Caren Ellis Fried
Bio: I am a child of Holocaust survivors. I grew up hearing escape and survival stories from my father while driving the many hours to Vermont to ski. I remember stories about thinking fast on your feet, finding a way and never giving up, being loyal to friends and how to help those who need you. Later, I realized that given the numbers of people who perished, the odds of my family's survival was remarkable. I understood at an early age that I was connected to this extraordinary narrative and had a responsibility as a child of survivors. I looked for meaning in my life and searched to find my purpose as a result. I understand that survivors pass on different life lessons to the next generation and much of what I learned was what I witnessed and experienced as a child. My father was extremely proud of America as his new host country. He lived the American dream, building a life with my mother who he adored. He lived with joy and hope, living his life to its fullest. He was a larger than life character. He seemed to know no bounds and often expressed to me that he felt he was living on borrowed time. I did not think he would ever die. Without a formal education, my father worked very hard and traveled extensively building a successful business. He loved to ski, play tennis, dance, play cards and sing. He went to the hottest sporting events, loved good restaurants and enjoyed treating friends and customers to a good meal. He never took no for an answer. He taught me much about courage, faith and perseverance, but mostly I learned to show up when needed. I read and learned as much as I could about the dark world my parents came from where people lost their moral compass. I emerged from that wanting to help people who did not have a voice. After getting my social work degree from Columbia University, I worked with children who had emotional difficulties and later, women who were survivors of domestic violence. I worked to promote interfaith understanding both here and abroad so people would have the opportunity to learn about the other and see our commonalities in addition to our differences. I had served on the AJC Westchester Board, Co-chair of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations. More recently, I helped to build a Jewish community that is pluralistic and open-hearted. Romemu, which means to elevate or praise, is a community that reaches back to my ancestors' traditions and with music, inspiring text and modern interpretation invites you in with joy and love. I served as the Board Chair of Romemu, 2010-2014. I am a born optimist and believe in the inherent good in all people. I have much trust and faith in the divine who created us all. I am the beneficiary of growing up at a time of freedom, given an education and witnessed the power of the human spirit. Having watched my father's boundless energy and love of life, I seek out what is possible even in the midst of a storm. I want to share the love, gratitude and joy in my heart. I believe we are all here for a purpose and we all have a unique offering. Our charge is to use our skills and passions to make this world better. Notes from an Optimist is my attempt to bring more hope and inspiration into the world by writing about the people and organizations who are overcoming obstacles, trying to fix that which is broken, advocating for those in need. I believe it will inspire others to think big and act on their dreams. I believe it will create a culture of hope instead of a culture of fear. Perhaps Notes From An Optimist will help us regain our balance and reclaim our belief in humanity. Perhaps we will be a force for social change. Perhaps we will see that we are all connected and every action that creates more hope has a ripple effect. I invite all those who share this vision and wish to collaborate, to comment, contact me and travel this journey with me. There is much work to be done! Notes From an Optimist highlights and supports innovative organizations and visionaries that address current local and global issues. Notes will share stories that open hearts and minds, inspire compassion and hope, and compel action. I am blessed with a loving husband, four beautiful adult children and two amazing grandchildren. I am surrounded by friends and a community of love.