From the short time I was able to know them, I learned that both of my grandfather’s were good people. Kind, God fearing men, taking care of their families and others in need that crossed their paths from time to time. But what would you do if you found out that your grandfather had been a sadistic murderer, or a malicious torturer, or someone who just stood idly by while acts of hatred and brutality were committed in front of him? God willing this will not be your experience, but for a group of young Germans, it was!
|March of Life give flowers to Holocaust Survivors|
Around 30 young people from the March for Life group in Tubingen, Germany, came to Israel this summer. Their purpose was to show support and solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people, and through the organisation of Helping Hand Coalition, they were given opportunities to meet with elderly Holocaust Survivors around the country.
The March for Life group came to Israel on a voyage of reconciliation, spending much of their time interacting with the survivors and visiting with them at their Shalom House meetings. They shared meals together, and the young German believers sang songs and performed Jewish dances for their elderly hosts. They also expressed great sorrow for the actions of the generations that had come before them, asking for forgiveness for the persecution of the Jewish people and their culture, which they now embraced. The Survivors were deeply touched. “We have travelled in Israel and seen many things, but we have never been to touched and so encouraged.” “Because of their faith in God, we see that these young Germans have the right mind regarding us as Jews.” Who would have thought!
|Sharing a meal|
Two of the young Germans in particular, shared how they learned of the evil actions their great grandfathers had committed during World War II, and how they themselves, were the first members of their family that had come to ask the Jewish people for forgiveness. These were not easy things to express to people who had lost families and homes as children, and some that had even spent time in the Concentration Camps. But at the end of the evening, the leader of the Shalom Home declared, “We survivors have met together for 21 years, and this is the first time we have experienced such a touching meeting and had such a time of rejoicing together. We’d like you to come back again!”
Helping Hand Coalition has been assisting groups of Holocaust Survivors to meet regularly in Shalom Homes around the country, providing resources enabling them to share a meal together each week and also organising large, celebrational events such as cultural concerts and special Holiday gatherings. It is because of their sacrificial service and building trusted relationships over many years, that such opportunities for forgiveness and reconciliation have developed. March For Life spent their final evening with the Netanya Shalom group called ‘House of Promise’. They enjoyed time with the Survivors, encouraging each other, and singing and dancing together. Everyone was thankful for the special efforts made to create lasting memories and for the seeds of healing that have been planted between a group of elderly Jews and young Germans!
If you would like to financially support the work of Helping Hand Coalition, investing in the lives of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, please click here and note your gift is for HHC. Thank you!
|Shalom House of Promise ~ dancing together!|