October 27, 2013 – Congregation Shalom and Shalom Ministry sponsored a wonderful Holocaust Museum Tour. After entering into the Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus, located on Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hills, MI, we were immediately ushered into a room set up for the festivities.
The program began, as all Shalom Ministry programs rightfully begin, with prayer. Afterwards, Yvonne Moore, accompanied by a gentleman named Marty on the piano, sang a very lively, inspirational Hebrew song that engaged the crowd with joyous hand-clapping and praise to the Lord. This was followed by the praise team from Congregation Shalom leading, “Here I Am to Worship” and “Who Am I.”
Paula Bolton’s Testimony
The featured speakers were Holocaust survivors, Paula Bolton and Michael Rice.
Paula, a lovely, small, elderly lady approached the podium smiling, began her talk saying, “Pastor Denson told me that I only have 15 minutes to speak, which is impossible to do, but I will try.” With that we laughed, found ourselves in endeared to this amiable spirit by the tone of her speech and the love that exuded from her inner being, despite the disturbing pictures she painted of the dark subject of her survival during the holocaust. She told us that she had been speaking about the Holocaust for twenty-three years. Her mission in life was to see that this could never happen again to any group of people. Her emphatic wish was:
Teaching love and understand among all people. It shouldn’t make any difference what nationality, color, race or religion a people are. We are all God’s children. Speak up wherever there is injustice. And we will make it a better world. …And you will see great changes.
Paula, the youngest sibling in her family, was thirteen years old when the Nazi’s invaded Poland. Initially her parents were taken away from her and she was taken to force labor in the ghetto. There, they were given one week’s worth of rations, that a person could eat in a single day. People began to look like walking skeletons. After a while she was sent to Aushiwitz. When she jump off the cattle car the Nazi’s were screaming for people to divide into two groups – one to the right and one to the left. Later she discovered that the ones that were sent to the right went immediately to the gas chamber. Auschwitz was terrible, but somehow she survived. From their she was sent to another camp and had to go on a death march. As people fell out they were either killed or left for dead. Sitting pealing potatoes for twelve hours a day, barely living off the rashions, her and the others tried to eat some of the potatoes peals. When the Nazi’s discovered this, they nearly beat all the girls to death.
One day she heard a lot of bombing and shooting. All of the sudden the door burst open. She thought this would be her final day, but instead it was her day of liberation – the British had taken over the concentration camp.
Explaining why the Jewish people have felt so compelled to build these Holocaust Memorials, she said,
In the Jewish tradition, when we visit someone who has passed away we leave a stone. For the loved ones that died we do not know where to leave a stone so we built these Holocaust Museums.
She also wanted to thank the Christians in the audience, because throughout her holocaust ordeal, she consistently came across believers who were willing to risk their lives to help her. She ended saying,
The Christians that helped us, we called the Righteous Christians. You are also the Righteous Christians. God bless you and keep you and God bless America.
After this stirring testimony, Yvonne Moore sang another beautiful Christian praise song.
Michael Weiss’ Testimony
Afterwards, an elderly gentleman named Michael Weiss, began his testimony. Michael was in Czeckloslavokia, when the Nazi’s arrived on November 9th. Some people thought Hitler taking over that country would be good, but many of the younger Jews knew that Hitler hated the Jews. They began by tagging all the Jews with the Star of David. Then they began to create laws that discriminated against the Jews, like, they could not have professional licenses or go to college.
Eventually, they sent the Jews to the ghetto. People were so hungry there, that “ladies gave away their diamond rings for bread.” From there he also was sent to Auschwitz. Shortly after arriving at Auschwitz, he a met a man that he knew as a child, but did not recognize, because of his extreme malnutrition. Being struck by a strange stench in the air, Michael, asked his friend what was the source. His friend then pointed at a building to their right and said, “That is where they burn the bodies.”
Recognizing Paula and Michael for Their Indelible Spirit to Overcome
Paula and Michael also received very nice plaques and awards from –
- A Testimonial Resolution from the City of Detroit
- A Citation from the Governor of Michigan, and
- A Shalom Peace Award
Pastor Denson’s Closing Remarks
We need to wake up. We need to stand with Israel every chance we can. We need to speak out again anti-Semitism. And we need to proclaim and shout the Good News to our Jewish friends… We need to give to them what rightfully belongs to them, which is their Messiah…
The new holocaust is not standing with Israel, withholding the Good News from them and not being available to the God of Israel.
…We owe Jewish people a debt. When are we going to repay it. We need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
The ceremony then ended, as all Shalom Ministry functions end, with prayer. Then Pastor Denson called up the leaders of the church to pray over our Jewish friends.