As the EIC of BELLA, I get pitched many stories. Hundreds a day in fact. This one however made me pause.
It is beautifully written by Shara Greenberg, a mom-friend I met at our children’s Preschool years ago.
While I was saddened to learn why she is sharing this story, I am heartened by what the act of sharing it with you will accomplish.
As I have shared in the past, as a former educator, I have committed myself and BELLA to bringing light and awareness to causes and movements not just in our country, but our world and this one hits so close to home.
It is only by committing to educating ourselves that we can move forward and help our young people grow up confident knowing that those who look, love or worship differently than they do pose no threat to them personally or to their way of life. Here is Shara’s story in her own words… I wish you a beautiful holiday season.
I’m Here Because of Christmas
By: Shara Greenberg
It’s no secret, I love all things Christmas. The lights, the sugar cookie candle smell, the music, the trees; I love every bit of it. But it wasn’t until recently, when I was the victim of antisemitism that I decided to do some soul searching to find a connection as to why my affinity towards Christmas is so strong.
I am the grandchild of Holocaust survivors. My grandmother survived the Holocaust by posing as a Catholic orphan with her brother. She was 9 years old. They lived for five years in the basement of a church while their mother posed as a nun; living in the same church. When the war broke out, my great-grandmother went to a local church where she knew the nuns and begged them to take her and her children in. They agreed under the conditions that she pretend to be a nun and that her children had to pretend to be Catholic orphans. The catch was that they also had to pretend as if they did not know one another. If they interacted publicly in the church, it would give their identities away.
So, for five years, my grandmother and her brother essentially grew up Catholic. When the war ended, they went to a displaced persons camp in Austria where my grandmother met my grandfather. They married there and immigrated to Toronto, Canada where my mom was born. Eventually, they moved to the United States, to Brooklyn, New York.
My mom had no idea of my grandparents’ past as a child. My grandmother never talked about it. Ever. Until one Christmas Eve, they were watching television and my grandmother began to recite Midnight Mass in Latin. My mom was shocked. How did she know this? They were Jewish. It was then that my grandmother told my mom her story of survival. Christmas saved her life.
Flash forward quite a few years and we now have ornaments on our best friends’ Christmas tree. We go with them to a tree farm to cut it down. Our children are obsessed with driving around New Jersey to find the best Christmas lights. Our favorite shows to watch this time of year are the Great Christmas Light Fight and every holiday cookie show imaginable the Food Network has to offer.
Coincidental, I think not. I am here because of Christmas and for that I will be forever grateful.