At one-thirty on Friday, November 8th, the Caesarea Villa was filled with music as Alyosha Ryabinov began to play mesmerizing tunes on the grand piano. Joining Helping Hand Coalition for this concert event were fifteen survivors from Survivors of Nazism, based in Netanya, and thirteen special guests from Abraham Ministries, led by Werner and Regula Woiwode.
After marching 420km through Switzerland to bring awareness to anti-Semitism and raise money to bless Israel, last year, Abraham Ministries connected with HHC and was invited to participate with a Shalom House event, giving their group a chance to meet with survivors of the Holocaust.It was a touching afternoon that brought on a lot of overwhelming emotions for both the survivors and guests. With a room full of people who spoke different languages, it was incredible to witness everyone close their eyes to feel the music as it touched their souls. There was a feeling of awestruck wonder as Alyosha continued from one song to the next. The trance was only broken when Alyosha was joined by his wife, Jody, to lead the group in singing Shalom Alcheim and Am Israel Chai.
As lunch was served, the group from Abraham Ministries began talking to the survivors. Having brought two photo albums illustrating their march through Switzerland and their previous walk through Israel, it was touching to see Werner explain each page to the survivors who wished to see the pictures. Tears were shed and bonds were formed during this time, and one of the group members shared that being in a room with survivors was a significant moment since her grandfather had been killed in Auschwitz during World War II.
Before the bus arrived, Mila Fleitman, leader of Survivors of Nazism, asked to share words of gratitude and thanked each person from HHC for hosting this event, and wished everyone peaceful Shabbat. Werner also gave a heartfelt speech on behalf of his group, stating, “Though we cannot speak the same language when we look into your eyes, we are telling you that we love you.” He then asked his group to stand and sing the Aaronic Blessing over the survivors and the Shalom House project.
HHC was so honored to connect with Abraham Ministries and hopes that they will come back to join in with another Shalom House, soon! It was also a pleasure to have Katarzyna Kalicińska stay at the villa and be inspired to write about the Shalom House project. Thank you to Alyosha and Jody Ryabinov for performing a memorable concert, gifting the survivors with presents from China, and for bringing their friend, Carol, who works on the radio in America. And, to our incredible volunteers who work tirelessly to make sure each Shalom House is perfect, please know we appreciate you!