The name Recha Freier may not sound familiar. But it should.
Recha Freier was the visionary that began the Youth Aliyah movement to Israel. In 1931, she was approached by a group of Jewish boys that had been let go from their jobs in Berlin. It was clear they were fired because they were Jewish. Freier saw the writing on the wall and began to pursue the building of a pipeline, an avenue leading teenagers and young adults to the land of Israel. A land where they could flee discrimination, create community, belong, and feel at home. Child by child, teen by teen, Freier might have felt the impact of her endeavors. However, at the onset, she probably did not realize how vital her services would be needed in just a few years.
Between 1939 and 1941, Recha Freier was successful in saving and relocating almost 10,000 Jewish children to the land of Palestine. 10,000 Jewish children that would have certainly perished if left in the hands of Nazi Germany. In 2003, the Youth Aliyah German Committee stated, “It was the vision of Recha Freier that not only enabled the rescue of so many children of the Holocaust—the darkest hour of mankind—but also created a unique network for the problems confronting Jewish children during the following decades.” Out of the pitch of night, the horrors of humanity, Freier refused to succumb and instead, brought light to the hands of those fumbling and lost.
Yom Haatzmaut emerges out of Yom Hazikaron, the two woven within each other. We mourn the fallen, those that give their lives to protect our Holy Land. And then moments later, we sing. Celebrating the promise of tomorrow, our hearts still wrenched with tears and grief. Israel’s history is built upon those that understand success is achieved if someone is willing to see through the shadows. Israel is the home of the bearers of light.
Darkness exists in many shapes and sizes. But the miracle of Israel is proof enough. Be the one to light the match. Looming darkness stands no chance against burgeoning hope.
In partnership with The Jewish Journal, you can also find Rabbi Guzik’s blog post HERE.