The weeks passed, merging into one another, forming a continuous stretch of time. And when we reached the first yahrtzeit after being orphaned of our mother, and the realization sank in, our feelings of loneliness ran so very deep. Gone were the loving eyes of our mother, her serious yet good-natured demeanor, and her caring admonitions.
“How will we go on?” we wondered, when we were still being guided by leaders such as Harav Orlean, zt”l, and our devoted teachers such as Pearl Bauminger, Chanah Begune, Frau Vaziezt, Frau Pas, and Frau Fastag.
“We are so lonely,” we said, while we were still surrounded by towns and villages that were pulsing with vibrant Jewish life and Bais Yaakov schools that embraced thousands of children; when our Bnos organizations contained the cream of the crop of our religious youth, and our Bnos leaders were heroic soldiers fighting on the front in our battle for Yiddishkeit.
“We are so forlorn,” we thought, when we still possessed our most basic possessions — our Jewish homes and families with their beauty and splendor.
And the further we got, the more years that passed and we encountered her yahrtzeit yet again, we only became more pensive as we contemplated, “Are we sure we are not deviating from our mother’s path?” And the loneliness surfaced that much stronger and gnawed deeper into our hearts. At every simchah, we missed her presence, her warm wishes and her joyful demeanor.
That was then.
Today, when we survived the churban of our nation; today, when we are stepping on the graves of hundreds of our friends and children; today, when we are orphaned of our homes and families — what do we say today?
The wound is fresh and deep, and yet, I want to traverse the entire world and shout, “We are here and you, Mother, are a-l-i-v-e!”
Once, your vision was aflame in the eyes of thousands of children. Thousands of youngsters carried you in their hearts. And today? We are no longer thousands. We are dozens from a country, one per city, lone survivors. We are small in number, but yet, we are alive! Your education has not been for naught — Bais Yaakov is alive! And if we are alive, then you are living along with us.
You taught us about the dignity of a Jewish girl. Your children suffered through the horrors of the Holocaust with their dignity intact. Even in the darkest moments they thought of one another and risked their lives for each other. During their most difficult times they held on to that which you taught them and constantly kept in front of them the passuk, “V’al titosh Toras imecha.” Would they have been able to achieve all this if not for you?
Our loneliness is that much deeper today than in the past, and yet, we have the strength to forge on and the will to live. All this suffering only fortified us and crystallized the beauty of that which you taught us. We want to live and give life, for that is what you lived for. We want to establish the type of generations that you did and pass on to them that which you instilled in us.
Our loneliness gives us the impetus to fight for your ideals. Your strength lies within us, Mother!
We must give much more thought and introspection to the direction our life is taking now, than the first year after your passing. We must choose our destiny — are we heading where you would want us to?
Not all of us succeeded in taking the path you would have liked us to. Many are just starting out with their first tentative steps in the right direction. Some lived with non-Jews and had forgotten their Yiddishkeit; others were broken by the torment they experienced, crushed from the horrors of the concentration camps. Their path is a difficult one, and it’s taking time…
But we know there is a purpose. And we know what you would have wanted. And because you are alive within us, your wishes are alive. We will continue leading our lives the way you taught us.
And from you we ask, just like in the past, continue to be our devoted mother. Daven to Hashem on behalf of your children and may He give us the strength to serve Him always.