Miriam, who is now 85 years old, was one of the first Jews to arrive at the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1942 at the age of 16. Her horrendous job was to build the gas chambers. "The strength I used to have was what kept me alive through the twenty-hour workdays without food or drink during the Holocaust," Miriam says. "Now I'm just an old lady with lots of painful memories."
Miriam arrived at Auschwitz on the day before Passover, after all of her eleven brothers and sisters were murdered by the Nazis. "I was the strongest, so they kept me alive to work," Miriam recalled. "I watched the Nazis shoot my family, and I was forced to dig their graves."
For three years, Miriam escaped death in Auschwitz by relying on miracles. "I would work around the clock digging mass graves for the Jews, building gas chambers, and cleaning blood off of the road. It was freezing cold and snowing, yet all I had was a light shirt and pants. I was frostbitten and starving. All I had to eat each day was a cup of tea and a tiny morsel of bread. The only way to explain my survival is that God gives strength to the weary."
Miriam clearly remembers the hunger pangs and weakness that she felt as a young girl during the Holocaust. After four years in the concentration camp, she weighed less than fifty pounds, and was not allowed to take any breaks from work or she would be shot.
After the war ended, Miriam returned to her hometown in Czechoslovakia to see if any of her friends or relatives survived. The town, which was once the center of Jewish life in the former Soviet Union (FSU), was now desolate. Miriam made a decision to rebuild her community in honor of those who were lost in the Holocaust.
After a few months, she met a man who would become her husband, and they settled in the town where Miriam was born. They lived a simple life together, traumatized by the experiences of the Holocaust yet enveloped in faith and dedicated to rebuilding.
After her husband died six years ago, Miriam fulfilled her dream of making aliyah (immigrating to Israel). "My work in the FSU was done," Miriam explains. "It was time to leave that dark country and come to the Promised Land, where God's light and glory dwells."
Miriam is now all alone in Israel. She lives on a social security payment of less than $400 a month — barely enough money to cover her rent, electricity, medicines, and food. Each holiday she fears she will not have enough food to celebrate properly and truly worship God in joy. Miriam knows that she doesn't have many years left to live, so she observes each holiday to the fullest, with the awareness that every day is a gift.
Last year at Passover, The Fellowship delivered a food package to Miriam, which brought comfort to her ailing heart, and assured her that she is not alone and not forgotten. "I arrived at the Nazi concentration camps on the day before Passover, which was the beginning of an experience that shattered my soul. Knowing that there are Christians and Jews around the world who are now bringing me Passover food is a great comfort. The world has changed, and Jews finally have sincere and loving friends. God bless you, always."