Today is Tu Bishvat, the Jewish “New Year of the Trees.” Trees, symbolic of the renewal of life, have been planted at Yad Vashem in honor of non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. But among the thousands of trees planted in the Garden of the Righteous, stands a single hollow tree trunk. This hollow trunk saved the life of Holocaust survivor Jakob Silberstein. Born in Rypin, Poland in 1924, Jakob was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust. Jakob spent over 2 years in Auschwitz and then in 1945, he was sent on a Death March towards Czechoslovakia. He managed to escape the march and found refuge in the attic of Jana Sudova (recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 2006). Jakob discovered a birch tree with a hollow trunk in Sudova’s backyard, so he widened the entrance of the tree to use as an emergency hiding place. Whenever the Nazis came to search the premises, he would hurry to hide inside the tree trunk until the danger had passed. Years later, Jakob located the tree and brought it to Yad Vashem.
Source: American Society for Yad Vashem