… Lieutenant Meyer Birnbaum.
A typical “American Jewish kid” who was drafted during the Second World War.
He was among the liberators of Buchenwald and other D.P. camps.
As a fellow Jew, he was able to give emotional and spiritual support to many survivors.
Here’s an excerpt from his autobiography.
“In Buchenwald, a gentile chaplain came running to me.
He asked if I knew how to administer “last rites” to people on the “verge of death”.
I didn’t really know what to do at the bedside of a dying Jew. But who here would know better?
… In the first bed I found a very emaciated adolescent.
All that seemed to remain were two prominent eyes, cheekbones and a nose.
I asked him, “Are you a Jew”? He nodded.
“What’s your name”? He whispered that it was Yosef.
I explained that I was a Jewish American army officer and that I came to help him.
But I was at a loss as to how I should proceed.
I asked him, “When did you last pray to Hashem. To G-d”?
His simple reply was, “I always pray to Hashem”.
It was the most eloquent profession of faith I had ever heard!
He asked me for something to eat and I gave him some bread.
(Anything else, we were told, could tear up their stomachs.)
I had no idea what to do next.
So I started reciting the Shema. The Jewish declaration of faith.
It’s traditionally said before passing from this world.
But he stopped me in the middle. And smiled.
“Why are saying the Shema”!
I saw that he was fully aware. And not ready to give up!
So I changed the subject and asked about his family.
Fortunately, Yosef defied the doctor’s predictions and went on to settle in New York.
And he became one of the most prominent writers in the Jewish world.
… Who was this Yosef?
Joseph Friedenson. The 84-year-old former student of Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin!
He was quoted in the last Torah Minute.
“This is a great source of inspiration to me. Hitler did not succeed in destroying Judaism”!
… Purim is coming! A week from Saturday night.
The day that we celebrate being Jewish. And celebrate the miracle of Jewish survival.
How great empires said its time for the Jewish People to “say the Shema”!
And they’re gone! We’re still here!
You should have gotten a Purim at CTN e-mail message.
Please join us. You’ll have a great time. You’ll be inspired.
And Yosef Friedenson will smile again!
All the best,