Philip Bendheim

Transformative Memories— We Must Keep Going, Renewed and Emboldened

Sarah Lupolianski Grandmother of Yad Sarah's Founder, Uri Lupolianski -Courtesy of Yad Sarah.
Sarah Lupolianski Grandmother of Yad Sarah's Founder, Uri Lupolianski -Courtesy of Yad Sarah.

In Judaism, we cannot do much without reciting the phrase “Zecher L’yetziat Mitzrayim,” which commands us to remember the Exodus from Egypt. We say this in kiddush on Friday night, in the shema prayer and in the birkat hamazon blessing after meals. It is our mantra. History as a guide for living. It is what defines us. 

This phrase is very much at the heart of who we are, that we are a people who keep going, persevering constantly, through a cycle of hardship and redemption- figuratively picking ourselves up and dusting ourselves off, and then moving forward. It is a liberating enabler.

This is especially palpable at this time of year, as we mark the holy days of Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron,Yom HaAtzmaut, and Yom Yerushalayim. As we stand in the state of Israel, and remember the 6 million who were murdered in the Holocaust; as we mourn those killed in the defense of our state, then the very next day embrace the celebration of our independence. Through all of this, we are making a journey from suffering to survival, from hardship to redemption. But we are not stopping at the memories. We are reminded that we keep going, have always kept going, and will always keep going and growing- achieving more with each setback. 

This perseverance is deeply reflected in Yad Sarah’s mission, as we help millions of people to keep going, everyday, in times of war and times of peace. One of our main services is accompanying people on their journeys of healing. We do this partly by providing medical equipment, including that needed for home hospitalization and rehabilitation so people can recover in the comfort of their homes, surrounded by their family and friends. Whether they will make a full recovery, or journey toward their last days in this life, our support helps them along the way.

Since the current war started, there are a growing number of people, both soldiers and civilians, in need of such healing and rehabilitation. To date, we have distributed rehab equipment to about 13,245 people with injuries related to Oct. 7 and the war. In addition to medical equipment, we also provide services such as transporting wounded veterans anywhere they need to be, from reunions with their units to funerals of comrades, to family events.

Even as the war has created new, specific needs, the ongoing needs remain. Elderly people and those with disabilities continue to rely on our fall-detection devices. Our mobile dental clinics traverse the country, despite ongoing rocket fire. And women who have experienced stillbirths are reliant on our Jerusalem center that caters to their particular physical, mental and emotional needs.

Even as many of the people we serve are on very difficult journeys, filled with much struggle and sadness, some comfort can perhaps be taken in remembering that this has long been a legacy of the Jewish people. It is how we honor those who have gone before us, including those murdered in the Holocaust, and those who have died in the service of the state, and in terrorist attacks. Our organization is named after one of these people; Sarah Lupolianski, deported from Germany, and presumed murdered by the Nazis. By doing our daily work, we are honoring her legacy, and our duty to persevere. 

Working in Sarah’s name, during our nearly 50 years of existence, we should not forget that we have served many millions more people than the Nazis murdered. This, too, is part of what keeps us going, even in difficult periods. It is not just that we as a people came out of Egypt. It is also that we are commanded to remember on a daily basis that we came out of Egypt. From this, it is also clear that we must keep going – on Yom HaShoah, on Yom HaZikaron, on Yom HaAtzmaut and on every other day.

About the Author
Philip Bendheim is a dedicated second-generation volunteer in the Yad Sarah family. He is a director of Yad Sarah's International Board of Overseers and USA Friends of Yad Sarah
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