Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tears in My Eyes for the Blood-Stained Torah and the Jewish People of Wegrow, Poland

Today I am reading Psalm 48, and I was curious when I read
Psa 48:2"Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, [is] mount Zion, [on] the sides of the north, the city of the great King."  
Those are amazing words--- and not hyperbole.  The "sides of the north" means "  Mount Zion is an area on the south-west side of the old city, and a place of several churches, the traditional David Tomb, and Christian cemeteries" (including the grave of Oskar Schindler).
Here is a  view of the road going up the Mount Zion 
Mount Zion is across from the Zion Gate-- and it is also the traditional place of Yeshua's Passover meal with the talmidim.  

  "Sometime after the construction of King Solomon's Temple, Mount Zion referred to the Temple Mount. It is mentioned in the Book of Isaiah (60:14), the Book of Psalms, and the first book of the Maccabees (c. 2nd century BC).[7] Just before the Roman conquest of Jerusalem and the destruction of theSecond TempleJosephus described Mount Zion as a hill across the valley to the west.[7] Thus, the western hill extending south of the Old City came to be known as Mount Zion, and this has been the case ever since.[7]     Between 1948 and 1967, when the Old City was under Jordanian occupation, Israelis were forbidden access to the Jewish holy places. Mount Zion was a designated no-man's land between Israel and Jordan. Mount Zion was the closest accessible site to the ancient Jewish Temple. Until East Jerusalem was captured by Israel in the Six-Day War, Israelis would climb to the rooftop of David's Tomb to pray." 

I did not know, though, that the first Holocaust Memorial site established by  the Israeli government in 1948 is on Mount Zion   The Chamber of the Holocaust.  
Chamber of the Holocaust (Hebrewמרתף השואה‎, Martef HaShoa, lit. "Cellar of the Holocaust") is a small Holocaust museum located on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. It was Israel's first Holocaust museum. 
"The site was founded in 1948 by the Ministry of Religion and its Director-General, Rabbi Dr. Samuel Zanvil Kahane, whose responsibilities included Mount Zion.[2] That same year, Kahane oversaw the on-site burial of ashes of victims from theOranienburg concentration camp[3] together with desecrated Torah scrolls recovered from Nazi Europe.[4] In contrast toYad Vashem, the government's official Holocaust memorial museum established in 1953 on Mount Herzl – a new site symbolizing rebirth after destruction – the Chief Rabbinate chose Mount Zion as the site for the Chamber of the Holocaust because of its proximity to David's Tomb, which symbolically connotes ancient Jewish history and the promise of messianic redemption (through the Messiah, son of David)."

This is the paragraph that moved me to tears, however:  " Many of the museum's exhibits display religious artifacts such as a bloodstained Torah scroll from Węgrów, Poland

and a handwritten prayer book from the Buchenwald concentration camp. Other exhibits include "purses, shoe soles, drums and wallets made from the parchments of Torah scrolls",[2] a coat sewn from Torah parchments which was worn by a Nazi officer, a prisoner uniform from the Auschwitz concentration camp,[2] and a recreation of the gas oven used in the cremetoria of concentration camps.[13] The museum also includes urns with the ashes of Holocaust victims from 36 Nazi death camps[14] and "RIF" soap allegedly manufactured by the Nazis from human fat.[13]

"Throughout most of its history, the town had a thriving Jewish community, present at least since the 16th century. The community was exterminated during the Holocaust by the Nazis."  According to Wikipedia, the blood-spattered Torah scroll is from Wegrow, Poland-- a community of 6,000 souls before 1939.

 I thought about that Torah scroll from Wegrow, Poland,
View Larger Map  and how it was blood-stained.  Who was holding it?   Whose blood spattered on the Torah scroll as he protected it with his life?  

Psa 119:55I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law.

69 Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, 
    I keep your precepts with all my heart.
70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,
    but I delight in your law.

כ Kaph

81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation, 
    but I have put my hope in your word.

82 My eyes fail, looking for your promise; 
    I say, “When will you comfort me?”
83 Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke,
    I do not forget your decrees.

84 How long must your servant wait?
    When will you punish my persecutors? 
85 The arrogant dig pits to trap me,
    contrary to your law.

86 All your commands are trustworthy; 
    help me, for I am being persecuted without cause. 
87 They almost wiped me from the earth,
    but I have not forsaken your precepts.
88 In your unfailing love preserve my life, 
    that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.

108 Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth, 
    and teach me your laws. 
109 Though I constantly take my life in my hands, 
    I will not forget your law.

110 The wicked have set a snare for me,
    but I have not strayed from your precepts.
111 Your statutes are my heritage forever;
    they are the joy of my heart. 
112 My heart is set on keeping your decrees
    to the very end.[d

  May his memory be for a blessing. 

I thought about the 6,000 murdered by the Nazis-- and the Jewish cemetery in Wegrow with the simple words "Do not kill"  (murder) at the entrance.  (translation courtesy of Google Translate) 
"The Jewish cemetery is located in Węgrów within the current Heroes streets of Warsaw, ul. Industrial and st. Joselewicz. Until the establishment of the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw Brodno, Węgrowska cemetery served as the burial place for Jews from the capital.

Archival photos published in the "Book of Remembrance Wegrow" suggests that it was a large cemetery, with various forms of tombstones. It featured a simple, rough stones and boulders of sandstone gravestones, with typical Jewish sepulchral art symbols in finials with relief. Many stelae had murals. Ohel protect the tomb of a local rabbi.

As older residents say, back in the sixties were in the cemetery tombstones. A little later the cemetery was erected buildings Machine and the National Centre of Vocational Schools team. Even then, the local social workers postulated protect survivors tombstones. These plans could be carried out only in 1981, when acting on the initiative of the Social Protection Węgrów the construction of lapidary Cemetery, designed by architect engineer. Wieslaw Ratajski and hands made ​​of stone master Casimir Pleban. The central part of the lapidary is a monument in the shape of a double gravestones. Placed on the inscriptions in Polish and Hebrew that reads: "In memory of węgrowskich Jews murdered by the Nazis in the years 1939-1944". The pedestal inscription in large letters: "Do not kill." Set around a few hundred surviving tombstones in a Jewish cemetery. The oldest of gravestones węgrowskich from 1789."

List of surviving tombstones can be found at

A Nazi officer wearing a coat sewn  from Torah parchments?    Purses and wallets meant to hold money more important than G-d's word?  Putting the Torah under foot in the shoe sole...  Making the Torah into a drum to beat...  
Torah Scroll of Tunisian Jews
This scroll from Gerba, North Africa is stained with blood of its martyrs.

Psa 119:53Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.
Jacket of Desecration -- a Nazi official ordered this jacket sewn from Torah parchments to wear to a ball.  A Jewish tailor was forced to sew this.  He chose Leviticus 26 as his "cloth"-- a section describing all the possible curses G-d would send  upon the ungodly.  
Artifacts Salvaged from the DestructionGlass windows display the artifacts salvaged by lsraei's former Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Herzog.
On display are the following pieces:
1. Yellow arm patches
2. Jacket sewn from Torah Parchments, which a Nazi officer wore to a ball in order to infuriate the Jews. Revenge was taken by the Jewish tailor forced to desecrate the holy scrolls. He chose Leviticus XXVI as his "cloth," a chapter enumerating all the curses possible of being brought into the world.
3. Shoe soles, bags, envelopes and drums made from Torah scrolls
4. Siddur of Beryle-the "prayer-book" of a boy who, knowing only the "Aleph-Bet" prayed that G-d would join his letters into meaningful prayers.

Jer 9:1Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!
Lam 1:16For these [things] I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water
The hatred of G-d and His word by the adversary (hasatan) expressed through the Nazis towards the Jewish people and those who love them and the G-d of Israel knew no bounds.

Yet even in this time, G-d raised up some who reached out in compassion.  The Wasowski  family, even though it could have meant their deaths, fostered/adopted an eight year old Jewish orphaned girl named Noemi Grabska from Wegrow.    She survived the war due to the mercy that the Wasowski family showed her, married another Polish Jewish child who had survived, and moved to Israel and raised a family.  

Thank you for reading and reflecting on this (long) blog posting.  What can we do to honor those who gave their lives in  Santification of the Name? (in Hebrew kiddush HaShem (Hebrewקידוש השם‎ “sanctification of the name [of God]”) 

Let's combat indifference with passion for G-d's Word,
studying each day, meditating, listening, doing-- 
with passion to be obedient and filled with faith
with passion to be a blessing to Israel and the Jewish people everywhere.  

May we be willing to lay down our lives as well for His Name's Sake  if the L-rd puts that decision in front of us.  

I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night [in the darkness of the culture around us], and have kept thy law.

May we live today in reverence of His Holy Word and His Holy Name, valuing life, and valuing the  words of His lips-- words of life, and life more abundant, words full of treasure-- spoken by the One True G-d.  

The Holocaust Memorial listed above is close to David's tomb.  We are waiting for Your full redemption, promised to Your Jewish people, Yeshua,  Messiah ben Yosef and ben David.  

Psalm 48: 10 According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness.
11 Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments.
12 Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof.
13 Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following.

Mount Zion from the West  

For this God [is] our God for ever and ever: He will be our guide [even] unto death.

 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Blessings Remembered

About a year ago, I started making a list in a little spiral tablet of answers to prayer-- of amazing things G-d has done for me.  When I experience or remember an amazing blessing,  I draw or find a picture online which represents the blessing.  Next, I write  a caption which helps me remember the story. 
It is good that G-d is Creator and King and Judge-- but it is also good that He cares for the smallest things which concern me.  Keeping the truth about Who He Really Is in the forefront is important.  Remembering to thank Him is important.  Putting things in perspective is important.  Showing Him I love and trust Him-- to Him, it's priceless. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

From Temporary to Eternal

"If this is how G-d clothes grass, which is alive in the field today and thrown in the oven [as fuel] tomorrow, how much more will He clothe you! What little trust you have!" Luke 12:28

 For the L-RD is good and his love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5

A voice says, "Cry out." And I said, "What shall I cry?" "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field."
As Moses said, "Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom." 
A commentary I was reading said that in ancient Israel, people often used stubble from a field as the "tinder" for their cooking furnaces.  Dried grass or weeds or wildflowers were an inexpensive way to cook something else.  If G-d takes care to make even transient disposable kindling beautiful, can we not rest in His care of us? 
A voice says, “Proclaim!”
And I answer, “What should I proclaim?”
“All humanity is merely grass,
all its kindness like wildflowers:
the grass dries up, the flower fades,
when a wind from Adonai blows on it.
Surely the people are grass!
The grass dries up, the flower fades;
but the word of our G-d will stand forever.  Isaiah 40 

Friday, August 3, 2012

This. Must. Stop: "Labor Camps" Are Nothing of the Sort.

   When I saw Night and Fog when I was a sophomore in high school, my world changed. I had not heard about the Holocaust before then. I went home, threw up, and said, "This can't ever happen again." G-d drew me to stand alongside the Jewish people passionately partly through this film. (not for viewing by children) That film depicts the epitome of evil. For several years, I was able to show it the high school I work in as part of the curriculum. I had filed "Nazi camps" under "horrors which must never happen again."

It was not until I read Escape from Camp 14 that I recognized how alive that  beast still is-- and for more than the last fifty years. Thousands have been sent to the camp because their relatives escaped to South Korea-- and once there, they and any progeny they are allowed by the camp to have are slaves there for live. Anyone in a camp is considered to have "bad blood" which must be cleansed.

 Here are the Ten Commandments of North Korean camp life-- which residents must recite upon demand.  
  1. Do not try to escape. 
  2. Groups of two or more are prohibited from assembling to devise a plot or to attempt to escape.  No more than two prisoners can meet together.Anyone who fails to secure permission from a guard for a meeting of more than two prisoners will be shot immediately. Those who trespass into the guards' village or who damage public property will be shot immediately. No gathering may exceed the number of prisoners allowed by the guard in charge. Outside work, no group of prisoners may gather without permission. At night, three or more prisoners cannot travel together without permission from the guard in charge. 
  3. Do not steal. Anyone found stealing or in possession of arms will be shot immediately. Anyone who does not report or who aids a person who has stolen or possesses arms will be shot immediately. Anyone who steals or conceals any foodstuffs will be shot immediately. Anyone who deliberately damages any materials used in the camp will be shot immediately. 
  4.  Guards must be obeyed unconditionally. Anyone who harbors ill will toward or physically assaults a guard will be shot immediately. Anyone who fails to demonstrate total compliance with a guard's instructions will be shot immediately. There must be no backtalk or complaints to a guard. When meeting a guard, one must bow deferentially. 
  5.  Anyone who sees a fugitive or suspicious figure must promptly report him. Anyone who provides cover for or protects a fugitive will be shot immediately. Anyone who holds or hides a fugitive's possessions, conspires with him, or fails to report him will be shot immediately. 
  6. Prisoners must watch one another and report any suspicious behavior immediately. Each prisoner must observe others and remain vigilant. The speech and conduct of others must be observed closely. Should anything arouse suspicion, a guard must be notified immediately. Prisoners must faithfully attend meetings of ideological struggle and they must censure themselves and others vehemently. 
  7.  Prisoners must more than fulfill the work assigned them each day. Prisoners who neglect their work quota or fail to complete it will be considered to harbor discontent and will be shot immediately. Each prisoner must be solely responsible for his work quota. To fulfill one's work quota is to wash away sins, as well as to recompense the state for the forgiveness it has shown. The work quota as assigned by a guard may not be changed. 
  8. Beyond the workplace, there must be no intermingling between the sexes for personal reasons. Should sexual physical contact occur without prior approval, the perpetrators will be shot immediately. Beyond the workplace, there must be no conversing between the sexes without prior approval. One is prohibited from visiting bathrooms designated for members of the opposite sex without prior approval. Without special reason, members of opposite sexes many not go about holding hands or sleep alongside each other. Without prior approval, prisoners may not visit living quarters of the opposite sex. 
  9.  Prisoners must genuinely repent of their errors. Anyone who does not acknowledge his sins and instead denies them or carries a deviant opinion of them will be shot immediately. One must reflect deeply upon the sins he has committed against his country and society and strive to wash himself of them. Only after have acknowledged and reflected deeply upon them can a prisoner begin anew. 
  10. Prisoners who violate the laws and regulations of the camp will be shot immediately. All prisoners must truly consider the guards as their teachers, and, abiding by the ten laws and regulations of the camp, yield themselves through toil and discipline to washing away their past errors." from Escape from Camp 14 (Harden 193-196). 

If this North Korean athlete had not won gold, she would have been sent to such a camp.  If she had not won and tried to defect, her entire extended family would have been rounded up and sent in her place.  

Now The Peoples' Republic of North Korea is in the news again-- the headline reads North Korea's Key to Olympic Medals: Refrigerators for Winners, Labor Camp Threats for Losers.    

This must stop.  North Korea's labor camps must stop.  God's FATHER heart wants this evil government taken down and the hearts of North Koreans to belong to Him.  He hears the cries of those who call out-- maybe not even knowing who they are calling out to-- for truth to set them free.   Pray along with me for the Good News of Messiah to go forth powerfully in North Korea, to bring the evil regime down, and to heal the wounds that lies and cruelty have inflicted on a people G-d loves.