Opinion | The Holocaust Stole My Youth. Covid-19 Is Stealing My Last Years.


Nowadays, I’m a little bit bored.

The boardwalk is my lifesaver. I’m two blocks from the boardwalk. I can stroll to Coney Island if I need to. I am going alone. I’ve some mates right here. We used to play canasta as soon as per week. However when Covid arrived, my daughter insisted, “You may’t sit in a single room!” So I discuss on the cellphone. I learn. The grandkids name in by Zoom. I additionally do some little bit of Zoom lecturing for the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

I maintain very busy, and it helps me quite a bit. I’m attempting not to surrender. However what’s getting me down is that I’m dropping a yr. And this bothers me terribly. I’m 87 years outdated, and I misplaced nearly a full yr.

I’m doing all the things I can to remain related, to make an influence. So even now, amid Covid, I inform my story to varsities and to audiences the museum organizes for me, by Zoom.

Right here’s what I say: I used to be born in 1933 in a small city known as Chodorow, now Khodoriv, about half-hour by automobile from Lvov, now Lviv, in what was then Poland and is now Ukraine. We lived within the middle of city in my grandfather’s home. The Russians occupied the city from 1939 to 1941, then the Germans from 1941 to 1944. My father was nicely favored on the town by Jews and non-Jews. In the future in early 1942, one of many guys got here to him and stated, “Moshe, it’s going to be an enormous killing. Higher discover a hiding place.” So my father constructed a spot to cover within the cellar. My grandfather didn’t need to go. He was shot within the kitchen; we heard it.

Not lengthy after that, the Germans stated they have been going to relocate the remaining Jews to the ghetto in Lvov, so my father and my aunt searched for somebody to cover them extra completely. They discovered Stephanie, who had a home on the principle road with a backyard and a barn. She had identified my dad and mom their entire life. My father constructed a wall contained in the barn and a hiding place for 9 folks, the place we slept like herrings. It was simply 4 toes by 5 toes. Pigs and chickens have been on one aspect, and we have been on the opposite: my dad and mom, my aunt and uncle, my maternal grandmother and 4 kids, ages 4, 6, 8 and 12.

Finally, with the assistance of Stephanie’s 16-year-old son, they expanded the house a bit and added a means for the youngsters to look out. That’s the place I spent the subsequent two years. I at all times consider the son after I get down, as a result of when Stephanie was scared to maintain hiding us, he insisted we keep.

We had lice. We had rats. However on daily basis within the barn was a miracle. I’m not an everyday individual. I’m a miracle little one. Many of the Jews of Chodorow by no means returned.

So when the coronavirus got here, I believed, “I’m a miracle. I’ll make it. I’ve to make it.”

In the course of the struggle, we didn’t know if we’d make a day. I didn’t have any freedom. I couldn’t communicate loudly, I couldn’t snigger, I couldn’t cry.

However now, I can really feel freedom. I keep by the window and look out. The very first thing I do within the morning is look out and see the world. I’m alive. I’ve meals, I am going out, I am going for walks, I do some procuring. And I bear in mind: Nobody desires to kill me. So, nonetheless, I learn. I cook dinner a little bit bit. I store a little bit bit. I discovered the pc. I do puzzles.

I nonetheless typically really feel that I’m lacking out. A full yr is gone. I misplaced my childhood, I by no means had my teenage years. And now, in my outdated age, that is shortening my life by a yr. I don’t have that a few years left. The best way we now have lived this yr means I’ve misplaced many alternatives to lecture, to inform extra folks my story, to allow them to see me and know the Holocaust occurred to an actual individual, who stands in entrance of them at present. It’s vital.

I’m scared that I’m not going to be within the form I used to be a yr in the past. When this began in March, one in every of my grandchildren, who lives in New Jersey, went to Maine along with his spouse; they by no means got here again. They’ve a child boy now, and I’ve solely seen him on Zoom. This little one won’t ever know me. That’s a loss.

A few of what I’m lacking is so easy. I’ve a male buddy I do know from synagogue. We’d make a journey, if we may, by automobile. To anyplace! I’d go to Florida. Possibly even go to Israel for a few weeks. However not now. So, once more, this has shortened my life. That’s my largest grievance.

I perceive the concern folks have, and I perceive you must take care.

However there isn’t any comparability of hysteria, of the coronavirus, to the fear I felt after I was a baby. That was a concern with no boundary. That is going to finish, and I’m already pondering, planning the place I’m going first, what I’ll do first, when this ends.

Toby Levy is a retired accountant and a volunteer docent for the Museum of Jewish Heritage.



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