My Niece

She is blood, and I love and honor her for who she has been and is to this day. When she was a child, I was as close to her and her younger sister as a good uncle ought to be to nieces. Their family issues and the youngest one’s need for a dryer climate brought them to LA. It also brought the girls and me much closer. They lived in a house not too far from UCLA, so I lived with them while attending school, and we became very close.

When I was home with them, I helped with their homework and school-related issues. We would dance to the music we played on the record player and sang camp songs they learned at Purple Sage. Since I was involved with UES (an experimental elementary school at UCLA), I brought a variety of innovative ways of learning to them. There were writing words with crayons, with closed eyes feeling the letters, and lo and behold, they were able to spell difficult words easily. On top of this, it was “fun and games.”

I would take them to UCLA on weekdays when they were home from school. We would walk the campus, have lunch, visit different sites, and spend time at our excellent library. We developed a close and loving relationship. In the summer, it was Purple Sage, where the younger sister joined her group, and the older one helped in the kitchen to prepare lunch for hundreds of campers and staff.

The older sister grew into her own person with her own voice. She was independent and left home on her own. She joined the “Now,” the women’s movement, and rose to executive positions. She was a strong personality, capable, and spoke her mind, backing it up with action. 

The story that follows was one she told me:  She and her husband went to Auschwitz. It was a grey rainy day, and hardly anyone was around. They each went their own way and had their own sad experience. 

A few hours later, she returned to the bench, and in the gloom, both emotional and real, she waited for her husband. When he returned, she looked at him, and they both began crying. She said, “I want to become a serious and committed Jew.” He committed on the spot to join her. 

When they returned home, they became “Leibovich” members. They moved close to a temple and made their home “kosher.” To this day, they remain committed. The outspoken and active “women’s rights” person was, and is, one hundred percent Jewish.

She has two daughters and four grandchildren. They are all close and loving to each other. The eldest daughter has one adult son who is married and celebrates no religion. The younger daughter has three children, all committed to Judaism with extensive Jewish educations.

The beauty of my niece is her rock-hard determination to be herself even as she ages along with the rest of us and to support this same resolve in others. Her love, strength, and determination to give of herself as a model not only to her children and grandchildren but to friends and associates.  

Since my desire to give others their voice has been my avocation, How can I not love her when she is my niece too? Not only does she have her own voice, but she has fought for all to have their own.    Sy

We are born to be—Difficult to say the least—Honor those that are

I have my own voice—Show me that you have one too—Fear not to speak out

I love the Haiku—It says so much and so brief—It speaks so loudly


Author: Sy Ogulnick

Sy Ogulnick received a BA from UCLA, Teacher’s Credential from Los Angeles Board of Education and completed phase I (Master’s portion) in a Doctor of Behavioral Science program at California Coast University. Sy leased and operated a summer day camp in LA. He and his wife then purchased virgin wilderness land in Northern CA, where they built and operated a coed summer camp. They moved to Las Vegas, NV, and purchased, built and operated a community children’s program for families staying in a major resort casino in Las Vegas. They have created programs for children nationwide that employed many people and in the process developed successful training programs for personnel. This led Sy to lecture on how to train staff and the creating of community within the workplace. Sy was then invited to speak at professional conferences on how best to hire and train employees, which led to his becoming a consultant in the art of improving relationships in a work environment and eventually to his epiphany that “Leaders are the primary problem and the answer to the personnel issues that arise in the workplace.” Sy has written numerous papers on the subject of interpersonal relationships, leadership and power. He has lectured throughout the United States, has been interviewed by the media and has appeared on many radio and TV talk shows

One thought on “My Niece”

  1. I wouldn’t be who I am without my uncle. He taught me music, words, kindness, and validation. And he taught me how to spell hippopotamus faster than any human (well my children & grandchildren are pretty fast) I love you Sy. I have since I was a little girl and I love you now.

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