The B’nai Mitzvah of Kyra and Jaron Polinsky – Tradition
It is a Jewish tradition to Bar Mitzvah boys at age thirteen and Bat Mitzvah girls at age twelve to thirteen. Due to the Pandemic, young Kyra Polinsky was facing her fourteenth birthday on March 14, 2021. For her, sadly, the window was closing and it was almost now or never.
Fortunately, her younger brother Jaron was nearing thirteen so parents Tara and Craig combined them into a B’nai Mitzvah and invited family and friends to safely join them.
Essentially, the religion initiates a boy or girl into the faith as a young man or woman with the ceremony. They are now ready to observe religious precepts and eligible to take part in public worship. For example, a minyan of ten adults is needed to say Kaddish, the prayer for the dead.
Tara and Craig carried on in the spirit of this tradition.
Craig expressed in the invitation that the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust did not have an opportunity to celebrate Bar or Bat Mitzvah. The Covid 19 Pandemic pushed the date back for Kyra three times in hope of a vaccine and a safer attendance for family members and friends.
Craig shared a poem Kyra wrote for her Posnack School class that honored the memory of the 1.5 million children that perished in the Holocaust. The poem is particularly meaningful to me because of my support for AM Yisrael Chai’s (Sandy Springs, GA) annual Daffodil Dash in Atlanta that raises money to plant 1.5 million bulbs for each departed child’s memory.
My Wave Goodbye
In honor of the 1.5 million children that were lost in the Holocaust: I played a game with all my friends.
We also colored with our crayons and pens.
I found school very fun.
My teacher said school happened to be ending soon, but it felt like it had just begun.
When I got home, I heard a loud knocking at the door. These tall and bulky men came in and started to explore.
I did not know what went on.
Next thing I knew, my father and brother were both gone.
I felt upset at the time.
But, my mom told me to go to my room because it happened to be bedtime.
Eventually, I ended up in the concentration camps without my mother. I missed my family like no other.
I did not like this place.
I always felt hungry, tired, and lacked personal space.
I constantly thought of going home, back to my normal life. Sometimes, I wondered how my brother could fight this strife.
I looked in a mirror and unhappily stated; “Oh, I am so thin.” I saw my bones right through my skin.
I thought I would never escape from this terrible place.
The Nazis took me to the gas chambers with fear in my face.
At the time, I knew so little about what might happen or where I would be going. I was headed to the showers where the nasty gas would be flowing.
When I closed my eyes, I saw my parents staring back at me. For once, I felt free.
Then I started to cry. I waved bye-bye.
This web page is a natural extension of the three consecutive web pages that documented our family’s American experience from 1738 through today. The B’nai Mitzvah brought together the Heller – Polinsky family lines and recognized the two generations following Arnold Heller and Bobbie Heller Polinsky, the children of Hoyt Bernie Heller and Jeanne Bernstein Heller Polinsky. For more information, please access www.arnoldheller.org/ travel-writing/arnold-heller-and-bobbie-heller-polinsky’s-genealogy/ and the two related, following pages.
My son Sasha Bart Heller and I attended the blessed event. This picture was taken in Aspen, Colorado, in 2019.
Sue Auerbach Heller is Sasha’s mother, my late wife, and the Great Aunt of Jaron and Kyra Polinsky.
Jaron and Kyra Polinsky are the children of Craig and Tara Polinsky. Craig is the second son of Bobbie Heller Polinsky and Arnold Polinsky. Brett Polinsky and Carrie Polinsky Mason are the first and third of Bobbie and Arnie’s children.
Picture of Drs. Craig and Tara Polinsky.
Bobbie is pictured with eldest child Brett Polinsky of Hoboken, NJ.
Bobbie and husband Arnold Polinsky.
My hope for Kyra and Jaron was to give them the gift of memory through provision of special items that have a rich history or backstory. The items are associated with the Heller – Polinsky family, both living and departed; in this case, their Great Aunt Sue.
This web page’s aim was to capture my Great Niece and Nephew’s special event in detail, and provide a history of the B’nai Mitzvah that focused on the two generations in America following Arnold Heller and Bobbie Heller Polinsky. This family reunion of sorts is a continuation of a family line stretching back 283 years to Philadelphia in 1738, covering eleven generations.
Bobbie Heller Polinsky and Arnold Heller are the ninth generation of Hellers; Brett, Craig, and Carrie Polinsky and Sasha Heller are the tenth; Kyra and Jaron the eleventh.
Jaron loves baseball so my two gifts were a memorable baseball and t-shirt. I am a proud graduate of Weequahic High School in Newark, NJ. My fellow alumni are also very proud and have formed the largest association of graduates in the country.
I participated in several Weequahic alumni events and to show their appreciation, the director awarded me a baseball signed by Hank Aaron. He estimated the value three years ago at over $400 and which may have possibly increased since Mr. Aaron’s recent death.
In 1976, the association enlisted then Yankee manager Yogi Berra to sign and auction off baseballs to fund college scholarships for lower income minority youth. Yogi recruited another Hall of Fame slugger, Hammering Hank Aaron, to join him in helping ten students become the first in their families to attend college.
Jaron’s Great Aunt Sue Auerbach Heller and her mother Roz Auerbach loved to fly to New York for a weekend to see relatives and take in Broadway shows. In October 2000, Sue and Rozzie were returning home to Atlanta and in Newark Airport headed to their departure gate.
The Mets had just won the National League pennant and vendors began hanging celebratory t-shirts promoting the upcoming subway series between the Mets and Yankees. Brooklyn born Sue knew that this shirt was special and bought one for me. I was thrilled to receive it and even happier to pass this twenty-one-year-old garment on to Jaron who has already been to a Mets World Series game.
The late Northside School of the Arts Director Billy Densmore and I led a performing arts student exchange to Russia and Ukraine where I developed an appreciation for the country’s traditional and native arts. For more information, please access www.arnold- heller.org/social-science/northside-high-school-of-the-arts-soviet-youth-visa-exchange- december-22-1989-january-6-1990.
The following year, Billy obtained a $17,000 grant from Anne Cox Chambers to reciprocate for our Russian hosts. Sue, Sash and I put up three of the Moscow Aviation Institute students, Victor, Vladimir, and Vassily. We affectionately called them the three
V’s and they brought us many beautiful gifts – huge, expensive art books and numerous traditional arts and crafts such as decorative boxes and trays.
Vladimir told me that the Soviet government ruthlessly enforced a harsh Russification program on the country’s 180 ethnic groups. A monstrous assimilation process forbade religious expression and banned traditional arts such as producing icons and richly painted boxes.
The Soviets crushed the people’s spirit and devastated their cultures. With little worth living for, the people became senseless drunks.
The Soviet government soon realized the error of their ways and began reforming the situation in the mid-1970’s. The result, according to Vladimir, was a dramatic improvement in the people’s lives.
Russia became a more normal country after the collapse of Soviet communism in 1991. By 2000 there were many wealthy Russians who greatly valued traditional arts and prices exploded. The boxes are constructed by gluing together many layers of a special paper, then drying, painting, and lacquering to produce a beautiful work of art.
The ring has a rich history too and is Kyra’s connection to her Great Aunt Sue; the subway series shirt is Jaron’s.
Sue’s father Herman Auerbach was the youngest of five children; his older sister Janet was always getting her mischievous younger brother out of trouble.
Janet was a woman ahead of her time. She graduated from business school in 1920 and headed to Wall St. for a job. A financial titan who did not like Jews hired her as his executive secretary. Janet could not let him know her religion so she never took off work for the High Holy Days, Passover, or Hannukah.
But the boss liked Janet very much, thought she was smart and able and paid her extremely well for a woman a century ago. Janet married but was never able to have children. When Herman married Roz and my brother-in-law Marc and late wife Sue were born, Janet lavished her love and affection on them.
Especially Sue who became her quasi-daughter. When Sue turned twelve, Janet gave her two diamond rings that she had purchased in 1925. I am happy to give one ring to Kyra and hope that the ninety-six-year-old antique generates a warm remembrance.
The other ring is reserved for Marc’s granddaughter Tallulah Lu Bolstad and will be presented to Lu on her achieving Bat Mitzvah. That is a wonderful event for another web page in the continuing sage of the Heller – Polinsky – Auerbach family lines.
Kyra was Bat Mitzvah’d on her fourteenth birthday. Jaron will be thirteen in June. Three important vocabulary terms are provided to understand and appreciate the service Kyra and Jaron performed.
Many loved ones have passed on and their memories are a blessing for all of us. Tara’s father is the late Dr. Kenneth Levine and his wonderful spirit was lovingly described by his brother. My father, mother, and wife are part of this list of departed relatives.
In Loving Memory of
Dr. Kenneth A.Levine Z”L,
Betty Polinsky Z”L Ruby Polinsky Z”L
Dr. Kenneth Kurtzman Z”L Donna Kur zman Z”L Jeanne Heller Z”L Bernai;d Heller Z” L
Paula Poli sk’¥ Z”L Irving Sackin Z”L Els·e Sackin Z”L
Ann Levine Z”L Sidney I5 vine Z”L Susie Heller Z”L Jean Heller Z”L Ralph Heller Z”L Ivan Heller Z”L
Bar and Bat Mitzvah, the coming of age, is celebrated with the gift of a tallit to honor the day and ritual.
This concludes Part 1 of the 11th Generation of Hellers in America: B’nai Mitzvah of Kyra and Jaron Polinsky. Please click here to continue to Part 2, the celebration of the blessed event.