Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day), commemorates the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948.

Yom Ha’atzmaut is proceeded by Yom Hazikaron, a day dedicated to the fallen soldiers who defended our land, and Yom HaShoah, a day dedicated to remembering the 6 Million who were killed in the Holocaust.

The meaning of these days is not lost on Holocaust survivors who went through the valley of death and are alive to see the Jewish people thrive in their ancestral homeland.

This special appreciation extends to the families of survivors as well, who have intimately been told about the days the Jewish people were herded onto cattle cars to be executed.

Operation Exodus USA is a Christian organization that exists to assist the Jewish people immigrating to Israel. They hear many touching stories from the Olim they help and have shared with us Chana’s story.

Chana

“I was born in Bergen Belsen, Germany when it was a displaced person’s camp following the burning of the concentration camp hovels. My parents are sole survivors of very large, with many generations, families from Poland.

My father survived 3 concentration camps, Bergen Belsen being the last. My mother survived Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen. My parents applied for visas for America and Israel and the American visa arrived first and so we immigrated to America.

It would take a book to describe the grief that permeated our home. My wish and efforts to help my parents feel happier and a deep faith and belief that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish nation to be their homeland, have shaped who I have become.

I am deeply grateful to America for allowing my parents to create a life after the catastrophe of the Holocaust. At the same time, I long to have roots in the homeland of my people. I have longed to go home since my teenage years. My prayer is that God, and those whom he designates, will help me succeed in fulfilling this dream.

 

Here is a photo of a celebration of my birth as the 1,000th baby born after the war in the Bergen Belsen DP camp. I am being held by a nurse and my parents are at the head of the table.

Two years have passed since making Aliyah and I recognize that I am blessed to finally feel that I am home. My life is rich with family and friends and work and with the beauty of this Gd given country. I am delighted to see and meet and befriend “siblings” from similar and very different cultural backgrounds from mine, all of whom value being an integral part of the Jewish family and living in our homeland.

I remember hearing a story about a Rebbe who survived the concentration camps and commented on the phrase said in comforting mourners: HaMakom yinachem etchem betoch shaar avlei Zion v’Yerushalayim. HaMakom (literally the place) is often understood to mean God, who is found everywhere. The phrase is translated as: May God comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. This Rebbe, however, interpreted HaMakom as the land of Israel. He said that Israel would be the comfort for those grieving losses of the Holocaust.

When I remember my parents’ lifelong grief, a sadness that permeated our home, I agree with this Rebbe. Living in Israel has been comforting and healing, and I am so grateful. I am also so grateful to Operation Exodus, Nefesh b’Nefesh and the government of Israel, for the supports which helped to make my Aliyah easier.”

Operation Exodus USA is a Christian organization that exists to assist the Jewish people immigrating to Israel. They are affiliated with Ebenezer Emergency Fund International, a ministry started in the United Kingdom in 1991 by Gustav Scheller. In 2018 Operation Exodus USA Aliyah had assisted 805 individuals and families in making their dreams come true

To learn more about Operation Exodus USA, visit their website at www.AliyahUsa.com or ask your Jewish Agency Shliach