“I Cannot Change the Past, but I Can Extend Sincere Hope for a Better Future”

On Sunday, February 14, 2021, 2 Adar 5781, a moving ceremony took place at the Holocaust Survivor’s Hall in the Senior Citizens Center of Ofakim in memory of the six million Jews murdered in the Second World War.

The ceremony, originally scheduled to take place on International Holocaust Day, was postponed due to a national COVID-regulated lockdown. German “March of Life” volunteers from ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran’s International Volunteer Program would not accept the fact that the postponed ceremony may end up being cancelled, so they independently took upon themselves to reschedule the event as soon as the lockdown was lifted.

Operating under the banner of Tikkun Olam, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Nazis who took part in the Third Reich’s plot for organized annihilation of the Jewish people, founded the “March of Life” organization, whose goal is to atone for the actions of their ancestors.

Our wonderful March of Life volunteers – Leo, Shuna, Lea and Setti – prepared a heartwarming video presentation sharing scenes from their lives as volunteers in the rehabilitation village and their personal involvement in Tikkun Olam, after which they screened another short film about their organization.

Sharing their own personal stories, each volunteer divulged their personal family ties to the Holocaust, eliciting free-flowing tears from all present.  Aryeh Nusbacher, a 93-year-old member of the Senior Center, joined a March of Life volunteer to light a yahrzeit candle in memory of those who were killed, after which Aryeh shared his own story, emotionally recounting how almost his entire family was obliterated in the Holocaust.

Eighteen–year-old Setti told the story of her great-grandfather, an engineer who helped construct the infamous gas chambers and electric fences surrounding the camps. Upon returning home after losing the war, Setti’s great-grandfather was not ashamed to tell his family what he had done, yet he demanded that everything he said be kept as a family secret, afraid that the truth would get out and they would all be killed. And so, the family kept silent, but only until the great-grandfather died, after which the family came public with their story and joined the March of Life.

“From the deepest depths of my heart, I want to apologize for what happened to your family,” proclaimed a very emotional Setti to Aryeh, tears streaming down her face. “I have no way to change the past, but I am here to extend my sincerest hope for a better future.”

To conclude the emotionally packed evening, the volunteers presented the seniors with beautiful plants prepared especially for them and decorated with the words, “We stand by you.”

We are so grateful to our inspiring volunteers for their important and poignant initiative and for their ongoing contribution to the residents and students of the rehabilitation village, ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran.

With the love you bring to us, you are taking another small and significant step toward Tikkun Olam, repairing the world.

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