Journey to Forgiveness
I am a survivor of Hitler’s Holocaust. My family lived in a little city in Poland. My upbringing was very Orthodox. My mother instilled in me that Judaism was life. Mealtime was family time. Father would come home from synagogue and recite the Kaddish, the blessing over the wine and the challah, and then he would bless the children. Saturday morning we would go to synagogue, and pick up our afternoon meal of cholent from the bakery, and go enjoy a Sabbath meal around Grandmother’s table.
When Hitler took power, change came quickly. We were told, “Don’t come back to the school anymore, because you are Jews.” I was just ten and a half. The Germans threw us out of our homes and put us into a ghetto. Our whole town of Jews was put on one street.
At first I would still pray. When my prayers were not answered, I concluded there was no God.
I was transferred from one concentration camp to another until I was sent to Bergen-Belsen and then Dachau. We were tortured. We were put in a field and forced to dig beets out of the almost frozen ground with our bare hands. Our hands bled terribly. All we used to receive was a very thin piece of bread, mostly of sawdust, and a cup of coffee. That was our food for a 24 hour period. I decided I was going to steal a beet and eat it.
When the guard caught me, I got such a bad beating, that even today when I talk about it, I can still feel the cat o’ nine tails on my back and face.
The cold weather alone killed many of us. We would have to stand for hours in the snow, half naked and without shoes. One time while we were lined up, we were completely undressed for an experiment to see how long it would take for our blood to freeze. The only reason I survived the experiment was because several people fell on top of me and their bodies kept me warm.
But there were days when I thought I wasn’t going to make it. Death looked better than life.
I did not know the Lord at that time. I thought I was suffering because He put me in there.
When we were finally liberated in May 1945, I was full of unforgiveness for what I had been through. The unforgiveness literally poisoned my body, causing me to need 27 operations.
I came to America, married and had children. Although I hated God, I became active in the synagogue. But I was dead inside. I did not believe in God, but I believed in maintaining my Jewish identity and tradition.
One day my teenage daughter came to me and said the worst thing I could imagine. She said, “I believe in Jesus Christ and He is the Jewish Messiah.” I nearly had a heart attack. I told her what Jesus Christ did to her family. The Nazi guards told me over and over that because I killed Jesus Christ, He hated me and put me into the camps to kill me. When I was seven, I was hit in the head with a crucifix by a priest in Poland for the “crime” of walking on the sidewalk in front of his church.
My husband became a Believer, too. My younger daughter was still going to a private Hebrew school, but somehow I knew that she had secretly become a Messianic Believer.
I was ready to leave my family, but I couldn’t. I had already lost my first family under Hitler…all because of this Jesus.
I ran to the rabbi. At the urging of my family, I asked the rabbi about Isaiah 53. He said, “No Jew reads that. I asked him about Psalm 22. There are 328 prophecies about the suffering servant Messiah. I asked him about almost all of them. Finally, the rabbi told me not to come to the synagogue anymore.
So I started sneaking down to the basement and reading the New Testament in a locked room. I read Matthew and it showed me Jesus was a gentle man. He wasn’t a killer of my people.
I went to another rabbi, who was also unable to help me. Shortly after that I went to a man’s home who was a wealthy Christian businessman who would open his home as an outreach to Jewish people. He asked me if I minded if he prayed for me. “It’s your house, I don’t care if you stand on your head,” I told him.
He started to pray, and all of a sudden I closed my eyes and said a very simple prayer: “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, if it’s true, if He is Your Son, as they are saying, and He really is the Messiah, okay. But, Father, if He isn’t, forget that I talked to you.” That was the first prayer I had prayed since 1942. I felt the biggest stone rolling off my back. For the first time since the war, I cried and I felt so clean. I knew He was real and I made Him my Messiah.