Exclusive Interview with Anat Grebler
by Chava Yelloz, editor “Inside Our Home” Newsletter
To many of our friends and supporters,
reaching out to the girls at the Home is a very emotional experience. This month, Lev LaLev is proud to feature a woman who
first thinks of others, especially our precious girls, before she considers
herself. Anat Grebler, born on the cusp
of the end of WWII in Novosibirsk, the former U.S.S.R., is now a resident of
Nelson, British Columbia. She tells us that after reading our online plea for
new clothes for our girls, she recalled her own childhood and decided to help.
In my lengthy conversation with Anat, who has also been called Anna, Anya and Anichka, I was
privileged to learn valuable lessons that I will not forget - in history,
geography, psychology, and gematria –
a traditional Jewish system of assigning numerical value to a word or phrase.
But, most of all, I learned the meaning of true menschlichkeit – the goodness of humanity.
Anat told me so much about her life, that if
I made a great effort, I could write volumes about her past, her parent’s history, her present and even about her
aspirations for the future. Anat was named after Anne of the Green Gables, a
bestselling novel published in 1908 by the Canadian author Lucy M. Montgomery.
Ironically, this fictitious tale is about a young orphaned girl named Anne, who
is mistakenly sent to a middle-aged brother and sister on Prince Edward Island.
They were farmers and wanted a boy to help them with their work. Anat’s mother
was herself orphaned of her own mother at age 3, and lost her father when she
was 14. As a result, Anat says, “My mother always wanted me to be her mother.”
When Anat was in elementary school, her parents returned to their original homeland -
Poland. Being that there were hardly any survivors of their family, save for an
uncle who landed up in Buenos Aires, the family, including Anat’s older brother
Victor, settled there only temporarily. The picture she painted of her
recollections of being a Jew is painful, yet Anat speaks with aplomb. She
recalls, “I did not really know what it was to be Jewish. I only knew that my
I.D. was stamped “Ivri” – Jew. I was labeled, and I could not deny it. I felt the anti-semitism. It was like having
an incurable disease. I felt like a fish out of water.”
Finally, Anichka and her family found
salvation. On her 12th birthday, the day that
should have been her Bat Mitzvah, the Grebler family landed in the port of
Haifa, Israel onboard the Artza, a WWII ship. She clearly recollects that
fateful day, “I landed wearing a scratchy woolen dress and a pair of clumsy
boots – hand me downs.” But, it was the best day of her life, so far – and her
“Bat Mitzvah” was celebrated by receiving the gift of an orange. Her mother
lamented, “…This is all I have to give you.” Anat recoiled by telling her “No,
you gave me Israel!” She continues by
saying, “I felt like tons of bricks were taken off my shoulders. I felt fully
empowered – embracing Israel and Judaism.”
Back to the Lev LaLev clothes campaign that
Anat Grebler responded to…
According to her vivid memories, she
tells LLL that she wore lots of hand me downs. Her aunt was a small woman, so
she often received clothes from her, which was embarrassing. ”Clothes are a
form of self-expression. I felt like an ugly duckling with those clunky boots.
When I got a pair of white slipper shoes (in Israel) it was the first feminine
feeling I experienced.” In this vein, Anat succinctly understands the needs of
the girls at the Home. “Their inner beauty needs to be fed by communicating
through their outer attire.”
Another important reason Lev LaLev appealed
to Anat Grebler is the fact that she had open-heart surgery – so her deep connection with the word heart - “Lev”
attracts her eye. When she read one of our e-mails about our girls celebrating
their Bat Mitzvahs, she was totally excited about their coming of age. This
triggered something very personal inside of her. She told us, “I had 13 years of heart irregularities -
problems which limited me physically. Finally, when I went into surgery, I made
a decision. I was elated, it was like a ceremony, a right of passage – a “heart
opening” in the physical, spiritual and emotional sense.”
More about Anat Grebler:
Graduate of the Technion in Haifa,
Note from A.G. “My father, a
brilliant academic, set the standards in Education.”
1967 - Married in Holland and lived in Zurich,
Switzerland between 67' -70".
1970 emigrated to
Canada - lived in Toronto until
1999 - Traveled through the West
of USA and Mexico and came back to Canada and resettled in Nelson B.C.
Worked as a research assistant in Zurich in
chemistry - the proper term for the work in the Dutch lab is "column
Worked as a documentation
supervisor in Zurich.
Returned to University in Toronto - Fine Arts courses/Poetry workshop.
1976 - Began exhibiting as a
visual artist - first show -Art Gallery of Ontario, then exhibited with
Olga Korper private gallery in Toronto.
Worked as an Art teacher and a
Taught Math and science in a middle school.
1989 - "Education advisor”
liaison within the North York board of education.
1991 - Began studying
holistic healing: shiatsu, reflexology, Reiki, crystal
healing Treated people and helped her parents during the last years
of their lives.
Yoga teachers' training courses
1996 - Involved in different spiritual
paths and circles until 2008.
After undergoing open-heart surgery, since
2010 focus on organizing Jewish community events in Nelson, B.C.,
study of the Torah and writing commentaries.
Mother and Grandmother
Daughter Nicky – Kineret, 43, lives in
Sons Ariel 40, Toronto, and Elan 34,
Vancouver Island, B.C.
Two grandchildren, ages 11 and 9
A few of Anat’s Hobbies
Great Quotes from Anat Grebler:
“When I ask the question, ‘Is one overdressed?’ The
answer is, ‘Not unless the outer does not match the inner.”
“Women are wise and powerful. Within the beautiful part
of us there is a doorway to our deepest unique gift and to a core power.”
“Life is asking us to have the courage to embrace the
lesson to heal the wound and to live from a place of wholeness.”
Lev LaLev and all the house-sisters at the Rubin-Zeffren
Children’s Home in Netanya wish Anat Grebler good health and a long and
fruitful life so she may continue with her great acts of kindness and
magnanimous contributions to humanity ~ near and far.