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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776
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In Memory of Irena Sendler

Irena Sendler is a reminder that in the darkest of times, a small light of humanity and hope brings forth the greatest hopes.
Irena Sendler

Irena Sendler

Sendler crisscrossed the ghetto boundaries several times daily, often bringing out the children by sedating them and smuggling them out in luggage, toolboxes and bags. Sometimes she hid them under her tram seat and at other times she put them in carts and piled garbage or barking dogs on top to distract the German guards. Older children were frequently led out through the sewers that ran under the city.

Once on the other side of the wall Sendler’s work continued. She had to forge documents for the children and locate hiding places, usually among sympathetic Polish families or in convents or orphanages.  This was not easy because, even among the Polish citizens who wanted to help, there was great fear — the Germans had a policy of killing anyone who hid a Jew, even going as far as to kill entire families.

Sendler carefully recorded the names and destinations of all of “her” children, writing the information on tissue paper and storing it in glass jars which she buried in her garden. She hoped that after the war she might be able to reunite some of the children with their parents or, at the very least, with the Jewish community.

In October of 1943 Sendler was captured by the Germans and imprisoned in the infamous Pawiak prison. There she was tortured for refusing to give up information. Zagota members bribed a German guard who released Sendler as she was being led to her execution. Sendler lived out the rest of the war in hiding.

Sendler was recognized as a Righteous Gentile by Yad VaShem in 1965 but it wasn’t until the LMFF helped created the Life in a Jar project that she receive the recognition that she so richly deserved.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Paula Stern

About the Author: Paula R. Stern is CEO of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company in Israel. Her personal blog, A Soldier's Mother, has been running since 2007. She lives in Maale Adumim with her husband and children, a dog, too many birds, and a desire to write.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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