November 14th, 2017 – A group of 29 teenagers from Germany, the March of Life International Movement, met and served 18 Holocaust survivors from Natanya at a Shalom House in Caesarea Villa.
The teenagers, aged 14 to 17, came to Israel to share their family stories and ask for forgiveness for what their forefathers did in World War II. This group went to Auschwitz at the beginning of the year and after that visit they knew they had to come to Israel and meet with the survivors. To raise the money for their trip, they sang on the streets, baked and sold cookies and did other activities in Germany.
They played and danced for the survivors, presented them with gifts and shared their family stories. It was a difficult moment both for them and for the elderly as many painful memories came to the surface. One teenager was in tears while sharing about her great-grandfather and his hidden pictures her family found in a small box some moths earlier. Another shared that she was bullied at school because she wore a star of David. She did not stop wearing it as a sign solidarity and standing for Israel.
A young man, who came with the group to support them on their journey, some years ago also had the opportunity to tell his family story to the Holocaust survivors in such a Shalom House meeting in Caesarea. Back then he was also a teenager, and a survivor gave him a sketch she had made of him while he was speaking. Suddenly he noticed that the woman sitting next to him was that same survivor who gave him the sketch years before. Both of them have changed and it took them a while to recognize each other. But one thing stayed the same – the impact their first encounter made in their lives.
The survivors and the teenagers will always remember this encounter in the Shalom House, the same way it happened to the young man and the beautiful survivor some years ago.