After 30 years in the Army and over 23 in civilian law-enforcement, needless to say, physical fitness and mental toughness has been a large part of my life. Sometimes consuming me with all the calorie counting, protein in-take, miles Run logs and lifting as heavy as possible, and tracking my mandatory 7-8 hours of sleep per night, (when not on mission). However, I have not seen strength until I met my first survivor of the Nazi Holocaust…..
Listening to them talk, looking into their eyes, holding a hand as it trembles: To hear history from a witness, a survivor.
I have heard in stoic circles, mantras of overcoming life by sheer will, and to discipline your ego; great concepts in our little 2017 “first world”, a world of Apps and safe zones.
Until you met Cipora, a 93-year old Auschwitz survivor, as she pulls up her sleeve to show a tattoo she was given against her will, by people full of hatred and murder. I was flooded with embarrassment at how I had approached life for 40 years. She pointed toward the tattoo I had gotten years ago
She was not judging me, oh, but I was judging myself inside- hard. It was almost as if she was acknowledging the fact that perhaps I knew a little of the pain involved in that process. Of course I really had no clue. My brother-in-law Jim reached out and held her hand in both of his. She smiled so gratefully.
I look forward to meeting her again, and many more Survivors of the horror of the Holocaust. They have something to teach each one of us about love and loss, and real tragedy; how to appreciate each and every day of life. Overcoming and triumphing in the face of hatred.
They just do not want us to forget.
Please get involved, adopt a survivor or sponsor Abundant Hope International www.ahi-il.org
Better yet, come to Israel and spend some time as a volunteer. You will be changed. In the gym they call that “gains”.