Oh my gosh, I am beside myself with grief and joy!!
I just viewed a video — very moving — about the Holocaust. A topic I NEVER ever allow myself to watch or read about — my stomach and kishkas — just can’t take it.
I avoid anything on the topic. I even refused to see Schindler’s list. What possessed me to click on this particular video, I have no idea. I just had an overwhelming curiosity that I should click on this video. Why? Ich veist nisht!!
I watched, and cried, and my stomach was in knots, and then, when over, I read the synopsis beneath, and that’s when I lost it completely.
Toward the end of the commentary it said, “In May, 1945, Rabbi Eliezer Silver from the United States and Dayan Grunfeld from England were sent as chaplains to liberate some of the death camps.
While there, they were told that many Jewish children had been placed in a monastery in Alsace-Lorraine. The rabbis went there to reclaim them, but, when the chaplains arrived at the monasteries and other orphanages, they were told there were NO Jewish children there.
Later, while the children were getting ready for bed, chaplains began singing “Shema Yisrael,” within moments, many of the children who had been so trained in “Our Father” — hearing the chaplains tune – chimed in, singing the bedtime Shema!
It was now perfectly clear who the Jewish kids were!
As miraculous as that event was, a similar miraculous event occurred some 60 years later!
I was the chaplain in a particular secular nursing home. I was vising a Jewish resident who was anxious and concerned — anticipating a forthcoming meeting with a social worker. Before she left for her meeting, she and I did what we usually did. I would say a mi sheibeirach for her and she would sing the one song she knew, the Shema.
She leaves the room, and I follow, but her roommate stops me. I had noticed that above the bed of this resident hangs a cross, and she has a bible on her nightstand. As a chaplain, I am perfectly comfortable supporting anyone of any background, so I didn’t give it a thought when she asked me to go over to her.
I introduce myself as Rabbi Laurie, to clear up any question regarding my faith.
She responded — in her very European accent (Russian? German?) I had no idea. But what she shared with me, brought me to tears.
She tells me that when she heard her roommate sing THAT song (the Shema) it stirred memories in her that she had not recalled in 60 years.
The tune and the words were familiar to her, but she couldn’t remember why!
As we spoke, I encouraged her to think back and recall WHY she knew that song.
Little by little, slowly memories flooded back into her consciousness. She kept repeating she had not thought of these thoughts for so long and as she remembered more of her young childhood, she recalled the Jewish life she once had.
She asked me to take down the small cross from above her bed and to please put the bible in a drawer.
This was not the end of her Epiphany. No, not at all. That day, and several after, we “schmoozed” about all things Jewish.
Shortly after that day, that day she realized SHE had been Jewish, now realized, being in an orphanage, she did what was expected of her. She remained there for several years and I suppose brainwashing the young minds was relatively easy. Removed from everyone and everything they knew, they fell in step with the “rules.”
The Shema, so deeply imbedded in the mind and heart, clicked in her and brought her back to her Judaism.
She asked of me if there was a Jewish nursing home in the area and if so, could she go there.
I happily spoke to the administrator of that Jewish nursing home, and yes, they had room!
The chaplain’s story attached to this video was just like mine!!
All is bashert!
The power of Shema Yisroel.
Click here to watch that powerful video, with commentary included beneath the video.
Laurie Dinerstein-Kurs is a Life Member of Hadassah and spent her youth in Brooklyn, volunteering for such organizations as Junior Hadassah, the Civil Air Patrol, BBYO, and Young Judea. As an adult, she became a member of Hadassah, BBW (B’nai Brith Women), Women’s American ORT (Organization for Educational Resources and Technological Training) and The National Council of Jewish Women. She has a Masters in rehabilitation of the handicapped. She taught for 25 years and upon retirement became a hospice chaplain. Rabbi/Chaplain Dinerstein-Kurs is a member of NAJC, Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains. She and Steve, her husband of 53 years have two children, ten grandchildren and two great grandchildren!