‘I Didn’t Have a Childhood’
The Fellowship | April 11, 2023
Emma remembers when World War II began. Only three at the time, she still remembers when the Nazis arrived in her home country of Belarus.
“Whenever they found Jews, they shot them down straight away,” Emma says. “We were hiding in a huge pit in a shed, covered by hay. It was very scary. They were going around, searching and shooting. They shot into our pit too, through the hay, it’s a miracle nobody got killed.”
But the violence of war wasn’t the only thing that threatened Emma’s family, like so many Jews across Europe. “Another terrible thing was hunger,” this sweet 85-year-old woman tells the Fellowship volunteer visiting her. “I felt hungry all the time. We were occasionally brought some food in the evening – mostly, boiled carrot and potato peels…”
Emma’s family hid in that pit for three long years, until she turned six years old. Her entire childhood…
“You probably think that these are my main memories of my childhood?” Emma asked. “No, I don’t have any childhood memories at all because I didn’t have a childhood. All I had was hunger, cold, fear, and illness.”
Now elderly, this precious Jewish woman who faced such hardship as a child, and whose life wasn’t an easy one, found herself facing the same fears she once did. Hungry, impoverished, alone, forgotten…
Until The Fellowship found Emma. “At first, I got food parcels,” she says. “Now I also receive toiletries, and an aid comes regularly to help me at home.” And this sweet Jewish woman who has no childhood memories like we do—of holidays, of love, of family, of joy—now also receives a special Passover food box, full of nourishing foods and the necessities so that she can at last celebrate this joyous time as she never could as a child.