Becoming Family

by Judy HarrisMiriam, Rod and Judy in NY 6-14 (Small)

“I am coming to New Jersey in June for the grandchildren’s Bar Mitzvah,” she wrote in an email back in April. I could hardly contain myself when I read these words.  M (the Holocaust Survivor I have “adopted”) and I have been emailing back and forth since 2008. My husband and I had the honor of meeting her in Israel in 2009 and 2011. She is now 89.  With no current plans to travel to Israel in the near future, we have often pondered whether we would see M again.

I quickly checked the distance on Google maps; a 3 1/2 hour drive. This is possible I thought!  I responded to her email asking if we could meet while she was in the USA.  Her reply was that it would be a very busy week; unfortunately there would be no extra time.

My heart sank when I read it. I began typing that this was very important to me.  So many times I make more time for the daily routines than for the special things.  I explained that we were willing to drive the distance to see her for only 30 minutes.

Her response was “Yes!” She told me that I was a dear true friend and that she loved me.  She gave me her son’s contact info.

I thought I would wait until it got closer to the date to call her son.  We are grateful that we shared this with Susan and she urged us to call and get this arranged as soon as possible!  It may not have happened if I had delayed making the call.

That evening, I prayed, then called M’s son, whom I had never spoken to. I explained my relationship with his mom. He was delighted. He took my information and got back to me the next day. We were invited to his home for lunch to meet with M.  How I looked forward to that day!

I realize that not all who have adopted Survivors get a response to letters. I am very blessed.  M’s ability to speak and write English is a huge bonus! Her wit and wisdom have helped me over the past 6 years. Her stories are compelling.  She is a treasure to me.

We wanted to bring a gift to her son and his family. My husband, a cabinet-maker, turned a beautiful bowl on his lathe. It was composed of three different woods, each symbolic. The bottom was oak, to represent the strong foundation of the family. The middle was mahogany, which is red, to represent the bloodshed and suffering of the Holocaust. The top was maple, which is one of the first trees to show leaves in the spring. This represents new life.

The day finally arrived. We bought M a lovely bouquet of flowers while on the way.

I was full of anticipation as we walked to the front door. Her son answered. I greeted him briefly, but excused myself to head straight into M’s open arms!

It was a privilege to meet M’s daughter from Israel, as well as her daughter-in-law.

What a wonderful day we had sharing our hearts!

I felt joy as I remembered Genesis 12:3 speaking of Israel:


“I will bless those who bless you,

    and whoever curses you I will curse;

and all peoples on earth

    will be blessed through you.”


M has returned to Israel and we continue to email each week. She expressed her gratitude that we made the trip to see her.  Then she writes to us,

“Shall I tell you again that I love you?”


[Editor’s Note:  M. is an amazing woman, a survivor of several concentration camps during the Holocaust.  Rod and Judy adopted M. and have been writing to her faithfully for about six years.  They also came to Israel to meet and visit with her.   It has been a privilege to see a bond form between them and I watched as she embraced them as family.  Now they have met her children and the family bond has grown.

Relationship is a great desire of AHI and it is rewarding to see how God had blessed them all. We give all praise to HaShem for His blessing.]

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