August 30, 2013

An Israeli solider and his "adopted" grandmother

Miriam and Daniel have developed a close bond
since Israeli's military volunteer program matched them up
Last week, I joined my second cousin Daniel Zohar on a visit with Miriam, his "adopted" savta (Hebrew: grandmother), in her attractive home just outside Tel Aviv. Miriam is a Shoah Survivor; her left arm bears the Nazi-tattooed ID number. Born in Hungary, she was interned in five Nazi concentration camps, and reached Mandatory Palestine (pre-State Israel) after the Allies liberated the camps.

A widow (her husband, a refugee from Germany, and she met soon after they arrived here), Miriam is 92 years old and lives alone surrounded by photos of her nuclear family (all exterminated) and living relatives worldwide. She shared memories of her happy childhood and of the ghoulish decades. And she discussed the books she is reading and where she buys them, served us a yummy Hungarian vegetable dish she had prepared, and peppered Daniel with caring grandmotherly questions about his well being and activities. She is excited about her upcoming holiday vacation in Jerusalem.

When I admired her near-wrinkle-free skin, she left the room and returned with her secret ingredients: two jars of Nivea Q10 anti-wrinkle cream — one for daytime use, the other for nighttime. Yet I also believe that Miriam's silken skin and shining radiance reflect faith, courage, humor, and intelligence  — hers and her ancestors' of blessed memory.

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