Beba’s Biggest Joy

The Fellowship  |  March 18, 2024

Beba, an elderly Holocaust survivor from Ukraine living in Israel
(Photo: Guy Yechiely)

Just a small child when World War II came to her Jewish family’s community in Ukraine, Beba remembers little of life before the Holocaust. With seven children whose lives depended on her, Beba does remember that her mother “was a real hero.”

The Jewish family was first put aboard a ship, which was bombed by German planes. Then, after being placed aboard a freight train, the children faced hunger and the brutal Siberian cold. And, as the train arrived in Stalingrad—which the Nazis would soon besiege—Beba’s mother realized her daughter was suffering from disease…

Finding a doctor, Beba’s mother’s fears were confirmed—the girl had the rare condition of spinal tuberculosis. She couldn’t walk. She needed treatment immediately. Instead of keeping the family in Stalingrad, the doctor sent them all onward to Kazakhstan.

The continued journey saved their lives. For the family not only escaped the coming siege of Stalingrad, and the starvation and death it would bring, but escaped immediate death, as well.

“My illness saved the whole family,” Beba remembers, “because we were on the train to Kazakhstan, and could see through the window that the railway station where we had been a minute ago was completely destroyed by massive bombing. So, all my life, my mother said that I saved our lives.”

But Beba knows it wasn’t just coincidence or her mother’s heroism who saved her family. She knows that it was God.

This precious Holocaust survivor has seen His hand in her life again and again—and her life has not been easy.

After World War II, Beba hoped to be an opera singer. But in the Soviet Union, her Jewish background prevented that from happening. Still, she worked hard—despite the lingering effects of her childhood illness—and became an engineer.

But, she tells us, “in 1986, when there was a nuclear explosion at Chernobyl, I got a dose of radiation. I was hospitalized in very serious condition. But I survived. Again.”

Again and again, Beba has experienced God’s love and protection. And even now, as an elderly woman, she knows He is watching over her. Despite not having a pension after a lifetime of work in the FSU, and despite battling cancer, Beba has Fellowship friends who provide her with food, basic needs, and companionship. The love shown by friends around the world like you is, for this dear Holocaust survivor, “my biggest joy.”

Your gift today will bless a needy person in Israel—someone like Beba—providing basic needs and lifesaving care for those who would otherwise be forgotten—especially now as Israel still faces war.