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Surviving the Holocaust and Poverty

Michael and Vera Stolyer walk, hand-in-hand, down the streets near their home in Israel.  The couple has been married for more than 60 years.  During that time they, they’ve helped each other cope with painful memories of the Holocaust. 

“The sounds of the bombs were terrifying,” remembers Vera.  “My father grabbed me and we ran with my sisters to a cargo train. We escaped Ukraine to Tajikistan. The rest of my family that could not leave were killed with the other Jews, their bodies all dumped in a giant pit.” 

“I was ten years old when the Nazis began bombing my village in Moldova,” said Michael, with a haunted look in his eyes.  “I thought the world was coming to an end.”

While in Tajikistan, Vera and her family risked their lives to secretly help care for injured Soviet soldiers.  Michael and his family endured a much worse ordeal as they were forced on a three month long death march to a ghetto in the Ukraine. 

“Each evening I lost family,” Michael told us, “I can still see them,” he said, his eyes far away.  He continued,  “losing my father hurt the most. I miss him.”

Michael and Vera’s family names are both in the Yad Vashem holocaust museum in Jerusalem. After the war, hey met in Ukraine, and moved to Hadera, Israel, in 1995.  Michael worked as a street cleaner until he was in his 70s. They’ve lived a good life, but have struggled for years just to buy food.

“We lived paycheck to paycheck and never could save much money,” said Vera.  “I cooked our food on the same electric hot plate for years.  But it broke, and we just can’t afford to replace it.”  

When CBN Israel found out about Michael and Vera, we brought them a brand new electric hot plate, and a convection oven.  Every week, someone stops by to check on them and takes them groceries.

“It’s fantastic, all the things you have given us,” said Michael.  “We really appreciate the support and everything that you are doing to help.”

“We are so very grateful,” Vera said with tears in her eyes.  “We are not used to people giving us things.  We are very appreciative for each item. We have everything we could possibly need. Thank you.”

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