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70 years later..

Dear Friends,

During Services of the last day of Pesach, last Shabbat, I shared in my sermon a stirring story (from The Hidden beauty of the Shema by Lisa Aiken), here is the gist of it:

In May, 1945, Rabbi Eliezer Silver from the United States and Dayan Grunfeld from England were sent as Chaplains to liberate some of the death camps. While there, they were told that many Jewish children had been placed in a monastery in Alsace-Lorraine. The Rabbis went there to reclaim them.

When they approached the Priest in charge, they asked that the Jewish children be released into the Rabbis' care. "I'm sorry," the Priest responded, "But there is no way of knowing which children here came from Jewish families. You must have documentation if you wish me to do what you ask."

Of course, the kind of documentation that the Priest wanted was unobtainable at the end of the war. One of the Rabbis had a brilliant idea. "We'd like to come back again this evening while you put the children to sleep."

The Priest reluctantly agreed.

That evening the Rabbis came to the dormitory, where row upon row of little beds were arranged. The children, many of whom had been in the monastery since the war started in 1939, were going to sleep. The Rabbis walked through the aisles of beds, calling out, "Shema Yisrael - Hear, Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One!" One by one, children burst into tears and shrieked, "Mommy!" "Maman!" "Momma!" "Mamushka!" each in their native tongues.

 After I had ended my talk, I walked to the end of the Shul, where a man that I had met before turned to me and said, “Thank you for the beautiful story. I connected with it very much, since TODAY I’m marking 70 years since I was liberated from a Christian orphanage, where my life was saved during the holocaust.” I was stunned.

Later I learnt that it was David Korn, who was visiting from Halifax, whose story has been published in the Chronicle Herald two years ago (here). I was shocked by the divine providence of sharing this particular story on the morning that David marked this anniversary in his own life.

A few minutes later David was reciting the Yizkor prayers for the martyrs and victims of the Holocaust. It was one of the most moving moments in this past Holiday of Liberation.



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