My Passover memories

Passover memories, May 2011

My Passover memories

By Samuel Heider, Special To The Dayton Jewish Observer


Samuel Heider

Passover is celebrated throughout the Jewish world as the Festival of Freedom, the Exodus from slavery in Egypt to freedom.
But for the 6 million Jewish people including my three sisters, two brothers, my father, my mother and my 1-year-old nephew, the exodus began from freedom to slavery, in the ghettos and concentration camps of Europe.

I was in two of the camps — Auschwitz and Dachau — among others. Of a family of nine, I am the only survivor.

I was born in Poland in a small village to very religious Jewish farmers. Being a Jew in Poland was not easy, but being a very religious Jew with farmland was almost impossible.

This was especially true during Passover where every dish, every utensil and spoon had to be carefully made kosher for use during Passover.

For me, this Passover 2011 brings back unforgettable memories.

It was exactly 70 years ago, in 1941, when I celebrated Passover with my family for the last time. As we sat down to conduct the Seder, my younger brother asked the Four Questions and my father explained every question: We were slaves in Egypt and God punished Pharaoh with 10 plagues, with blood, with lice. We were slaves and God took us out from bondage in Egypt to freedom.

I would like to ask God a fifth question. Why didn’t God punish Hitler with more than 10 plagues? Ten plagues for Hitler wouldn’t be enough.

For Hitler and the Nazis, there should have been no limit of plagues.

Instead, God let Hitler punish 6 million of God’s chosen people with lice, with blood, with starvation, with slavery? Why did God let this happen?

I keep asking why? And sadly there is no answer. It should be a lesson learned and never to be forgotten. And as we celebrate Passover, the Festival of Freedom, I, as a Holocaust survivor of Auschwitz and Dachau and my wife, a survivor of Bergen-Belsen, and Holocaust survivors around the world extend our sincere appreciation to the allies for liberating us from the slavery of Nazi Germany just like our ancestors were liberated from slavery in Egypt, so we can celebrate the Festival of Freedom, Passover, in a free country, the United States of America.

Samuel Heider, a longtime resident of Dayton, now lives in Hallandale, Fla.

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