Mikhail is a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor with a very difficult life behind him—but hope for the life he has left. It wasn’t always that way.
Mikhail was a boy of only 11 when WWII arrived to Belarus, where he was born. His father sent him to warn family and friends of the oncoming Nazis, telling them, “Those who will stay, will not survive.”
Mikhail’s family fled east, away from the Nazis. Many of their loved ones stayed… and didn’t survive.
But Mikhail did survive, although not without hardship. “Our life during those years of war was very difficult. There was no food, and no clothes. I remember cold winter days when we were wearing some old and torn shoes which we wrapped in rags.”
He also remembers that “there were no men around during all these years. They were all fighting in the Soviet army. This meant all the jobs that had to be done fell on the shoulders of women and children. My brother Yosef and I sawed and stacked firewood for the winter. In return, we received a plate of soup and sometimes even some potatoes to bring home.”
Although Mikhail and his immediate family survived the Holocaust, when they returned home, life was no easier under Soviet rule. They had to hide their Jewish roots, but they continued to worship. Mikhail even smuggled matzah to other Jews in the community during Passover, sneaking it past communist authorities in the trunk of his car.
As a widower, this elderly Holocaust survivor at last found freedom to worship as the Bible tells him to when he made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) in 2001. But because he worked his entire life in the former Soviet Union, and has no pension in Israel, Mikhail depends on IFCJ Canada for help.
Gifts from Fellowship friends “allow me to buy meat, fruits and medicines,” Mikhail says, “and it gives me a feeling of security that I don’t have to worry about where I can get the supplies I need. I bow my head to all those good people who make this help possible.”