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MESSIANIC HEROES OF THE HOLOCAUST
By Mitch Glaser

"The achievements and witness of Jewish believers during the Holocaust and especially in the Warsaw Ghetto are essentially unknown to most present day Jewish believers. We stand on the shoulders of these heroes of the Holocaust - the Jewish believers of the Warsaw Ghetto - and their story, as much or as little as we know, must be told." Dr. Mitch Glaser uncovers many amazing testimonies of faith from within the Ghetto in his paper, "Heroes of the Holocaust: Poland, the Warsaw Ghetto and Yeshua" [1]. Here are some key gleanings from his research in honor of Israel's Holocaust Memorial Day this week.

On Wednesday night and during the day on Thursday, Israel will have its "Yom haShoah", or "Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG'vurah" which means "Memorial Day of the Holocaust and of Heroism". Though the rest of the world had Holocaust Remembrance Day in January, in Israel the date was chosen to be close to the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. After 28 days of bitter fighting as the Jewish prisoners rebelled against the Nazis, the ghetto was eventually destroyed, but the heroism of this event is a tremendously important part of Jewish history. But almost unsung in Jewish history are the stories of the thousands of Jews who believed in Jesus at this time. Stories of courageous gentile believers such as Corrie Ten Boom and Deitrich Bonhoeffer are well known, but on this day that we remember the Holocaust and its heroes, it's time to introduce you to some Jewish believers who experienced the horrors of the Holocaust.

Did you know that there were about a quarter of a million Jewish believers at the time of the Holocaust? And that several thousand of them were trapped to starve and die in the Warsaw Ghetto along with their brethren? [2] Here are some of their stories...

Rachmiel Frydland, a former rabbinical student & Messianic Jewish teacher, is one of the very few Jewish believers who endured the hell of the Warsaw Ghetto and lived to tell the tale:

"I had been a believer for two years when the war broke out. Warsaw shook under more and more bombs. Food became scarce and the electricity and water supply failed. Along with several other young Jewish believers in the Messiah, I went to help defend the city. Because I did not want to use a gun, I was given physical work. Within a month the city was crushed and the triumphant Germans marched in.

I decided to leave the city and seek farm work with friends to the north. With a certificate in hand, given to me by my pastor, I set out across the burning city. Reaching the outskirts, I was stopped by a soldier. "Are you a Jew?" he demanded. Without a word, I handed him my certificate. He looked at it and then spat out: "Yes, but you are still a Jew! " He seized a shovel and slammed it into my back, knocking me into a ditch. There I was ordered to join fellow Jews who were digging graves for dead horses. It was my first taste of Nazi brutality, but actually mild in comparison with what awaited so many others. That night I escaped in the darkness and resumed my journey. My friends received me gladly and fed me, but in a short time the new restrictive laws against Jews forced me to leave. Returning to Warsaw, I discovered that one of my sisters had died of typhus and that a wall had been built around the Jewish section."[3]

Starting in November 1940, almost 500,000 Jews were inhumanely crammed into a small walled area in Warsaw with very little food and sanitation. About 45,000 Jews died the following year due to overcrowding, hard labor, starvation, and disease. "Natural death in the street from hunger, exhaustion, exposure, heart attack, or infectious disease had become the rule."[4] During 1942, most were transported off to death camps, leaving about 60,000 Jews in the ghetto. Charles G. Roland explains in his book cataloging conditions in the Ghetto, that "By 1941, the official ration provided... 184 calories for Jews in the ghetto." Agreeing that it is impossible to survive for any length of time on so little, Roland explains that the Jewish people were able to continue for two years in those conditions through "Provision of food to the poor... by several social welfare agencies, direct smuggling of food by hungry Jews, increased production of food and, most commonly, the purchase on the black market of smuggled food." [5]

Frydland continues: "In late 1944, by hiding in cemeteries, deserted churches, and the homes of fearful friends, I was one of the few surviving Jews in Warsaw outside the ghetto. In that enclosure were 5,000 Jews, the last of Warsaw's original 500,000. By God's enabling, I secretly slipped into the ghetto and was able to speak comfort to a few of the Jewish believers still alive. Other Jewish brethren heard the message and believed in Messiah Jesus. My friends in the ghetto insisted that I leave. They said that if God had preserved me thus far, I would be a witness to the woes they now experienced. At the end of the war, I could tell the story of their suffering. I was probably one of the last to leave the ghetto. It was only shortly afterward that the Germans obliterated the entire Jewish area."

Dr. Ludwig Hirszfeld was another Jewish believer, who had come to faith in his twenties. He reflects in his book, "The Story of a Life", that, "There were many people who were baptized in the Quarter - old and young, sometimes whole families. Some of my students were among them, men and women, and I was often asked to be the godfather. What motives drove them to the baptism? They never received any benefits from it. The change of faith did not entail any change in their legal status. No, they were attracted to it by the appeal of a religion of love. They were attracted by the religion of the nation to which they felt they belonged. They were attracted to the religion to which there was no room, or least there should not be any room, for hate. Jews are so weary of the atmosphere of universal antipathy".

He also wrote; "Gloria in Excelsis Deo. Glory to God in the highest and peace and goodwill to men. Grzybowski Square and Twarda Street disappear. The excited and feverish crowd of the poor also disappears. We are immersed in the coldness and atmosphere of the place of worship. There is a throng of us they are lost in prayers. We can no longer see the killers and the haters - we are in the company of the enraptured. We are united in a sentiment of higher communion..."

"...Why should I love those monstrous men? For no reason. Love is a state of the spirit. Everybody possesses it, but sometimes in a dimmed and muffled state. But, it is as much an instinct as the hunger for life, as the joy of living. Love is a delight as much as rapture amid the starry silence and the transport of joy of the dancing stars. There are no small things here - everything emanates from the spirit. A heavenly music is heard. And in this harmony the soul bends down sobbing in humiliation. And it embraces the world in rapture, it floats in oblivion. Horrible people, horrible things disappear: all resonates with the Great Harmony."

It might seem surprising that there were so many Jewish believers at that time, but there had been a significant surge in attempts to reach the Jewish people with the gospel in Eastern Europe in the preceding decades. Glaser remarks that "Warsaw was actually a hotbed of Messianic activity". The historical book "Sefer Milhamot ha-Getaot" (Book of the Ghetto Wars) by Yitzhak Zuckerman and Mosē Basōq, confirms that there were indeed a great many Jews who believed in Jesus in the Warsaw Ghetto, and some testimonies characterised them very positively, at one point noting that, "Almost all of them were intellectuals".

Though not a believer, Hanna Krall quotes these lines in her Polish short story "Salvation": "When the Germans cleared the church of all the Christian Jews, there was only one Jew left of the church: the crucified Jesus... Jesus came down from the cross and called (to the painting) of his mother: 'Mame, kim...' This means in Yiddish: 'Come Mama.' She (came down and) went to the Umschlagplatz." Krall describes this as one of the numerous, poignant Jewish - Christian anecdotes told in the Ghetto.

It seems fitting to end with some powerful words from Rachmiel Frydland: "From my harrowing experience, I see that men who reject Messiah are capable of bringing hell on earth. But surely God has not abandoned mankind. He has a plan for every person who will trust Him. The Bible, which has guided and sustained me thus far, promises that peace and justice will fill the earth only when the Prince of Peace returns. He is the only hope of mankind, and I know that He will come, because He has proved His great love and His miraculous power to me."

References

[1] "Heroes of the Holocaust: Poland, the Warsaw Ghetto and Yeshua" by Dr. Mitch Glaser, President Chosen People Ministries - a presentation to The Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism North America March 5-7, 2012

[2] Peter F. Dembowski calculates that there were 5,000 to 6,000 Jewish believers living in the Ghetto at its height. Peter Dembowski, "Christians in the Warsaw Ghetto: An Epitaph for the Unremembered", University of Notre Dame Press, 2005,p.68

[3] From the personal testiomony of Rachmiel Frydland in the biographies section of www.messianicassociation.org

[4] Charles G. Roland, "Courage Under Siege: Disease, Starvation and Death in the Warsaw Ghetto", New York: Oxford University Press, 1992, ch 6, p.99-104.

[5] Ibid


Posted
May 4, 2016

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Finished the conference in Jerusalem and today we hired an Arab driver to take us to Shechem, Mount Gerazim, and Ramallah in the West Bank. On board are Tim Sigler (Moody Bible Institute), Richard Averbeck (TEDS), Randall Price (Liberty U.), and Jim Sibley (Israel College of the Bible), among others, so we are well guided! Here's the checkpoint between the Israeli controlled area and the Palestinian territory. We noticed that the Israelis were having to check every car that was crossing over from the Palestinian side – but the Palestinians weren't checking the Israeli cars that were coming from the other direction. So it's obvious that no one thinks anyone from Israel is coming across the border to hurt anyone. The Palestinian soldiers don't even bother to check the Israeli cars.


Posted
Aug. 21, 2015

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So-called "Christian" leaders and denominations are partakers in our culture's continuing demise when they approve and even applaud the very sins and perversions that are helping to take us down. It's reminiscient of pre-exilic OT times when Israel's corrupt clergy was coddling and reassuring the nation and telling them that everything was fine – when in fact, the nation was in great peril due to their sinful behavior. In the verses below (from Ezekiel 13), the LORD is speaking to us today just as surely as He was speaking to ancient Israel. He has little patience with religious leaders who fail to warn rebellious people about the consequences of their behavior!

Posted
Aug. 14, 2015

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Here's a significant development, reported by the New York Times. It's been years since Turkey has allowed the US to use its air bases as a staging area for military operations in the Middle East. The US and Turkey announced today that they have reached an agreement that will change the old order of things and take the joint war against ISIS up a notch. As the article below correctly notes, this is a game changer, folks. The Turks, of course, have a vested interest in this because once Syria falls to ISIS, Turkey could be next. ISIS has an insatiable appetite and judging from the geography, it looks like the next entrée on the menu could be roasted Turkey and gravy. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/24/world/europe/turkey-isis-us-airstrikes-syria.html?_r=0

Posted
July 23, 2015

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Some people are saying we should at least give the new Iran nuke agreement a chance to work. Ordinarily, that might not be a bad approach. But in this instance, there is no room for error because the consequences of Iran's non-compliance could be cataclysmic. Remember: they believe it's okay to lie and deceive as long as it advances their Islamic agenda! http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/07/israel-isaac-herzog-iran-nuclear-deal/398705/

Posted
July 21, 2015

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THE GIFT OF CULTIVATING GREATNESS A grandson of slaves, a boy was born in 1901 in a rough neighborhood of New Orleans known as the “The Battlefield.” His father abandoned the family when the child was an infant. His mother became a prostitute and the boy and his sister went to live with their grandmother. Early in life he proved to be gifted for music, and with three other kids he sang in the streets of New Orleans. His first gains were the coins that were thrown to them. A Jewish family, the Karnofskys, who had immigrated from Lithuania to the USA, had pity for the 7-year-old boy and brought him into their home. Initially, they gave him “work” around the house and they fed the hungry child. There he remained and slept in this Jewish family's home where, for the first time in his life, he was treated with kindness and tenderness. When he went to bed, Mrs. Karnovsky sang him a Russian lullaby that he would sing with her. Later, he learned to sing and play several Russian and Jewish songs. Over time, this boy became the adopted son of the Karnovskys. They loved him and he loved them. He later said that he identified with this Jewish family because they, too, had experienced the bitter sting of racism and bigotry—much like the black community. The Karnofskys gave him money to buy his first musical instrument, as was the custom in Jewish families. They sincerely admired and encouraged his musical talent. Later, when he became a professional musician and composer, he used these Jewish melodies in compositions, such as St. James Infirmary and Go Down Moses. The little black boy grew up and wrote a book about this Jewish family, who had adopted him in 1907. In memory of this family and until the end of his life, he wore a star of David and said that in this family, he had learned "how to live real life and determination.” You might recognize the little boy’s name: Louis "Satchmo” Armstrong, the greatest jazz trumpeter in the history of modern music. He was a lifelong friend of the Jewish people and proudly spoke fluent Yiddish. When Louis Armstrong died in 1971, his honorary pallbearers included Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Pearl Bailey, Count Basie, Harry James, Frank Sinatra, Ed Sullivan, Earl Wilson, Alan King, Johnny Carson and David Frost. Peggy Lee sang The Lord's Prayer at the services while Al Hibbler sang "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen.” More information: https://www.louisarmstronghouse.org/about/faq.htm#LA1

Posted
July 19, 2015

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The shooting earlier today in Chattanooga was an act of Islamic terrorism. Yes, I know—my definition of Islamic terror is much broader than that of the US administration. In my book, any time a Muslim murders a non-Muslim, it's an act of Islamic terror. I don't really care whether or not the perpetrator was a card-carrying member of Al Qaeda or ISIS. It's very sad and our thoughts and prayers go out for the families of the victims. Here's the tweet ISIS sent out just a few minutes before the shooting started. We managed to get a screenshot before the Twitter account was suspended. As we've said before, this is war, folks.

Posted
July 16, 2015

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Coming soon to a court near you ... A sharia judge in the UK evidently thinks sharia (Muslim) law should trump local, civil law. We have at least one sharia court here in Texas. Its purpose is to adjudicate disputes between Muslims – similar to Jewish courts that mediate disputes between Jewish people according to established Jewish law. These religious courts have no civil authority. But here we have an instance where a sharia judge in England is suggesting that Islamic law (which allows Muslim men to have multiple wives) should have precedence over civil law (which doesn't allow polygamy). This could indicate that it's only a matter of time before religious sharia courts here in the USA clash with civil authority. Furthermore, we have a president who says that civil authority should not be able to tell a person who he can love. So what if he loves five different women? What then? http://www.clarionproject.org/news/uk-female-sharia-judge-muslims-have-right-polygamy

Posted
July 7, 2015

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Not long ago, Marcia and I were strolling through Brooklyn with some friends from Life in Messiah and we saw the new Lubavitcher HQ. Here's a little card they hand out to passers by. Just FYI, if you're not familiar with the Noahide Laws, there's a pretty decent article on Wikipedia.

Posted
May 13, 2015

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The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs is taking a proactive approach to combatting anti-Semitism worldwide. This isn't a jazzy news item–just a report about lots of down-in-the-trenches hard work in the political arena. http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/AboutTheMinistry/Conferences-Seminars/GFCA2013/Pages/The-5th-Global-Forum-for-Combating-Antisemitism.aspx

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May 11, 2015

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MP Broadcast