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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.


68 
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 http://cemetery.jewish.org.pl/list/


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.

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