We never call them remnants. Because remnants do not go to Jewish day schools.
We never call them dying Jewish communities. Because dying Jewish communities do not have sites on the World Wide Web.
And we never call them the last Jews of Central and Eastern Europe. Because of all of the creatures that God has created, a last Jew is simply not one of them.
At The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, we call them the future, and for more than a decade, we have been committed to rebuilding Jewish life in that part of Europe where the destruction of the Holocaust was followed by the oppression of Communist rule.
Why are we helping in these countries? Because half a century after the Holocaust, Jews are still there and want to be Jewish once again. True enough, they may be few in number, but they are determined. They include:
- Jews like Miriam, a Warsaw teenager who grew up knowing nothing about Judaism except that her grandparents died at Auschwitz, until she joined a Lauder Foundation youth club and felt as if she had come home;
- Jews like Sabina, who took her children and grandchildren to a Lauder Foundation summer camp so they could get to know Jewish lore, Jewish traditions, and Jewish families just like their own;
- Jews like Esther and Simon and David and Eva who attend the Lauder Javne Jewish Community Day School in Budapest and spend their school days with over 600 other Jewish children.
Providing Jewish education is our primary goal. For we know that if you bring Jewish life to children, they will bring it home to their parents, the lost generation that was deprived of its heritage.
That is why we send our students home each Friday with freshly baked challahs. With the blessings our teachers have taught them, they cross the vast gray cities of Warsaw and Minsk, the cobbled alleys of Prague and Vienna, the great boulevards of Budapest and Bucharest. In hundreds of homes that have not heard such prayers for generations, Judaism is returning over a loaf of bread, a pair of candles, a child's voice.