Today, November 25th, we celebrated Alyosha Ryabinov’s birthday at the Caesarea Villa. Joining in with the celebration were Alyosha and Jody’s German friend, Claudia, and her 93-year-old mother, Christa, and eighteen survivors from Survivors of Nazism, based in Netanya.
Welcoming everyone to the Shalom House event, Bozena Gasiorowski invited Claudia to share about her mother’s childhood in Germany. A hush filled the villa as Claudia told the survivors about what her family went through during the war. As a child, Christa had to join Hitler Youth; however, her family opposed Hitler’s Regime, and Christa’s father refused to buy her the required brown uniform, so Christa wore a red coat until it was too small to wear. Because of their rebellion, Claudia’s family were blackmailed by their neighbors, and her grandfather was threatened to be sent to a concentration camp if he continued to revolt. The survivors were touched to hear the story of this German family’s rebellion against the Führer who initiated great pain in their lives.
The concert then began with Alyosha and his wife Jody performing a new song for the survivors. Rather than giving gifts to Alyosha for his birthday, he bestowed the gift of music to the audience. As his fingers found the right key, the survivors listened intently and grew excited when a tune they recognized was played. Claudia also took her place behind the piano to perform from her heart; closing her eyes, she gave the music the reins and played a beautiful piece.
With their dancing feet rearing to go, the survivors joined HHC’s volunteers at the front to dance to the songs Jody and Claudia were singing. With smiles that brightened their faces, it was a joyful moment that led to a round of applause as a cake was brought out for Alyosha. The traditional “Happy Birthday” song was sung in multiple languages, swelling Aloysha’s heart in gratification.
Thank you to Mila Fleitman and her group form Netanya for coming to the event. It was a pleasure to have Claudia back for a Shalom House event, and wonderful to meet her mother, whose story was very touching. Our volunteers worked loyally to prepare the villa for the event and made a great lunch that was enjoyed by all. HHC was also glad to have the opportunity to share in the celebrations of Alyosha’s birthday and have the Ryabinov’s perform once again at the Caesarea Villa.
If you enjoy reading about the Shalom House project and wish to take part in an event, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love for you to come to the Caesarea Villa and host your own event for the survivors of the Holocaust!