Just Like the Holocaust
Since the horrific Hamas attack and massacre on October 7th, we Israelis have been referencing the Holocaust to describe the scope of that horrible day: “The worst tragedy for Jews since the Holocaust.” Mia Schem who survived 55 days as a hostage in Gaza said about her experience, “I went through a holocaust.” In Sderot where terrorists went from apartment to apartment killing people, residents who hid their children in closets and cupboards afterward said, “It was like we were back in the Holocaust hiding our children from Nazis.”
The comparisons are not exaggerations. The collective trauma of what happened to us on October 7th touched our collective consciousness of the Holocaust. In the immediate aftermath of the October 7th attacks during which everyone was struck with fear and terrified that terrorists might infiltrate our neighborhoods with no one to help, mental health professionals said that many Holocaust survivors began experiencing serious post-trauma events.
A National Outpouring of Support
In the wake of the October 7th attacks, Israelis responded to the hour of need with the greatest outpouring of support this country has ever seen: support for the communities that suffered attacks, support for our soldiers heading to war in Gaza, support for the over 100,000 residents who have been displaced from the conflict zones on our southern and northern borders. Christian friends of Israel around the world came to Israel’s aid during her time of tribulation with a generous outpouring of support. Here at Tiferet Yeshua, we have been supporting our soldiers and displaced civilians together with the generous help of our partners from the nations.
The Original Survivors Get Overlooked
With all the focus on the pressing needs of so many in the country, a very special and needy population was overlooked: the original Holocaust survivors. After being released from the army reserves, Moti Cohen (Assistant Pastor and Feed Tel Aviv Director) reached out to his friend Gideon who works with Holocaust survivors to see if we could do something special for them during New Year.
Gideon shared with Moti that he has been making personal visits to Holocaust survivors, but that none of those he is in contact with had left their homes since the 7th of October. Due to the great focus on those in need from the war crisis, organizations that usually help Holocaust survivors had their resources pulled in other directions.
Celebrating the Original Survivors
On December 28th, Tiferet Yeshua’s Feed Tel Aviv hosted a special New Year’s celebration event in honor of Holocaust survivors from a Russian background. “Novy God”, the Russian New Year celebration, is the most important and sentimental holiday for Russian Jews. Since all religious holidays were banned during soviet times, this holiday became our sole and central holiday.
Moti is a gifted chef and prepared all the traditional Russian delicacies that are served during this holiday. The tables were decorated, and the survivors were welcomed as guests of honor. After a delicious holiday meal, the survivors were treated to a concert of traditional songs.
Mourning to Dancing
Our team of volunteers was deeply touched to see how much these precious Holocaust survivors appreciated the banquet, how happy they were with the music, and to see them joyfully celebrating and dancing to the songs they know and love.
These particular survivors were the children whose parents hid them from the Nazis during the Holocaust. They were children of Jewish partisans who fled to the forests and barely survived there, children who were passed from house to house, living in terror of discovery. They are a living witness and testimony. They remind us that there is hope, that God is faithful to His promises to save Israel, physically and spiritually.