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Jewish Thinking

A Jewish Girl, Brutally Torn Away from Her Mother

Published on Saturday June 19th, 2021

When a Nazi train carrying Jewish prisoners arrived at a concentration camp near a Polish town, several curious Poles stepped out to watch the Jews disembark. Confused and disoriented, many Jews had packed a few personal belongings to carry to their destination. Suddenly, a Nazi officer called the villagers and shouted: "You can take anything the Jews leave behind. They will never come back to reclaim their possessions".

Two Polish women standing nearby noticed a Jewish woman at the back of the group, wearing a long and expensive-looking coat. Eager to grab the coat, they ran towards the Jewish woman, pushed her over, grabbed the coat and ran away.

Backing away from the other villagers, the women placed the coat on the floor to share its contents. Rummaging through its pockets, they discovered, to their hearts' delight, golden jewels, silver candlesticks and other family heirlooms. They were overjoyed with their findings, but when they put the coat down, it seemed heavier than normal. After searching once again, they found a secret pocket with a newborn sleeping inside…a little girl!

Shocked by their discovery, one of the women had pity on the child and pleaded with her companion: "I am childless and too old to conceive. Take the gold and silver and give me the baby". The Polish woman took her new "daughter" home. Her husband was delighted. They raised the little Jewish girl as their own, treated her very well but never disclosed her Jewish origins. The young woman excelled at her studies and qualified as an MD in pediatrics. Later, she was employed by the pediatric ward of a Polish hospital.

When her "mother" passed, many years later, a visitor, an old woman, came to offer her sympathy. The old intruder, an unwanted visitor, told the bereaved: "I want you to know that the lady who passed away last week was not your biological mother…." And she began to recount the entire story. The pediatrician could not believe her, but the old woman insisted forcefully.

"When we found you, you wore a magnificent golden chain with strange lettering, probably Hebrew. I am sure your mom kept the chain. Go and look for it". The young doctor opened her deceased mother's jewelry box and found the chain. She was shocked. It was difficult to digest she had Jewish origins, but she could not deny the evidence. She had the chain enlarged and wore it on her neck every day, but she didn't lose sleep, thinking about her Jewishness. 

Later, on a trip abroad, she met two Jewish young men standing on a thoroughfare, trying to convince Jewish bystanders to don Tefillin. They also encouraged Jewish women to accept candles for Friday afternoon Shabbat candle lighting. Seizing the opportunity, she told them her story and showed them the chain. The men confirmed that a Jewish name was written on the chain but could not endorse her status as a Jew. They advised her to write a letter to their mentor, the Lubavitch Rebbe, whose wise counsel would most surely resolve the riddle.

She followed their advice and sent a letter to the Rebbe. Soon enough, the Rebbe replied, confirming that she was unequivocally Jewish.  He suggested she ought to think of utilizing her medical qualifications in Israel, where talented pediatrists were in high demand.

This awakened her curiosity and she travelled to Israel, where she consulted the rabbinical court (Beth Din). She was unanimously declared Jewish. Some time later, she landed a job in a Jerusalem hospital; then she met her husband and raised a family.

In August 2001, an Arab terrorist perpetrated a suicide attack on the Sbarro café in downtown Jerusalem. The injured were transported to the hospital where this woman worked. Among the patients' relatives swarming the hospital in search for their loved ones, an older man in a state of shock desperately searched for his granddaughter who had been separated from him in the blast.

The pediatrist asked the old gentleman for identification signs so she could help him locate the girl among the injured. The grandfather gave her a description of the chain worn by his granddaughter.

Finally, the granddaughter was found. When the doctor saw the chain, she was paralyzed. She turned to the old man and asked: "Where did you buy this chain? " He answered: "You cannot buy such a chain. I am a silversmith and I made it. In fact, I made two identical ones for each of my daughters. One is worn by my daughter's daughter. But my other daughter did not survive the war.

And here's how a Jewish girl who was torn away from her mother on a Nazi train platform reunited with her father, almost 60 years later.

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