This past week the world commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day, marking one of humanity’s darkest hours.
It has been 78 years since the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp. However, the atrocities committed during those years extend far beyond that terrible place. In fact, the majority of Holocaust victims come from the former Soviet Union, many of whom managed to immigrate to Israel in the past 30 years.
There are currently 150,600 Holocaust survivors living in Israel, of whom 95% are over 80 years old. This last year over 15,190 survivors passed away. This is a truly passing generation to whom the world still owes a tremendous debt.
Holocaust survivors are usually in worse physical, emotional and financial shape than others their age. The effects of the constant beating, abuse, starvation, frostbite and physiological and physical violence, the toll these horrific events have taken on these precious people, is staggering. So many of them were orphaned and many more are now completely alone, with no family or relatives to care for them in their old age.
In the past year, since war broke out in Ukraine, we have seen an astonishing increase in those fragile Jewish survivors making aliyah to Israel. Can you imagine? To this day, Jewish holocaust survivors are returning to their ancient homeland.
When I first approached a local Holocaust centre dedicated to supporting senior survivors, I was asked about the people who supported them and provided them with much-needed humanitarian aid. Our reply was not what they expected; we said it comes from Christians who love Israel, who wish to bless Jewish people, especially those that have suffered so much at the hands of those that called themselves “christians” during the Holocaust.
Their answer was shocking, they refused to accept it at first.
Aaron, a remarkable 80-year-old survivor who heads the holocaust centre we’re working with, told me: “Christians? No, thanks.”
I felt his pain deeply. I knew exactly where it was coming from and I realized that there are no words that can convince them this was love-driven, only acts of love.
Many years have passed, and now after having worked and helped thousands of Holocaust survivors, Beit Hallel has been embraced as a dear friend by these precious people. Not only that, but this work has sown seeds of love in their hearts and transformed their view of Christians. Now whenever I speak to Aaron and mention the dear Christians who selflessly and generously help and give to this cause, he always gives me a big smile and last time he sayd: “After all these years, I can finally say wholeheartedly, we can trust Christians, they have been our best friends these years.”
To know that the labour of love you have supported so generously has brought such transformation to the hearts of those deeply hurt, to open and receive your love-driven kindness and generosity — that is the greatest act of love you could’ve done. It has accomplished so much! YOU have done so much!
Yet, time is running short. With so many of these precious Holocaust survivors passing every day, we cannot help but feel the clock ticking, wanting to do so much more for them.
If you feel the same urgency as us, we encourage you to become involved in the incredible work of Beit Hallel with the Holocaust Survivors, providing help, encouragement and dignity to them in their final days.