Upon arriving to Auschwitz, the Nazis imprinted numbered tattoos on those who were not sent immediately into the gas chambers, thus dehumanizing them – taking away the only thing most of them had left – their names.
Approximately 150,000 Holocaust Survivors still live in Israel today. According to latest surveys an average of 40 survivors die daily of diseases and old age. The average age of survivors is 85.
In the past years calls have been made repeatedly to the Israeli authorities to act in order to correct the injustice inflicted upon the survivors, so many of which live in deploring poverty and daily need. As I mentioned in a previous post, in a report filed last year by Israel’s State Comptroller, he was quoted saying: “Time is running out. The state should continue to make improvements and strive to solve the existential distress of all the needy elderly in the country, including Holocaust survivors. The survivors who experienced the events of the Holocaust are entitled to live the rest of their lives with dignity and to receive the recognition they deserve.”
It is shameful. We are called to remember these people, to land a hand, to try and make these last few years of their lives just a little bit better. Have they not suffered enough? I am still amazed at the way these survivors chose life, although at times, death could have been a much easier solution. I try to put myself in their place. If I was being shut behind fences, starved and abused, I think I would have chosen to put an end to it as soon as possible. I may not have taken my life by my own hands, but I probably would have tried to escape, knowing that most likely someone will shoot me and end my life. Anything to make that suffering end. But not so with these survivors – something burned in their hearts, and they chose life. Sanctity of life, knowing that life is a gift only given to us once, was stronger than all the unfathomable suffering they had experienced.
We need to remember them. We even hold an annual commemoration day in their honor, but throughout the year, not much is done in the way of assisting them or improving their state. Though millions of Israeli Shekels were allocated for the benefit of holocaust survivors in the past years, only a fraction actually made it to the survivors themselves. Red tape. Part of their needs are not met in any government office, while others are handled by several authorities simultaneously. This inefficiency, apathy and irritating waste should summon us all to pray and intercede for them. One of their greatest need is companionship; for someone to come, if only for a short visit and land an ear, show that they care. This is where we try to pitch in.
This week we visited M. She shared some of her story with us. She does not always remember what happened just recently, but her memories of the distant, so horribly painful past, are fresh and vivid.
M. sharing her story with us with much emotion. To maintain her privacy, we have chosen to blur her face.
As Israel commemorates today and tomorrow the memory of the millions killed by the hands of the Nazis, let us lift the widowhood of Israel in this area before the Throne of Grace. Let this embarrassing realm be washed clean by the glory of God. Pray for the various authorities that are supposed to make life easier and better for these precious souls. Pray that the hearts of the officials serving them will soften, and that treatment of their needs will rise to the top of the list of priorities, so that they can live the few years they still have with dignity and in peace.
Those who survived have a name, a face, a story – join us in bringing their name before the Throne, praying that they will one day call upon the Name that can replace the horrors they have been through with hope, mercy and grace. Pray for M and the rest of the survivors we are in contact with. And pray for us, that we will be a beacon of light, a source of kindness and mercy in their lives, a vehicle to reveal the Hidden One to them in the short time they still have with us.