IMG_4767“My grandfather, ZTL, was a teenager, new to donning tefillin, when he was transported to Dachau. He was alone:  his father had died before the war and his brother was killed by the Nazis. He managed to sneak his tefillin into the camps, and would quickly put them on and say “shma” every morning before roll call. Soon, most of the men in his barracks also wanted a chance to put on the tefillin even for a second.  One day he was caught with the tefilllin and taken to the camp commander. The commander told him he could choose his means of death: being stoned or being attacked by a pack of hungry wild dogs. My grandfather replied that he had a last request per the Geneva conventions. T the commander laughingly agreed, expecting him to ask for a hot shower or a steak. Instead, my grandfather asked to finish davening with the tefillin. The commander, shocked, laughed and calling him a stupid Jew who was willing to give up his life- and his steak – for his Gd. When the commander saw that the whole shma took 2 minutes he laughed and said that’s what you risked your life for- we’ll introduce you as the stupid Jew, waiting for his “Gd” to rescue him and you’ll recite it everyday with the tefillin over the loudspeaker.  And so, my grandfather recited shma every morning over the loudspeakers with  his tefillin. Guess he had the last laugh!”

Source: Tamar Hamm

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