Both my parents were holocaust survivors who immigrated to Canada after the war to build a Jewish life together. As I was growing up, my parents told me numerous stories of the horrors they experienced during the war, although it was extremely difficult for them. But the one story that always stood out above the rest wasn't really about the holocaust.
This particular story was about my dad arriving in Canada at the age of 26 with his wife and five year old child. He got off the boat with $25 in his pocket, no education and barely able to speak the language, no job and no place to live. I thought to myself what a terrifying situation…what would I do? How could I survive? My dad said they couldn't have been happier. I asked how is this possible? If I werein that situation, panic would quickly set in. My dad smiled at me and said when someone has been through the holocaust experience, surviving in a country of opportunity is a welcoming challenge.
What an interesting perspective! There is a very important lesson we can all learn from this. Everything is a matter of attitude and one's approach to life. My parents were motivated to better their lives. They worked day and night, and all through the years never lost faith of their Jewish heritage. They sent all four of their children to Hebrew school, regardless of the financial burden, kept a Jewish home and still somehow managed to give tzedukah to their synagogue and other Jewish organizations. In the end, financial success was theirs to enjoy, but what they really savoured was the journey.
It wasn't until I grew up, got married and had children of my own that I realized what incredible sacrifices they made so that we the next generation could benefit from their wisdom which they silently shared. It is written in Ethics of our Fathers, “Who is rich?” Answer …”He who is happy with his portion”. Although my parents never had the opportunity to read this powerful book of our sages, they lead by example in all that they did.
A Holocaust Education Fund has been established in memory of my father, Rubin Tencer, by his loving wife and children,so that high school students may learn about the tragedies of the Holocaust.