Greetings again from Jerusalem!
What a glorious time in the land of Israel! I wouldn’t trade this week for anything, and am so blessed to be here! This morning, we were met with rain, which altered our plans somewhat. But this Phoenician will never complain about rain!
As I reported yesterday, one of our classmates received confirmation that his father has been designated Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel. That is big news here in Israel (and I’m sure in at least parts of the US), and yesterday’s flurry of media activity resulted in a wide release of print and electronic media.
However, we were privileged to hear from Chris himself this morning! Due to the re-arranged schedule, and the fact that much of today was focused on the Righteous Among the Nations anyway, it was very fitting. Chris shared a bit about the journey that led to the designation, then gave a presentation about his dad’s experience in commanding his troops, even in POW camps where his actions saved the lives of Jewish soldiers who were headed for death camps. (You can read the story here.)
This afternoon we watched the last 45 minutes of “Schindler’s List,” portraying Osker Schindler’s heroic efforts to save Jews. We then met one
of “Schindler’s Jews!” Eva Lavi was 2 years old when the war broke out, and was only a young girl when she and her parents were taken from their home in Krakow Poland, sent to the ghetto, and ultimately to death camps. Schindler worked behind the scenes to bribe Amon Goeth, known as the “Nazi Butcher,” to spare the Jews who worked in his factory.
Eva’s mother ironed clothing for both Schindler and Goeth, so both men knew her. Both Eva and her mother were packed in a cattle car and taken to Auschwitz at one point. It was a selection of Jewish women for whom Schindler had “bought,” and they were not supposed to go to Auschwitz. Schindler stepped in and saved those women and young girls by demanding that they be loaded back on the train and taken OUT of Auschwitz! That was the only train ever to leave Auschwitz with Jews aboard.
Every survivor has a testimony, and I’m sure many would identify their situation as Eva did when asked to describe her experience. She simply said, “Miracles!”
This week, we have heard about the atrocities of the holocaust, we have learned about the undying spirit of the Jews, and we have heard first person testimony of the miracles of those who survived. However, I’m still left with a nagging question: “Why did the world sit idly by, doing nothing while these people suffered and died before the eyes of the world?” (Though we did examine some of those reasons.) More hauntingly, I wonder, “Are we sitting idly by now?” Lord, help us to see and to do what is right!
“What hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor but the silence of the bystander.” ~Elie Wiesel (Holocaust survivor)
We’ve spent long, sometimes difficult days in study and tomorrow we get a reprieve! We’re scheduled to have a communion service at the Garden Tomb, visit the Garden of Gethsemane, then spend some time touring the Old City. Sundown tomorrow marks the beginning of Shabbat and we have been invited to go to synagogue then enjoy Shabbat dinner at our seminar director’s home. It will be a welcome reprieve for sure!
Blessings, my friends…and shalom from Jerusalem!