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1

We Will Never Forget. We Will Never Forgive?

In life there are grievances that are difficult to forgive, even if the transgressor has asked for forgiveness. Some of these transgressions are forgotten, and some follow us all throughout our lives, as they are only yours and no one else’s. How do you deal with the pain that was visited upon your people, your ancestors? 

This is not just about pain that was caused, but about death and destruction that was brought upon a people. Many years have passed since the Holocaust, but it remains fresh in the memories of our people. What happened decades ago still shocks and pains those who were somehow affected by it in the past, and it affected all of the Jewish people in their entirety. 

Many new generations of Jews have already grown up having only learned about this tragedy from the pages of history textbooks, but despite that, they still experience the pain and the suffering in their hearts and minds. Modern Israeli youth study the topic of the Holocaust in high school as part of their curriculum, and after having completed their studies on this topic, are taken to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland where these atrocities were committed.

When you visit Auschwitz and walk along the railway lines upon which Jews were conveyed to their extermination, a shiver involuntarily runs down your spine. As you walk through the barracks where people were kept in inhumane conditions, you begin to imagine the thoughts and fears of these unfortunate people who were doomed to death simply because they were Jews. A sharp pain pierces your heart as you process all this, because you are also a Jew. If you had been living in Europe during that time,  then you too would probably have ended up here as this Nazi death camp. 

Usually when groups of Israeli youth go to visit Auschwitz as part of their school curriculum, they would proclaim the phrase: “We will never forget, we will never forgive.” For us as believers in Yeshua the Messiah though, it is important to learn to forgive—as God has already forgiven us of all our sins—and also to experience the healing power of forgiveness for ourselves. For this reason, I, as a father that believes in Yeshua, could not send my child with this school program. Forgiveness is at the heart of all that we stand for in Yeshua. Instead I sent my child, a few years ago, with the program “Yad be Yad” which means “Hand in Hand.” 

By the grace of God, this year we were able to send a group of youth from our very own community to visit Auschwitz. During the first few days of their visit everything was fairly relaxed, and our youngsters experienced their visit to Germany pretty straightforwardly. When they had arrived in Germany, they were met by a group of German teenage believers, and our youth were placed with them and their families for the duration of their stay.

They spent time together, went on hikes, played games, and worshipped God together at church meetings. After several full days spent together in fellowship and friendship , the time has come for our young people to travel to Auschwitz, and to experience what had happened there.

Once our youth and the German youth arrived there, the reality of the Holocaust began to dawn upon them, and their hearts were overwhelmed with sadness and disbelief at the cruelty of it all. As they walked the path of Auschwitz, they had to make frequent stops on the way to support each other in prayer and with words of encouragement, so as not to go turn back, but to see the experience through to the end. 

This unique procession of young German and Israeli believers, carrying the flags of Germany and Israel, had many of the other visitors at Auschwitz pause to have a look at them out of curiosity.  Our young people’s visit to Auschwitz was a deeply personal journey to relive the horror of the Holocaust that had impacted and extinguished millions of Jewish lives. This wasn’t simply a tourist outing to them, but rather a deeply moving experience of coming face to face with the reality of the Holocaust, and to boldly proclaim in Yeshua’s name: “We will never forget, but we will forgive…”

Through this life-changing journey, God had changed the hearts of the Israeli and German youth on this excursion. They were able to experience the supernatural healing power of forgiveness in a unique way, while also making lifelong friends with young German believers, who sincerely love and appreciate them.

I also thank everyone who is praying for us and supporting us. Thanks to precious support, we are able to conduct impacting projects such as Yad be Yad, aiding new Jewish immigrants, Ukrainian refugees, widows, and orphans, while also preaching the Gospel to the people of Israel, shining Yeshua’s light in the darkest places of our society in Tel Aviv. Together we can be a light in the land of Israel, preparing it for revival and the return of the King. Amen!

Blessings,
Pastor Aleksey Reikhstadt