Friday, November 18, 2011

Planting a Peace Pole

Jules Orkin and Puffin Peace Pole

Dedicating a Peace Pole at a community cultural center in Teaneck, NJ drew a small crowd of local officials, school children and war veterans the other day.

The carved wood pole was dedicated at the Puffin Foundation, as a band from Thomas Jefferson Middle School played and adults took turns exhorting the students and a television audience via a cable news program to help advance a cause that is often hard to hear in a nation engaged in seemingly perpetual war in various corners of the world.

“A world without war is a universal desire by untold millions of people,” Puffin Foundation Executive Director Gladys Miller-Rosenstein said on behalf of herself and her husband Perry Rosenstein, a retired industrialist and noted philanthropist. “We have sought to have our voices for peace heard. We have erected a ‘Peace Pole’ on our property. This pole will be shared by many young and old, who will take part in the varied cultural activities at our Forum. … There are presently 264 peace sites throughout New Jersey. We are proud to be one of the new sites in our state.”

“This is a community peace pole,” added Neil Rosenstein, vice president of the Puffin Foundation. “Peace is only achieved through community.” One of the community leaders, School Superintendent Barbara Pinsak, praised the Rosensteins—whose foundation assists local and regional arts programs, conservation and environmental education programs, as well as social action and investigative journalism projects—as role models. 

“This is one of the things I am very proud to welcome to Teaneck,” said state Senator Loretta Weinberg, a well-known champion for a substantial agenda of domestic issues. “May peace prevail on Earth,” she said, quoting the message on the pole, which is printed in eight languages. “It is not an easy goal. It’s a long struggle.”

The idea of planting a peace pole at the Puffin Foundation, which hosts an eclectic collection of outdoors sculpture, was proposed by Jules Orkin, a member of Veterans For Peace, Chapter 21 New Jersey. A retired bookstore owner from neighboring Bergenfield, Orkin was named a Puffin Peace Fellow earlier this year in recognition of his participation in numerous peace walks, vigils and civil disobedience actions in protest of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In his comments, Orkin proposed organizing “a walk between peace poles,” such as the annual walk in neighboring Leonia between peace poles at the high school and the Methodist Church to mark the United Nations International Day of Peace. And then he was off to pack for a peace walk from Atlanta, Georgia to Ft. Benning, Georgia to protest the training program based there for military officers from Latin American nations that until recently were bastions of military dictatorships.

Walt Nygard, vice president of Veterans For Peace Chapter 21, spoke about transforming Veterans Day to the original, peacemaking intent of Armistice Day.   

Township Councilwoman Barbara Toffler offered an historic note of hope for peaceful change in the world. “There is a legacy of peace in Teaneck,” she said, holding up a copy of Teaneck High School’s 1959 yearbook. “The Class of 1959 dedicated its yearbook to peace,” she said, reading from that dedication, composed amid the Cold War nuclear missile stand-off with the Soviet Union by students who were born during World War II.

Peace Poles grew out of a project of The World Peace Prayer Society that began in Japan in 1955 as a response to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

For more information:

No comments: