Faces of The Fellowship: Lev
The Fellowship | February 3, 2021
“I wouldn’t call my life a life, but, rather, survival,” says 83-year-old Holocaust survivor and retired professor, Lev. “Luckily, for as long as I can remember, I learned how to survive.” He’s learned to overcome hunger, fear, and isolation.
Lev admits, though, that without The Fellowship, he wouldn’t know where to find his next meal. In addition to the monthly supermarket food card he receives, he also says Fellowship coordinator, Lia, calls him regularly to check up on him. Hearing from her on the phone means so much, especially during lonely winter months and a global pandemic. “I told Lia I didn’t have money to buy a blanket and she brought me one. It warms my heart that someone cares about me.”
Learning to Survive
Simple kindnesses make all the difference to Lev, who knows what it feels like to be hungry and forgotten. He was just four years old and in St. Petersburg when World War II broke out. His mother thought the war would end in just a few days, but eventually realized that she would have to evacuate with her son. They rode trucks over a frozen river, just as the Germans bombed the area, overturning the truck with all the children. “Most of the children drowned. Somehow I was saved from drowning. I was very sick after that. My mother later told me that I really fought for my life,” says Lev.
Conditions worsened when they reached their destination, and there was barely any food during this time. “I still remember the taste of the sunflower shells we used to eat then, as well as vegetable peels — things that are usually given to animals,” he says. Even when the war was over and the family reunited with Lev’s grandmother, they still suffered from extreme hunger. “My grandmother worked in a factory and she got some bread which we all shared. When we returned there were still rats. We would catch them and grandmother would make soup. But that also ended and the hunger only got worse,” he explains.
‘I Appreciate Everything’
Later in life, Lev finally fulfilled his dream of making aliyah (immigrating to Israel). But even though living in the Holy Land is an answer to his prayers, he still struggles with hunger.
“I didn’t come [to Israel] with any savings. I live alone and I have no family. I don’t know how I would survive without The Fellowship’s help.”
Thankfully, he has faithful friends around the world who ensure he has food to eat and some warmth this winter. “I want you to understand how grateful I am, and how much I appreciate everything The Fellowship is doing for me.”