The Strength And Power Of Holocaust Survivors

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“And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall execute the vengeance of the covenant; and you shall be gathered together within your cities; and I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.” (Leviticus 26)
It is not possible to relay the story of millions of innocent men, women, teenagers, and children who endured the horrors and suffering of the Nazi Holocaust. For the minority that survived, the horrors continued on after their release from what can only be described as hell on earth. For many, their lives, bodies, minds and souls had been contorted and devastated. Life it seemed had gone back to normal, yet they had not. Left with their memories, the horrors they had experienced, their parents, siblings and children killed and thrown into pits or burned to ashes, many did not know how to begin again. And although their ravaged bodies could be nursed back to normalcy, it was much harder to rehabilitate their shattered minds and souls. For those who held on to their faith in God, and their love for the People and the Land of Israel, the journey back to normalcy was a drop easier.
For Rabbi Yekusiel Yehudah Halberstam, a descendant of the Sanz Hassidic dynasty, and himself a Hassidic Rebbe and founder of the Klausenberg Hassidic dynasty, it was his unyielding faith in God which brought him through the horrors of the holocaust, and gave him the strength to lead his followers to the U.S. and then to Israel, to rebuild a community and begin anew. Rabbi Halberstam lost his wife and eleven children in the holocaust. It was then that he vowed that if God helped him survive the inferno, he would do everything in his power to build a hospital to save lives and bring new life to the world. After the war, Rabbi Halberstam spent every hour he had helping to rescue those that had survived, and help them restart their lives.
Several years later, Rabbi Halberstam brought his followers who had survived to Brooklyn, New York. There, they tried to pick up the pieces of their lives and begin anew. Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of Efrat relates that one Sabbath morning, he walked over 40 minutes to pray with Rabbi Halberstam’s congregation. He heard people moaning and crying as they prayed. He watched as they lifted the Torah Scroll from the holy Ark and laid it on the ornate table to be read. That Sabbath, the weekly Torah portion included a section known as the “tochacha” (rebuke) which talks about the horrible things that will happen to the People of Israel if they leave God’s ways. It is customary to read this list of “curses” which discuss exile form the land of Israel and the suffering in the Diaspora as quietly and as quickly as possible. As the traditional Torah reader began to quietly chant the list of curses, the Klausenberger Rebbe banged on the table and said “Read it loudly!” The chanter, bewildered and unsure as to how to proceed, continued to read quickly and quietly. He had never read this section any other way. The Rebbe once again said loudly “Read it out loud.” And then added, “we have no reason to fear this section. We experienced every single word of it and far more. Let God in Heaven hear us read it and fulfill the rest of the verses. Those that read ‘But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.’ (Leviticus 26:45) and, ‘And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be My people.’ (Leviticus 26:12) And as the prophet Ezekiel says ‘ And the tree of the field shall yield its fruit, and the earth shall yield her produce, and they shall be safe in their land; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bars of their yoke, and have delivered them out of the hand of those that made bondmen of them.’ (Ezekiel 24) “Then the Rebbe added, “We must leave this community and continue our journey back to the Land of Israel where God intended for us to be.”
Several years later, the Rebbe moved his flock to the city of Netanya in the Land of Israel. There, he created a strong and vibrant Hassidic community and singlehandedly planned, raised money and built the Laniado Hospital in Netanya as he had vowed to do. He himself remarried and had seven more children
The Laniado hospital cares for over 60,000 patients yearly, and has recently opened an additional large and modern maternity ward to accomodate the large numbers of women who choose to give birth there. Laniado is known for promoting natural childbirth and has a special natural birthing center. The hospital is a shining example of professionalism coupled with good-will, respectful and caring treatment and the highest regard for human life.
For the many survivors of the atrocities of the holocaust, the Laniado hospital, as well as the Sanz–Klausenberg communities of Netanya, Haifa and Brooklyn, are a symbol of triumph over evil, a small spark of light and hope and light whose inception occurred when none seemed to exist.

Published: July 9, 2015
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