23 December 2011

Dancing with the 'Enemy'

The banquet hall was full.  Good food was served. The music was energised and contagious.  And elderly Jewish Holocaust survivors danced with the grandchildren of Nazi SS officers!
Such is the kind of work being carried out by Helping Hand Coalition in Israel today.  In Or Akiva, a small town situated near Caesarea off the Mediterranean coast, over 200 Holocaust survivors gathered, along with International Delegates from several nations including Germany, Russia and the USA, for a special meal and opportunity for reconciliation at an event arranged by HHC to bring such a mix of cultures and experiences together.  Two young German bands performed songs in Hebrew, followed by an incredibly talented Israeli couple, Shaul and Yulia Ben-Har, playing folk and classical music on violin and viola.  After the meal and a few speeches, a group of youth from Germany performed three dances.  Such was their passion, joy and vigour, that the elderly survivors crowded onto the dance floor and celebrated along with the German delegation, dancing together for over an hour!

Some of the German dancers were grandchildren of Nazi SS officers from the Second World War. The significance of seeing them dance with survivors who had suffered so much under their grandfathers was not lost, having a deep and lasting impact on the attendees as new bridges of reconciliation were built between the two generations.  German and Jewish individuals now forging a new kind of history between them.

HHC work hard to raise the quality of life for Holocaust survivors, the poor, and underprivileged in Israel and are seeing wonderful results from their efforts to bring hope and reconciliation to those who need it.

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