Hope and Help
The Fellowship | July 17, 2023
Leonid has lived a life marred by tragedy. But to meet him you wouldn’t know it—the optimism and humor this 81-year-old Holocaust survivor shows masks the hardships he has faced.
Leonid never knew his father, who was sent to the front when the Nazis invaded and killed there shortly after the boy was born.
Leonid’s earliest years were ones of fear and hunger. Forced to flee the Nazis with her baby and her aging mother, Leonid’s widowed mother raised the boy on the run, with little to eat and little hope of survival.
But survive, they did. The three returned to their native Moldova after the war’s end to find their home had been destroyed. A post-war famine then gripped the region, and Leonid’s grandmother starved to death.
But despite these hardships—and despite life under Soviet rule—Leonid found happiness in the Jewish traditions his mother and aunt still kept—matzah on Passover, hamantaschen on Purim.
Leonid left school at age 15. Despite being a gifted student, there was no professional future for him, with a communist ban on Jews attending college. So, inspired by his mother—who had worked multiple jobs to feed her son—Leonid began a career as a locksmith and a combine operator on a farm.
Marrying and raising a son, life seemed more stable than it had ever been. But tragedy soon struck again, as Leonid lost his son prematurely to illness, and his wife, as well, when she was overcome with grief.
Alone, Leonid could have given up. Instead, he began volunteering for The Fellowship—for Jewish holiday programs, as well as visiting the sick in local hospitals. Instead of losing hope, Leonid provided hope for others.
While volunteering, Leonid met another volunteer named Diana, and the two married. Together, they are at last happy. But together, their meager pensions from lives spent working under communist rule are barely enough to live on—especially as medical needs arise with each year.
That is why help from The Fellowship—the same help that Leonid and Diana once gave others—has been truly lifesaving. Not only do they receive regular food box deliveries, but medical treatment that Leonid could not afford is now available to him. “My wife and I are very thankful to The Fellowship for its help and attention,” Leonid said with a smile to a volunteer during a recent visit, “and to you for being in this world.”