June Jurek speaks out

December 5, 2009

June Jurek, who describes herself as “Jewish to the bone,” gets a kick out of quipping to strangers, “Merry Christmas, and the ACLU be damned!”

She called to say she had just come back from a Wal-Mart where it went over very well .”People beam,” the 71-year-old Brockton grandmother said. “You can tell it makes them feel good just to hear it.” But Jurek’s main reason for calling was to convey solidarity with a Brighton reader named Irina Koltoniuc whose story appeared two weeks ago.

Koltoniuc, 60, who came to this country 16 years ago from Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, expressed great concern over the secularization of Christmas.
“I’m a Jew,” she said, ”yet this conspiracy against Christianity frightens me. For people like us who have already been down this road it; scares us to see what is happening because we do not want to go down that road again. We see America turning into the kind of society we came from, where everyone was worried about offending someone else and it was dangerous to draw attention to your beliefs.”

Jurek couldn’t have agreed more. “My people are from Lithuania, too,” she said, “and her thoughts are exactly the same as mine. If it weren’t for my courageous grandparents, I might have died in a place like-Auschwitz.” Instead she grew up in Chelsea.
“It was wonderful,” she recalled, “like an ethnic feast – Jews, Italians, Armenians, Greeks, Poles, Irish – with no problems of offending one another. I loved Christmas. We had pageants and sang carols and there were decorations everywhere.

“Back then, the John Hancock Company distributed little blue booklets filled with Christmas carols to all public schools. Anyone my age who grew up around here would remember that. And no one sued. I was the only one in our choir who could sing ‘0 Come All Ye Faithful’ in Latin, so I did it as a solo.”.

Years later, raising her own kids, she’d invite their friends to her home for the lighting of candles on her menorah.
“My bridal book had all the phonetic prayers, so I’d pray for each candle, then hand out Hanukkah gelt, usually chocolates wrapped in tin foil resembling quarters. I thought it was a great idea to let our Christian neighbors know what Jewish tradition is all about. Tell me, what is wrong with that?” She also sent her daughter to Cardinal Spellman High School.
“I wanted her to get a good education, so I chose a parochial school,” she explained. “She went to Mass with everyone else and I had absolutely no fear the experience might damage her. She came out as Jewish as she went in.” Jurek admits to one lurking fear, however.
“Something is happening to America,” she said. “We have people with new ideas of what the country should be like, diametrically opposed to the Judeo-Christian values upon which this nation was established. And they are determined to impose those ideas on the majority, aided in large part by your business, the media.
“They’d have you believe just a mention of God will lead to the government goose-stepping down the street, which is ridiculous. Oh, there’s a terrorism I fear, all right; it’s secular terrorism. But I believe it’s going to lose because people are finally beginning to say,
‘No, you’re not going to do this to my country.’ ” Here’s hoping to God she’s right.
Joe FITZGERALO

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