Meeting a Holocaust Survivor

Welcome back to our Israel journey! Thank you for following, and thank you for your prayers as we travel the land and experience Israel. Our tour motto is: Many people see Israel, few experience Israel. Following yesterday’s adventures, I’m sure you know which side of the equation we fall on! We did nothing to change that perspective today!

Let’s start with our first stop of the day: The Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors. The home is owned and operated by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem as one if their many focus ministries. ICEJ was founded in the 1980’s as a functioning embassy, representing not a country, but Christian interests in Israel. While the embassies of many nations were leaving Jerusalem for Tel Aviv by the droves, ICEJ was planted in Jerusalem and has never left!

ICEJ exists to fulfill the Isaiah 40:1 exhortation to comfort and cry out for Israel. They do that in many ways, including developing a worldwide network of embassy branches that work to educate believers of the importance of blessing and standing with Israel. They also engage in humanitarian work such as providing bomb shelters for communities near the Gaza Strip, and providing food boxes of appropriate Passover elements to Jewish people on need.

One of the most impacting ministries, though, is the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors. It came about miraculously, as the Haifa Home’s Director, Yudit Setz, explained to our group. Before the need was clearly known, God placed on the heart of a German man to give a large sum of money to ICEJ. It had no earmarks, but once Yudit recognized the need and identified a piece of property upon which to establish a home for Holocaust survivors, she presented it to ICEJ’s president and soon ICEJ purchased and began renovating a building that would become the first of many buildings in a Haifa neighborhood that now makes up the Haifa Home.

This morning we met Donata, one of the residents. Survivors of the Holocaust are now all over 80 years of age, so for most, it is quite an effort just to prepare then ambulate (with assistance) to the meeting place in one of the buildings. Immediately, it was clear Donata was a trooper! Somewhat hunched and shuffling, she emerged from an elevator, sat down, and began to share her story.

In short, her mother had to flee Germany with the children while her father stayed behind to fight the war. As a child, Donata suffered terribly. Her father once had a dream that his skull was crushed, and eerily, once the Nazis arrived, they took him and smashed his head with rifle butts. In addition, a woman who was supposed to be caring for Donata had no business around kids. She abused and hurt them, including hitting Donata very hard in the back with a baseball bat. It literally crippled Donata, and provided insight as to why she had entered shuffling and stopped over when she arrived to meet us.

Holocaust survivors often express themselves through songs, art, or writing, and Donata read two poems describing her fate as a little girl. Though appropriately graphic in description, there was no hint of resentment or anger, and Donata kept a beautiful smile on her face as she shared with us.

Few remained dry-eyed as Donata bid us farewell.

Our day had only begun, yet we had once again experienced Israel in a most profound way. Very few tour groups take the time for such encounters, yet those who do leave with a blessing they never expected.

Our tour day continued to Carmel, Megiddo, and yet another very special stop. Stay tuned and I’ll tell you more about that in the next post! Meanwhile, here are a couple photos of our visit to the Haifa Home.

PS: There are some technical difficulties, so posts are currently being generated from my phone. I’m hoping pictures are being transmitted, but if not, I’ll do my best to post them once difficulties are resolved. Also, my apologies for any typos! Shalom!

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