Keeping Her Faith
The Fellowship | September 1, 2022
“Human memory is a very interesting phenomenon.” That’s what 85-year-old Betya told us when we asked what she remembers from the Holocaust. “I was 4 years old when World War II started. We were living in Ukraine. My father was drafted into the army, and my mother stayed with the three children. We were evacuated to Russia. I cannot remember many details now, but I think that the way to Russia was long and difficult. I remember that sometimes the train stopped. We ran away, lied down on the ground, and my mother covered me with a blanket. I was sure this was a kind of game, but today I understand that there were bombings and my mother tried to protect me.”
Because she was so young, or perhaps because the memories were so painful, Betya said, “I think I just forgot a lot of scary details. I don’t remember being hungry, so I think my mother was bringing us food and feeding us. At the same time she herself was staying hungry. Life was very difficult during this period.”
Betya’s family returned to Ukraine after surviving the Holocaust. And there, despite communist rule, Betya remembers learning of her Jewish faith. “We kept the Jewish traditions. My grandmother would make handmade matzoh on Passover. She spoke Yiddish, and told us a lot about Jewish traditions. “
After working for years as a schoolteacher, Betya made aliyah to Israel. “I raised several generations of children. Some of them now live here in Israel and have their own families.”
Betya worries about her family who are left back in Ukraine, where the ongoing war threatens them each day. “My niece is now in Ukraine. It is scary and awful. The pictures we see here on the news do not really describe the situation. My niece tells us what is happening there. For me, this is the second war. I have to say that I cannot understand how people can make the same awful mistake again.” And because of her faith, Betya says, “I pray every day to God, asking him to stop this war.”
Betya’s life in Israel isn’t easy either. Widowed and in failing health, she also cares for her disabled adult daughter, which she has a hard time doing, both physically and financially.
But, as the High Holy Days approach, Betya has faith that she, her daughter, and even her family still living in war-torn Ukraine, can all depend on The Fellowship for help.