If you can read this story without crying and without seeing the absolute majesty of the Hand of G-d in the affairs of every day life, then you might need to read it again. This is truly the most fascinating and touching story from the Holocaust that I have ever read.
During the Holocaust, a large group of Jewish women were rounded up in Poland to be sent to their demise at the gas chambers. As the group gathered their possessions to take with them into the camp, the Nazi officers called out to all the Polish villagers who were standing by watching, “Anything that these Jews leave behind you may take for yourselves, because for sure they will not be coming back to collect them!”
Two Polish women who were standing nearby saw a Jewish woman towards the back of the group, wearing a large, heavy, expensive coat. In their zealous greed to make sure no one else was able to get her jacket, they made a mad dash toward the woman, knocked her to the ground, grabbed her coat and walked away.
The Polish women gleefully laid down the coat to start dividing up the spoils. As they scoured pockets, they discovered gold jewelry, silver candlesticks and other heirlooms. They were quite pleased, but still, as they lifted the coat it seemed heavier than it should be, what other prize was concealed inside the coat? After further inspection they found a secret pocket, and hidden inside the coat was a little Jewish baby girl!
Shocked at their discovery, one of the women insisted to the other, “I don’t have any children, and I’m too old to give birth now. You take all the gold and silver and let me take the baby”. The deal was agreed and the Polish woman took her new ‘daughter’ home to her delighted husband. They raised the Jewish girl as their own, treating her very well, but never told her anything of her Jewish heritage. The girl excelled in her secular studies and became a successful pediatrician, working in the top hospital in Poland.
After a time the girl’s adopted “mother” passed, followed about a week later, with a knock at the door. An old woman invited herself in and said “I want you to know that the woman that passed away last week was not your real mother…” and she proceeded to tell her the whole story. The girl did not believe her at first, but the old woman said to her, “When we found you, you were wearing a beautiful gold pendant with strange writing on it which must be Hebrew. I am sure that your mother kept the necklace, go and look.” And with that parting advice she left.
The girl went into her ‘mother’s’ jewelry box and indeed found the necklace just as the woman described. She had it extended and wore it every day, but still thought nothing more of her Jewish roots.
Sometime later, she went on a vacation abroad and saw two Chabad-Lubavitch boys on the main street, trying to interest Jewish passersby to wrap tefilin (the males) or accept Shabbat candles (the females). Seeing an opportunity to gleen some information about her Jewish roots, she recounted to them entire story and showed them the necklace. The stunned boys confirmed that a Jewish name was inscribed on the necklace but did not know what to say about her status because according to Jewish Law, a person is only Jewish under certain conditions. They recommended that she send a letter to the famous Lubavitcher Rebbe explaining everything.
She took their advice and wrote a letter to the Rebbe that very day, which thankfully was met with a speedy reply saying that it is clear from the facts that she is a Jewish girl and that since she has a special talent in the medical field, she should use her invaluable skills in Israel…place in desperate need of talented pediatricians at the time.
She glady took the Rebbe’s advice and moved to Israel, where she consulted the Beit Din (Rabbinical Court) who officially declared her Jewish. She was accepted into a hospital to work, and eventually met her Jewish husband and raised a family.
Some years later, there was a horrific suicide bombing attack at the Sbarro pizza restaurant in the center of Jerusalem in August 2001. This woman was walking nearby with her husband. She told her husband to return home to the kids and she proceeded to rush to the scene, where she helped to treat the wounded and get the injured into ambulances and to hospitals.
She herself arrived at the hospital where she met an elderly man who was in a state of shock. He was frantically searching everywhere for his granddaughter who had become separated from him. She calmed him down and went with him to search amongst all the patients in order to find his granddaughter. Asking how she could recognize her, the frantic grandfather gave a rough description of a gold pendant necklace that she was wearing. After searching amongst the injured, they finally found the granddaughter who was wearing the necklace…as you can probably guess, the very same necklace that she herself also had from her birth mother.
At the sight of this necklace, the pediatrician literally froze as she recognized it as the exact same one she also possessed. She turned to the old man and said, “Where did you buy this necklace?”
“You can’t buy such a necklace” he responded, “I am a goldsmith and I made this necklace. Actually I made two identical ones for each of my daughters. This is my granddaughter from one of them, and my other daughter did not survive the war.”
…And this is how a Jewish woman was finally reunited with her father many decades after the Holocaust.
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