In 2004 I began visiting Survivors of the Holocaust for the first time. I had no idea what to expect. I found myself completely unprepared for the experience.
Her name was Evgenia and she was in a ghetto at the age of eight years. What did she remember the most? How hungry she was… all the time. The hunger never went away. When she could not take it any more and was crying, her mother gave her the only help she could- a horse’s hoof to chew on.
Evgenia, on recounting the extreme hunger she endured, began to cry and shake. The experience remained fresh even now. As I put my arms around her for comfort, she leaned on me and cried, recalling all over again the way it felt to be a child starving in the ghetto.
The experience that day changed me completely. It was at that moment, embracing Evgenia, that I discovered what God had planned for me. I was filled with a passion for the Survivors of the Holocaust.
Today Evgenia is living in an elderly house not far from Akko. I hope to see her this weekend.
Now, 12 years later, when I meet a Holocaust Survivor for the first time, I experience that feeling all over again. The compassion, the desire to embrace them, and the love is just as strong as before- and possibly more so than before.
Delivering birthday flowers the other day to Yehudite I was greeted with such a wide smile and gentle spirit. Wishing her Happy Birthday was not enough. She reached out and gently drew me into her apartment. Though we had no common language she began to share her story of being in the camp with her family. I listened, understanding more than is logically possible, once again in awe of how someone could endure and survive.
I am grateful for the privilege God has given me to meet these Heroes of the Holocaust. At the same time I am zealous to honor impossible numbers of Survivors in the years still remaining for them on this earth. There are hundreds of thousands of Survivors in Israel. I am praying for more people to share their lives with those Survivors whose time is short. There is little time left…
“While wandering a deserted beach at dawn, stagnant in my work, I saw a man in the distance bending and throwing as he walked the endless stretch toward me. As he came near, I could see that he was throwing starfish, abandoned on the sand by the tide, back into the sea. When he was close enough I asked him why he was working so hard at this strange task. He said that the sun would dry the starfish and they would die. I said to him that I thought he was foolish. There were thousands of starfish on miles and miles of beach. One man alone could never make a difference. He smiled as he picked up the next starfish. Hurling it far into the sea he said, “It made a difference for this one.” I abandoned my writing and spent the morning throwing starfish.” ― Loren Eiseley
I am desperately looking for those who “will make a difference to one Survivor.” Please help them before they, like the starfish, all die.