Vol. 13


Kindness in Darkness

1944; Langenbielau labor camp, Bielawa, Poland"Kindness in Darkness" illustration, by Cameron Churchich: slice of bread broken in half, with crumbs flying off all around

Have you ever been in a hard situation? Or maybe had to decide if you should help someone or not? In the Holocaust this would come up a lot. My great-grandmother Sala Lencher was a Holocaust survivor.

It was 1944, and my great-grandmother was in a labor camp. The people in the camp had to sew uniforms for the Nazis. At the time, Sala was eighteen. But there was a problem. Sala did not know how to sew. Her friend told her that she would sew for Sala. This was putting both their lives in danger. Sala told the Nazis she could sew. My great-grandmother was very grateful to her friend. Sala was a fast learner and quickly caught on. (Later she sewed all her children’s clothing. I still have a stuffed dog she sewed for my mother.)

Time passed, and Sala met the factory foreman’s wife. The factory foreman’s wife was kind to Sala and grew very fond of her. One day the factory foreman’s wife pointed to her desk and said to Sala, “In my drawer every day I will put a piece of bread.” She continued, “You may take it.” This was putting both their lives in danger.

“Thank you!” Sala was very grateful. This was a huge help, because there was never enough to eat. The next day Sala took her extra piece of bread. But instead of eating the whole piece, she split it with her friend who had taught her to sew. Later on, she said she had never even thought to eat it all herself!

Afterwards the factory foreman’s wife offered to adopt Sala. This was very kind, because Sala did not know if she had family who had survived.

Sala was once again grateful but responded, “I am so sorry, but I cannot leave the Jewish nation. I must remain loyal to my family, and committed to the Jews.”

When the Holocaust ended, Sala went to find her family. She had started out with seven siblings, but sadly only three had survived. Her parents had not survived either. She moved with her siblings, Rachella, Ada, and Yisrael, whom they called “Srulic.” Sala got married and had my grandmother Malka and my great-uncle Yaakov.

I learnt from my great-grandmother to always care about others, even if you are in a bad situation.

Malka Lavner; New York, USA

Illustrator: Cameron Churchich; Colorado, USA



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