Although the fire in Israel is a horrible thing, there is actual a bright side. The fact that the world can come together, put their differences aside, and help one another is just one more example of the goodness in people.
As some of you may know, I am the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. My father was born in a small town in Brzostek, Poland. Brzostek is a small village, about 1-1/2 hours outside Tarnov, Poland. The total population prior to 1939 was only 1,500 people, of which 500 were Jewish. Of the 500 Jewish people, only 5 survived Hiltler's wrath, of which 3 were my father, my aunt and my grandmother. Their survival was purely due to the goodness of a few brave Polish people. His story, like so many other Holocaust survival stories, is amazing and at times, unbelievable, but what makes it unique is the recurrent theme that there are still good people in this world, even during the most dangerous and terrifying times of life.
The story starts before the war. It starts as a love story. My grandmother, Sarah, was 16 years old when my grandfather, Israel, first saw her. He fell in love instantly. He was her senior by quite a few years. He would tutor her in math just to be close to her. Finally, when he approached her father to ask for her hand in marriage, he said no. You see my grandmother was the youngest of 13 children. Although 4 of her siblings had moved to America, some before she was born, she still had a couple of older sisters that were not married. The tradition states that the youngest can not marry before her elders. Therefore, her father told Israel to choose from one of his other daughters. He did not want them, he only wanted Sarah, so he waited. He waited almost 8 years before she was able to be married to him. They had a son and a daughter. Tragically, they did not have many years together before his selfless sacrifice.
Israel was the head of the Jewish community of Brzostek Poland. Israel's status as a wealthy and successful land owner and farmer was well known. He was well respected not only by his peers, but also by all that worked for him. He employed the Pilat family as caretakers and workers on his land. He treated them as family. They lived in the modest family home with their 11 children, in an attached section of the house. They would prove to be one of the most pivitol people in the survival of my family.
Next time I will tell you of the Nazi invasion of this small, yet amazing town.
Check back soon for a continutation of this amazing story.