Essay submitted by Jarah Lazarus-Klein, Age 12
Ever since I started coming to services on Friday nights (which is before I can even remember) Jenny Pohl was there. It’s as if she has always been there, ready to greet me with open arms. She is so sweet and so generous, not to mention that today is her 100th birthday and she comes to temple rain or shine. Jenny has inspired me to be a kind, helpful person no matter what life brings you.
Jenny has brought many really nice memories to me. It was so special that for this essay I got to learn a little more about her. I started off by asking her what her happiest memories of her childhood were. I was not surprised when she replied, “being with her family.” Jenny has four siblings and they all just enjoyed hanging out with each other. What I have learned from this was that family matters and it is a huge part of Jenny’s life.
Jenny and her family went through many tough times, but with a bit of hope and determination to get through the hardship together, they survived every problem in their way. One of the worst was the great depression. Jenny and her family struggled to get enough food on their plates. They were stuck with almost no money. It was hard but they stuck together and managed until the depression was over.
Though Jenny grew up here in Buffalo, her parents did not. They were from Russia. While Jenny’s dad learned English her mother did not. The only or language she knew was Yiddish. Jenny and the rest of her family speak and translate everything into Yiddish for their mom, which to think about it seems that it must be really challenging at times. The reason Jenny’s mom never got taught English is because she refused to go to school to learn it, making it very difficult for her and her family to have conversations with each other. But, they were patient and managed.
Jenny and her family had sadly suffered from a terrible loss. Jenny’s father wistfully passed away. He was very young, only in his early forties. He loved people and being around them. He and his family had people at their house many times each week. Sunday mornings were great memories of Jenny. Her father used to gather everybody in on Sunday mornings, having breakfast of challah, bagels, and garlic. Jenny enjoyed the Sunday morning breakfasts and brings back happy memories of her father that way.
In Jenny’s childhood, it was very rare to have their own T.V though it’s hard to believe, Jenny and her family didn’t get a television until Jenny was 14! It was a 12 inch TV. Even though it’s hard for me to believe that Jenny didn’t get a T.V until she was a teenager, it was very extraordinary to get a TV in Jenny’s childhood at all. It was so extraordinary that people all over the neighborhood came to watch television at Jenny’s house.
When Jenny was a teenager, she volunteered at a hospital as a candy striper. She really enjoyed working there. She explained that it was nice to help out and get away from home. Now at 100 years old, she still volunteers. Not at a hospital, but at temple pretty much every Wednesday, pushing to get there no matter what the weather is like. She enjoys helping the community and the synagogue in whatever way possible, including sorting the mail or answering the door or phone. Jenny really helps so many people out and makes their day.
Lastly, I asked Jenny what advice she would give to young people today. Jenny states “be calm, be friendly.” Then she explains that kids will stick together, stay with friends and make some memories. Overall, she says “just have a good time being born.”
I agree with Jenny completely. Jenny in her life expressed the thought of having a good time being born. And that’s what I am going to take with me for years to come.
Jenny is a great person to look up to and I am so happy I learned more about her. I hope Jenny will brighten people all over in days to come.