Tonight I had the opportunity to see my friend Meriam Haringman and her husband Shlomo in their home for dinner. Meriam and I developed an exchange with our students back in 1998 where we dialogued through the use of chat rooms and email to discuss the Holocaust. In 1999, I came to Yad Vashem for a conference and had the chance to meet Meriam, visit her school and meet the students that we created this conversation with. It was a wonderful project and through this project we continue to be in touch. I last saw her in 2002 when she was in New York for a wedding.
Meriam came to Israel from America when she was 18 years old. She came to Israel one summer for a youth program, met Shlomo and later returned to study here and marry Shlomo. Shlomo and his sister were both hidden in the Netherlands during the Holocaust by Christian rescuers and came to Israel after the war alone as they had lost all of their family. They grew up on a kibbutz and built a new life here in Israel. Since coming to Israel, Shlomo and his sister maintained contact with their rescuers and saw them throughout the years. Today, Shlomo is in constant contact with the children of the rescuers and continues to enjoy the incredible bond that they share.
My students, both past and present, will recall discussions we have had about the Red Cross archive being opened just two years ago in Bad Arsolon, Germany. This is the archive that holds 50 million pieces of paper documenting the paths of many Holocaust victims. Meriam shared with me some recent documents she received from the archive relating to Shlomo's family. These documents detailed movements of several family members, one of whom they knew perished during the Holocaust, but had thought her fate was different than what was finally represented in the documents. She actually died just after liberation, not in the camps.
Additionally, a few years ago Shlomo was reunited with a cousin that was adopted during the war by a Christian family. The story is quite amazing. This cousin had never known he was adopted or Jewish until his parents died and he found documents detailing his real identity. Through the use of the internet he found Shlomo and called to tell him that he was the 7th child of his aunt. Shlomo and Meriam had only known that this aunt had 6 children. Apparently, he was born 1941 during the war and had to be given away. Of course they were astonished to find a long lost relative and have enjoyed, beyond words, this reunification. Remember, Shlomo survived the Holocaust along with his sister and left the Netherlands to come to Israel and make an entirely new life for themselves which is remarkable.
I very much enjoyed catching up with Meriam and Shlomo ! They are such lovely people who have been so kind to me and who have shared so many personnel stories that have enriched my life. They hope I come back soon and bring my family !