Elaine Rosenberg Miller


Nova Music Festival survivor, Millet Ben Haim spoke at Palm Beach Synagogue, Palm Beach, Florida the other day. About 200 silent, somber people listened to her address. She was as subdued as they were. Ben Haim is a slender, 28 year old Israeli. She speaks nearly accentless English, a talent that she herself didn’t understand, she later told me as neither of her parents were American-born. (I asked.) Ben Haim said that when the Nova Festival was announced in 2023 she immediately bought a ticket and looked forward to a weekend of music with her friends and younger brother. She arrived 4 a.m. “The party was wonderful” she said. She projected video taken from her cell phone on a rear-wall screen. It showed her dreamily dancing in a black shirt, her long straight hair swaying with the motion. It was just after dawn when the dusty light made made the beginning of the day and the end, indistinguishable.

Suddenly, she said, she heard the rapid fire of automatic weapons. She immediately knew that the rounds were being fired by terrorists.

Then she saw them.

“They were coming from two directions,” she said.

Confusion, anxiety and rockets followed.

She and her friends accidentally ran toward the terrorists. Finally, they reversed course.

The sun rose.

She used her cell phone to text the police. They said that they couldn’t come.

“Don’t go out out of the house,” they told her.

“I’m not in a house,” she responded. “I am in a field!”.

Where to go? What to do?

She downloaded a map. “Technology saved me,” she said.

She and the other girls ran and ran. They found a tree and huddled under it.

The hours passed.

Dehydrated, plagued by fire ants, frightened, they tried to keep their spirits up. She texted her family and told them she loved them.

Her cell phone’s battery was nearly extinguished.

Somehow, she found the name of a man, Rami Davidian, a farmer, who said he was coming to rescue them. She texted their location. After a while she saw his vehicle and she and her friends made a dash for it.

Growing up, the daughter of Holocaust survivors I always tried to get to the end of Holocaust histories, the rescue, first. In fact, whenever I would read a memoir I would flip to the back of the book before I would read it, otherwise I couldn’t go on.

I knew, even without asking, that despite her calm, almost monotone cadence, Ben Haim had seen things that she might never be able to describe.

One could never ask a survivor what they saw. They will tell you what they want to tell you and can tell you.

My mother only told me two things about Auschwitz. She described saying farewell to her parents as they descended the cattle cars that had transported from their Romanian ghetto and she told me about looking off in the distance and seeing a wagon-load of “fine white pigs“.

“Those are not pigs,” her sister said in Yiddish, “they are people”.

Seventy years after the war ended, after a lifetime of love, marriage, children, security and peace, she emerged from anesthesia following elbow surgery and cried “Dvora! Dvora! Host broyt?”

The attending doctor and nurses didn’t know what she had said. Shocked, I told them “She’s back in concentration camp and she’s asking her sister if she has any bread.”

About the Author
Elaine Rosenberg Miller writes fiction and non-fiction. Her work has appeared in numerous print publications and online sites, domestically and abroad, including JUDISCHE RUNDSCHAU, THE BANGALORE REVIEW, THE FORWARD, THE HUFFINGTON POST and THE JEWISH PRESS. Her books,, FISHING IN THE INTERCOASTAL AND OTHER SHORT STORIES, THE CHINESE JEW. THE TRUST and PALMBEACHTOWN are available on Amazon and Kindle.
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