My grandmother was a victim of the horrors that the Holocaust wreaked on the Jews of the 20th century. She was deported to Siberia on a cattle car. She and her father caught malaria and she watched her father perish. She was starving, freezing and suffering through awful conditions. Through it all, she held on to her religion and her Jewish heritage. Finally, after the war, she stayed at a German DP camp for some time where she met my grandfather. She described her story and her struggles in her memoir, “The Darkness of Siberia”. One tale that I found particularly striking occurred after she left Siberia in the DP camp. She wrote how she and my grandfather were in a German shop, looking at soaps. She read the labels on the soaps and read that these soaps were made from the remains of Jewish bodies. Utterly horrified, she and my grandfather wanted to do something for these poor Jewish lives that were destroyed, bodies mutilated. As burial and respecting the dead is a very integral aspect of Judaism, my grandmother and grandfather bought out all of the soap in the shop and buried the soap. They then said kaddish, a traditional Jewish prayer that is said for the death of a family member or loved one. Through this story as well as many others that my grandmother related in her memoir, I have gained a new respect for my heritage and my religion.
– Batsheva Ettinger