‘It’s a scary world out there’: Women share stories of pain, resilience in face of anti-Semitism – Omaha World-Herald

Posted By on March 4, 2020

Two women shared an Omaha stage Tuesday to talk about how to light the darkness.

One was an Emmy-winning journalist, the daughter of Greek immigrants whose grandmother was part of a tiny Greek island community that heroically hid a Jewish family from Nazis searching door to door for them during World War II. The Nazis threatened to burn down the island. No one told. The Jewish family survived.

Yvette Manessis Corporon wrote a book about the story, which she first heard around her kitchen table as a child from her grandmother. Something Beautiful Happened was published in 2017.

Seated next to her at a luncheon put on by the Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Federation and Institute for Holocaust Education was Mindy Corporon. Her 14-year-old son, Reat, and father, William, were gunned down by a white supremacist outside a Kansas City-area Jewish Community Center.

Mindy had happened upon the grisly scene, which occurred on a brisk, sunny Palm Sunday in 2014. She remembers seeing her fathers body perpendicular to his truck in the parking lot. She remembers screaming, What happened?

The two women happen to be related; Yvette is married to Mindys cousin.

I thought you said the Nazis were gone, Yvettes 9-year-old son, Nico, said when news of the Kansas shooting reached their home in New York.

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Yvette folded that story into her book. Mindy, who until then had been CEO of a wealth management firm, found a way to cope through the loss by starting an interfaith foundation called Faith Always Wins. The family is Christian.

The fact that victims of an anti-Semitic attack were not themselves Jewish is significant, said Pam Monsky of the Anti-Defamation League.

For us, thats the message we want to drive home. Anti-Semitism isnt a Jewish problem, said Monsky, community development liaison for the ADLs Plains states region, which covers Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas and is based in Omaha. Its a scary world out there.

Two years ago, a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue killed 11 people and wounded six, the worst attack ever on Jews in the United States. Such incidents of anti-Semitism prompted an unusual press request from Monsky in the weeks leading up to this lunch event, held at Champions Club in northwest Omaha. She didnt want advance publicity.

An Omaha police officer provided security for Tuesdays event.

In the 2014 Overland Park shootings, a 73-year-old Klansman and neo-Nazi killed three people total. Dr. William Corporan, 69, and Reat, who had come to the Jewish Community Center for a singing tryout, were shot inside Corporans truck in the parking lot. A third person, occupational therapist Terri LaManno, was killed in the parking lot of a Jewish retirement community about a mile away. LaManno was also a Christian.

The shooter also had fired on others at the two places. He was convicted and sentenced to death.

It can be easy to get lost in the darkness of evil and tragedy. Tuesdays speakers reminded the audience of 300 which drew from Omahas Jewish and Greek communities that its important to follow those who offer light through their moral courage and strength.

Those light-givers can be the courageous, like the people of Erikousa, an island near Corfu, Greece, who hid a tailors family at great risk. Yvette described the island as remote, difficult to get to and a symbol of how bloodthirsty the Nazis were. They knew a Jewish family from Corfu had escaped their roundup, and they were on the hunt.

My father remembers the sound of Nazi boots outside the door, Yvette said. He remembers them in our home, ransacking, searching for Jews, saying, Where are the Jews? They did this from house to house to house, and these poor, uneducated people with nothing to their names except, you know, a garden and a bunch of chickens kept the secret. Everyone. They had nothing to gain and everything to lose. Despite that, the simplest, humblest, most impoverished, uneducated people in the world all banded together to save this family.

The bearers of light also include the suffering, people like Mindy who have experienced tremendous loss and still get up to serve others.

Our world just collapsed, she recalled.

And yet, hours after she lost her father and son, she went to a school vigil in an attempt to console youngsters trying to make sense of it.

The givers of light can also be those who bear witness to pain and beauty and take those stories of surviving and thriving to the world.

Oliver Henderson plays first base waiting for some action. Without a left hand Henderson is able to adapt to the world of baseball.

Libby DiBiase runs in a 14-pound vest during a workout at CrossFit Kinesis in Gretna. This Omaha police officer uses CrossFit to keep in shape for her unpredictable job.

Jeff Strufing enjoys being able to help people during group classes at Kosama. Despite his cancer diagnosis, Strufing hasnt let it change his lifestyle. The 46-year-old business owner, husband and father of two still works part-time as a paramedic and teaches weekly classes at three gyms. Hes done it all while undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

Margie Irfan practices bicep curls during her workout at Life Time Fitness. Iftan entered the world of bodybuilding when she was 46 years old. The Omaha woman has lost 10 percent of her body fat while maintaining the same weight and shes got the toned muscles to prove it.

Jack Mallett practices his tennis skills at Miracle Hill tennis courts. After deciding to quit drinking Mallett, 92, made tennis his addiction.

Michelle Graft runs on the Wabash Trace in Council Bluffs to train for her portion of the MS Run the US relay. Gaft who has MS uses running to keep the symptoms at bay.

Mary Manhart works out at the Downtown YMCA four times a week. She sees the people at the gym as her extended family.

Hadeel Haider started to exercise after being treated forHodgkin's lymphoma, andshe fell in love with Zumba. Haider now teaches Zumba class at the the Maple Street YMCA.

Nancy Nygren works out at least three times a week to help keep off more than 65 pounds that she lost a decade ago. Shes the perfect example of somebody who has lost a significant amount of weight and has done it the right way, said Jennifer Yee, who leads Nygrens boot camp class and is also an instructor in Creighton Universitys exercise science program.

Tom Carney does a workout during kickboxing class. Carney used to work out so he could eat whatever he wanted. Now he understands diet is just as important as exercise.

Rik Zortman runs the name of children who have died of cancer. He has ran the name of more than 250 children since his son's death in 2009.

Katie Chipman, a 12-year-old gymnast with juvenile arthritis, practices at Airborne Academy. Chipman works to hard to compete and only misses practices if her symptoms are too severe.

Joe Reisdorff and Dan Masters grew up in the same town, attending the same church were never close untilReisdorff needed a new kidney and Masters was a match.

Still recovering from a heart transplant, Rick Ganem wouldn't be able to make it to his daughter Sarah's wedding. So she brought the ceremony to his hospital room.

Since starting her weight-loss journey, Keasha Hawkins-Moore is closing in on dropping half of her starting weight 500 pounds. During that journey, she's battled cancer, lost loved ones and strengthened her faith.

Leota "Lee" Brown suffered a stroke and two days later, the 98-year-old was back to her spunky self at home in an assisted-living facility. She's required no therapy since the stroke.

Harley Swanek had been living with an undetected heart condition for the first seven months of her life. It caused her to become unresponsive for more than 30 minutes, leading to a brain injury. Harley's back home and relearning all of her milestones.

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'It's a scary world out there': Women share stories of pain, resilience in face of anti-Semitism - Omaha World-Herald

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