DAYTON CHRISTIAN JEWISH DIALOGUE

Minutes of Meeting

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Date: February 11, 2001

Location: University of Dayton, Kennedy Union Ballroom

Meeting Topic: Dramatic presentation on the life of Corrie ten Boom, righteous gentile, who saved hundreds of Jews in Holland by hiding them during the Holocaust

Facilitator: Susan Sandager

Hosts: Suzi and Dieter Walk

Approximately 300 people were in attendance.

Jerry Kotler opened the meeting at 7:40 PM. He described the two organizations which are cosponsoring this event: the Dayton Christian Jewish Dialogue and Yad B'Yad.12 He then called on Rabbi Hillel Fox to give the invocation. Rabbi Fox stated that the meeting is dedicated to the memory of Harold Rubenstein, long-time member and active supporter of the Dayton Christian Jewish Dialogue who died the prior evening. Rabbi Fox's prayer focused on thanking God for this blessed land of America where there is freedom of religion. May Christians and Jews feel their common brotherhood and celebrate their common Biblical and American heritages of brotherhood and peace. He concluded with the famous quotation from the prophet Micah, "They will hammer their swords into plowshares, their spears into sickles. Nation shall not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war."

After Jerry discussed righteous gentiles who saved Jews during the Holocaust, he turned the program over to Dieter Walk. Dieter reviewed the history of the ten Boom family. In 1844, one of the ten Boom ancestors started a prayer group for Israel. After hiding many Jews for a significant period of time during the Second World War, the Ten Boom family was betrayed by a Dutch neighbor, arrested for their activities, and sent to prison. Although several of her relatives died in prison, Corrie was miraculously released from prison. From that time until her death, she traveled the world over, telling the story of her family's activities rescuing Jews in the Holocaust. Corrie wrote that when we pray for something, God often makes us part of the response to that prayer. She has been honored by the Jewish community by being recognized as a righteous gentile by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. Dieter then welcomed Corrie ten Boom, played by Susan Sandager, into the room.

Susan Sandager was dressed in the clothing and hairstyle of Corrie ten Boom. Corrie spoke about her recollections of the Nazi takeover and the rounding up of the Jews. She noted that her father expressed his condemnation of the Jewish roundup, saying the Jews were loyal Dutchmen. Corrie said that, although her father was old, he was courageous in opposing the Nazi roundup of Jews. Jews would come to the family's watch shop, saying their watch needed a mainspring. This was code language for saying that they needed to be hidden and/or smuggled out of the country.

The ten Boom family stole (hid) 100 Jewish babies. One of Corrie's teenage helpers was of the age to go to college, but he told Corrie that he did not want to go to college, saying "this is life." He was happy to stay at home to help in the hiding and rescuing of Jews. Corrie was proud of this heroic teenager. After he was in prison, Corrie received a letter from him just prior to his execution. Corrie observed that the Nazis were more occupied with finding Jews than winning the war. The wall of her bedroom was made of brick. That was the secret to creating a hiding place for the Jews that cannot be found. The ten Boom family named it the "angel crib." This was based on Psalm 91, her father's favorite passage from the Bible. That passage told all the Jews to put their faith in God.

Corrie stated that Christians in America often think there were a lot of Christians helping Jews. Unfortunately, this was not true. At one point, the ten Boom family had a tiny Jewish baby that needed another hiding place. A pastor from a neighboring town was asked to take the tiny baby. The pastor criticized Corrie for helping the Jews. If the pastor took the Jewish baby, that could cost the pastor's family their lives, if they were discovered. When told about this, Corrie's father said that losing their lives helping Jews to avoid capture would be the greatest honor for the ten Boom family. The pastor did not report the ten Boom family to the authorities, but he remained a bystander. Hiding places became harder and harder to find. Many Jewish people came and went, but there were four permanent Jewish guests in the ten Boom home. One Jewish lady had bad asthma. She asked everyone to vote whether she should stay because she might give them away if she had to cough when the authorities were nearby. Everyone voted that she should stay.

On February 24, 1944, it all ended. A man came to the house who said his Jewish wife was in prison and asked for help. He was a traitor; he was sent by the Nazis to test if the ten Boom's were sympathetic to Jews. Soon afterward, the Nazis came and tore up the floorboards of their home in search of Jews. Many of the Jews were discovered, but some in the angel crib were not discovered. The ten Booms were marched to the police station. Corrie's father was offered the chance to go home. However, he told the authorities that, if he were released, he would continue to open the home to Jews. Therefore, he was not released. Corrie's father had no fear, and he instilled in the family the power to endure what they would soon face. He told them to never forget that they had been a privileged family. Corrie was taken to a prison and put into solitary confinement. Four months later, she and her older sister Betsy were transferred to another prison. As the Allies were approaching, the Germans moved the women and killed all the men in the prison.

Corrie and her sister had anticipated arrest. She packed a bag for it. However, they could not imagine how bad it was. There was unspeakable horror and humiliation. During that time, Corrie and her sister clung to the Bible. Often the lord said to Betsy and Corrie, it is for my people that you have to suffer.

Corrie and her sister were imprisoned in Barracks 28 at Ravensbruck. The Bible was their source of strength. Her older sister was a source of strength for Corrie. However, she had become very thin. Jan Vogel was the neighbor who betrayed her family. Corrie hated him, but Betsy prayed for him. As Corrie's sister became weaker, the distinction between praying and living was becoming less. She was drifting in and out of sleep with a lot of visions. She told Corrie that, they must tell the people what they have learned here. Betsy died just prior to the day Corrie was released. One week after Corrie was released, all the women left in the camp were executed.

A man came up to Corrie at one of her talks. The man had taken one of the Jewish babies who had been hidden in the ten Boom house. Now the boy was 16 years old, and he knew about his story. Perhaps 800 Jewish people came through the ten Boom house. The existence of the Jewish people testifies to the existence of the one true God.

Susan Sandager concluded the dramatic presentation at about 8:30 PM. She volunteered to answer questions. She was asked why God has let the Jews suffer so much. She replied that this was the fault of man, not of God. Someone asked how old Corrie was when she went to the concentration camp. Susan replied that she was 50. At this point, Susan told a painful story about one of the guards in the prison to which Corrie was sent. He came to one of Corrie's talks in Berlin. He said, "Ms. Ten Boom I am sorry for what I have done. I have now become a Christian." Corrie did not want to shake his hand, but she went from hatred to love when she shook his hand. Jerry asked whether Corrie was ever confronted by Jan Vogel. Susan replied that, after the war, he was sentenced to death and Corrie sent him a Bible. The family wrote to him about all the pain he had caused the ten Boom family. He wrote back that he had asked God to forgive him. Susan elaborated that in fact two men had betrayed the ten Boom family. Jan Vogel accepted their forgiveness. The other man said the Jews got what they deserved. Someone asked Susan, why had Hitler come. Susan said she did not know, but he did not come in a vacuum. Lorraine asked whether Corrie ever found out what happened to people in the angel crib. Corrie replied that the people were able to escape because the guards around the house were replaced by Dutch policemen who were not sympathetic to the Nazi cause and failed to guard the house diligently. Someone who helped the hidden Jews sent Corrie a message, that "all the watches in your closet are safe."

Susan Sandager concluded her presentation at 8:45 PM with the priestly benediction.

As an epilogue, Dieter explained that Susan is not a trained actress. To form her presentation, she pieced together Corrie's actual words. However, she also spoke from her own heart. Dieter relayed a story told to him by Murray Weissman, a Holocaust survivor who used to live in Dayton. A small Jewish village was being terrorized by people from the town nearby. A group from the town went to the village and told the rabbi, if the people of your village would act more Christian, you would not have these problems. The rabbi replied to the group from the town that if your people would act more Christian, we would not have these problems.

At this time, Susan Sandager returned to the room, dressed as herself. Susan said she is thrilled to deliver her presentation to a combined Christian and Jewish audience. The New Mexico based organization, Yad B'Yad, is starting a Dayton chapter tonight with Dayton cofounders Rabbi Hillel Fox and Pastor Dieter Walk representing the new group, and she is grateful to be a part of this. Anyone who is interested in being a part of Yad B'Yad was asked to sign a yellow sheet. Rabbi Fox made a number of announcements. Dieter talked about the joint Christian-Jewish trip to Israel that was held last year and another one that is planned for this year.

The meeting adjourned at 8:55 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Ken Rosenzweig, Secretary

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1 Yad B'Yad, 8801 Spain NE, Albuquerque, NM 87111, e-mail: HadassahS@aol.com.

2