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A Friendship Based on Respect

The Vatican announced today that they will be opening their secret archive regarding the Holocaust era.  This comes on the heels of long-standing criticism by the Jewish community worldwide against Pope Pius XII for his complicity in the Holocaust — for failing to do enough to try to stop the Holocaust or for silent cooperation with the Nazi regime.  It is hoped that the opening of the archive will provide documentation of the actions and motivations of the World War II era pope.

But there is another issue that has been awaiting closure since the conclusion of World War II — the identity of those thousands of Jewish children who were hidden in monasteries during the war and who were then cut off from the Jewish people.  It is a sad story and one which remains an open wound among Jews the world over.

As Hitler progressed across Europe, one of his main objectives was to round up and annihilate all of Europe’s Jews. Despite centuries of European anti-Semitism, there had never been such a coordinated and legally endorsed campaign to destroy the Jewish people worldwide.

As the Nazis entered towns, cities and villages, they rounded up Jews, sending them to ghettos or directly to concentration or death camps.  While the Jews were largely unaware of the exact fate that awaited them, many feared for their lives and sought avenues of escape. But there were very few such avenues.  Most of the countries around the world refused to accept Jewish refugees.  The British closed the doors to Palestine, refusing entry to all but a select few Jews.  Desperate, families sought refuge for their children.

Families grappled with the decision to bring their children to a local monastery or convent.  In many cases, these same institutions had been the source of anti-Semitic attacks or pogroms in earlier years, especially in Poland and the Ukraine.  But they also feared that should their children survive the war, would they have grown up removed from their own national and spiritual identity.  Did they, as Jewish parents, have the right to cut their children off from their spiritual heritage.

As the war progressed and the terrible fate that awaited the Jews became clearer, parents made the choice to leave their children with the nuns.  But the parents of most of these children were murdered in Hitler’s death camps and when the war was over, there were no family members who knew where these children were to claim them.  Their parents took that knowledge with them to the crematorium.

Just after the war, knowing that there were thousands of Jewish children in convents and monasteries all over Europe but not knowing their names or locations, then Chief Rabbi of pre-State Israel, Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog, traveled throughout Europe looking for these children.  He met with Pope Pius XII and asked for his assistance in restoring these children to the Jewish people.  The pope did little to help and actually worked to prevent Jewish children who had been baptized to be returned to Judaism. A poignant story has Rabbi Herzog visiting church orphanage after orphanage.  Upon entering the children’s bedroom, he would recite the Shema in Hebrew, eliciting tearful responses from children who were too young to consciously remember their parents.  But in this way, they identified themselves as Jewish children.  Herzog saved approximately 1,000 children in this way, but there were tens of thousands that were never found.

There are those who hope that today, 74 years after Auschwitz was liberated, the archives will reveal the identity of those lost children, many of whom were the last remnant of their families.

But why were these children not returned to their people in 1945?  One factor that played a significant role was the resistance of the church to return these children to their Judaism, which would, by definition, include a rejection of Christianity.

And herein lies that terrible divide that remains a threat to Jewish-Christian relations even today.  Christianity has long believed in a sacred mission to evangelize the world, and especially the Jews.  While both Jews and Christians cling strongly to their respective faiths and believe wholeheartedly that their faith is the correct one, only Christians are eager to convert Jews to their faith.  Jews have no interest in converting Christians to theirs.  Jews have no problem accepting and respecting people of different faiths.  For Christians that is a far larger challenge.

I have been working with Christians for more than 20 years now and have found dear friends and have forged longstanding relationships with so many Christians all over the world.  But the only people I am able to have these relationships with are those who respect me for who I am and for what I believe and who are not trying to change me.

I just recently returned from a trip to Australia where I met wonderful people all over that great land.  But on several occasions during that trip, I was confronted by well-meaning Christians who were unable to respect me — they handed me tracts, justified attempts to convert Jews to Christianity, and challenged my beliefs outright.  While I have never had difficulty responding to these challenges, I am consistently unwilling to do so.  I am simply offended by the rudeness and I can’t understand why these people who have come out to hear me speak about Israel find the need to try to convert me.  Why can’t they just leave me alone?  Why can’t we just agree to disagree and create relationships on the basis of what we have in common?

When I heard the news of the Vatican archives today and the ramifications on this missing children issue, I was reminded of some of the unpleasant encounters I had in Australia.  Jewish children were kept from their people because good Christians believed they had the right to deny the birthright of these precious children  in the name of salvation.  And those few individuals that I encountered were prepared to deny my birthright in the name of salvation.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  We are all children of an Awesome G-d Who has enabled us to witness the fulfillment of prophecy in our own lifetimes.  We have seen the restoration of the Jewish people after the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel in fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. G-d is orchestrating the final redemption and we have been invited to take part.  Let’s let Him run the show and we will all be blessed in the process.

19 thoughts on “A Friendship Based on Respect”

  1. thank you Sondra, very interesting reading. I have a great Grandmother who was a Jew, but we can find no information of her. Now we see why. So many stories about her life, made up because people do not Know the real story.Bless you beautiful lady

  2. Dear Sondra, Thank you for this article. It will be wonderful to see these documents and hopefully reunite some of the lost children of the holocaust to their Jewish families.
    The Catholic Church has had to answer for a lot of past atrocities lately. This one is huge and hopefully will further highlight the fact that the Jews are G-d’s first born and their gathering from the four corners of the earth means the deliverance of all the families of earth very soon.
    Perhaps you can remind the christians who want to convert you that the kingdom of their messiah they were taught to pray (thy kingdom come, thy will be done) is on earth through the regathered Jewish nation.
    The link above is a great booklet to give your Christian friends who want to proselytize you.
    May you and your staff continue to be blessed in your work by our loving Almighty G-d.
    Much love, Paul & Joyce

  3. Although I do not trust the Vatican I am hopeful some helpful information
    will be gained.Only G-d can save.

  4. It happened in Tacoma, WA, a few years ago, when a group of Messianic Jews had a stand to hand out literature at a fair. A group of Mexicans came up to the stand and demanded them to close the stand. “We don’t want Jews around here” one of the leader said to the Jewish man attending the stand. To back up his demand, he came very close to the table and vented his rage. Than he noticed a Menorah at the back of the stand. He said “What is that you have there, my Grandmother used to have one of these in her living room. When he was told that he was Jewish himself, he broke out in tears and could not stop crying. He found his roots.

  5. We just want to acknowledge that we will all be blessed in the process. We are thankful for having met you a few times in the Charleston, SC area and then in a Germantown restaurant in Israel. Thanks for being a good ambassador for Israel.

  6. On behalf of my fellow Christians I apologise for our rudeness. If our faith did not have Jewish roots and a Jewish Saviour, it would be worthless. One of the most exciting things about Christianity I discovered after becoming a Christian at the age of 47 are it’s Jewish roots. For instance, the recent discovery of an amulet with the Numbers 6:24-26 blessing and predating the Dead Sea Scrolls by 400 years was, when amplified, transformational. Accordingly, my understanding of YHWH has changed for ever!

  7. Woe to those “Christians” who say they are Christian and are not. The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel. (Psa 128:5-6) and Zechariah 10.
    I also wonder if the terrible times of the holocaust were the fulfillment of the tribulation mentioned in Matthew 24.
    I am looking forward to the blessings of the kingdom G-d will establish soon (as you have said in your message). God will save Israel and return the children to their fathers–everyone from Adam and everyone down the stream of time. Oh the joyous prospect! Graeme

  8. As a 76 year old evangelical Christian and daughter of a mixed marriage (Jewish father and a gentile mother), and therefore as a woman with Jewish heart, Jewish blood, and a Jewish name, , I apologize for any of my brothers and sisters in Christ who have made you a “PROJECT” instead of lovingly and tenderly connecting with you on common ground…..which is first as a fellow human being on this esrth at this particular time in history), and just as importantly, because of your acceptance of the G-d of Abraham, Isaac abd Jacob,( for those who do). These are two vital common ground areas.
    Please know that these well meaning followers of Christ ( the ones who were well meaning, that is) are coming from a place of deep love. At least that is what I see. But I myself have observed such ignorance( on both sides, actually), that I am deeply convinced that we need to “cut a little slack” for each other,

    As both a mother, grandmother, and retired ESL teacher, I see that we really do need to “ study to show oursemves approved,” by studying our Bibles as “truth seekers,”. Secondly we need to apply the Golden Rule. EASIER SAID THAN DONE, sometimes!!

    It occurs to me that we have both been given Biblical Truth, so there are lots of issues where we can pull together based upon them. Yes,, we can and must pull together to promote G-d’s ways…not opinions. . I was impressed by a sentence somewhere in Scripture where it states: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but G-d looks at the heart”. G-d sees the heart. May our hears be informed by the tender mercies of Abba Father our mutual G-d who will lead us. As I see it, we need to protect one another these days. Both Jewish people and Christ followers are under attack from the secular world. God have mercy on us all.

  9. Sad but unfortunately true regarding the negative effect of some components of Christianity on the Jewish community.
    As a Christian I am not a big fan of advocating my religion to anyone else.
    Religion for me a very personal.
    Hopefully you will gain comfort from Christians like me that love our Jewish & Israeli friends & will always support you.

  10. As a comment to your last sentence, may I quote to you from the Holy Koran: 3rd Sura verse 55: “And God said: O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee of the falsehoods of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall ye all return to Me, and I will judge between you of the matters where in ye dispute”.
    For your information.
    With my sincere regards,

  11. It is a shame if friends cannot have deep dialogue about their respective faiths and reasons for their beliefs together. I am sure that Jews debate with eachother about who is the messiah. Jews and christians should be able to too.

    • But Christians don’t debate about whether or not Jesus is the Messiah. Debate is welcome. What is not welcome is insisting that Christianity is right and Judaism is wrong. Instead of leaving the Jews salvation as a personal issue between God and them.

  12. Shalom Sondra, I for one, have a profound respect and admiration for you, your work and your efforts to build bridges between the community of believers. As a student and adherent to the Hebraic Roots Movement I can only sympathize and continue to apologize for our ignorant lot. You continue to be a deep well of information for my studies and teachings and I encourage you to continue to drink your draughts of water upstream from the herd.

  13. My Bible, in Revelation 21, tells me that Jewish people are an essential part of Yeshua’s Bride as the gates, whereas Messianic Jews and non-Jews are the foundations built on the apostles and prophets, Yeshua being the precious capstone. Jewish people as the gates are depicted as pearls because of what they have suffered. Yeshua is the precious cornerstone or capstone of this pyramid-shaped Bridal City which will come down from Heaven to clothe a huge mountain (government) on the New Earth. Jewish people are loved by the Lord and we are all on a journey in learning truth from a Heavenly perspective. None of us know it all nor do we all live what we know perfectly. All believers in the God of Israel owe grace and respect to each other and should be encouraging each other on their journey, knowing that our Father orchestrates it all, and longs for us all to come into the unity of faith and trust in His love and mercy. I choose to honour the Jewish people for their faithfulness to the truth that they know, and for their faithful preservation of the Scriptures from which we benefit for understanding of our God’s ways. When Yeshua returns He will be judging the gentile nations on one basis only, dividing “sheep”nations from “goat” nations according to how we/they have treated His brothers, those he was watching from the Mt of Olives as they went along the valley to go to the Temple for Passover (Matthew 25:31+) These were faithful Jewish people. He will not judge Australia as a “sheep” nation if we are only willing to bless those with us in the foundation of the Kingdom/City.

  14. As a victim of Irish industrial-strength catholicism in my youth, I emigrated as a complete Bible ignoramus. Now at 88 years of age and somewhat less ignorant, I can’t understand so-called Christians who fail to read and study chapters 9, 10 and 11 of Romans in the new testament where Paul (a Jew himself) defends, explains and declares in Romans 11:26 “All Israel will be saved”. To the foolish Christians who try to “convert” the Jews, I say, “Leave the Jews alone; never forget that they are God’s chosen people with whom He made covenants that cannot be broken.”

  15. Shalom Sondra,
    On behalf of my fellow brothers and sisters who lives in the world. I apologize for offending you to that extend, but put this in mind, there’s some people who do respect your faith (of which is my faith ), in the nation’s. and get to know this, we are in the nation’s, but we are not of the nation’s. We are leaving in the diaspora, we are curing pregnancy in the pegan temples. we really want to sing a song of our master YHVH, but how can we sing a song of our YHVH when we are in a strange land? our belief is that, as long as the Jewish people lives, then our hope of peace all over the world is not lost. please pray for us. that we may get to know the creator of the universe. We Love you.
    Regards from Yochanan, Chessed, Israel, Prossy’s and the family c/o Gilana Kibbutz Uganda Limited. Shabat Shalom.

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