Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement.
The Truthful Man Who Sacrificed His Life For His People
A man as righteous and honest as Rabbi Meir David Kahane, may G-d avenge his blood, comes along once in a lifetime. He traveled over land and sea, sacrificing his life trying to save the Jewish people.
The Rabbi was a man of vision who saw the truth and warned his people of the coming disasters. He saw the problems and knew the cure and whether in Israel or the exiles warned his people. His people – the Jewish people were all his people. I remember being at a Reformed Temple when the Rabbi spoke and he was asked “Rabbi do you consider us Jews?” His answer was “yes” you are as much a Jew as I am. But, you can be a better Jew by being more observant, but nevertheless a Jew you are. I went to jail for Russian Jews and never asked them what kind of Jew they are. Rabbi Kahane fought and sacrificed for the Russian cause as did JDL people and ended up opening the doors for Russian Jews.
Rabbi Kahane saw that there will be big problems with the Arabs and told his people to “Throw Them Out” Let them go to their 22 countries or anywhere else they want. He was willing to raise money for a one-way ticket. He said, “I don’t hate Arabs, I love Jews and do not want them killed.” He warned Jews hat the Arabs have children from many wives (this is allowed for the Arab) who will vote and they will vote for their own in the Knesset. After achieving to get many seats, the Arabs together with the Leftist will vote Israel out of existence. You do not need bullets to do away with Israel; you will have that through Arab babies. No one listened. No one wanted to hear the truth. He was called Nazi and any evil name in and out of the dictionary. More times than I can count, he sat in jail for his warnings that were not popular. This man kept going. He was haunted and could not rest or understand why people did not listen to him. Jews like good tidings, not warnings of disasters.
We are living his nightmare today with some 15 seats in the Knesset for the Arabs and growing. We lived the disasters caused by an Oslo agreement, which led the way for our enemies to kill thousands of innocent Jews. Once the Israeli government led by Menachem Begin gave away Yamit, the Rabbi knew that Yehuda and Shamron were next and more land will continue to be given into our enemies hands. And it was. Parts of Yehuda and Shomron went to our enemies. And away went Gush Katif into enemies hands. Why? Well the ones that could not see and refused to listen, thought it would bring peace. It turned into the largest terrorist base in the Mideast. This man of vision always said, he studies the past, the deeds of our forefathers repeats itself. He saw what was happening and knew what would be. Most of all he knew how to avoid all the disasters, which caused him no rest, only suffering and sacrifice.
Apathy, how he hated “apathy”. He wrote books witch explained the problems, cause and cure. Too many Jews that read those books or listened to this “giant” of a man speak where “apathetic” Jews.
He warned the Jews in the exiles to get out while there is time. All you need is the breaking of the social fabric, morals, family life and economic problems and you will see riots as you have never even imagined. And who will they blame, if not the Jew. The Jew who they always hated quietly when times were good and when it turns bad, the Jews will feel the hatred of the angry and frustrated. He saw the universities turning against Israel and the Jews and tried to set up groups to educate. As Rabbi Kahane said time and time again, “a Holocaust does not mean necessarily gas chambers, it comes in different forms.” His last speech 30 years ago, before he was brutally murdered was begging the Jews in America to come home. He said to them, “It may be hard in Israel, but it will be impossible in America” Come home while you can. Very, very few listened. He warned Jews in every exile to come home. His words hit deaf ears.
I asked him one day to stop and just teach in his Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea which he wanted and worked so long and hard to have and teach quality students. He knew his life was in danger. The Israeli government made that very clear. He could not stop; he was a haunted man, a truthful and honest man. A caring man for each and every Jew. Any Jew killed tore at his heart.
He said, Barbara, remember what I am telling you – before the coming of the Messiah, the coming of the Redemption will be a horror that no one will want to live through. It will affect the whole world. The Jews still have time to bring the Final Redemption in a good way and refuse to listen. He book” Forty Years”, explaining all was written by Rabbi Kahane. Yes, people read it and said, it is too frightening to think about.
I always think of his words. I am thinking ,did the horrors start with Oslo? Is this Pandemic with all the deaths and suffering which affects the whole world what Rabbi Kahane warned about? I truly believe it is.
The Rabbi also told me that no one will remember who was head of Israel Bonds or UJA or any one of these organizations. But, those hate me and those that love me will never forget me.
Rabbi Meir David Kahane HY”D legacy lives on through his students and followers. The ones that believed his words. Thirty years ago this, man who sacrificed his life for his people lives on. His name is not forgotten or his sacrifice.
The 19th anniversary of 9/11 has been the nation’s darkest in this dreaded cycle.
The Black Lives Matter riots that attacked the statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Christopher Columbus, and Abraham Lincoln, did not spare 9/11 memorials.
The statue of a police officer was beheaded and toppled in Plymouth, MA at a 9/11 memorial honoring those who had died in the attacks. But the 2,000 pound steel beam from the World Trade Center proved beyond the ability of the vandals to topple.
When Black Lives Matter racists defaced statues and memorials in the Boston Common, including the ‘Glory’ regiment, they didn’t spare the 9/11 memorial in the Public Garden.
A 9/11 memorial honoring five fallen firefighters was defaced and the American flagpole was cut down in Washingtonville, NY,.There was also vandalism at the Decatur, IL memorial site, and a red, white and blue rearing horse 9/11 memorial in Rochester, NY was smeared with red paint.
Beyond the radical attacks on the monuments of September 11 were the attacks on its heroes.
The NYPD has suffered its worst days since 9/11 with over 400 officers injured in the BLM riots. Police and firefighters went from the heroes of a nation to being smeared as soulless monsters.
“I could see no difference between the officer who killed and the police who died, or the firefighters who died,” Ta-Nehisi Coates, an intellectual godfather of Black Lives Matter, wrote, “They were not human to me. Black, white, or whatever, they were the menaces of nature; they were the fire, the comet, the storm, which could — with no justification — shatter my body.”
“Between the World and Me”, the hateful tract in which Coates dehumanized the police officers and firefighters who had died trying to save people of all races and creeds, became a bestseller, was a Pulitzer finalist and has repeatedly shown up on corporate anti-racism reading lists.
All of this makes commemorating September 11 into an awkward task that Democrats avoid.
The 9/11 Memorial & Museum tried to cancel the Tribute in Light, whose beams that fill the night sky are used to light the space of the fallen towers of the World Trade Center, and the reading of the names of the fallen dead by 9/11 family members. It took an outpouring of anger from family members and alternative events by Tunnel2Towers to get the museum to reverse course.
While the leadership of the mismanaged museum blamed the pandemic for their decision, local Democrats had long viewed the ceremonies as intolerant and out of touch with their agenda.
Last year, Nicholas Haros Jr., the son of a 9/11 victim, had blasted Rep. Ilhan Omar’s minimization of the attack on America at the reading of the names, while wearing a t-shirt decorated with her comments minimizing the Islamic atrocity, “I was attacked, your relatives and friends were attacked, our constitutional freedoms were attacked and our nation’s founding on Judeo-Christian principles were attacked. That’s what some people did.”
Meanwhile, the Tribute in Light had been decried as a symbol of “extreme nationalism”.
There had always been a deep discomfort with the patriotism of September 11 and with its heroes and victims, the former were mostly working-class white men from the bridge and tunnel crowd, and the latter were mostly white middle-class men and women, many from outside the city and state, who were also insufficiently diverse and representative of the “New America”.
Even early on there had been efforts to replace the firefighters raising the flag at Ground Zero with a more diverse group in an official memorial. In the long years after the men of the NYPD and the FDNY had raised up the courage of a nation, both organizations, like the military, have been gutted by political correctness, and have turned into shadows of their former selves.
The FDNY has a diversity monitor who has cost the organization $23 million, and a top diversity official who was sued for excluding one of the firefighters who raised the flag at Ground Zero from a color guard ceremony.
Nicholas Garaufis, a Clinton judge, and Mayor Bill de Blasio imposed their vision of diversity on the FDNY to ensure that “the racial, ethnic and gender demographics of the department’s firefighters reflect that of the city’s population as a whole” along with the “full integration of a mixed-gender workforce.”
But the heroism of the FDNY and NYPD on September 11 came from the fact that its men did not reflect a random sampling of the city’s population. They were extraordinary men, heroes who went where no one else would dare, climbing 100 stories in the hope of saving someone.
If Islamic terrorists were to fly planes into the Freedom Tower today, there would be fewer members of the FDNY’s mixed-gender and fully diverse workforce who would climb 100 stories with 60 pounds of gear on their backs while a skyscraper was tottering and burning on all sides.
On 9/11, firefighters around the country will commemorate their heroism by climbing 110 stories.
That’s the traditional kind of heroism. It’s out of step with the millennial ethos of performative hysteria spread virally across social media which turns victimhood into celebrity. The men who lived and died on that day were not victims and they were not trying to get famous. They did their duty. But to many the concept of duty has become as alien as frock coats and top hats.
19 years after 9/11, men and women born after the attack will be able to vote.
The politics of the present are being formed by radicals who, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 11 years old at the time, were children on September 11. The meaning of the day is as incomprehensible to them and as distant as Pearl Harbor.
The Obama administration had tried to shift the meaning of September 11 away from heroism to volunteerism. Its idea of commemorating the attack on America was cleaning up parks. As time goes by, there will be no need to actively suppress the commemorations, they’ll be irrelevant.
If we let it happen.
History is made up not only of dry facts, but emotional connections. The stories that define us are the ones that matter because they endow life with meaning. For millions of Americans, the death of an ex-con who had robbed a pregnant woman at gunpoint gave their lives meaning. That’s why so much of the country is burning and so many of its memorials have fallen.
The Islamic terrorists who attacked us on September 11 had beliefs that gave their lives meaning. So did the SS soldiers who marched through Poland or their NKVD counterparts.
It is not the mere presence of evil that creates a crisis, but the absence of meaningful opposition to it. And meaningful opposition comes from a deep moral passion without which life is empty.
The 19 hijackers lied to the passengers that if they didn’t resist, they would be allowed to live.
Mohammed Atta told Flight 11 passengers, “Nobody move. Everything will be okay. If you try to make any moves, you’ll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet.”
It worked three times. And then when Americans realized what was at stake, it stopped working.
Atta and his band of Jihadist butchers understood that what normal Americans wanted was to be comfortable and safe. They wanted to recline back in their seats, plug in their headphones, and wait out the interminable passage of time they would spend flying in a tin can in the sky.
“Take prisoners and kill them. As Allah said: ‘No prophet should have prisoners until he has soaked the land with blood,’” Atta told his men.
“Just stay quiet, and you’ll be okay,” he lied to the infidel hostages.
The leftist radicals, who have been in league with Islamic terrorists, defending them in court, propagandizing for their “civil rights” in the press, and funding their networks, now call themselves, “woke”. Another September 11 anniversary reminds us that we need to wake up.
In our streets, the radicals chant, “Death to America”, they burn flags, desecrate churches and synagogues, and topple the statues of the nation’s founders. And their media allies and Democrat apparatchiks tell us to go along with it and we’ll be okay. The rioters and stabbers just want to issue their demands and make their point. If we stay quiet, they’ll leave us alone.
The 19th anniversary is another warning from the bloody echoes of history that they won’t.
When the Jihadis and BLMers chant, “Death to America”, believe that they mean it!
The enemies of our nation are also the foes of our history. They don’t just want to topple Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and every historical figure who wasn’t up to date with contemporary woke views on, in the words of a D.C. commission calling for the removal of the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial, “age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity”. No, they want to be rid of the courage and heroism of our entire history because they know that the power of Americans to resist their brutality and hate comes from our history.
That includes September 11.
On a cool fall day, millions of Americans woke out of a hazy dream of the end of history and remembered that we were a nation, not a borderless global order, that we needed heroes, not diversity, that history wasn’t over, that we still had enemies, and that what mattered was not the color of your skin or your politically correct virtue signaling, but whether you would rush the cockpit or sit in your seat hoping that despite everything you knew, they wouldn’t kill you.
On the 19th anniversary of that cool fall day, we are passing through fire and havoc, flying over ruined cities and fallen rubble because too many of us had fallen asleep until the guttural voice came on again reading its hateful demands. And many of our fellow passengers kneeled while the anthem played, they disgraced their country, and the memory of our fallen dead.
Many others woke up. We know where the plane headed toward the right side of history flies. And we don’t intend to let it follow that familiar arc toward social justice and mass murder.
An anniversary only matters as much as it brings meaning and purpose into our lives.
No amount of wishing or willing can raise the dead of September 11 out of their ashen graves. All we can do this anniversary, and every one before it and since, is to keep resisting the terrorists, domestic and international, to stay awake and ready in the long flight of history.
We must remember our heroes and honor their valor because we may need to imitate it.
Emergencies Make Awful Law: Why are Casinos Treated More Favorably than Churches During a Pandemic?
If hard cases make bad law, emergencies make even worse law. Our case books are littered with awful judicial decisions authorizing presidents and governors to violate core constitutional rights in the name of coping with crises. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s decision to intern more than 100,000 Americans of Japanese descent following the attack on Pearl Harbor was upheld by liberal justices. President Abraham Lincoln’s decision to detain citizens and deny them access to the writ of habeas corpus was upheld during the Civil War. Now that that we are experiencing a pandemic crisis, if history is any guide, we can expect some bad decisions.
Consider the recent decisions of the Supreme Court to deny emergency relief to churches that have been subjected by states to restrictions that are more onerous than to casinos and other secular institutions and businesses. The churches sought emergency relief under their First Amendment right of the free exercise of religion. The Supreme Court, in two 5-4 decisions, has denied that relief, with the swing vote being cast by the deeply religious and strongly conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, who joined the four liberal justices. The other four conservative justices dissented in both cases.
The first amendment’s approach to religion is anything but clear or simple. It contains several relevant provisions: it prohibits “an establishment of religion.” It also protects against laws “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion. Finally, it guarantees “the right of the people peaceably to assemble,” although that provision seems geared more to political than religious assemblies — a distinction that may be difficult to make in an age in which everything, including religion, is political.
What does seem clear from these provisions and our long, if not always successful, effort to reconcile them in judicial decisions, is that the government may not discriminate against religion in general or any particular religion in particular. It need not exempt religious institutions or practitioners from rules that are generally applicable to similarly situated institutions or citizens, but it may not impose especially onerous rules on religion that limit its free exercise.
It is against this general background that the current claims of the churches must be analyzed. In my view, no state should be allowed to impose more onerous crowd restrictions on churches than on casinos. Under the first amendment, churches hold a higher protected status than comparably sized and ventilated businesses. So, as an initial matter, it would appear unconstitutional for a state to prohibit church assemblies of more than 50 congregants, regardless of the size of the building, while allowing a casino to host up to half their usual number of gamblers, which in some cases can exceed 1,000. But Chief Justice Roberts introduced a judicial consideration that went beyond that initial consideration, namely the right of governors not to be second-guessed by judges during a pandemic emergency:
The precise question of when restrictions on particular social activities should be lifted during the pandemic is a dynamic and fact-intensive matter subject to reasonable disagreement. Our Constitution principally entrusts “[t]he safety and the health of the people” to the politically accountable officials of the States “to guard and protect.” Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U. S. 11, 38 (1905). When those officials “undertake to act in areas fraught with medical and scientific uncertainties,” their latitude “must be especially broad.” Marshall v. United States, 414 U. S. 417, 427 (1974). Where those broad limits are not exceeded, they should not be subject to second-guessing by an “unelected federal judiciary,” which lacks the background, competence, and expertise to assess public health and is not accountable to the people. See Garcia v. San Antonino Metropolitan Transit Authority, 409 U.S. 528, 545 (1985).
This is especially true where, as here, a party seeks emergency relief in an interlocutory posture, while local officials are actively shaping their response to changing facts on the ground.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh responded to the Chief justice’s invocation of emergency powers as follows:
But COVID–19 is not a blank check for a State to discriminate against religious people, religious organizations, and religious services. There are certain constitutional red lines that a State may not cross even in a crisis. Those red lines include racial discrimination, religious discrimination, and content-based suppression of speech. This Court’s history is littered with unfortunate examples of overly broad judicial deference to the government when the government has invoked emergency powers and asserted crisis circumstances to override equal-treatment and free-speech principles. The court of history has rejected those jurisprudential mistakes and cautions us against an unduly deferential judicial approach, especially when questions of racial discrimination, religious discrimination, or free speech are at stake.
Justice Kavanaugh gets the better of the argument in my view. It is true that during the course of an emergency, courts tend to defer to executive powers, but the longer-term verdict of history often condemns those emergency decisions. Back in the early 1970s I wrote a series of articles about emergency powers in which I predicted, based on the history, what courts are likely to do in future emergencies:
What then could we reasonably expect from our courts if any American president (or governor) during a period of dire emergency were once again to suspend important constitutional safeguards? Our past experience suggests the following outline: The courts – especially the Supreme Court – will generally not interfere with the executive handling of a genuine emergency while it still exists. They will employ every technique of judicial avoidance at their disposal to postpone decision until the crisis has passed. (Indeed, though thousands of persons have been unlawfully confined during our various periods of declared emergency, I am aware of no one where the Supreme Court has ever actually ordered anyone’s release while the emergency was still in existence.) The likely exceptions to this rule of judicial postponement will be cases of clear abuse where no real emergency can be said to exist, and cases in which delay would result in irrevocable loss of rights, such as those involving the death penalty.
The current cases seem to bear out my prediction. But there is a difference between predicting and justifying. I cannot constitutionally justify restrictions on religious exercise that are more demanding than restrictions on comparable non-religious activities.
The daring nun who hid and saved 83 Jewish children
By Niamh Hughes
Two Jewish girls from north-eastern France found themselves in great danger when Germany invaded 80 years ago. But while their parents and younger sister were caught and murdered, they survived - with dozens of other Jewish children - thanks to the bravery of a nun in a convent near Toulouse.Twelve-year-old Hélène Bach was playing in the garden with her younger sister, Ida, when they saw a military truck approaching and rushed inside.The two girls and their mother had left their home in Lorraine, north-eastern France, after the German invasion in May 1940 and started travelling towards the "free zone" in the south of the country.To reduce the risk of the whole family being caught, it had been decided that the father, Aron, and oldest daughter, Annie, would make the journey separately. But when Aron and Annie were arrested in 1941 and taken to a detention camp near Tours, Hélène's mother rented a house nearby. And they were still there a year later, when the German soldiers came driving up the road.Hélène and eight-year-old Ida ran into the kitchen to warn their mother."My mother told us to run - to hide in the woods," Hélène says. "I was holding my little sister by the hand but she did not want to come with me. She wanted to go back to my mother. I could hear the Germans. I let her hand go and she ran back."
Isolated in the woods, Hélène hid until she felt the coast was clear.Then she crept back to the house and found some money her mother had left on the table."She knew I would come back," she says.Hélène went to stay with a friend she'd made in the area. She never saw her mother or younger sister again.
Hélène's older sister, Annie, had her own narrow escape. After a year at the camp near Tours, she succeeded in escaping through some fencing and running away.Aged 16, Annie succeeded this time in making the journey alone to her aunt's home in the southern city of Toulouse, but even there she wasn't safe. While her aunt's family were not officially registered as Jews and could pretend to be Catholics, this wasn't an option open to Annie.One day in the autumn of 1942, the police rang at the door "They ordered, 'Show your family book and all your children, we want to check!'" she says."The luck of my life is that my cousin, Ida, had gone to buy bread - that's why sometimes I believe in miracles. So my aunt said this is Estelle, Henri, Hélène and, pointing at me, Ida."
Not long after Annie's arrival in Toulouse, her aunt received a letter from Hélène, from her hiding place near Tours. She then made arrangements for her to be rescued.So one night a young woman from the French Resistance, the Maquis, knocked at the door of the house where Hélène was staying."She said that she came to find me, to cross the demarcation line," Hélène remembers. To show that she could be trusted, the visitor pulled out a photograph of Hélène that her aunt had provided.It was a difficult journey. The young woman had false papers in which she and Hélène were described as students, even though Hélène was so young. They were stopped and questioned several times.
The "free zone" in the south of France did not live up to its name. The government of Marshal Philippe Pétain, based in Vichy, passed anti-Jewish laws, allowed Jews rounded up in Baden and Alsace Lorraine to be interned on its territory, and seized Jewish assets.On 23 August 1942 the archbishop of Toulouse, Jules-Geraud Saliège, wrote a letter to his clergymen, asking them to recite a letter to their congregations."In our diocese, moving scenes have occurred," it went. "Children, women, men, fathers and mothers are treated like a lowly herd. Members of a single family are separated from each other and carted away to an unknown destination. The Jews are men, the Jewesses are women. They are part of the human race; they are our brothers like so many others. A Christian cannot forget this."He protested to the Vichy authorities about their Jewish policy, while most of the French Catholic hierarchy remained silent. Out of 100 French bishops, he was one of only six who spoke out against the Nazi regime.Saliège's message struck a chord with Sister Denise Bergon, the young mother superior of the Convent of Notre Dame de Massip in Capdenac, 150km (93 miles) north-east of Toulouse.
"This call deeply moved us, and such emotion grabbed our hearts. A favourable response to this letter was a testament to the strength of our religion, above all parties, all races," she wrote after the war in 1946."It was also an act of patriotism, as by defending the oppressed we were defying the persecutors."The convent ran a boarding school and Sister Denise knew it would be possible to hide Jewish children among her Catholic pupils. But she worried about endangering her fellow nuns, and about the dishonesty that this would entail.Her own bishop supported Pétain so she wrote to Archbishop Saliège for advice. She records his response in her journal: "Let's lie, let's lie, my daughter, as long as we are saving human lives."By the winter of 1942, Sister Denise Bergon was collecting Jewish children who had been hiding in the wooded valleys and gorges of the region around Capdenac, known as L'Aveyron.As round-ups of Jews intensified - carried out by German troops and, from 1943, by a fascist militia, the Milice - the number of Jewish children taking refuge in the convent would eventually swell to 83.Among them were Annie Beck, whose aunt realised she would be safer there than in Toulouse, shortly followed by Hélène, taken directly to the convent by her guide from the Resistance.
Hélène finally felt safe, though was overwhelmed with emotion on her arrival."At the beginning, Madame Bergon took me into a room and she tried to make me feel as if my parents were here, and so she was like a mother really," she says.At the same time, the fate of her younger sister, Ida, weighed heavily on her."Every evening, we had to first do our homework. And then when we finished we could go out and play. I always thought if my sister had not let go of my hand, she would have been in the convent with me," she says.Another Jewish refugee from Alsace Lorraine was a boy called Albert Seifer, who was a few years younger than the sisters."Surrounded by big walls, we were like in a fortress," he says. "We were very happy." We did not really feel the war despite the fact that we were surrounded by danger."
Parents and guardians would send their children with money, jewellery or other valuables in order to pay for the children's upkeep, before they did their best to escape from France. Sister Denise kept careful records."From the beginning of 1944, the round-ups of Jews were becoming tighter and numerous," she recalled in 1946. "Requests come from all sides and we received around 15 little girls, some of whom have just escaped in a miraculous way from the pursuit of the Gestapo."She added: "They had simply become our children, and we had committed ourselves to suffer everything so as to return them safely to their families."Other than Sister Denise, only the school's director, Marguerite Rocques, its chaplain and two other sisters knew the truth about the children's origins. The other 11 nuns were aware that a number of the children were refugees from Alsace-Lorraine, but did not know they were Jewish - and nor did the officials whom Sister Denise pressed for more and more ration books.The children's lack of familiarity with Catholic rituals threatened to expose them, but an explanation was found."We came from the east of France, a place with many industrial cities and a lot of workers who were communists," says Annie. "So we posed as communist children who knew nothing of religion!"
The longer the war continued, the more dangerous the children's position became and Sister Denise began to worry about possible searches."Even though all compromising papers and the jewellery from the children's families had already been hidden in the most secret corners of the house, we did not feel safe," she wrote in her 1946 journal. "So, late at night, when everyone was asleep in the house, we dug a hole for the hidden things in the convent's garden and we buried as deep as possible anything that could be compromising."
In May 1944 a battle-hardened elite SS Division known as Das Reich arrived in the area from the Eastern front.About this time, Annie remembers that a member of the Resistance arrived with an alarming warning."One day the doorbell rang. Since the sister in charge of the door was a bit far, I opened it myself," she says."A young man was standing there. He said: 'Quick! I must speak to your director! It is very, very urgent!'"The man told us that we had been denounced. News had spread that the convent was hiding Jewish children."Sister Denise hatched a plan with the Resistance, who agreed to fire warning shots if the enemy was approaching."The children would go to sleep, the older ones paired up with the younger ones and, at the first detonation heard in the night, in silence but in haste, they must get to the woods and leave the house to the invaders," she wrote in 1946.
But soon she decided to hide the children without waiting for the invaders to arrive. One group, including Annie, was taken to the chapel."The chaplain was strong and could lift the benches. He opened a trap door. We slid down in there," she says.The tiny underground space was 2.5m long and less than 1.5m high.
Seven children huddled together there for five days. They could not stand up or lie down to sleep during the long nights, and were only allowed out for short periods in the early hours of the morning, to exercise, eat, drink and go to the toilet.Air came through a small vent that opened on to the courtyard."After five days there it was no longer possible to endure," Annie says."Imagine if the nuns had been arrested," she adds.Those days hidden underground marked Annie for life - she has slept with a night-light ever since. Hélène was fortunate enough to be housed instead with a local family.Though they didn't enter the convent, the SS did leave a trail of destruction right on the convent's doorstep."We found some
maquisards[members of the Maquis] who had been killed and tossed on the road. The Germans set an example so that others did not resist," Annie says.Sister Denise wanted to pay her respects to the dead and asked Annie to help her place flowers on each of the dead bodies.In June 1944, Das Reich was ordered north to join the effort to repel the Allied landings in Normandy. On the way it took part in two massacres designed to punish locals for Maquis activity in the area. Then, on arrival in Normandy, it was encircled by the US 2nd Armoured Division and crushed, losing 5,000 men and more than 200 tanks and other combat vehicles.
After southern France was liberated, in August 1944, the Jewish children slowly left the convent. Albert Seifer was reunited with his family, including his father, who returned alive from Auschwitz.Annie and Hélène weren't so fortunate.Although their aunt survived, their parents and younger sister, Ida, were murdered in Auschwitz.Annie settled in Toulouse, married, had children and recently became a great-grandmother. She still regularly meets Albert, now 90.Hélène married and had a son, settling in Richmond, west London. Aged 94 and 90, the sisters travel between London and Toulouse to see each other as often as they can.
They refer to Sister Denise as "notre dame de la guerre" - our lady of the war.They were sad to say goodbye to her, and regularly visited her for the rest of her life.When Annie's children were young she often took them with her, in order to keep this period of history alive for them - a constant reminder of what the Jewish people endured.Sister Denise remained at the convent and continued working until her death in 2006 at the age of 94. Later in life she helped disadvantaged children, and then immigrants from North Africa.In 1980, she was honoured by the Holocaust Memorial Center, Yad Vashem, as Righteous Among the Nations. A street is named after her in Capdenac, but apart from that the only memorial is in the grounds of the convent.
It says: "This cedar tree was planted on 5 April 1992 in memory of the saving of 83 Jewish children (from December 1942 to July 1944) by Denise Bergon… at the request of Monsignor Jules-Geraud Saliège, archbishop of Toulouse."It stands close to the spot where Sister Denise buried the jewellery, money and valuable items parents left behind - and which she gave back, untouched, after the war to help the families start again.
See you tomorrow bli neder
We need Mosiach now !
Love Yehuda Lave
Yehuda Lave, Spirtiual Advisor and Counselor
Jerusalem, Jerusalem Israel
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