Survivors: The Builders of Israel

What does it take to be a nation builder?

Printer-friendly versionSend by email
Posted on: 
12 Jan 2016
Survivors: The Builders of Israel

Most Holocaust Survivors today were merely children or teenagers when they came out of the ashes of the Holocaust. Many, having lost their families and precious years that could have been spent in school, came to Israel, only to find their Jewish Homeland embattled in the struggle to survive. The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem would like to pay tribute to four residents of the Haifa Home who contributed to building up the country of Israel.

What does it take to be a nation builder?

Look Ahead, and Don’t Look Back

After the German “Blitzkrieg” of 1939, the situation for Polish Jews deteriorated drastically. Genia Schwartzbert was one of those that experienced it first-hand. Her father died in a concentration camp, and soon after her mother did as well, this time in a labor camp. Genia survived, and ten years after the victory of the allied forces, Genia left behind the horrors of her past and started a new life in the freshly born state of Israel. She married and had children, but disaster struck again. Her husband died when the children were still young. Raising and providing for three children all by herself was not easy, to say the least. Tragically, Genia’s horrors continued. Her eldest son died when he was barely 40 years old and later one of her grandsons died in one of Israel’s wars.

In light of all this grief and pain, Genia did not give way to bitterness and despair. She served the land of Israel faithfully, cultivating soil in one of Israel’s moshavim (similar to kibbutzim) for twenty years. Later she worked in a kitchen, feeding 150 needy children. This brave lady embodies the saying: “Learn from the past, but never live in it.”

Be Courageous

Before World War II broke out, driven by his Zionist ideals Benjamin Ginsberg joined a religious Jewish group called, “Chabad Halutzim,” or “Pioneers.” These young men wanted to acquire agricultural knowledge for cultivating soil in their
long-awaited Jewish homeland. So they prepared themselves by working on farms across Europe. Joining the group was a very dangerous move, but Benjamin’s conviction that one day there would be a Jewish state, for which he wanted to be well prepared, gave him courage. As the war was inevitably approaching, he also connected with an underground movement that provided Jews with new IDs.

Benjamin survived the war while living in Holland. With the exception of Benjamin and his one sister, the whole Ginsberg family perished in the Holocaust. Every day in Holland Benjamin ran the risk of having his real identity revealed, but he was determined to persevere until he got an opportunity to board an illegal ship to the city of Haifa. Two years after his arrival, he had to face another war: Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. With great courage, he eventually made his dream of a Jewish Homeland become a reality.

Have Vision for a Brighter Future

Two of Chaya's brothers died during the war. Her father returned from labor camps broken in spirit and sick. In 1948 Chaya’s family, originally from Yasi in Romania, made it to Israel on different boats and were reunited in Haifa. After having worked in the gardens of a kibbutz, while at the same time learning to be a dressmaker, she served in the army for two years. Later she fell in love and got married, but shortly after that the 1956 War broke out. Unfortunately, Chaya’s husband was drafted to the army and died at the young age of 46.

Next Chaya dedicated her life to the education of children in Israel, so that they would have greater opportunities in life than she ever did. She lavished them with love, so they could grow into strong people. Today, Chaya is still in touch with some of “her children,” who are now doctors, commanders, and police officers. Chaya married again, but when her new husband had a stroke shortly after their wedding, she dedicated her life to looking after him until he passed away 10 years later. “We were not strong, but we had to build a strong and safe nation for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren,” said Chaya with great faith.

Stay Committed and Passionate

When Nachum arrived in Haifa at the age of 18, he had already lost his whole family. He worked very hard and lived sacrificially to save money so he could make his dream come true – to literally build the nation of Israel. Five years later, with some funds saved up, he took a preparation course to launch a construction company. Nachum became very successful, having constructed many schools, gas stations, and playgrounds around Israel.

His love for Israel and his generous heart were greatly displayed in 1965, when a hospital in Haifa desperately needed a heliport, but did not have the finances. Nachum called them and said, “I have the necessary materials, and I will build it free of charge.” Nachum ran his company until the age of 72. But today, at 80, he regrets having retired that early.

It is because of people like Genia, Benjamin, Chaya, and Nachum, and also thousands of other nation builders whose stories are mostly untold, that the children of Israel can live in a highly developed, secure, and democratic state today. We should never forget this, and at the same time, we have to express our gratitude.

You can help these heroes to live out their lives with dignity and in a loving environment by adopting a Holocaust Survivor.

 

Share this: