Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.
We just observed Tisha B’Av, the day we mourn the destruction of our Holy Temple. With the Holocaust being so recent and such an enormity, I could not help but turn my attention to it as I contemplated the destruction that has befallen the Jewish people over the millennia. In particular, I thought about what happened to my father-in-law on that day many years ago, as well as the events leading up to it. Its message is timeless.
Even in the midst of the greatest evil, inspiring events can occur. During the Holocaust there were ordinary people who rose to extraordinary heights. Heroes were born. Jews were saved by non-Jews (who in some cases paid the ultimate penalty for their actions).
My father-in-law, Reb Mordechai Sauerhaft, zt”l, a brilliant talmid chacham of the old European school who eventually wrote down his experiences of the Holocaust (they are now archived in Yad Vashem), was saved by one such hero.
Mr. Mlodnicki (unfortunately, I do not know his first name) was a religious Roman Catholic, a deacon and organ player in his church, which was located in the small village of Mikolyow near the large Ukrainian city of Lvov. The Ukraine was, of course, one of the most anti-Semitic enclaves in Europe.
Mr. Mlodnicki’s connection with my father-in-law prior to the Holocaust was strictly on a business level. He was a customer at my father-in-law’s family textile business. Mr. Mlodnicki, who saw in my father-in-law honesty and fairness, was treated like the tzelem Elokim he was.
Mikolyow was first occupied was by the Russians, who did not take too kindly to private enterprise in general and Jews in particular, so my father-in-law decided to hide his stock of better fabrics.
When the Nazis later occupied the city, the locals couldn’t wait to give up their Jewish neighbors. Jews were rounded up and forced into doing the most disgusting types of manual labor. When the Nazis were done with their Jewish slave laborers they sent them to the death camps. My father-in-law became a slave laborer. After a time, thinking the end was near, he dug up his fabrics and gave them to Mr. Mlodnicki. He was determined that the Germans not stumble on them and take them for themselves.
Soon enough, the time came for the deportations. My father-in-law managed to hide for their duration. After three days, when things quieted down, he took a chance and went out to see how his town had fared.
All around was devastation. He saw not a single human being in the city. Torn seforim were strewn all over the ground, along with broken utensils and broken glass. He found an old piece of bread and some water which he drank mixed with his tears. His body was so weak after three harrowing days of hiding that he fell asleep for 24 hours.
When he awoke, he thought he was dreaming. Having basically fasted for three days, he knew he would die if he did not get some food soon. Eventually he found a few remaining Jews who fed him and told him that almost the entire town had been transported to a death camp.
But the Nazis weren’t finished.
A few weeks later the remaining Jews were again put into forced labor. The cycle had begun again. Once the work was completed, these Jews would be shipped off to a death camp too. As the project neared its end, one of my father-in-law’s fellow Jewish slave laborers mentioned that he had heard that a gentile was hiding Jews. The gentile’s name was Mlodnicki. My father-in-law told his fellow worker of his relationship with Mr. Mlodnicki. The worker suggested that my father-in-law contact him to see if he would take him in.
My father-in-law was skeptical. He didn’t believe it was possible to hide from the Nazis for any length of time and he had no guarantees that, if push came to shove, he wouldn’t be handed over.
One day, by chance, he met Mr. Mlodnicki in the street and asked him on the spur of the moment if he would take him. Mr. Mlodnicki said he would do so if the Jews he was already hiding were not opposed. Those Jews agreed, and my father-in-law decided to see for himself what was going on in the Mlodnicki household by spending at least one night there. The following is what he saw:
About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.
The question of anti-Semitism in Europe today is truly tied to the issue of immigration.
Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.
Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.
Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters: “‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’…This is an outrage.”
Do you seriously think that as you kidnap our children we should medically treat and help yours?
Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it must enforce the dismantling of Hamas.
The Arab Spring has challenged Jordan with the task of gradual reform with regard to its monarchy.
Israel offered Syria the entire Golan Heights, only to find that the Syrians were demanding MORE!
Israeli hasbara too can be described at best as pathetic, at worst non existent.
A ‘good news’ story from the Nepal avalanche disaster to warm your heart. Take out your Kleenex.
Journalists see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as morality play: Israel=evil; Palestine=innocent
Warsaw Ghetto: At its height, the Nazis walled in some 500,000 Jews within the1.3 square mile area.
While police officers face dangers every day on the job, Jews also face danger in their daily lives.
Kids bring in the light and let out the darkness through breathing exercises; it changes people.
“Shuls that are full on Friday night were fuller than normal, looking more like Yom Kippur”
I can’t blame these people for seeing women that way, it’s how they are raised-I blame the Hashkafa
Though the Talmud doesn’t give instructions, Metzitza has always been done B’Peh – by oral suction.
If not scared by God be scared by man; Hopefully ethics will integrate into lives for proper reasons
Smear campaigns by people with agendas other than justice do not faze him; He does what is right.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/kaddish-for-mr-mlodnicki/2007/08/01/
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