Marking the New Year

From Our Collections

Livia Koralek's Yom Kippur Eve Sermon

On the eve of Yom Kippur 1944, Livia Koralek delivered a sermon to the women at the Parschnitz camp. She encouraged them to give each other something that exists forever and never ends—love.

"I ask God, on behalf of all of us, to forgive us for having offended our parents, relatives, siblings, and our friends. We ask God to forgive us on behalf of our loved ones, because we are far from all our loved ones and cannot ask them to forgive us. I remember that our Rabbi in the town of Gyor gathered us before he was sent to Auschwitz, and here is what he said, in part: 'It is not the place that sanctifies the man but man who sanctifies the place.' On this holy day, we are being put to a test. We must observe the commandment 'Thou shalt not steal'. Each of us receives a tiny ration and must be content with it. I feel that God will hear our prayers, wipe the tears from our eyes, and answer us with the words from the prayer service: 'I have forgiven you'".
(From the sermon given by Livia Koralek)

Born in 1921 in Gyor, Hungary, Livia was deported to Auschwitz in June 1944 and transferred in August to the Parschnitz camp (Sudetenland), where she worked in a factory that manufactured aircraft parts. She gave the sermon at the request of her friends. “I didn’t want to be a Kapo; I didn’t want to be a leader. There was no need for it. I only wanted to give encouragement.” The women did not eat the bread that they received on Yom Kippur; instead, they stored it under their pillows. On Passover, the women attempted to hold a Seder but the Germans broke it up. Livia refrained from eating bread that week. After the war, Livia married Aladar (Jehuda) Spiegel and immigrated to Israel with her family.

Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection
Gift of Chana (Livia Koralek) Spiegel, Bnei Brak, Israel