Dear Ema…

Holocaust Survivors are sometimes able to tell events and experiences from WWII with a certain detachment.  Of course there are always things that happened that will bring their emotions to the surface.  But one subject that consistently brings tears, weeping and sorrow, is speaking of their mother.

In the Russian culture they call their mother Mama; in Hebrew, it is Ema. Either way, it is their connection to childhood.  For many of them, hearing Yiddish spoken evokes memories of their own mother whom most lost during the war of the Holocaust.

One of our volunteers from The Netherlands, Brecht, speaks several languages of which German is one.  Yiddish has a German base and she converses with the Survivors in this language of their mothers.  Yiddish is usually the first language they heard.  We have been blessed to have other volunteers come who have made this special connection.  Speaking to them brings back the memories of their mother’s love.

Many of us know what it is like to lose our mother but the majority of us experience this loss in their old age.  Imagine now, for a moment, that you are one of the Survivors who,

  • saw their mother shot in front of them and were not allowed to go near
  • stood in one line for labor in the concentration camp while their mother and maybe a small sibling were in another line leading to a building with a chimney belching smoke.  You did not find out until later it was the last time you saw her before she was gassed and burned in an oven.
  • hid while your mother was buried alive and you could not do anything about it.  Now you feel guilt each day for not being strong enough, though you were only a child, for not stopping it or digging your mother up so she could live.
  • slowly watched as your family starved with no food to eat, and your mother got thinner and thinner until one morning she did not wake up.

As Americans in the US, and some other countries, celebrate Mother’s Day this month, we ask you all to please remember to pray for the Survivors who still suffer from the loss of their own mother.  In 70+ years they have never recovered.

Remember them.  Don’t forget.

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