Jeffrey Levine
Blogger, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist

Time to Remember, Time to Repair

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is an international memorial day on 27 January commemorates the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War.

It was chosen as this date as on 27 January 1945, Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, was liberated by the Red Army and was designated by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 60/7 on 1 November 2005 during the 42nd plenary session

While in Israel, we commemorate Yom HaShoah – the date of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising as the day of remembrance, we should ponder on what is the appropriate response to this tragedy in our times.

We are seeing increased Anti- Semitism and the dehumanizing of Israel and Jews. The Nazis started their Campaign by dehumanizing Jews.

What can we do to Fight Anti-Semitism?  I do not intend to expand on this complex situation., but want to want to share the view of  Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: “After the Holocaust, it’s so easy to be angry at the world, and it’s so easy to condemn the world. But we have to continue to love the world. We have to”   

See this link for the full Interview  – https://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/2008/05/02/may-2-2008-shlomo-carlebach/77/

 So, one Approach is Tikkun Olam, and it seems that the world through the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Principles of ESG is trying to make the world a better place.

Indeed we want to honor the 6 Million and especially the 1.5 Million Children brutally murdered and sharing this Tribute to the children of the Holocaust features previously unreleased Shlomo Carlebach recording.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8J-AEZMpT0&feature=emb_logo

As we honor the memory of those brutally murdered by the Nazis, Sparks Next presents Mira, featuring previously unreleased audio of the legendary Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. A poignant tribute to the 1.5 million children killed during World War II, Mira was composed by musician and songwriter Cecelia Margules in memory of her maternal aunt Mira who was a beautiful child who loved to sing and dance and brought great joy to her family.

She was taken as a child from the Lodz ghetto together with her family and sent to her death in the gas chambers. The song was originally performed at a 1984 concert by Carlebach at the Brown’s Hotel in the Catskills, with Reb Shlomo calling Margules’s young niece onto the stage as he sang Mira in memory of the aunt whose name she carried.

Directed and produced by Daniel Finkelman, written and produced by Chaya Greenberg and co-directed by Aharon Orian, Mira spans the decades, weaving an exquisite duet between Reb Shlomo and the incomparable talent of Dudu Fisher. Vintage cinematography by David Orian takes viewers back in time to 1984 with a reenactment of the concert and shows both war-torn and contemporary Lodz through Fisher’s eyes. Cast in the role of a witness to history, Fisher sees Mira and her family rounded up by the Gestapo and herded onto a cattle car as they are sent to their untimely deaths at Auschwitz.

“When Shlomo heard Mira’s story he wanted to tell it very much and when he did you felt it,” said Margules. “The fact that you could still hear him speaking and singing when so much of the tape had been destroyed was an amazing thing.”

The number of remaining Holocaust survivors continues to dwindle with every passing year and the coronavirus outbreak has further chipped away at their numbers, making it more important than ever to pass the torch to the next generation.

“More than ever, during these stressful days,” said Margules. “We need Shlomo Carlebach’s inspiration, his heart and soul as he did in his lifetime, and his innate ability to lift and help a broken spirit”

A post-Holocaust Miracle

It’s a story about Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, z”l, and it takes place during his many travels spreading his light and music. On one of his flights, Shlomo was pleasantly surprised to see a stewardess whose name tag read “Cathy”—not a very Jewish name—davening (praying) from a siddur (a Jewish prayer book) in the back of the plane. He waited until she finished and asked, “I see that you’re praying from a siddur, are you Jewish?”

Cathy replied, “My parents are not Jewish but ever since I can remember, I was attracted to Judaism. When I grew older I studied with an Orthodox Rabbi and converted. As you see, I now lead an observant life and keep all the commandments.”

One of the passengers signaled for her attention and so the stewardess had to excuse herself.  Later she approached Shlomo and told him of a dilemma she was having: “I see by the way you’re dressed that you’re probably a rabbi. Maybe you can help me. Recently I met a Jewish young man and he proposed. We very much want to get married but his parents are adamantly opposed because I’m a convert. They threatened to cut him off and sever all ties with him if he goes through with this. He’s heartbroken and I fear he’ll call off the wedding. Can you help me?”  “Give me their phone number and yours and I’ll see what I can do.”

Shlomo later called the boy’s parents and the conversation did not go over very well. In fact, the parents were furious at Shlomo for attempting to intervene. The more Shlomo tried to defend the merits of the girl the further enraged the father became. It got so bad at one point he yelled into the phone, “Know that were are Holocaust survivors and only over my dead body will I allow my son to marry a gentile!” Shlomo tried to explain that she’s not a Gentile; she’s an observant Jew—more observant than his is. The Torah commands us 36 times to love the convert. Why should she suffer because there were Nazis who killed Jews? But it was to no avail, and the last thing Shlomo heard was the father slamming the phone down.

Shlomo immediately called Cathy to confirm her worst fears—that his attempt at mitigation had met with utter failure. As he dialed, Reb Shlomo regretted being the bearer of such bad tidings and worried over shattering the dream of this poor girl’s last hopes. However, she wasn’t home and her father picked up the phone. Shlomo told him about what had just transpired. Much to Shlomo’s chagrin her father became just as upset at him as the boy’s father had been and gave Reb Shlomo another earful: “They don’t want our daughter, so we don’t want them!”

Eventually, Shlomo’s genuine concern for his daughter deeply touched the father and he told him: “I want to tell you something that my daughter doesn’t know—a secret that I’ve never revealed to anyone. My wife and I are not really Christian. We are both Jewish—Holocaust survivors. We did not want our daughter to go through what we went through, and so we pretend to be Christian. We don’t know what may happen in America someday. So let her think she’s Christian.”

“If so,” exclaimed Reb Shlomo excitedly, “your daughter is actually Jewish from birth and can marry the boy without any objection from his parents! This is wonderful news! Can you and your wife come to my hotel room tonight at 8? I’ll invite his parents as well and, hopefully, we can settle all this.”

A few minutes after 8:00pm when the groom’s parents arrived, the father looked at Cathy’s father who was already there. They stared curiously at each other for about 20 seconds and then in almost shock Cathy’s father cried out, “YANKELE?”

Startled the other groom’s father then shouted, “HERSHELE? You’re alive! I was sure you were dead.”

They fell into each other’s arms and cried. Everyone was stunned. A few moments later after they regained their composure they explained that before the war they were chavrusa (study partners in yeshiva). Each was certain that the other had perished. Then Yankele asked: “Do you remember how we used to dream about the future while were in the yeshiva?

“Yes,” replied Hershele, “we told each other that when we grew up and got married we would marry our children off to each other and become one family. We forgot our vow, but Gd did not forget!”

My friends, there are 7 billion people in the world. What’s the chance something like this happening by accident—that this Cathy, born to Holocaust survivors will meet Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach on a plane and he would agree to intervene with her fiancé’s family, and the father would be the long-lost chavrusa of Cathy’s father? Some may think that Gd had forgotten the Jews during the Holocaust, but Gd never forgets His people. We will never know why the Holocaust happened; but we do know that Am Yisrael Chai, the People of Israel live and, with Gd’s grace, will always live. Amen!

About the Author
Jeffrey is a Blogger, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist (we can only dream) living in Jerusalem. He is a young grandfather who has five kids and four grandchildren. Jeffrey provides Financial Services for regulated Financial Companies - CFO, Key Individual, Approved Person through www.persofi.com and is a promoter of ideas and trends where Innovation meets ESG. He is looking to spread the message of Ahavat Yisrael and Jewish Unity through the music and stories through www.souldoctorstories.com and blogging.
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