Monday, April 28, 2014

My Grandparents - Survivors of the Holocaust

Guest Post by Rivkie Greenland

Left: My father's parents      Right: My mother's parents
Of my 4 grandparents, one survived selection in Auschwitz and lived through the horrors of multiple other concentration camps. One was hidden in the basement of a righteous Ukranian gentile together with 6 other Jews for over two years. One ran and hid through the forest after being housed for a short while by a gentile family only to be let go, fearing for their own lives. And one stayed together with his 3 young sons and brother who, by hand, built underground bunkers for themselves and 80 other Jews. Chasdei Hashem, they all survived. 

I am not here to tell their stories.  

Doing so would just trivialize the realities of what they went through to stay alive. I do not, to this day, even know the details of their own personal nightmares. And even if I did, it would be impossible to give it the proper credence and kavod it would deserve. What I do know is that they all made it. And bearing the intensity of all they witnessed and went through, they kept their faith and went on. 

They went on to build life again. They went on and sacrificed in so many ways to live Torah observant lives just as they had before the war. They got married, had children and taught those children the importance of Torah and mitzvos, shared their families’ minhagim, sang their beautiful family niggunim, and instilled in them a love and yearning for Eretz Yisroel....

This was their mesorah. They gave it over to their children, who gave it over to  their children who are giving it over to their children, who are giving it over to their children and who will B’ezras Hashem one day will give it over to their children. 

My mother always says that we take for granted the ability to live Torah lives without being scared…that we live in a time of peace and are able to practice yiddishkeit without fear of being caught. 

I know that in light of what my grandparents went through, it’s audacious to think that we, in this generation would have challenges in the practice of yiddishkeit.  But we do….Jewish apathy and assimilation, among the most challenging. And sometimes, it's hard to be strong.

But we, like they, must remain strong in our convictions, hold our heads high and show the world that we are not afraid to be different… show our children that we are not afraid to be different. And remain consistent in the examples we learned from our grandparents..... They held on tight. We, too must hold on tight. 

May Hashem give us all the strength to overcome our challenges, and be worthy of the days of moshiach so that we can live true, safe, healthy, beautiful, and brilliantly clear Torah observant lives.  

-In memory of my Zadie Shimon, Bubbie Bella (Bayla), and Zadie Markus (Mordechai).
-And in the Z’chus of health and Arichus Yomim for my Bubbie Tzirel.