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September 30, 2016 / 27 Elul, 5776
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The Ashes of a People


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I found one and took a picture. I thought of that shoe again and again while I was in Poland. Each shell of a synagogue we visited, each desecrated, over-grown cemetery, each building that to this day bears the trace of a mezuzah, the Hebrew lettering, the symbols of a religion and people hunted to the edge of extinction.

Though the Jewish people as a whole rose up from this abyss, Polish Jewry did not survive. Of the 3,325,000 Jews in Poland before the wore, only 325,000 survived. My great grandmother, Raizel didn’t survive. Her daughters, Mary and Anna (Freida and Mina) didn’t survive.

In the end, the story of that one shoe is the story of Polish Jewry. Destroyed, bereft, and unable to tell its full story.

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.

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