Ruth 1:16-17 But Ruth said: "Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me."
Later this evening, Israel will begin its solemn recollection of the Holocaust, known as 'Yom HaShoah' or Holocaust Remembrance Day. Sadly, according to a recent poll, nearly 50% of Israelis fear another Holocaust. In light of this, I want to share a touching story about an exceptional woman who assisted 2,500 young Jewish children out of the ghettos during World War II.
Her name was Irene Sendler. She was an employee of the Polish Social Warfare Department who had a special permit to enter the ghettos to check for signs of typhus. During these visits, she would wear a Star of David as a sign of solidarity with the Jewish people. Once inside, she would convince Jewish parents to part with their children as she and others created for them false papers and smuggled them out so to put them in various good homes around Poland. Sendler then buried the children's true identities in jars in her backyard, hoping to reunite them with their families after the war.
In 1943, Irene was arrested by the Gestapo, severely tortured and sentenced to death. She was able to save herself by bribing German guards on the way to her execution. Listed on bulletin boards among those who had been executed, she was left in the woods unconscious, with broken arms and legs. For the remainder of the war, she lived in hiding. Though she had suffered much, she continued her work with Jewish children.
In 2007, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and lost to former vice president Al Gore.
May we take up the call of Ruth – "your people shall be my people, and your God shall be my God!" To Israel and the Jewish People, know that you have thousands of friends standing in solidarity with you!