One of the most unusual experiences of my life took place in Bethlehem in January 2004. Shortly before I left for the Israeli-occupied West Bank, I had received almost $30,000 from France as reparations for the Vichy government’s role in the deportation of my parents to Auschwitz. My goal was to divide the money among organizations that worked either directly or indirectly with Palestinian children. After some research, I sent checks to several different groups, among them Sami Adwan’s grass-root organization, before I left home for Palestine. I was in touch with Sami before leaving home and we agreed to meet when I was in Bethlehem, where he lives.
Sami treated Dianne and me to lunch in a very nice restaurant. There were lots of people there, with plenty of eating, talking, coming and going. While we were chatting, I had the oddest feeling: my parents were there in the room. I felt like they were above me, somehow, and what they went through is what allowed me to be doing what I was doing then and there in Palestine.
I never experienced my parents being present like I experienced them that day.
I’ve never believed in such things happening, but there they were, they were really there with me.