That morning we received a package of glasses in the mail as a donation for people in need. When we emailed the sender with thanks, she wrote us the following: “My mother-in-law, a holocaust survivor, passed away a year ago. I was breaking my head trying to figure out what to do with her used glasses which were still in excellent condition. She was a person who hated throwing things away unnecessarily and she was tops in ‘secondhand’. So thank you that you found such a great solution and that you emailed me precisely on the day that is dedicated in our hearts to her memory.”
We emailed back, saying that we were on the way to do a school presentation and that we would share this story with the children on this Yom Hashoah.
It was her first email and the one she sent next that we read out to the kids as they sat spellbound and we opened the package for the first time.
“These are the glasses of Genia, who was a young girl in the Warsaw Ghetto and looked after her 6 siblings and parents before they all perished and she remained alone. She went through the concentration camps and the death camps, and survived to come to Israel and build a large family. Genia was a brave, resourceful woman who always said: ‘Instead of looking in the mirror all day, it’s also important to look out of the window,’ - in other words, to see the plight of others, and to help them if necessary.
Here was Genia, a holocaust survivor and a person who cared sincerely about others. And here were her glasses, sent to us after her passing. There was no better message we could convey to the children.
Genia’s outlook reflected the very beliefs that RE-SPECS stands for: caring for those in need by providing them with the means to see.