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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Full Circle

Yesterday, my father had a most interesting encounter with his past. I have mentioned previously, in passing that my father is a Holocaust survivor. He had been to many camps including Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, but he was liberated in 1945 from a camp in Austria called "Ebenshe" (pronounced Ee-ben-zay). My father, still today, has extremely vivid memories of his victimization at the hands of the Nazis as well as everything that unfolded at liberation. He had mentioned many times to us the story of the exact moment he realized he would become a free soul.

He was standing at the gate in Ebenshe, watching the U.S. tanks rolling up. He remembers that the tanks opened and the soldiers arms raised out of the top of the tanks and then boxes of cigarettes and crackers were thrown towards the prisoners. While my father just stood in place and continued to watch, his fellow prisoners all leaped for the strewn boxes and ultimately created a pile up, much like you would see at a football game over a fumble. Unfortunately, because of the skeletal and weakened state of the prisoners, there were many bodies on the bottom of the pile, who had made it this far, but would make it no further. As hungry as he was, my father was grateful for his own good judgement and decision to avoid running for the crackers.

So yesterday, my father happened to meet one of those U.S. soldiers who rolled up in the tank that day. This man remembered, as well, the fate of those prisoners who leaped for the crackers and cigarettes. And they reminisced together, each with different perspectives and made plans to get together at a later date.

This whole story reiterated to me, the notion that this world is so truly round, and our past can direct our future. The people and experiences that surround us today, will pop up again in some form or another, and will in some way, influence what will be our tomorrow.

I know this to be true, as past lives and past meetings, actually helped bring my husband and I together.

A man named N. who was in the Israel Peace Corp was not yet married, and was sent on a mission to Europe, to oversee the Jewish Refugees who came from the camp Ebenshe. This man N. met my father, and my father to this day, has a picture of himself as a refugee with this man N.

N. met B. also a Holocaust survivor, while on his mission post World War II and they ultimately married and moved around the world while N. was working many missions on behalf of the Israel Peace Corp. They had four kids, but the oldest, A. is their daughter and she is the one to remember.

My father ultimately ended up in Chicago. He married my mother who was from NY and brought her to the "Windy City" . After my father had worked in many businesses, including a food manufacturing business, he was now settling in with a wife, and began his own sales business of a specific product.

Remember all that, as I am moving on for a moment.

My husband (before I knew him),was roommates with a cousin of mine in NY. My cousin's mother thought I should meet him. For some reason or another, I did not meet him until a year later. However, we realized later, that we were both at my cousin(his roommate's) wedding at the same time.

I did not meet my husband until a year later, when a couple from his home town in NY came to Chicago for a wedding and stayed in our home. They were asking me about myself and thought of a young man for me. They started to tell me about him, including the fact that he works with his father in a business that has him traveling to Wisconsin a lot, and maybe he could stop in Chicago to meet me. Their description of him was very familiar, and then I realized, this couple was referring to the same man that my cousin had told me about a year earlier. I agreed to meet him.

In the meantime, back in NY, Hun was telling his father about what he had heard about me, including my last name and what my father does for a living. Hun's father realized he knew the last name S. and he spent a moment thinking about how he knew it. He then remembered that one winter,years and years ago, he got stuck in Chicago due to weather when he was trying to get back from Wisconsin to NY. He did not know anyone in Chicago, but needed a place to stay for the weekend. A business friend of Hun's father directed him to Mr. S. (my father) and the man who was to become my future father-in-law stayed in our home that weekend. (I don't remember him being there, but I imagine I behaved well).

Hun's father then told him, if this family is as I remember, then marry the girl. And how did this business friend of Hun's father also know my father. Because the food manufacturing business that I mentioned my father had dabbled in, was the same business Hun's father is currently working in, and they share a multitude of mutual friends.

But more interestingly, Hun's father is married to A. Remember her? She is the daughter of B. and N. Remember them? N. is the man who can be found in a picture with my father as he was liberated from Ebenshe.

It was pasts and family connections and then some, that ultimately brought Hun and I together. And it continues. Our three precious children exist as a result of so many choices, decisions and general circumstances of people's lives who came way before them. So life does come full circle.

7 have shown Orah a little love:

Yitz/Yaffa said...

Wow.

Brie said...

Amazing stories. How did your dad feel seeing this man? Does your father talk about his experiences? I found it so inspirational how he was not among those that ran for the crackers. He sounds like an incredible person.

Orah said...

Firstly, my father hardly shares his experiences DIRECTLY to his children (this is his way of protecting us from the atrocities) Every so often he would bring things up directly to us, otherwise we get it more from the speaking engagements he has made to schools and youth groups etc..
Secondly, when he does share the stories, he does not share the emotions that are attached to it.
If you found this story amazing, I will have to blog his story of how Tefillin saved his life as well, some other time.

DESJ and Company said...

Orah's father is an amazing man. Orah, tell them what your father did on the 50th anniversary of his liberation.

adinab said...

how old was your dad at the time of his liberation? he must have been pretty young.

DESJ and Company said...

Didn't he donate the 50 pairs of tefillin? Or am I confused?

wife.mom.nurse said...

And now I know the story of you and Hun :)

And the incredibly moving story of your father.