When the Germans entered my home town of Belfort in 1940, the world as I knew it began to fall apart. July 1942 was the last time we were a family. That was when my mother was imprisoned, and I never saw her again.
Her last request of me was to take care of Father's shirts, and to make sure I always laid the Shabbat table with a white cloth.
I endured the tribulations of war with some of my siblings, and at the war's end, I discovered, to my horror, that all hope was lost. Both my parents and my 4-year-old brother had been murdered.
From the depths of hell, I found the strength to hold my ground against pressure from my dear relatives, who wanted me to make my home in Canada. I succeeded, and we immigrated to Eretz Israel. I knew that this was my only home.
I still remember the feeling of peace that descended on me when the boat I sailed on entered the waters of Haifa port, and I stood on the deck, looking wide-eyed at the Carmel.
Thanks to the Youth Aliya, I graduated from Mikve Israel, I joined the Navy, and I slowly acquired a circle of friends, former members of Bnei Akiva. Through them, I met my husband, also an observant Jew, and we got married and raised a united, close-knit and independent family. Our three children served in the IDF, and continue to contribute to the State, building a next generation to be proud of.
Like a tree whose roots are entrenched deep in the ground – the education, warmth and love I received at home – so its branches soar upwards, towards the future and the hope embodied in my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Once again, I say to my children – I am proud of those born in Israel, the Sabras, but I was privileged to immigrate to Eretz Israel, to make Aliyah. I realized my dream, and as a teacher here in Israel, I raised generations of pupils, and built a home and a family.
Despite the yearning and the pain, I made the decision to face forward, towards the future.