In this time of uncertainty and fear, I hope you will enjoy this interesting and heartwarming story as much as I did. This is a survival story showing the mysterious ways of God.
The sky was gloomy that morning as we waited anxiously. All the men, women and children of Piotrkow's Jewish ghetto had been herded into a square. Word had gotten around that we were being moved. My father had only recently died from typhus, which had run rampant through the crowded ghetto. My greatest fear was that our family would be separated. 'Whatever you do,' Isidore, my eldest brother, whispered to me, 'don't tell them your age. Say you're sixteen.'
I was tall for a boy of 11, so I could pull it off. That way I might be deemed valuable as a worker. An SS man approached me, boots clicking against the cobblestones. He
looked me up and down, and then asked my age. 'Sixteen,' I said. He directed me to the left, where my three brothers and other healthy young men already stood. My mother was motioned to the right with the other women, children, sick and elderly people.
I whispered to Isidore, 'Why?' He didn't answer. I ran to Mama's side and said I wanted to stay with her. 'No, 'she said sternly.'Get away. Don't be a nuisance. Go with your brothers.'
She had never spoken so harshly before. But I understood: She was protecting me. She loved me so much that, just this once, she pretended not to. It was the last I ever saw of her.
My brothers and I were transported in a cattle car to Germany . We arrived at the
Buchenwald concentration camp one night later and were led into a crowded barrack. The next day, we were issued uniforms and identification numbers.
'Don't call me Herman anymore.' I said to my brothers. 'Call me 94983.'
I was put to work in the camp's crematorium, loading the dead into a hand-cranked elevator. I, too, felt dead. Hardened, I had become a number. Soon, my brothers and
I were sent to Schlieben, one of Buchenwald's sub-camps near Berlin .One morning I thought I heard my mother's voice.
'Son,' she said softly but clearly, I am going to send you an angel.'
Then I woke up. Just a dream. A beautiful dream. But in this place there could be no angels. There was only work. And hunger. And fear. A couple of days later, I was walking around the camp, around the barracks, near the barbed wire fence where the guards could not easily see. I was alone. On the other side of the fence, I spotted someone: a little girl with light, almost luminous curls. She was half-hidden behind a birch tree. I glanced around to make sure no one saw me. I called to her softly in
German. 'Do you have something to eat?'
She didn't understand. I inched closer to the fence and repeated the question in Polish. She stepped forward. I was thin and gaunt, with rags wrapped around my feet, but the girl looked unafraid. In her eyes, I saw life. She pulled an apple from her woolen jacket and threw it over the fence. I grabbed the fruit and, as I started to run away, I heard her say faintly, 'I'll see you tomorrow.'
I returned to the same spot by the fence at the same time every day. She was always there with something for me to eat - a hunk of bread or, better yet, an apple. We didn't dare speak or linger. To be caught would mean death for us both. I didn't know anything about her, just a kind farm girl, except that she understood Polish. What was her name? Why was she risking her life for me?
Hope was in such short supply, and this girl on the other side of the fence gave me some, as nourishing in its way as the bread and apples. Nearly seven months later, my brothers and I were crammed into a coal car and shipped to Theresienstadt camp in Czechoslovakia .
'Don't return,' I told the girl that day. 'We're leaving.'
I turned toward the barracks and didn't look back, didn't even say good-bye to the little girl whose name I'd never learned, the girl with the apples.
We were in Theresienstadt for three months. The war was winding down and Allied forces were closing in, yet my fate seemed sealed. On May 10, 1945, I was scheduled to die in the gas chamber at 10:00 AM. In the quiet of dawn, I tried to prepare myself. So many times death seemed ready to claim me, but somehow I'd survived. Now, it was over.
I thought of my parents. At least, I thought, we will be reunited. But at 8 a.m. there
was a commotion. I heard shouts, and saw people running every which way through camp. I caught up with my brothers. Russian troops had liberated the camp! The gates swung open. Everyone was running, so I did too. Amazingly, all of my brothers had survived; I'm not sure how. But I knew that the girl with the apples had been the
key to my survival.
In a place where evil seemed triumphant, one person's goodness had saved
my life, had given me hope in a place where there was none. My mother had
promised to send me an angel, and the angel had come.
Eventually I made my way to England where I was sponsored by a Jewish charity, put up in a hostel with other boys who had survived the Holocaust and trained in electronics. Then I came to America , where my brother Sam had already moved. I served in the U. S. Army during the Korean War, and returned to New York City after two years. By August 1957 I'd opened my own electronics repair shop. I was starting to settle in.
One day, my friend Sid who I knew from England called me. 'I've got a date. She's got a Polish friend. Let's double date.' A blind date? Nah, that wasn't for me. But Sid kept pestering me, and a few days later we headed up to the Bronx to pick up his date and her friend Roma.
I had to admit, for a blind date this wasn't so bad. Roma was a nurse at a Bronx hospital.. She was kind and smart. Beautiful, too, with swirling brown curls and green,
almond-shaped eyes that sparkled with life.
The four of us drove out to Coney Island. Roma was easy to talk to, easy to be with. Turned out she was wary of blind dates too! We were both just doing our friends a favor. We took a stroll on the boardwalk, enjoying the salty Atlantic breeze, and then had dinner by the shore. I couldn't remember having a better time. We piled back into Sid's car, Roma and I sharing the backseat.
As European Jews who had survived the war, we were aware that much had been left unsaid between us. She broached the subject, 'Where were you,' she asked softly, 'during the war?'
'The camps,' I said.
The terrible memories still vivid, the irreparable loss. I had tried to forget. But you can never forget. She nodded. 'My family was hiding on a farm in Germany , not far from Berlin ,' she told me. 'My father knew a priest, and he got us Aryan papers.'
I imagined how she must have suffered too, fear, a constant companion. And yet here we were both survivors, in a new world. 'There was a camp next to the farm.' Roma continued. 'I saw a boy there and I would throw him apples every day.'
What an amazing coincidence that she had helped some other boy. 'What did he look like? I asked.
'He was tall, skinny, and hungry. I must have seen him every day for six months.'
My heart was racing. I couldn't believe it. This couldn't be.'Did he tell you one
day not to come back because he was leaving Schlieben?' Roma looked at me in
'That was me!'
I was ready to burst with joy and awe, flooded with emotions. I couldn't believe it! My angel.
'I'm not letting you go.' I said to Roma. And in the back of the car on that blind date,
I proposed to her. I didn't want to wait. 'You're crazy!' she said. But she invited me to meet her parents for Shabbat dinner the following week.
There was so much I looked forward to learning about Roma, but the most important things I always knew: her steadfastness, her goodness. For many months, in the worst of circumstances, she had come to the fence and given me hope. Now that I'd found her again, I could never let her go.
That day, she said yes. And I kept my word. After nearly 50 years of marriage, two children and three grandchildren, I have never let her go.
Herman Rosenblat of Miami Beach , Florida
This story is being made into a movie called The Fence.
Sending Love and Light,
I love this message, and it feels so perfect right now.
As I reflect deeply on the many emotions that I, and likely all of us, have cycled through in the last 4 months - fear, worry, anxiety, sadness, frustration, despair, anger and most recently determination - I realize that these emotions were fueled by what I was being shown on television, computer and phone screens, and what I was being told by the media and others on those devices. We have been glued to the drama of it all.
Luckily for me, curiosity has always been part of my nature, and in the last month or so that curiosity has led me to be receptive to exploring what is unfamiliar, instead of dismissing it, as would have been the case in the past. I started listening to doctors and researchers who have been banned from mainstream social media sites. I thought that banning information seemed odd, especially from what appeared to be highly credible sources, and I wondered what it was all about. There was so much uncertainty from the “medical and scientific experts” on TV, and the “facts” changed sometimes daily. So, I was curious what was out there that could be so bad for us to hear and see. Luckily my judgmental nature was overruled by curiosity.
It has been an interesting process to explore ideas different from those I believed to be my own. I’ve witnessed that we all have ideas based on what we learned in the past and what input we choose to listen to now.
Initially, I avidly watched the television and followed the virus and death tolls with an intensity as well as a certain amount of disbelief and fear, like everyone else. So many have shared that they felt like life had turned into a Sci-Fi movie. I thought the shutdown might last two weeks. Just shy of four months later, and life in the US and rest of the world is anything but normal. What a turn of events!
During the second month, I continued to watch the television, while simultaneously increasing the vitamin, herb, and protein support for me and my mother in order to keep our immune systems strong. We were told that weak immune systems and comorbidity were strong factors in those who died from the virus. It seemed like a given that we should bolster our immune systems.
I had doubts and questions about why the medical and science experts speaking daily on the television, were not outlining ways to strengthen people’s immune systems and giving us advice to ward off the threat - focusing instead on advice to stay in our homes and not to touch or go near anyone. Heightening our fear, we were told to use hand sanitizer, gloves to sanitize everything from groceries to delivery boxes, and to wear masks should we be in close vicinity to anyone. We were to be cautious and afraid of everything and everyone, especially considering we were in the high risk age group. Families stopped visiting each other, and neighbors kept their distance.
High anxiety and stress compromise the immune system, but that didn’t seem to be of concern to the experts. The feverish pitch of fear continued in the media, all day long, every day.
We had our groceries delivered and followed faithfully the guidelines about gloves, sanitizing, and staying away from everyone. As the months went on, the isolation and change in daily life became more difficult, especially for those families with young children who were trying to teach their children at home and keep spirits up. I consciously made a point of taking a daily remembrance of gratitude for having enough to eat, a nice environment to be living in, and continued health.
Yet, life was starting to feel meaningless and filled with a despondency. Was this to be our new normal? This low feeling felt so real and felt as though it was coming from my own thoughts on the world situation - but it wasn’t. The ideas of despair and hopelessness were being fed to us on every news station in the country and world. Social media also spread the same messaging. Focusing on daily COVID death tolls, as they rose, made them very real and disturbing. Yet we rarely think about the 56-57 million people worldwide, nearly 3 million in the US, who die every single year. Suddenly half of one million deaths in 6 months was seen as catastrophic.
The hope offered is all about vaccines. We’ve been warned about a second wave and vaccine compliance is being said to be required.
Words like mandatory do not resonate with me. There are too many variables in a worldwide population of more than 7 billion. I have never taken a flu vaccine, as I feel injecting my body with a foreign substance when I am perfectly healthy is not warranted. Until recently I have had little opinion regarding vaccines in general. I just didn’t think I needed flu vaccines. And I rarely have experienced the flu, even when others around me, many of them having gotten the flu shot, have it.
Worldwide rush-to-the-market vaccines are being touted as our only hope to return to a life, without shutdown, social distancing, masks and fear. This vaccine solution continues to be pushed loudly and often, as the only viable one. Our country is divided on this and many other issues suddenly coming to the forefront during this pandemic.
Something seemed off to me from early on and still does. Doing some serious research and listening to doctors, scientists, and highly credentialed people who cautioned about the vaccine in the pipeline, my head began to swirl with questions. People and organizations that I had trusted and admired were being exposed in a new light. I kept digging and reading and watching interviews. My prior ideas about so much was being challenged.
Spending hours researching filled the days, as the weather was pretty poor, and I was worried about being outside, at the beginning of the quarantine. Yoga of course helped me, and I signed up for some online courses to pass the time, doing something other than watching TV.
After months of being indoors, the sunshine called to me. I did not wear a mask and rarely came within 10 feet of anyone. Walks outside gave me a mood boost. A couple of weeks of outdoor walks shifted my energy.
Then, virtually out of nowhere, I decided since I’ve always wanted to paint, that I’d order some drawing supplies and try to draw some of the amazingly beautiful trees that are in the neighborhood (you can see an example at the top of this post :). I started with charcoals and moved to markers and oil pastels. I did daily research when I went for walks by focusing on the proportions and the dimension and angles of the trees. I watched a few YouTube ‘how to’ videos. As I moved from the gray of the charcoal to the lush greens and browns of markers, the aliveness inside me came out in the drawings. I’m now moving on to acrylics for my next attempt at displaying the life inside me through art!
The huge trees in my mother’s neighborhood, mainly oak but many other varieties, inspired me with their strength and vibrancy seen in the multi shades of green of their leaves - signs of life and health. Each tree filled me with a feeling of grounding and well being. The sunshine, fresh air and being outdoors was a huge improvement over staying inside. I felt stronger each day and also started seeing more clearly.
I discovered that there are many doctors and researchers who express very different views on the COVID crisis than what we hear and see from main stream media and social media. While these researchers and doctors have nothing to gain and much to lose when they speak out in this new time of censorship, they are not afraid. They are leaders that I would have dismissed not many years ago. Now I am listening.
My renewed sense of aliveness has empowered me and strengthened me. I continue to care for and strengthen my immune system through healthy practices and healthy foods. I am not afraid of COVID19, which will come and go like wind blowing in the air. My roots run deep, as does my faith in God’s plan and the deep gratitude
I feel for life.
I’ve turned from fear, despair and worry to feeling strong, healthy and vibrantly alive!
Waking up out of despondency, there is much hope on the horizon. Cleansing and releasing toxins in our minds and bodies will allow a return to good health. This holds true in bodies, relationships, countries and whole worlds. By God’s grace may we fuel our minds and bodies with all that is healthy, so that our inner lights may again shine brightly.
Sending love and light to each of you,