Sunday, January 27, 2008


After the whirlwind day of touring, many of our group went to the diamond factory and shop here in Tiberius. I when along, but didn't hardly look at anything (sorry, girls). I'd already found my gem and her name is Lizzy.

Lizzy is a survivor who says "I am very open to talk." And so I bought two milkshakes in the lounge and we sat there and talked.

We met in the buffet line here at the Royal Palms Hotel. I allowed her to take the place in front of me, and a conversation began. Lizzy and her husband where here to enjoy the spa. Tiberius for centuries has been known for its mineral water spas. I learned he is a disabled veteran of the 48 war for independence. I also learned a bit more of their story.

Lizzy and her husband immigrated from Budapest after the war. No more family there. Only an older brother who survived the Holocaust with her. She was sent to Auschwich at age 13. She said, "You know the mean doctor, Mengela, who told you which way to go? I was just a little girl, so the older women on each side of me held me up to look bigger, and I was sent to the work camp with them. (As you recall, the other line led directly to the gas chambers.)

In 1946 she and her husband came to Israel to join a Kibbutz. On the island of Crete, seeking papers for immigration she was asked her name. "Aliza is not a Hebrew name," the officer said, "you will be Miriam."

"And so now I am Miriam, but call me Lizzy like everyone else," she told me. We sat and talked about our families and life. She was disappointed I did not have pictures of my wife and girls with me.

Lizzy spoke of her struggles as though they were just last week, and yet with an indifferent resignation. Her husband lost a leg in the war. "And he had his operation to repair his leg at the same hour I was delivering our first child. The same hour!" Imagine this 19 year old new mom in a new country with no family, raising her daughter alone for a year and a half until her husband was released from the hospital. "It is life," she shrugged.

God has been gracious. She has nine grandchildren, all in Israel, and five months ago, her first great grandson was born. Lizzy loves to dance, and used to sing, even acting for awhile, but now life is slower. I asked if she was observant in her religion and she said "No, after the war we thought, 'What's the use?'"

And so I passed the evening with a survivor, who now with a sick husband looks for conversation. Lizzy is indeed a gem, a gem who has endured horrific abrasions of life, and yet sparkles with life.

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