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A LETTER FROM PESACH SHEFER

Dean of Students, Ort Braude College

Shalom,

The student trip to Poland which you organized and which was carried out to perfection leads me to the writing of these words and sentiments. For me, it was a difficult week, one of complex physical hardship: of cold, snow and lengthy periods spent in busses.... also one of mental emotion.

The trip took its character from the fascinating, deep subjects dealing with the heritage of Israel and the roots of Judaism, and subjects directly connected to the horrific events that made up the Holocaust.  You conveyed clearly the essential link - a link binding Judaism, the Holocaust and Israel - that can never be undone.

The greatness and the power of the trip lay in the combination of these three components.

For me, Pesah Shefer, son of survivors who went through labor and concentration camps - the trip was the resolution of many questions in my life.  I grew up in a home with parents who had gone through camps in Transnistra, Bucovina - what was then Romania.  My parents never shared any of their experiences or feelings about them with me and never told me anything that had happened to them during that period.

Time passed, and I enlisted in the IDF; when I finished my officers' course, my father, Mendel Shefer, z'"l, wanted to come to the award ceremony; right after, my father hugged me and said to me something which has accompanied my all my life, to this day:

"Now, I have taken revenge on the Nazis - I have a son who is a captain in the Jewish army which will protect us."

My father, who had suffered all his life from incapacity in his legs, apparently from his travails during that period, never complained about any physical pain.  It seems - and this is my opinion - that his pain from what had transpired in the past was far greater than any physical pain that he felt.  Since that lone sentence, my father never again mentioned anything of the past.

Even though my parents never discussed the Holocaust (and we, the close family circle, lived with my parents, z"l, until they passed away) it was important to me to explain to my children from where their grandmother and grandfather came - to tell them about the family's Jewish roots.  My two sons participated in a similar trip and returned to Israel having had experiences, reaching insights and a deeper understanding.

I should mention that for a long time, I had been thinking of taking such a trip, but the exigencies of life prevented it.  Thanks to you, I was able to come full circle by participating in the journey, tying up loose threads in my life.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all and those who are active in "Nefesh Yehudi" for the amazing experience that I personally had together with the students.

You are on a holy mission in bringing Jews closer to their past, their heritage, and their religion.

Keep up the wonderful work!

Wishing you success,

Pesah Shefer

©
A LETTER FROM PESACH SHEFER

Dean of Students, Ort Braude College

Shalom,

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