A survivor's letter - please read

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I just received this letter and would like to share it with you now before Yom Kippur*:

Please Donate Now

Hello Rabbi,

You don't know me but I want to say thank you. Last week, thanks to you, I celebrated Rosh Hashana dinner for the first time in 69 years!

Let me explain.

I grew up in a very religious home in Hungary. When I was 13 years old, I was separated from my parents and siblings at Auschwitz. Back then, I saw hunger, pain and suffering on a level no civilized human being could ever imagine. I saw and smelled smoke that I knew came from the burning bodies of my fellow Jews -- including my own brothers and sisters, and including my dear parents...

I don't know how or why I survived when so many of those near and dear to me did not. But after the war I chose to stay as far as possible from any form of religion. I felt as though G-d had accounts to settle with me, and I had no intention of getting involved with Him until He did. I also felt that any observance of tradition would bring up memories of the home of my youth, which I thought would be too painful to revisit.

Hard as it was, I decided to try and make something of my life. I went to university and earned a Master's degree.  My husband and I raised our children to be totally secular and apart from the Jewish community. We barely acknowledged our Jewish heritage, and there was definitely never any celebration of it in our home.

All of that changed a little over a year ago when my grandson, who lives in Boston, told my daughter about a website called chabad.org he'd been visiting for some time to explore the Jewish religion. He encouraged his mother to do the same. She, in turn, shared this little secret with her brother. Before long, conversations with my children and grandchildren began to center around Judaism.

After an initial period of discomfort, I was surprised to soon find myself sharing with them the little I could remember -- in spite of all that happened in between. After not "going there" for so long for fear of pain, it actually started feeling rather pleasant and joyful!

My children even got me to visit the website myself, which I now do on a fairly regular basis. I especially love the lectures with Rabbi _____ and Rabbi _______.

I'm skipping many details (I could write pages) but two weeks ago my daughter asked me to visit Chabad.org and read up on the High Holidays because she would be hosting a Rosh Hashana dinner and wanted there to be lively conversation about the holiday around the table. I did as was asked of me, and indeed, we had a grand family Rosh Hashana feast with holiday delicacies and much deep conversation. I cried when I tasted some of the food and my grandchildren were spellbound when I told them what I remember from my parents' home.

So you see, Rabbi, it is thanks to your website that this 82-years-young Jewish daughter has found her way back home. Somehow I feel as though my father is rejoicing in the heavens -- as Hitler and Mengele sink deeper in their rotten graves.

G-d bless you and all those who work with you in sharing this gift. Please keep it up!

Please Donate Now(After the holidays I'd also like to ask you for help in finding a Jewish cemetery for myself for when the time comes. I read up on your "From Life to Life" section and all this renewed Jewish energy around me leaves me no doubt that I wish to die and be buried as a Jew.)

Helen B.

Now, each month 1.7 million Helens, individuals with their own unique stories, turn to us for knowledge, discovery and connection. With Yom Kippur around the corner (Sept. 25-26), I'd like to ask you: Please Donate Now

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May G-d grant you and all your loved ones to be sealed in the Book of Life for a Happy, Healthy and Sweet New Year!


Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin

P.S. For all your Yom Kippur needs, please enjoy this Yom Kippur website. If you are in need of a place to pray, check out this worldwide listing. And to enjoy a Yom Kippur thought from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory, click here.

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