Category Archives: Supporting Holocaust survivors

Senses, Seasons, Silence & Stories of Holocaust Survivors

SENSES are the receptors of our surroundings, transmitted through our five senses: sound, sight, touch, smell or taste all uniquely created attributes enabling humanity the ability to experience life. “Taste and see that Adonai is good. How blessed are those who take refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8)

SEASONS are cycles, established spiritual law, set in place by God as a way of measuring time on earth. “So long as the earth exists, sowing time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.” (Genesis 8:22)

SILENCE is the complete absence of sound and encompasses the absence of speech. “But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” (Habakkuk 2:20)

Jewish Holocaust Survivors experienced extreme magnitudes of barbarity. Their senses horrifically exposed to evil. The season of killing continued seemingly without end. The silence of the world became deafening as treachery continued at the hand of the German Nazi’s as they systematically extinguished Jewish men, women and children. It has been 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps. The Jews liberated from these death camps today no longer live with the sense of fear. Survivors share their STORIES and memories, what they sensed and the seasons they survived. Their stories now documented for future generations and shared internationally around the world; teach us their stories of survival from unbelievable events. Holocaust Survivors teach and share so generations to come might know, the children yet to be born, in hopes that they will arise and retell them to their children and their children’s children so the world will never forget.

Lovers of Israel we have an opportunity to help Jewish Holocaust Survivors, some who have lost their entire family and most of their friends. Our support helps remove the barrier of isolation of living alone with memories and experiences they survived. Holocaust Survivors no longer wake up every morning in the shadows of gas chambers and crematories, forced to face devastating unimaginable experiences. The survivors that are still with us today carry within their senses the true cost of survival from the atrocities of Germany’s extermination plans for the Jews of Europe. In this season of their life, Holocaust Survivors need not face life alone.

LoveIsrael.com supports the House of Hope in Israel, a home for Holocaust Survivors in their last season of life. A place where their senses can heal and silence is a prayer of devotion not an enforcement of fear, a safe place where they can share their stories with all that will listen, with all that care. Lovers of Israel will you help Holocaust survivors as they live out their last days, by helping them live in dignity, receive nourishing meals, free medical assistance and most of all social interaction with fellow survivors. House of Hope Holocaust Survivors do not live alone and never have to experience their daily needs not met.

On April 15, the March of the Living will take place in Poland as people from around the world will march in silence three kilometers from Auschwitz to Birkenau retracing the steps of those that were marched to their death by the Germans. This active demonstration supports Holocaust Survivors, and for those of you unable to join the thousands who will march, prayerfully consider helping Holocaust Survivors in LoveIsrael’s House of Hope. Together we make a difference in helping to create new senses in this season of life for Holocaust Survivors. Do not remain silent any longer, reach out and touch Holocaust Survivors, one life–one story at a time. (Genesis 12:3)

Holocaust: March of the Living

Marches in the 21st century are still a viable social force and draw people from around the world to various annual events all in support of their specific cause. The pro-life march entitled “March for Life” is one such annual event that marches in support of life and against the abortion of unborn babies. Israel celebrates a Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom HaShoah). This year on April 15, 2015, thousands of young Israeli teens will travel to Poland to participate in the “International March of the Living.” Young Jewish teens and Holocaust Survivors will gather to take part in this March of the Living, walking three kilometers silently from Auschwitz to Birkenau.

Auschwitz is located in Oswiecim, Poland. At the end of WW II, it spanned over several camps: Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II, Birkenau and Auschwitz III (Monowitz). The Germans built and operated up to five different crematorium buildings each housing multiply crematories including gas chambers. Jews gassed to death had their bodies piled on top of each other into crematories. Eventually, the systematic extermination process shifted completely to the Auschwitz II-Birkenau building, which housed four crematories under one roof. By 1942, only 10% of Jewish transports to Birkenau were registered and processed through to bunk assignments, making Birkenau the center of Germany’s extermination of Jews. The engineered extermination of Jews began in the summer of 1942 and was designed and built by Hitler’s storm troopers. At the end of WW II, due to the systematic destruction of evidence by Germans, it seemed only a confession of the Auschwitz commandant and living survivors were the only proof of Germany’s crimes. During the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz, Soviet Secret Service found architectural plans and documents in the ruins of Auschwitz only because in the German army’s haste to leave Auschwitz prior to the Soviets arrival one building was overlooked in their demolitions – the Auschwitz Central Administration Building including its files. After the discovery of the evidence, files remained virtually unknown to the world except to a few people who had access to the Soviets’ ‘Special Trophies Archive’. It was 45 years later, Professor Gerald Fleming, a renowned historian, gained knowledge of the hidden archives and only after sensitive diplomatic efforts, Professor Fleming gained access to the Auschwitz Central Building Administration files. These documents are confirmation and evidence that Germany’s death camps had been, planned, designed and built, for the sole purpose of exterminating Jews and their sympathizers. No longer could the world question the purpose of the unimaginable atrocities that occurred within Auschwitz-Birkenau during WW II.

The International March of the Living is an educational event, when young Jewish teens from Israel will gather with others from around the world to study and examine the history of the Holocaust. It is an annual event when the roots of prejudice and the humiliation, an earmark of intolerance, is studied and their search for comprehension of humanity’s capacity for hatred. The International March of the Living are silent footsteps speaking loudly and boldly to the world ‘Never Again.’

Many of the Holocaust survivors living in the House of Hope, supported by Loveisrael.com, are child survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Consider today giving a gift on behalf of someone you know or give a gift in memory of a loved one or consider giving a gift out of your love of Israel on behalf of one child survivor’s family member that never returned from Auschwitz-Birkenau. Lovers of Israel we can form a living connection between history past and future hope by forming a bridge of love. Together our hearts filled with love for Israel forms a bridge and crosses over time and history to reach those that need our loving support. Lovers of Israel join our march of the living and bring hope to the hearts of Holocaust survivors.

Holocaust: If you survive, please tell the world what happened!

These words remain alive within the Yad Vashem Holocaust Historical Museum in Israel. Yad Vashem, established in 1953, was to be a living official memorial to the Holocaust, its’ survivors and victims. Yad Vashem today is the world’s foremost authority on the Holocaust upheld by its foundational pillars: to commemorate, to document, to research and to educate people about the Holocaust.

Sometimes truth can diminish as time passes, because the survivors who experienced it in life are no longer with us. The Israeli Knesset passed the Yad Vashem Law in 1953, establishing Yad Vashem to be an official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. It was not until the 1990’s Yad Vashem began the tedious process of documenting the stories of survivors in their own words, as part of their educational program. Avner Shalev, the Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, said, “The Holocaust is not statistics or large-scale processes, it is a story and another story and another story of victims, the large majority of whom were murdered. It is hard to identify with a process, but you can empathize with a personal experience. That is why the testimonies are the backbone of our education work.”

The March of the Living is an Intergenerational and international gathering of High School teens, adults of all ages and Holocaust Survivors to teach the history of the Holocaust. First established in 1988, the March of the Living educational programs now encompass two-weeks every year immediately following Passover. Educational events center on the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination death camps. Since the March of the Living first began, over 400,000 feet from over 35 countries have silently marched along the same 3-kilometer path from Auschwitz to Birkenau following in the footsteps of those who marched to their extermination.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The 70th year since the liberation from Germany’s extermination death camps. How any human beings can deny the Holocaust or the stories shared by its survivors is unbelievable, alas today there are still some who denounce the Holocaust events ever took place. Germany attempted to demolish much of its extermination infrastructure prior to the Soviet’s arrival, but one thing they could not destroy was the memories and the experiences of those that survived nor the testimonies of those who witnessed their crimes. Denying the Holocaust is the cruelest-vilest form of anti-Semitism, for it degrades and dismisses the stories of both the living and the dead. Martha Weiss, a Holocaust Survivor, recalls “The last thing people who were about to be murdered in the gas chambers said is ‘If you survive, please tell the world what happened. 70 years later, the March of the Living continues marching forward teaching and sharing the truth of what took place within the walls of Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Lovers of Israel, in the days ahead confirm your love of Israel and your love for Holocaust Survivors, by helping support their lives, for in doing so you are saying to each Survivor and every memory – we believe you and we say “Never Again.”

LoveIsrael.com is your connection to support Holocaust Survivor’s in their House of Hope.

Christmas in Jerusalem

There is no place on Earth that would make your Christmas experience more special than the holy city of Jerusalem. How much more spiritual to be in the place where Christianity itself was born, to visit a city which is approximately a seventeen-minute drive from the birthplace of the Messiah, the town of Bethlehem!

Jerusalem is the place to be to celebrate Christmas. In fact, Christmas is celebrated three different times in Jerusalem: Catholics and Protestants celebrate Christmas on December 25th, the Russian Orthodox on January 7, and the Armenian Christians observe January 19 (using the Julian Calendar) as the day Jesus was born. Picking one of those alternative dates can be a money saver if you want to celebrate Christmas but skip out on the overpriced airfare and hotels during the regular holiday affairs.

As ideal as celebrating Christmas in Jerusalem sounds, it is not as decorated and hyped up as we are used to seeing in the west, especially compared to the suburban neighborhoods all decked out in lights, reindeer, and Santa Claus parading in the front lawns. There are no Christmas carolers going door to door singing, Christmas music blaring from cars and homes, or reindeer on top of roofs. There are ancient churches to visit where you can attend a midnight Christmas mass, like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Notre Dame of Jerusalem. There are plenty of Christmas concerts that take place in areas of Jerusalem, and one can also partake in a tour to Bethlehem for midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity on Christmas Eve. You will find that most Christmas activities take part in the Christian quarter of Jerusalem and in other cities like Bethlehem or Nazareth.

Visiting Jerusalem during Christmas is also a great opportunity to visit other historic landmarks like the Via Dolorosa (better known as The Way of the Suffering), the Garden of Gethsemane, the Grotto of the Apostles and Mary’s Tomb. All of these historical landmarks are visited by Christians traveling to Jerusalem from every corner of the earth. Being the city of the world’s three leading religions, Jerusalem welcomes anyone with peace.

Israel is a modern Jewish country and religious expression is everywhere. There are many Christians who live in Jerusalem and celebrate Christmas as locals, giving extra flavor to those wishing to experience this special holiday in the Holy land. To the wise traveler wishing to spend their next holiday season in a monumental and spiritual city, Jerusalem is the place to choose. Don’t forget to book early and secure the services of a reliable and trustworthy tour guide!

Christmas in Israel

Electricity bills go up in December. Christmas lights and giant snowmen pop up next to every house, if they haven’t already appeared before Thanksgiving. Christmas in America is a huge holiday, and not only for Christians, but secular individuals as well. Even a small number of Jewish families attend the occasional Christmas party in the office and at the neighbors’ home. However, a vast majority of religious Jews keep their distance from Christmas.

Many people would think that these religious views would cause the Jewish State of Israel to be restrictive of Christmas. But in reality, anyone can enjoy Christmas in the Holy Land. Israel is probably the only state in the Middle East that provides full religious freedom to their citizens. A special place is reserved for Christian locals and visitors. Christians do not need to hide their beliefs or customs for fear of being rejected. Many Israelis, traditional and secular, enjoy the lights, singing, and festive treats that come to the streets of Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel-Aviv with the holiday. To commemorate the celebrated events, many pilgrims come and add to the festive mood as the winter tourist season brings visitors from every corner of the world.

Christians only make up about two percent of Israel’s population. Eighty percent of those are Arab Christians, mainly residing in the north of the country or in Jerusalem. Christians are given the same freedoms and rights as other ethnicities, and most Christians living in Israel are thankful for the protection and religious freedoms that the State of Israel allows them. Some Christian Arabs even serve in the IDF and many volunteer in other ways to give back to the state. For Arab Christians, the Christmas tradition is slightly different than what we are familiar with here in the US. First, it is customary that one family visits friends and neighbors, while the other family hosts a gathering at their house. Traditional food includes cookies called “mamoul,” a butter cookie with a date paste in the middle and ghraybeh, made from semolina (also known as cream of wheat), butter, sugar, pistachio nuts, and orange blossom. Chocolate shaped in the form of Santa Claus is often served with a high quality sweet liquor. If you decide to visit Israel during this time, make sure you get a taste of the local Christmas spirit!

The stories we read in the New Testament talk about familiar places like Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem. We read about the magi visiting from the east, shepherds in the fields and a traveling family who finds themselves in the barn instead of a cozy hotel room. Here in America, we’re used to looking at this story from a distance of time and culture. Today, we can overcome the distance and re-connect to the reality of that time and place. Millions of people will be traveling this year to celebrate the holidays in Israel. They will visit the churches that have been built over the centuries to remember the exact places where these biblical events took place. These pilgrims will be able to see the land for themselves and meet the people who carry in their DNA the connection to the story. The lights on our trees at home and outside remind us of the light that came into this world, but Christmas in Israel will remind you that this story was real and it continues today in Israel.

You can watch the 2012 video by Benjamin Netanyahu congratulating Christians around the world:

LoveIsrael.com invites you to experience this season to the fullest by planning a visit to Israel. We also offer you the chance to reconnect with your faith and grow in your relationship with God through a number of enriching projects. Our website provides opportunities to get and stay connected to this special land and its people.

Snow in Jerusalem – Time to Extend Warm Blessings for Others

Winter time in Israel is definitely not the first choice when planning a vacation to a wintry resort just in time to celebrate the holiday season. Most people would plan their vacations to a place like Colorado, New York, Switzerland…any place that would give their holiday season that wintry wonderland feeling! Israel, however, would be the last place most people would think to book a trip. Israel may be in the Middle East, but did you know that from time to time it snows in Jerusalem, Haifa, and in the Golan Heights? Last year during winter time, Israel received more snow than it had in twenty years!

The winter time in Israel is sometimes the most dreaded part of the year due to the cold and wetness of the season. One would think that after having such a humid and hot summer, the winters would be a blessing, but this is simply not the case. In Israel, most houses are made from concrete with very little insulation. Heating usually consists of portable heaters that an individual can move and plug in wherever he goes. It gives off heat within a radius of about three feet, so if you want to move from the couch to your bedroom it isn’t that convenient. Most people have installed window units that work as both heaters and air conditioners, but with the high cost of electricity in Israel heaters (or air conditioning for that matter) these are rarely turned on.

This creates a major problem. First of all, diseases and sickness, like the flu, run rampant during this season, it seems like everyone tends to get sick. Not only is sickness a problem, but caring for the elderly and trying to keep them warm and healthy, has become a recurring issue. During the winter time in Israel, many elderly suffer from the cold and wet conditions. Their apartments are not compatible and heating is expensive. One of the most troubling situations is when Holocaust survivors that often times don’t have family to care for them are left in cold apartments for the winter. With tight pensions and difficult pasts, these people deserve a helping hand for the holiday season.

It is crucial that we, as Christians, seek the opportunity to come together and play a part in resolving this issue. The Bible states in Acts 20:35 that, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” What more of a blessing would it be to play a part in Jewish history by assisting those that have witnessed the Holocaust just by extending a warm blessing during a cold winter? Our giving towards improving the lives of these precious Jewish people is a seed sown to help tear down walls of division between Christians and Jews and is a genuine demonstration of our loving care for them. True compassion is when we open our heart towards others and open our hands to give; this is the power of God’s Love.

LoveIsrael.com is an organization that was established with the vision of providing these unique opportunities to Christians around the world. We have partnered with Daystar to establish a Holocaust survivor House of Hope where these elderly receive help and care. We want to do more this winter and we invite every one of you to participate. Your donation will help us reach more people and show love to those who do not have a family or are struggling to make it through this season.

Visit http://www.loveisrael.com/holocaust/ and join us today!