Wednesday, September 18, 2019

A Jew goes to Auschwitz (me) and First New Torah in Slovakia Since Holocaust

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works  with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money,  and spiritual engagement.

Love Yehuda Lave

Since moving to Israel  six years ago, I have been able to spend my time studying Torah, and learning about ancient Jewish history, modern Israeli History, and studying about the Holocaust. While I never had a desire to go to Europe and see the Holocaust history first hand, last year I married a girl from Czech, and starting going to Czech. When I got to Prauge, Czech, I discovered my Mother's birthplace was only a two hundred and thirty miles away from Prague. This inspired me to go Germany to see my Mother's birthplace and see the graveyard of my grandparents.

Discovering Wizz airlines, it is relatively inexpensive to go from Tel Aviv to Europe. I therefore planned to meet my Brother in Warsaw on a trip to see my wife's parents.

It worked out wonderfully and my brother and I connected and went to Auschwitz together.

At Auschwitz together we saw pictures of the town of Wurzburg, where my only Aunt and her two year old baby were put on the train to Auschwitz  and murdered.

Aushwitz and the Birkenau death camp, was beyond belief in seeing it live. I have to recommend that any Jew who can, take the trip and see it for themselves. I have pictures below.

Love Yehuda Lave

My Grandfather's Shema, Even in the Barracks of Auschwitz By Avital White

I sit here at my dining-room table with tear-stained cheeks. How did I get here?

It's not so simple.

I grew up in a small town. There were only a few Jews, including my family. I am an only child. My mother is an only child. Her mother was the youngest of 9. She and her husband, my grandfather, are Holocaust survivors.

My mother was

"Greek Jews? I didn't know there were Greek Jews!" born in Greece, like her mother, and her mother's mother. My father's family is also from Greece, but his family came to America a few generations earlier. I have heard it so many times: "Greek Jews? I didn't know there were Greek Jews!"


Generations back, these Greek Jews were not Greek; they were Spanish. One of the places to which Jews fled during the Spanish Inquisition was the Ottoman Empire, which allowed Jews to live relatively peaceful lives in its borders. This is present-day Greece. The Jews mainly gathered in one port city called Thessaloniki, or Salonica.

There were thousands of Jews living in Salonica in the early 1940s. But by the end of the decade, few remained. That is why you may have never heard of the Greek Jews. More than 90 percent of them were murdered when Germany invaded.1

My grandfather was taken to Auschwitz with his brother. He was there for a short time and was then taken to many different locations as a worker. He cleaned the Warsaw Ghetto (of course, not knowing where he was at the time), he experienced and survived a death march, he was in Poland and in Germany, and, thank G‑d, he miraculously survived.

My grandfather, Isaac, (back row, second to right) with his sisters Stella, Lucha, and Sarina. Front row: His parents and younger brother Dario who survived and lives in Israel.

My grandmother's story is miraculous as well. She was supposed to be taken on the cattle cars to a certain death at 4 a.m. one morning. At 5 p.m. the day before, she, her mother and a few of her siblings received Italian papers and were freed from deportation. She has a long and complicated story, but ended up hiding in the mountains with part of her family. All of her family—her brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews who were deported that day—were never heard from again. Her mother was also from a large family. My Nana said that in all, she lost 170 close family members in the Holocaust.

Fast-forward 50 years to my childhood. Although my grandparents had a strong Jewish identity—in fact, they lived in a completely Jewish culture growing up—I am one of two Jews in my elementary school, and I know almost nothing about what this means.

But there was one thing that my mother always told me to do: to say the Shema at night. I always did. In fact, I didn't only say Shema, but would talk to G‑d as well. I would put my head under my pillow and tell G‑d all about my day. I always felt G‑d was listening.

What happens after just two generations of a limited exposure to Torah observance? When I was 18, I went off to college and let go of the little I had held onto.

But there was one thing that I never let go. I always said Shema at night.

When a serious challenge came about in my second year of college, I said Shema. And I prayed. When the challenge became more challenging, I said Shema. My Shema guided me to visit the Chabad House on campus, what became my place of refuge. I continued to say Shema.

Somehow, I ended up here. In this booming Jewish city. A wife and mother, and a woman who considers herself part of the Chabad community as well.

Does my story really connect to my grandparents at all? Besides for the fact that they are my grandparents? Up until a few days ago, I didn't really think so.

Then I discovered a recording of my grandfather from 1981. It was the first time that I had ever heard his voice. I sat and listened to him being interviewed for an hour. At the very end, the interviewer asked him a question: Did you ever lose faith?

He said, "I never

Somehow, I ended up here lost faith. Every night, I said Shema." Even in the barracks of Auschwitz.


And now I know why I am here. Why I became the woman that I am. How I was guided to this incredible life. It was my grandfather's Shema.

And so, I cry here for all of the Holocaust victims. For my grandmother's 170 family members whom I have never met. I know that their prayers, their tears, their good deeds and their Shemas will live on. Even if we realize it only 70 years later.

I like to think that it was decreed in the Heavens: Because you, Isaac Sevi, said Shema in Auschwitz, your only granddaughter will say Shema as well.

FOOTNOTES 1. Remaining Jewish Population of Europe in 1940. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Accessed June 25, 2019.


We hit the grand daddy of the camps on our visit to Auschwitz. My brother and I go together as we are both first generation survivors.
We learn that only Auschwitz graduates were tattooed. So if you have a tattooed survivor he/she was in Auschwitz

Quotes from Toni Sorenson, a non-Jew with Wisdom

Our imperfections make us unique as surely as our strengths." ― Toni Sorenson

"How we feel is not who we are. We might feel like failures, but as long as we are still trying, we are not failures. We are works in progress." ― Toni Sorenson

"Never put off repairing a relationship you value. If sorry needs to be said say it now. Tomorrow isn't guaranteed to any of us." ― Toni Sorenson

"That last page turned is a perfect excuse to write a whole new book." ― Toni Sorenso


"Weight loss doesn't begin in the gym with a dumb bell; it starts in your head with a decision." ― Toni Sorenson, The Great Brain Cleanse

"Until you believe you can do it, it's going to be difficult to convince anyone else you can do it." ― Toni Sorenson, The Great Brain Cleanse

"When you understand what you're truly worth, who is going to be able to make you feel worthless? No one."
"You alone have the power to determine your value.

Don't let somebody else paste a discount sticker on you. You're priceless." ― Toni Sorenson

Sometimes letting go is the hardest thing imaginable, yet holding on is even harder." ― Toni Sorenson

"Sometimes the kick in the pants we need must come from our own foot!" ― Toni Sorenson

"The path you walk today will determine where you are tomorrow." ― Toni Sorenson

"You don't remember the gifts you are given; you remember the giver and how their love made you feel." ― Toni Sorenson

"Exercise feels best after it is finished." ― Toni Sorenson

"It is utterly impossible to be happy without being grateful." ― Toni Sorenson

First New Torah in Slovakia Since Holocaust

Bratislava city center procession and bar mitzvah mark a community's coming of age By Yehuda Sugar

A new Torah scroll is in place in Slovakia, the first to be completed in the Central European country since the Nazis murdered most of its Jewish population during World War II, while one proud Jewish boy will live to tell the tale of having celebrated his bar mitzvah amid the fanfare of a city-wide celebration.

As part of the joyous dual event, the boy of honor, Tzali Myers, helped lead the customary Torah-scroll procession through the capital city of Bratislava, past the Presidential Palace and busy urban surroundings, to a well-appointed new Chabad center that his parents established in late 2017.

"Wow. Incredible. This is one of the most touching moments of my entire life," said Dr. Tomas Stern, president of the Bratislava Jewish community, upon filling in one of the final letters of the scroll.

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This, while another participant, Edita K., waxed even more emotional: "I remember my mother telling me how Holocaust survivors quietly brought a Torah back into the shul [synagogue] after the war ended. They hugged it and cried, and walked with it from the courtyard into the shul. But a singing procession like this, they could never have imagined it would be possible."

Circle dancing with the Torah ensued at the Chabad center, formally known as the Chabad Educational Center of Slovakia, co-directed by Tzali's parents, Rabbi Baruch and Chanie Myers, who have served as Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries in the Slovak capital since 1993.

The crowd then returned to the hotel where the Torah had been finalized under the direction of scribe Rabbi Shimon Shimonov of neighboring Austria. The celebration was rounded out with a sumptuous dinner, speeches, the recitation of a customary discourse by the bar mitzvah boy—the 11th of the couple's 13 children—and then more dancing and singing that lasted long into the night.

As part of a joyous dual event, bar mitzvah boy Tzali Myers helped lead the customary Torah-scroll procession.


A Special Sense of Pride


The Chabad emissaries, with Rabbi Myers also serving as Bratislava's chief rabbi, have helped rebuild the once-thriving and even illustrious pre-Holocaust Jewish community of Bratislava and Slovakia. Since their arrival, they have built a preschool, Hebrew school and summer camp; host year-round holiday celebrations and festive meals; provide nonstop Torah classes; and accommodate ever-increasing Jewish tourist traffic.

The new scroll, dedicated by Maxine Myers of Maplewood, N.J., will be housed in the multi-floor Chabad center, which was dedicated in December 2017 in the presence of top government officials. A synagogue inside the center—incorporating a new ark, ark-cover and Torah-reading platform covering, all donated, along with the new Torah, by community members—will serve as an alternative place of worship to the only surviving synagogue in Bratislava, for which Myers also serves as rabbi. The main city synagogue is not always open and not always able to cater to the impromptu prayer-service needs of visitors.

Proud community members wrote the final letters in the Torah scroll.

The current size of the Jewish community of Slovakia, with an estimated 2,600 Jews, according to 2010 census figures, pales in comparison to historic times such as the early 19th century, when the likes of Rabbi Moshe Schreiber (Sofer)—known as the Chatam Sofer—graced Bratislava (at the time called Pressburg), and when the Jewish landscape was dotted with dozens of synagogues and places of learning.

Overall census figures remain inexact, partly because many Jews did not identify themselves. One estimate reports that approximately 105,000 Slovak Jews, or 77 percent of the pre-war population of an estimated 136,000 Jews, perished during the war.

All the more reason for the ecstatic atmosphere felt at the recent simchah, noted Chanie Myers.

"The writing [of the scroll] was followed by a joyous, police-escorted procession through the center of Bratislava, passing in front of the Presidential Palace, gaining the attention of passers-by and the media, and generating a special sense of pride and belonging among the local Jewish community," she said. "It was truly an emotional, very meaningful event."


 1. Law of Mechanical Repair  After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch and you'll have to pee.

2. Law of Gravity  Any tool, nut, bolt, screw, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible place in the universe.

3. Law of Probability   The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.

4. Law of Random Numbers  If you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal; someone always answers.

5. Variation Law   If you change lines (or traffic lanes), the one you were in will always move faster than the one you are in now.  

6. Law of the Bath   When the body is fully immersed in water, the telephone will ring.  

7. Law of Close Encounters The probability of meeting someone you know INCREASES dramatically when you are with someone you don't want to be seen with.

8. Law of the Result  When you try to prove to someone that a machine won't work, IT WILL!!!  

9. Law of Biomechanics   The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.

10. Law of the Theaters & Sports Arenas - At any event, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle, always arrive last. They are the ones who will leave their seats several times to go for food, beer, or the toilet and who leave early before the end of the performance or the game is over. The folks in the aisle seats come early, never move once, have long gangly legs or big bellies and stay to the bitter end of the performance. The aisle people also are very surly folk.  

11. The Coffee Law  As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold

12. Murphy's Law of Lockers  If there are only 2 people in a locker room, they will have adjacent lockers.

13. Law of Physical Surfaces The chances of an open-faced jelly sandwich landing face down on a floor are directly correlated to the newness and cost of the carpet or rug.  

14. Law of Logical Argument  Anything is possible IF you don't know what you are talking about.

15. Law of Physical Appearance  If the clothes fit, they're ugly.  

16. Law of Public Speaking  -- A CLOSED MOUTH GATHERS NO FEET!

17. Law of Commercial Marketing Strategy-  As soon as you find a product that you really like, they will stop making it OR the store will stop selling it!

18. Doctors' Law  If you don't feel well, make an appointment to go to the doctor, by the time you get there, you'll feel better. But don't make an appointment and you'll stay sick.

See you tomorrow

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

PO Box 7335, Rehavia Jerusalem 9107202


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