Tuesday, September 20, 2011
I forget the words...
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Lilly Friedman doesn't remember the last name of the woman who designed and sewed the wedding gown she wore when she walked down the aisle over 60 years ago. But the grandmother of seven does recall that when she first told her fiance Ludwig that she had always dreamed of being married in a white gown he realized he had his work cut out for him. For the tall, lanky 21-year-old who had survived hunger, disease and torture this was a different kind of challenge. How was he ever going to find such a dress in the Bergen-Belsen Displaced Person's camp where they felt grateful for the clothes on their backs?
Fate would intervene in the guise of a former German pilot who walked into the food distribution center where Ludwig worked, eager to make a trade for his worthless parachute. In exchange for two pounds of coffee beans and a couple of packs of cigarettes Lilly would have her wedding gown.
For two weeks Miriam the seamstress worked under the curious eyes of her fellow DPs, carefully fashioning the six parachute panels into a simple, long sleeved gown with a rolled collar and a fitted waist that tied in the back with a bow. When the dress was completed she sewed the leftover material into a matching shirt for the groom. A white wedding gown may have seemed like a frivolous request in the surreal environment of the camps, but for Lilly the dress symbolized the innocent, normal life she and her family had once led before the world descended into madness.
Lilly and her siblings were raised in a Torah observant home in the small town of Zarica, Czechoslovakia, where her father was a teacher, respected and well liked by the young yeshiva students he taught in nearby Irsheva. He and his two sons were marked for extermination immediately upon arriving at Auschwitz. For Lilly and her sisters it was only their first stop on their long journey of persecution, which included Plashof, Neustadt, Gross Rosen and finally Bergen-Belsen.
Lilly Friedman and her parachute dress on display in the Bergen- Belsen Museum
Four hundred people marched 15 miles in the snow to the town of Celle on January 27, 1946, to attend Lilly and Ludwig's wedding. The town synagogue, damaged and desecrated, had been lovingly renovated by the DPs with the meager materials available to them. When Sefer Torah arrived from England they converted an old kitchen cabinet into a makeshift Aron Kodesh.
"My sisters and I lost everything - our parents, our two brothers, our homes. The most important thing was to build a new home." Six months later, Lilly's sister Ilona wore the dress when she married Max Traeger. After that came Cousin Rosie. How many brides wore Lilly's dress? "I stopped counting after 17." With the camps experiencing the highest marriage rate in the world, Lilly's gown was in great demand.
In 1948 when President Harry Truman finally permitted the 100,000 Jews who had been languishing in DP camps since the end of the war to emigrate, the gown accompanied Lilly across the ocean to America . Unable to part with her dress, it lay at the bottom of her bedroom closet for the next 50 years, "not even good enough for a garage sale. I was happy when it found such a good home."
Home was the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. When Lilly's niece, a volunteer, told museum officials about her aunt's dress, they immediately recognized its historical significance and displayed the gown in a specially designed showcase, guaranteed to preserve it for 500 years.
But Lilly Friedman's dress had one more journey to make. Bergen- Belsen, the museum, opened its doors on October 28, 2007. The German government invited Lilly and her sisters to be their guests for the grand opening. They initially declined, but finally traveled to Hanover the following year with their children, their grandchildren and extended families to view the extraordinary exhibit created for the wedding dress made from a parachute. Lilly's family, who were all familiar with the stories about the wedding in Celle , were eager to visit the synagogue. They found the building had been completely renovated and modernized. But when they pulled aside the handsome curtain they were astounded to find that the Aron Kodesh, made from a kitchen cabinet, had remained untouched as a testament to the profound faith of the survivors. As Lilly stood on the bimah once again she beckoned to her granddaughter, Jackie, to stand beside her where she was once a kallah. "It was an emotional trip. We cried a lot."
Two weeks later, the woman who had once stood trembling before the selective eyes of the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele returned home and witnessed the marriage of her granddaughter.
The three Lax sisters - Lilly, Ilona and Eva, who together survived Auschwitz, a forced labor camp, a death march and Bergen-Belsen - have remained close and today live within walking distance of each other in Brooklyn. As mere teenagers, they managed to outwit and outlive a monstrous killing machine, then went on to marry, have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and were ultimately honored by the country that had earmarked them for extinction.
As young brides, they had stood underneath the chuppah and recited the blessings that their ancestors had been saying for thousands of years. In doing so, they chose to honor the legacy of those who had perished by choosing life.
IN MEMORIAM - 63 YEARS LATER
It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended. This post is in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated with the German and Russian peoples looking the other way. Now, more than ever, with Iraq, Iran, and others claiming the Holocaust to be 'a myth,' it's imperative to make sure the world never forgets, because there are others who would like to do it again.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
As most of you know, my husband is CaptainCookie. He spent over 20 years as an executive chef (alumni of Johnson and Wales for you culinary school aficionados). He ran restaurants and bakeries and creating fantastic gingerbread houses that were far more works of art than they were anything else. Nine months before Katrina, Bill went to work offshore as a chef on the big anchor boats. (Little did we know, our lives would have been devastated had he not changed jobs. The bakery he managed at the time was swallowed by ten feet of water and was not rebuilt for about three years.)
When Bill surrendered his life to God, an incredible work began within him that silenced the negativity and damaged caused by careless adults in his childhood. He began to realize that he was far, far more than the sum of what others had spoken over him in their cruelty and thoughtlessness. One day while he was out on his ship, he felt a loud and clear message within his heart: Don't you know I'm doing a new thing? Do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. NIV) It was at that moment he decided to leave the galley and the comfort zone of a well established career and begin taking classes to obtain his master's license and become a ship's captain. He's gotten his 200 ton license and is already studying for his 500 ton license. Thus, his nickname of going from the gingerbread man or cookie man to the captain!
Bill works out four weeks and is home two weeks. That means he misses a lot of life's events. That means he's alone for 28 days at a time (well, there are shipmates but that's not quite the same as family and friends). That means for 28 days, he is confined to a 189 foot ship, very confining. I pray often that God will bless my husband in ways I cannot. I want to share with you some of the ways God does that. While my honey can't go to shows and museums while he's at sea, God gives him beauty beyond words in SO many ways, and for that I am grateful.
Bill's ship (The Fast Cajun) is a 189 foot crew boat that ferries supplies and workers to and from oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. I've posted photos of his ship or ones identical to it in other blogs, so I won't do that here. This is where Bill sits to drive his ship:
The brown pelican is Louisiana's state bird, and Bill gets to see plenty of them in the Gulf of Mexico:
Bill's ship services about nine rigs (which float) and platforms (which are stationary) such as these:
This one just warmed my heart. Yes, our flag DOES still wave!
A view of the ship's wake:
Bill takes such beautiful photographs. It's impossible for me to pick and choose just the rights ones to express the beauty of the heavens and God's magnificent color palette, the gifts of His creativity that He lavishes upon us every single day. From the clouds in all their diversity to the sunsets, they are breathtaking.
If you made it this far, I thank you for sharing your time with us and allowing me to share some of my darling Irishman's work life with you. I hope you enjoyed it!
Sunday, September 11, 2011
A huge thank you to Susan134 for sharing this blog with me. It is, by far, one of the most inspiring blogs I have ever read. Take the time to read it. Let it seep into your being. Rejoice with this amazing lady and be encouraged on your own journey!
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