My treasured parents loved Yiddishkeit. Their belief in Hashem was unwavering. My darling Daddy used to tell me that if I was ever afraid, I should recite the Shema. Whenever I was troubled, my precious Mommy would reassure me, “Gott vet helfen!” (God will help!).
Those who knew my Daddy were privileged to hear his army stories. The most profound event that he recounted was his Yom Kippur miracle.
Both my parents passed away last year. I was overwhelmed with grief. How could something so terrible happen? Taking my Daddy’s advice, I said the Shema many times. Hearing my Mommy’s voice, I waited to see how God would help. When my faith wavered, I thought about Daddy’s Yom Kippur miracle. That story confirmed what I knew deep within my heart – that there is a God and He knows what is best, even if we cannot understand His actions.
A short time ago, I found a folder containing my Daddy’s handwritten account of his Yom Kippur miracle. I am sharing it in the hope that it will provide solace and hope to those in need. Here are his words:
The year was 1944. I was in the Burmese jungles along the Irrawaddy River. We had just captured the Myitkyina stronghold from the Japanese. Our only contact with the outside world was the radio.
Suddenly, a call came out to all Jewish servicemen to gather under a large tent at sundown. I couldn’t imagine why. It wasn’t Friday. That is when we would gather for services.
I started to wonder. Then it dawned on me that it was the month of September.
Oh, I said to myself. It must be Rosh Hashanah! I went to the tent. It was early. I was the only one there. I took out my Jewish Welfare Board prayer book, and as the sun began to set, I started to say Minchah with a heavy heart. Gradually, more and more soldiers began to arrive. It wasn’t too long before the tent was filled to capacity. Then I found out that it wasn’t Rosh Hashanah. It was Yom Kippur. I had lost Rosh Hashanah. You can imagine how I felt.
My friend Murray Fox was the cantor. He began the Kol Nidre prayer with such a strong voice that I knew the Japanese heard him because voices carry far in the jungle. We were all highly emotional. There we were, in full battle gear, unashamedly crying, the tears rolling down our faces.
When he finished singing Kol Nidre the third time, there was a moment of silence. Then, suddenly, we heard the most devastating bombardment imaginable. The Japanese had gotten a beam on us and were able to gauge our exact location. The bombardment went on for almost half an hour. When it stopped, we immediately started calling names to see who was wounded or killed. You know, not one of us even received a scratch! Miracle of miracles!
The bombs fell everywhere, but none reached our location. The Almighty, Blessed be He, looked after us.
This story is dedicated to the memory of my father, Refael Chaim Sholom Feivel ben Meir Shlomo, and my mother, Chaya bas Yitzchak. May their neshamos have aliyos.