A Life of Hardship
CJ | June 22, 2021
As 85-year-old Victor volunteers both at Fellowship-supported Birkat HaCohen soup kitchen, as well as an interpreter for Israel’s courts, those he helps would never know the hard life this gentle man has faced.
Escaping the Ghetto
Born to a Jewish family in Bucharest, Victor was only seven when the Nazis reached Romania and sent the country’s Jews away on a death march. Victor recalls these early painful memories: “I remember how they screamed in Romanian, ‘Jews, get out!’ They took us to the ghetto and whoever could not walk was shot on the spot. They murdered people right in front of me.” Victor’s grandmother was among the Jews who were murdered.
Victor, however, miraculously escaped the ghetto with his mother and siblings. Eventually they reached Uzbekistan, where they survived the rest of the Holocaust. Still, life was difficult. The Uzbeks didn’t treat Jews well, or help them. Victor’s family was always hungry, and his dear sister Frieda starved to death. Victor’s mother also died young. “With the hunger and all the other hardships my mother went through, she died at the age of 37.”
Victor’s father, who spent the war in a Nazi camp, only rejoined the family after the war, so Victor and his brother were responsible for feeding themselves, stealing fruits and vegetables from farms just to survive.
Beaten Because of His Beliefs
Even after the war ended, Victor faced persecution for his faith. Wherever he went, he was beaten up just because he was Jewish. This even meant spending months in a Stalinist prison when he tried to return to his native Romania.
When Victor finally returned home, he found help at a local synagogue. After serving in the military, Victor worked as a bus driver and married. His wife gave birth to two sons, but died during the second child’s delivery. Victor again found himself alone.
A Lifetime of Loss
In 1971, Victor made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) with his sons, serving in the IDF alongside his boys during both the Yom Kippur War and the First Lebanon War. During the second conflict, however, one of his sons was killed. The other son has also passed away.
Victor remarried in Israel, but his second wife died of breast cancer after a ten-year battle with the disease. His third wife, Ludmila, also has cancer and is 100% disabled. Victor, who worked as an electrician and plumber in Israel, has no pension. And caring for Ludmila takes up much of his time and money.
But Victor still finds time to volunteer as a translator in the Israeli courts – helping olim (immigrants) like he once was – as well as at the same soup kitchen that helps feed him and Ludmila. Despite his hard life, this child of God inspires us with his giving heart… and he, in turn, is inspired by the Fellowship friends around the world whose godly hearts continue to provide all he needs.