In a wonderful show of honor and respect, professional hairdressers, stylists and makeup artists pampered 80 and 90-year-old Holocaust survivors as they “competed” in Israel’s Miss Holocaust Survivor competition. Sponsored by The Yad Ezer L’Haver (Helping Hand) Foundation, and hosted by a Christian organization, this special pageant was broadcast online to millions around the world.
Some of the most memorable times I’ve spent in Israel, are those spent meeting Holocaust survivors and hearing their stories. There is something in the very heart and soul of those precious people that refuse to be defeated. Though we may hear their stories, it is impossible to grasp exactly what they endured. Yet their zest for life is immeasurable, and their resilience is beyond description. That resilience is rooted in Scripture!
I’m reminded of the prophet Ezekiel’s vision in Ezekiel 37 where the Lord showed him a valley of dry bones. In the midst of that dry valley of bones, there was no sign of life. Then the Lord said:
“Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6 I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”~Ezekiel 37:5-6
What follows in that fascinating chapter of Scripture is the prophecy that, one day, the Jewish people would return to their homeland. After being scattered around the globe, Jews began regathering in Israel in the late 1800’s, yet many had become “nationalized” in the countries in which they were exiled. Thus, particularly in Russia and Europe, they became foreigners in a hostile land when the Holocaust raged across the continents in the late 1930’s. By the time Auschwitz and other concentration camps were liberated in the mid-1940’s, over 6 million Jews (including 2 million Jewish children) had perished at the hands of Nazi death squads.
At the time of the Holocaust, there were only about 18 million Jews in the world. Imagine having 1/3 of your people wiped out. Such was the fate of the Jews, and those who survived would face hardships for years to come. Each Holocaust survivor has a unique story, but one detail is constant in every story: each lost many family members and friends and are, themselves, fortunate to be alive. Many live with physical marks and scars and almost all live with mental and emotional scars.
Yet, out of the ash heap, God breathed physical life back into Israel. The dry bones arose to become a nation.
Now, as Holocaust survivors approach the end of their lives, it is crucially important to Israelis to etch their memory into the national fabric forever. Less than 180,000 Holocaust survivors live today.
BTW, God fulfilled much of the Ezekiel 37 prophecy when the nation of Israel was re-born on May 14, 1948. So, we honor those who serve as “Exhibit A” of that fulfillment, while we await the day He will breath the spirit of life into the Jewish people spiritually.
Congratulations Miss Israel Holocaust Survivor!