years ago like this morning — my marbles are working. At 94 years young, I don’t want to get old,” said the 44-year-long business owner who has remained in the same house for 58 years — always resilient, with one foot forward moving after the next. “You must depend on God. He works in mysterious ways. I want people should know the truth, accept what happened, and do their part so it doesn’t happen again.”
Immigrating to Greenville, Texas, where he had family, Jack and his wife Esther (later known as Edna), of blessed memory, raised their family: children Lotty (Peter) Casillas, David (Bobbie) and Stan (Marsha), four grandchildren and recently — a first great-grandchild.
“Jack’s done it all. He’s been a merchant, a smuggler, a spy, and a survivor and he makes lemonade out of lemons like no one I know,” said Yarrin, a past-president of Temple Emanu-El’s WRJ. “To have him speak at Temple, where I’ve belonged since 1946 and he since 1949, a place that is truly my ‘home away from home,’ is so exciting. WRJ makes a huge difference to so many and supports so many and I just love that he’s coming to speak at a program of those who serve the community. It’s what he’s done for so long on his own — and now, we come together. It’s going to be just beautiful and very, very meaningful.”
RSVPs by Dec. 29 are appreciated for the luncheon. Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased online at tesisterhood.org/brunch or by calling 469-230-5195.