Acknowledging that many Survivors lost all or most of what they had in WWII. They may have lost their grandparents, mother & father, family, home and/or personal belongings. Losing family is horrible, but having nothing left of that family can be an ongoing loss.
Keeping in mind that many of those who survived the Holocaust were of a culture where items were passed down for generations. China or glassware, paintings, handcrafts such as quilts, tatted table doilies, or hand-knitted or sewn items- tangible evidence of generations lost or stolen by the Nazi war machine, gone forever.
The Heirloom Project was born out of this loss. AHI began to think of what we could do for the Survivors; what tangible gift could we give that would have meaning. So, we decided to tap into the talents of those who could make hand crafted items to provide a “new” Heirloom for them to pass on to their children and grandchildren.
- Hand quilted full size, twin and lap quilts have been loving made and donated. They have come from several states in the USA and prayer groups in UK.
- Hand knit afghans, bed covers and lap size in a wide variety of colors and patterns have been given- over 300 so far.
- Hand cut cedar hearts and Stars of David for closet and drawer sachets- almost 1000!
- Draft-dodgers for the cold winters- a project in process and preparing for winter.
- Cedar filled shoe sachets for the men- they LOVE them!
- Handcrafted colorful pin cushions for the ladies- many of whom used to sew.
- Knitted hats and scarves for the winter time; it is actually colder in the house than outside- so that is where they are used.
- Hand knit socks from Finland are the warmest socks anywhere- and very popular with the Survivors!
One gentleman Survivor chose a beautiful yellow lap quilt. We had explained why we gave these to them. He had a bright smile, held it close and approached. Taking our arms he explained, “I will give this to my granddaughter right away. It will be [our new heirloom] to pass down.”
Several years ago Martha adopted a Holocaust Survivor. She visited Israel and had the opportunity to meet and have tea with Valentina. As their relationship grew, Martha had a special experience combining her crafting talent with God’s goodness for His People. She wrote about it in The Red Shawl. After adopting a second Survivor and meeting Tereza on another trip to Israel, Martha took on the position of Heirloom Project Coordinator. She develops new ideas, coordinates teams to make gifts, speaks to groups about the Survivors and The Heirloom Project, and encourages volunteers to be an active part of this worthwhile cause. Below are pictures and some of the heartfelt comments from a few of our volunteer crafters:
“Crocheting and knitting are relaxing to me, so the Heirloom Project is an added blessing knowing that the survivors are able to sense the warmth of Christ’s Love as they receive and enjoy using the gifts, caringly handmade by someone they do not know.” – Ruth Ann Rutt , Strasburg, PA
“Co-laboring in love with others to make gifts for Holocaust survivors has allowed me to feel a sense of comforting and serving others as a sense of a peaceful spirit grows within my heart. Martha nurtures me as a new volunteer to tenderly focus on giving from the soul, reaching across the ocean to encourage hearts who have suffered. It truly is “not the gift that counts”, but the love and joy in the making, the fellowship of joining with others, while learning to wear the humility of Christ in being kind to His Chosen people.
“Forty-six years ago, my husband and I lived in Germany for one year. As newlyweds, twenty-one years of age, we were aware of the atrocities of Hitler’s Germany, and although we loved the German families whom we met, even lived with, we did not feel the pain personally. Now we have Jewish family members and have matured in head and heart knowledge of the hate and suffering. My dear Mother attributed to that growth, as did maturity and education via documentaries, reading, personal stories shared. Next month we will vacation in Germany to visit an elderly family member. We will visit Dachau and other areas that were [places of] torment in war to better understand and know God’s calling to our hearts and to deter the bitterness and hatred that so wounds humanity.” – Nancy Oppenheim, Parkesburg, PA
If you are a handcrafter who would like to join us in giving the Survivors ‘new’ Heirlooms to pass on to their generations, we would welcome your assistance. Please contact Martha, our Heirloom Project Coordinator for direction on how to join our efforts.