The following were just some of the letters received after the recent Bat Mitzvah for Holocaust Survivors. The event obviously filled a need deeply felt by those that had their childhood stolen by Hitler.
14 Sivan 5776
Dear Ezer Mizion,
We’re talking about Holocaust survivors, so let’s start from one generation back, my father, who is no longer with us.
My father’s last wish in his final state was that he would have the merit to bring stones for the building of the Beit Hamikdash.
Prayers are accepted. He merited that his children should come to the Kotel, the remnant of the Beit Hamikdash.
This time, we came for the first time to the Kotel Tunnels.
The singer sang for us and moved us to tears.
Rabbi Rabinowitz shlita injected a youthful spirit into us with his enlightening words. We flipped the pages back and reached the number 12: Bat Mitzvah.
To enable us to continue praying, as befits a Yiddishe mama, we received a siddur, beautiful on the outside and of course, of immeasurable value on the inside. A big thank you to those who organized the gift!
We were left with a taste for more and more, a thirst for additional spiritual experiences.
May the remarkable chessed organization of Ezer Mizion continue to host generations of Holocaust survivors so pleasantly, as they always do.
One of the participants,
Dear Ezer Mizion
Impressions from the Bat Mitzvah Event, Erev Shavuot 5776
The event made us feel that we are still alive, still loved, they didn’t forget us…
Thank you to all the organizers, the initiators, and the funders.
I was very touched by the personal attention.
The “Chain of Generations” was very moving. It reminded me of the period of the War of Independence. I was already in the country, then, and I remembered the experiences. At that time, we had a telephone in the house. We were among the few who had a telephone at home. People would call to tell us that everything is all right, and my son would run to report to all the neighbors.
At the “Achar Kotleinu” hall, an emotional ceremony was held. We were thrilled that the Rabbi of the Kotel came to personally offer his good wishes.
We were very many women, but everything was very organized, and that gave everyone a good feeling.
The chazzan, Dove’le Heller, moved us with songs from our childhood, and the clarinetist added to the special atmosphere.
The meal was excellent, and was served with elegance and dignity.
The entire event penetrated our hearts.
Dear Ezer Mizion:
To Rut, Ayelet, and all their aides and helpers in the Ezer Mizion chessed empire.
Thank you in the name of all the seniors at the Shikun Hay Club:
Mrs. Rivka Weiss,
Mrs. Esther Klein,
Mrs. Rivka Rosenfeld,
A great big thank you for the Bat Mitzvah party you held for us.
It was deeply moving to see these survivors with a glint of joy in their eyes, their hearts happy and excited!
They came to the Club on Monday, unbelievably excited and bubbly, full of experiences to share, starting from the reception, and on to the tefillah at the Kotel, the warm words of Rabbi Rabinowitz, Rav of the Kotel, and Rabbi Chollak, Ezer Mizion International Chairman, the lavish meal, the blessings, the narration that included the story of their lives, the chazzan Heller, the band, the moving songs, and the taste of the old times – and all with the best possible planning and organization, and with a ton of warmth and love!
“If you bring joy to Mine – I shall bring joy to yours –”
May Hashem bless you with all good things, until your lips become sore from saying, ‘Enough!’
With appreciation and great admiration,
Bracha Chizkiyah, Director of the Shikun Hay Seniors’ Club
Social Equality Department
Kotel Heritage Foundation
I want to thank you in my name and in my mother’s name for the very moving Bat Mitzvah event for Holocaust survivors that you organized some time ago at the Kotel, the remnant of our Beit Hamikdash.
I was deeply impressed by the program, worked out to the last detail, by the outstanding organization (and it was no simple matter, when dealing with an elderly, disabled population). Above all, at every turn, you could sense the heart, thought, and energy that was put into every aspect of the content.
Indeed, everything went like clockwork, and everyone, survivors and escorts alike, greatly enjoyed the rich and special program!!!
I can only bless you all that you should see much blessing and success in everything you do, and that you should enjoy much Divine assistance in all your important work for the benefit of Holocaust survivors!!
With deep appreciation and admiration,
Chana Rottenberg (daughter of Mrs. Nadia Horowitz – Bnei Brak)
Dear Ezer Mizion:
I was so deeply impressed by the meaningful trip that we had.
It was such a beautiful idea to take a group of seniors who were never pampered in their youth – never celebrated birthdays, nor a Bat Mitzvah, because of the hard times that we experienced.
And now, Yaarah, Ayelet, and Rut surprised us and made us a Bat Mitzvah with all the trimmings: A trip to the Kotel and to the Kotel Tunnels. Then Rabbi Rabinowitz, the Rav of the Kotel, spoke for us and blessed us, moving us deeply. The meal, too, with all its details, even flowers adorning the tables, a singer and a band, and the warm wishes from Rabbi Chollak – all added very much to the occasion.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the entire staff!
Dear: Minister Gila Gamliel from the Social Equality Department,
Kotel Heritage Foundation,
and of course – Ezer Mizion – Rav Chollak, Ayelet, and Ruti
In my name and in the name of my fellow Holocaust survivors, who, in our childhood, suffered fear, starvation, lack of education, and no roof over our heads, and all we wanted was to survive and see “tomorrow,” and now we were privileged to participate in this moving and so very special event:
Belated Bat Mitzvah
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your work, for your attention to the tiniest details, for the remarkable organization, and for your perennial smile and love for your fellow Jew.
May we merit being partners in the future, as well, at happy, beautiful, and emotional occasions, as each of you and all of you together know how to arrange, with so much love, attention, and genuine caring.
All the best and good news,
From Shoshana Schneider
(Participant in the Belated Bat Mitzvah celebration)
Kotel Heritage Foundation
Social Equality Department
Ezer Mizion and the British Café Club for Holocaust Survivors
It sounds unbelievable, even to me. A little girl, just nine years old, veteran of the Lodz ghetto, of Ravensbrueck and Siemens. Orphaned of father and mother, without family, alone, friendless, without a language, devoid of a past, and apparently, of a future as well.
At age 12, when I was in the orphanage, they gathered all the children and sent them to their death. I, too, stood before the death train, but at the last minute, I didn’t get on. Hashem, in his mercy, gathered me in His hands and spared me from death that looks out at life.
I never celebrated a Bat Mitzvah, not at age 12, and not after that, either. My childhood was stolen from me, as it was from all the children who went through the Holocaust. They robbed me of the kiss and embrace of a father and mother, of games and life with my brothers and sisters, of a family’s caring, of a Shabbat and Yom Tov table, of learning at school and frolicking about in my free time. They robbed me of a sheltered life at home, sleeping cozily in my warm bed, of food that you don’t have to worry about every minute, of a normal life, where all the world’s evil remains far outside your walls.
The years of the war turned into a black, threatening hole. I lost my parents to diseases that spread through the ghetto. My brother disappeared in Russia and never returned. My sisters were sent to the concentration camps and never came back. Only my parents had a grave where I could cry and mourn. I was left alone, without a single uncle, aunt, cousin.
You all know what it means to be a girl in the Holocaust. The indescribable longing for family, the dream that when the war ends, they will return and we will be together again, which, of course, never happened. The unrelenting hunger, the knowledge that nothing was secure, the one and only garment that teemed with lice, the tight shoes that never fit and more than once were stolen from our feet. The head counts, again and again, in the freezing, snowy night. Work at the factory producing arms and ammunition for the Germans, the threat of dying any moment, by gunshot, from hunger, the dogs. The education we lost, the life we lost, all the love we lost.
We will never be able to retrieve all that they stole from us. We built beautiful homes. We tried hard so that our children would not feel what we went through. We let them go on trips, tried not to run after them with food, tried to wipe from their minds, as much as possible, the horrors that we experienced. True, the children tell us now that the Holocaust always hovered over our homes, whether we spoke about it or not, because it cannot be otherwise. After all, our children had no grandparents, no aunts or uncles. But we built new homes, in difficult times of economic hardship, young women who had neither mother nor sister to guide them and teach them how to manage a home and raise children.
And we did a good job. That’s a fact, and our children are the proof.
And now, you have found this day to celebrate our Bat Mitzvah. How symbolic and how moving it is. We thank you wholeheartedly for this beautiful idea, which fills us with gratitude. You have no idea of the lofty spirits we came home with, how happy we were, what a wonderful feeling it was to be in the spotlight of this amazing occasion. In spite of the fact that it was a celebration for many women together, each of us felt like an only child. Continue doing your wonderful work.
As a regular participant in the Holocaust Survivors’ Club under the auspices of the British Café, I must say clearly that you save my life. It gives me a reason to get up in the morning, joie de vivre, a goal to strive for. A day that I awake to this activity is a happy day, brimming with good.
With deep appreciation,
Dear Ezer Mizion:
I was one of the participants in the Bat Mitzvah trip that you organized. I want to thank all the organizers: Ezer Mizion, the Kotel Heritage Foundation (Rabbi Chollak, Ayelet, Ruti, and last but not least, Ya’arah! and anyone else I forgot).
My friends and I will never forget the marvelous experience we had, and we hope it is not the last, but just the beginning. I will remember it for the rest of my life and tell my grandchildren and great-grandchildren about it. Words cannot express my thanks and appreciation for this project and all the planning that went into it. You gave us the gift of hope and of faith in humankind… which were long forgotten, burnt to ashes in the crematoria. We hope you will keep up your wonderful work on our behalf!
Bless you! May Hashem reward you in kind!
May the sun always shine for you, in return for your love and concern for us.
Keep picking the good fruit – our hearts – from the tree!
With great thanks,
June 23, 2016
Dear Ezer Mizion:
I am still emotional from the profound experience you afforded me and my friends, who were together with me in the journey of horror 70 years ago. The Bat Mitzvah celebration that you held for us was a symbolic, yet very significant occasion for us.
Of this, we can truly say – Better late than never.
You put in so much, both spiritually and materially, and all with a willing heart. Words cannot express our appreciation to the organizers, and to all of you who donated of your time, energy, abilities, and initiative. For this, may you be blessed by the Source of all blessings!
Many years have elapsed since my real Bat Mitzvah. I felt the lack, and you tried to compensate for that which fate had taken away from us.
Then – young girls, and now – grandmothers. Then – in a cruel foreign land, and now – in our own Holy Land, thank G-d.
You gave me a beautiful siddur, a valuable gift, a symbol of holiness and of belonging to the Jewish people.
For me personally, this gift evokes a memory deep in my heart, from the conflagration known as Auschwitz, on Erev Rosh Hashanah 5705 (1945). It was then that my sister Bluma and I “bought” a siddur from a Jewish prisoner in exchange for that day’s bread allotment.
The bread was wrapped in a piece of rag, tied by a rope to my thin arm. In unspoken hints, we understood that the deal was about to be made. And indeed, we handed over the bread and bought in its stead a siddur (small, about 10 x 15 cm.). Now we had a siddur to pray from, something that gave us joy and hope. Many of my friends also asked to pray from the siddur, secretly, of course, and at risk of death.
As we stood at the Kotel on our trip, at the impressive event, I saw in my mind’s eye once again the image of that Jewish prisoner whom we bought the siddur from – “then and now.”
The siddur came with us to Eretz Yisrael on the illegal ship called “Knesset Yisrael.” Unfortunately, the British commanded us to toss all of our belongings, among them, the precious siddur.
This story is woven into my life. Many other siddurim were given to me since that time. Now, you have given me a new siddur, at the Kotel in Jerusalem, the capital of my land. Now I am a free woman. May Hashem’s Name be blessed.
May peace and tranquility be our portion, may the Shechinah rest on all that you do, and may Hashem protect His people of Israel, Amen.
With thanks and appreciation and with great admiration,
7 Aluf Simchoni, Bnei Brak
We wish to express the feelings in our soul
When we stood at the gates of Jerusalem of Gold.
We were there on the eve of the Shavout holiday
To inhale, experience, to see and to pray.
As we walked the narrow lanes at a steady gait,
The surprises ahead we did not anticipate:
At the Kotel, the remnant of G-d’s abode,
We prayed and wept, the tears simply flowed.
They gave us a gift, a siddur so dear,
And brought us back in time to our twelfth year.
We gathered at the “Achar Kotleinu” Hall,
The Bat Mitzvah ceremony was moving for all.
The beautiful display, “Chain of Generations”
Exceeded all our highest expectations.
A fascinating place, an excellent guide,
We spent an unforgettable time there inside.
And let’s not forget the lunch in good taste
Served at Aish Hatorah with eminent grace.
How can we thank you? What praise can we sing?
After such a special day – you thought of everything!
We enjoyed every minute, we’re ready for more.
So all we can say is – Bravo! Encore!