Where was God during the Holocaust? Why didn’t he save my family members? Why did I survive when so many I loved were killed? In their attempts to find answers to these questions, survivors’ prewar faith systems were lost, retained, or significantly altered. Despite questions regarding God’s role in the Holocaust, faith or ritual practice became important long-term strategies used by the majority of our survivor respondents to cope with the massive losses suffered in the war.
NARRATOR: Chapter 7 written by Dr. Jennifer Goldenberg in the book Transcending Trauma: Survival, Resilience and Clinical Implications in Survivor Families discusses the importance of faith as a coping strategy during the war and in the survivors’ postwar years of rebuilding. Dr. Goldenberg writes, “Through the predictability of ritual, and the practice of it within a group setting with other Jews who had gone through similar circumstances, survivors found strength in the familiar practices of Their Jewish tradition. There were important, comforting echoes of their prewar lives, homes, lost family members and friends….Once in the United States, the reestablishment of Jewish community in particular, and specifically within a synagogue framework, was particularly critical as a coping strategy…holding on to the familiar in an unfamiliar post-Holocaust world was a fundamental, foundational, and pervasive coping strategy for these survivors. Family, community, and way of life were destroyed but the beliefs, practices, and values of those families and communities were the powerful vestiges that remained. Forced to learn new languages, live in new countries, build new communities, and create new families, survivors tried to retain their faith and hold on to the familiar rituals, as life rafts in uncharted waters.” Here are one survivor’s reflections on faith.
Dora was born in 1926 in Pruzhany, Poland. She was the second of four children.
Her father owned the biggest bakery in town and was wealthy. She learned Hebrew and Yiddish at home. Tutors came to her home to teach Dora and her sister reading and writing. They also lit candles at home. While the family worked on Shabbat, they celebrated holidays and kept kosher. She says, “We were observant Jews. I loved it. I never hid being Jewish.” She felt proud to be Jewish.
After the war Dora married Bernie in 1946. They had two children, Elaine, and Harold. At the time of the interview Harold was a lawyer and married for sixteen years to another lawyer. He had two children, aged thirteen and eight. Elaine is a teacher and has a career in Holocaust education. She is married to Jim, a convert to Judaism, and has one son, Joshua. At the time of the interview, Dora and Bernie belonged to a Conservative synagogue in Northeast Philadelphia and were involved in synagogue and Holocaust-related activities.
Pruzhany, where Dora was from, was in eastern Poland, very close to the Russian border. The Russians invaded in 1939, but village life wasn’t too disrupted until 1941 when Hitler broke his pact with Stalin. Dora’s mother and younger brothers were sent on a transport to Auschwitz and she never saw them again. She and her sister and her father were put on a later transport to Auschwitz.
While they were on the transport her father jumped out the window, leaving her and her sister alone. He gave a little money to her sister. People on the train were encouraging him, saying, “You’re going to die anyway, you might as well go.” He told the girls that “If we survive, we’ll meet home.” However, she never saw him again. She was on work detail with her sister in Auschwitz. Her sister spilled soup and was beaten to death by the guards. Dora had to help carry her body back to camp. She was liberated in 1945 from Auschwitz. When asked if she was observant Dora replied, “learned. Education in our house was everything…”
NARRATOR: Dora comments on using faith to cope with events during the war through writing a letter to God. Here she speaks about the power of the letter.
DORA: …she knew only that I’m writing a lot. And she said, Mommy, can I read it someday? I said, I’ll tell you what. I’m writing in Polish and I’m writing in Yiddish, so both languages you don’t know.
INT: How do you use writing? How is it helping you?
DORA: It helped me a lot. I had written one-I don’t know if it’s a poem, it’s a story, whatever it is. Maybe one time I’ll prepare it for you and you’ll read it. But I had put together in Birkenau and in Auschwitz, I had it put together in Polish and the minute-when I woke up and I started going to work, I repeated it every day. The letter was to G-d. I didn’t have nobody else to write to. And I wrote to him and I was very mad. I was very mad. Our family was not very, very religious but I know my family worked. When you work you cannot be that very religious. But our holidays and we had, you know, “milchig” [dairy] and “fleishig” [meat]. I mean it was a Jewish family. We knew about the holidays. We celebrated them with all the children. I just couldn’t think that G-d could do something like this to us, and why.
INT: You were angry at Him.
DORA: I was very angry. I was absolutely very, very angry. I was angry. I wouldn’t trust Him anymore. I-I just thought that if He did-I just didn’t want to be alive. I just wanted to die, that’s all. So my old writing, my old poem and my whole whatever I had written was to Him. It was to Him, and I just told Him the way I feel and what could one have to live anyway? I don’t find it-I can’t live. I don’t need to live and what I was-I didn’t try for myself even. I really did not try, but somehow, as they say, if I tell you that the doctor-Doctor -I don’t remember his name, the one with the other name, Mengele, that Mengele had saved my life. I was very, very sick. Very sick.
INT: When you hear something and smell and it triggers memories?
DORA: This is-this is something that is unbelievable. I can smell it from miles away. I used to walk out of stores when we were near a car, this always used to bring to me those smells and those smells were always in my dreams. My dreams I was always running and I always smelled the smells that I will never run away from it. It will always be in my dreams.
INT: So recurring dreams?
DORA: Constantly. I don’t think they will ever go away. They will never go away. It’s just, you know, you don’t talk about it. You try not to talk about it that much, but if you sit in a company with people, you can talk about anything. About weddings, about different things, and it will come down and this is like conversation. It’s like-this is it. This is our life.
INT: You started saying that when you were in the camps and you were seeing all the horrible atrocities, you shut down, got numb.
INT: Can you talk some more about where you were in your mind?
DORA: As I told you, I will prepare that letter that I had written to G-d and I had hung on for-this was this. Like: “If You’re listening and if You know what I’m writing, You gotta help me; if not I have nothing left to do here.” I had nobody. All my friends, we are piled up on one bed or whatever you call it, you know, and we were there about fourteen girls. My cousins, my friends, my sister’s friends, and nobody was left around, they all just died one after the other. And they took them out and they piled them up in front of the barrack, and then they-they used to bring a big-a horse with a wagon or they used to bring a truck. Pile them up and take them to be burned. That was right across from our barrack, and you could see it. We saw, later on.
INT: Ashes, smoke.
DORA: Constantly. The sky was always red. The sky was never blue in those places. And that’s why-you see, right now you could not make me go to Poland anymore. I cannot think of going in there anymore. I think I would die, because of all the things that they had done there, that it’s really just a preserve that people could see, but not the truth. It is not the truth. What you see there is not the way it was there.
INT: A shell of what it was, or an image.
DORA: There was-it was so wet there. It was so much filth there, that I don’t know what they do to it. Now it’s dry and grass is growing and, you know, and where was it all? We used to walk up to here and you got your outfit, whatever you got, you got it for the whole season. They didn’t change it for you. And then came a time when the lice-it was just unbelievable.
INT: There was dirt and mud.
DORA: They were sticking in the walls, so we took off everything that we had, and they-we had a-a something to tie it together. I think the tied it together with a belt and they threw it into a big cooking barrel, whatever, that was boiling with hot water, and then they took it out and they just tossed it out, it should freeze. And then they gave it to you. So when you started untying it, a sleeve fell off, your shoes broke in half, so you were left with like one sleeve, and this was winter, and winter in Poland is like last year’s winter. This is the winters we had there. So it was really-it was very, very hard to go on. Very hard to go on. Maybe men as a rule, maybe they tried. Men-men got along between themselves better than girls, than women did. I don’t know what makes it…
NARRATOR: Elaine, Dora’s daughter, brought a young non-Jewish man home as the person she wanted to marry. Dora comments on how that felt to her as a survivor.
DORA: In the meantime we went to the rabbi. And you know, friends, our closest friends we told the story. And from the very, very first ones. And, you know, everybody tried to help us, you know, with work and this and that and then they go away and you’re left with the same thing again and you have to decide for yourself. And we went to the rabbi. We belonged-we always belonged to a synagogue.
INT: A Conservative synagogue?
DORA: Conservative. Somehow, in my-I knew that there was a G-d from there. I just wanted-I wanted to punish Him, and I said: “If I’m not gonna go to synagogue, that’s the way I’m gonna punish Him.” And then I figured out that this is not the right way, that I must have somebody that I look up to, that I know it’s there and taking care of me. I don’t know what it is, but this is the way I live. And we went to our rabbi and we told him the story and our rabbi is a very good friend of ours. He likes us because we always belonged to a synagogue and, you know, we-we like to donate to the synagogue money and everything. And every synagogue is always short of money and we know about it so we always try to do our best by it. The kids went to Hebrew school there and we go there for service. When we worked we could not go as much, but now we really, we go Friday and Saturday to services. We like it.
INT: In this area, the northeast?
DORA: Yeah, the OCJC, which is on Algon. It’s not far. And the synagogue can give you entertainment and everything for the whole week, every week, three hundred…fifty-two weeks of the year. They have all kinds of different things and we enjoy it. And we went to the rabbi and we told him the story and he said: “Look, we will try to talk her out of it.” I said: “We tried already. You won’t do it.” He said: “Try once more and if you can’t…” I said: “I can’t even talk to her. I can’t even sit and look at her. I don’t know what to say to her.”
He said: “Try to tell her how you feel the best you can and how much it hurts us; that we have nothing against the boy. We don’t know him. He might be the best, the nicest boy, the kindest person in the world, but to us, after a war like this, you know, I want to keep it close with our people.” And she said she wants to bring him over. I saw that we cannot get out of this, and she brought him over one evening. And if he tried or not, he was very nice. He was very nice. He was very knowledgeable. He spoke very nicely and he was a really nice person. And he said that he wants to marry Elaine. I said: “Look, I am not the cleverest person in the world.” I am only -I was then…she was twenty-one, so I was forty-two. I said: “And I’ve seen already on television, I’ve seen groups that comes out for mixed marriages. It never works. I see marriages here don’t work at all. Marriages that are married by parties of the same faith, and it’s very, very difficult.”
“You don’t see it in the beginning. You are in love, but then come children and you want it raised one way, and she wants it raised the other way, and it just doesn’t work out.” He said that he wants to convert completely, without any questions. He wants to be a Jew. Even if he’s not gonna marry Elaine, he’s gonna become a Jew, because he likes this part of the religion. It’s very…to him it’s something that he really appreciated; that he’s not finding in his [religion]. Well, to make the story short, it happened. He was very nice. He converted with every little thing. Rabbi Weinrovsky helped him and he started…he wrote a paper, A Jew by Choice; very nice paper. He helped in the school where the converts come in. He taught them yet before they even got married, and I saw that he’s going the right way. He was not a run around. He was not a man that, you know, that comes out from a very big home and eats everything in one minute. He was a man, a working man, that could not find a place for himself with his family. I don’t think that he cared for his religion that much. It was something that he could not…he liked to help people. He was out all day in countries like…when he came here to Philadelphia; I think he came from Haiti or something.
INT: He must have been in the Peace Corps.
DORA: Yeah, the Peace Corps, yeah. And he started reading books and he started learning Hebrew, and he knew already more than I knew. If I had to ask him something and it was him that I asked. So I said: “Look, I want you to be happy and I’ll make you a wedding like the best I can.” And we did. We made her a beautiful, beautiful wedding. A beautiful wedding.
I remember my girlfriend used to sit Saturday night and wait until a star came out in the sky that I should be able to go and play. I could not go before. As I told you, we are not religious but we are observant Jews and I love it and I never hid it. I always was very proud of it and I am proud of it now. I am a-I love Judaism. I know-I read about it and I learned about it. I know Hebrew very good. I know Yiddish very good. And I like it. I like it very much.
INT: Any organizations you belong to or any Holocaust related activities?
DORA: Well, we belong-we had an organization the Jewish Holocaust Survivors, which is our melting pot. We are-I think we achieved a lot. We had built and equipped a few hospitals in Israel that was all from our doing, and we also had the monument which we were the first city in the United States that we put up the monument on Sixteen and the Parkway. We had very nice get-togethers with all organizations and, you know, we had JHS and we get together to buy bonds. Every evening we spent for something that it had to do with tzedakah. You know, we always give. Now we-we participate in the March of the Living. We give some money. Not all of it, but as much as we can, to give money so it should be for the kids that want to go and cannot go.
Last Saturday — no, two Saturdays ago — we had a luncheon in our Shul and we had three youngsters speaking about their impressions and whatever. They went on the March of the Living, and one boy said that Joshua, that our Joshua, talked to him and told him what an experience [it was]. Those three kids presented that it was just unbelievable. I couldn’t sit. It was like I was sitting there. They were there writing. One was without notes altogether. He was just bar mitzvah now at synagogue three years ago. He’s now sixteen-seventeen years old and there’s another boy and a girl from Washington Heights. Unbelievable. And then I-when they finished I, you know, I raised my hand, I said, I must say something, because I have spoken in the synagogue many, many times, and in many other places. And I said: “Your presentation was so sensitive and so good and you observed everything and you know exactly. I mean you went like children and you came grown-up people.”
That’s exactly what they said they did. And he said, you know, that Joshua talked to me. I said: “Are you sorry or angry?” He says: “No, if my father gives me money,” looks at his father, “I would go again.” And so our organization gives some money for this too, which we are very-we always had a scholarship fund that was after somebody that passed away a long, long time ago, from the first deaths, and we made in his name a scholarship fund, so yesterday-for a kid that needs it most. And now that we don’t have already any kids in school, not the second generation, the third is the parents can give them. So we give it to all the students from-from Hillel or we have from Gratz. The money is always needed so we give it to them. And this has been really for us a very…first of all, you know, we are together, and this is for us very important. And a lot of Americans have come to that organization. A lot that are married with American people. They enjoy it too. They enjoy it very much. And, you know, you talk about your things and we have concerts and we have dances.
So what I have in mind is to really preserve myself and try to survive. It was not-that’s what I told you last time. I really had no desire and I didn’t do nothing about it. You know, like some other people really tried with the thought of it that they’re gonna survive and they’re gonna tell the whole story. It never dawned on me that I’m gonna do it and it really didn’t matter to me if I lived or I didn’t live. And this was what I had in my head like made up. It’s not in a poem but I was-wherever I went to, work or sleep, I was just saying this one thing. I did not blame anybody but G-d. I just was sickly, insane and mad at G-d. I don’t know why. I thought that He is doing it all and He should do things like this that was really not fair. So it really didn’t matter to me one way or the other if I survived or I didn’t survive. I just went on like everybody else and this is what I’m saying. I said it in my head. I said it in my head in Jewish. I put it together when I came to the United States. Can I read it for you?
INT: Was this your letter to G-d that you referred to, that you were so angry, mad, that you didn’t want to live?
DORA: It didn’t matter to me one way the other. That would be like on December 1st, 1944. I mean I had it in my head in Yiddish and in Polish. I repeated it to myself. When I knew a little bit of English I tried to put it together.
A letter to G-d.
DORA: Today, G-d I need to talk with You, whether I am in debt to You for my life, or perhaps are You in debt to me. First make clear to me, G-d, give me an accounting for things as they are. Why are the best going to death and lesser persons committed to get breath of life? Why didn’t the world come apart and sink into nothingness at the unbelievable horror and monstrosity of this mad Holocaust thrust upon millions of Your chosen ones? Where were You? Where was Your compassion, G-d, Your mercy, Your graciousness to Your people who were annihilated on the spot? When the children struggled against the fires, when the children were gassed, when they screamed at being thrown from their mother’s arms, when they stood naked, unbelief in their staring, frightened eyes. They attend a little body dropped in freezing cold and drenching rain, waiting for certain death. Why did not the world burn and consume itself in the bloody laments of the doomed people? Why? Why did the world suddenly become dead to the anguish and bloodshed of so many millions? Why were Your benevolent ears closed to the death struggle of Your people? Oh Lord, did You not hear eyes and lips beg for mercy? The lips that prayed for shreds of hope. Lips that could barely frame the words to the presence of pain, just a prayer. Fearful heart and they all call Your name. But You, Lord, were silent. One shudders thinking that they knew their certain end, yet they prayed. They called upon You. Where, oh where, were You, G-d? Above there in heaven, high above, far from the brutal sordid world, that screams from the crackling of the flames, the gasp and gagging in the throat of the little ones. Did those sounds and sighs not reach You, Almighty, all-seeing G-d? Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec. Your symbol of mercy, and You, Lord, were silent. The gush and flow of blood was like the outpouring of a lush year of harvest. When gassed, they piled them in heaps and mounds on the floor of the extermination chambers. Children so innocent so to perish. No thank You, G-d, of the world that you stole my life. But please, G-d, give me my accounting for myself, why G-d, why?
This was like my litany to G-d. Walked with and said it in all kinds of languages that I…and then when I knew a little bit of English, I translated it from Polish into English, and as you can see, my desire to live was not at all there. I did not want the world to know what it was. I didn’t think I will ever make it for the world, and I didn’t have no desire. But I survived.
INT: What do you think helped you survive? What can you say about that?
DORA: It is very hard to say. Everybody says, how did you survive? It is not health, it is not-it is just one of these things. I really don’t know. I don’t know what helped me to survive. I just survived and that’s all there is to it. And here I am.
INT: So you questioned your faith in G-d, his word and what happened?
DORA: Yeah, I wasn’t, you can see, in that thing that I had written, I blamed it all on Him. I thought that He’s the ruler of the world, that He…that’s what I learned home. I was small and that’s all I heard. And why would He do something like this to us, to little children, to infants, to whatever I saw? It was just unbelievable to me, and I blamed Him for everything that happened. I don’t know, up till now, I’m almost an old lady and I believe in G-d. This would help me to come back to survive maybe and to begin a new life, to raise a family. I believe in G-d. We go to synagogue. We are not, um, how do you say it? I believe in G-d, and everybody asked me: “How can you do it? How can you believe in G-d after what you saw?” But I think that you have to believe in something that is there greater than us. Maybe after we all perish from this world and a hundred years later they’ll find out what happened. What was it and why it happened. Right now I don’t think anybody knows why there is different questions and answers, but somehow they really don’t know why it happened.
INT: How did it change, your faith and belief in G-d?
DORA: In fact, I think I believe in G-d because I must believe in something that is higher and stronger than anybody else; otherwise you cannot exist. I cannot exist any other way. I believe in G-d. Why he did it, I don’t question it. For years I tried to push it away. I mean, I didn’t want to talk about it. Nobody wanted to listen to it, and everything that we told or said-
INT: You mean what?
DORA: People, American people, family that I came to in America, and up till this day, I struggle with questions. Maybe they didn’t want to hurt me, to ask what happened there. (pauses)
INT: You struggle with keeping your feelings, thoughts, stories, memories?
DORA: Yes. A lot of things it don’t even try to tell, because they look so ugly and so awful that nobody will believe it. I myself am doubting if that is true, but I know it was true. I believe it. I read different books, always on the same subject. My husband hollers at me, but somehow, I don’t know why, when I go, I always get a book about the Holocaust. It’s something that happened to me and I want to see what other people have to say about it, how they survived, what they did after, how did they raise families, and how they go on in the world. I think the only thing that helped me is that I was very young, and I bounced back, and this is, I think, the only-the only thing that helped me is youth. I was not even twenty, and…I was nineteen. I was eighteen and something, and this when you survive and you’re young and you’re with a crowd of people.
You go together to find out and they say there is a chance that people write down their names and everybody passes through the towns and people have found their brothers and sisters and parents, and so this becomes like a involvement that you go through, although deep in my heart I knew that this is not the same with me, but I pretended that maybe. I knew that my father jumped out from the train when we were going there and that he is not alive, because I went back to my hometown and I have asked around. Nobody saw him, so I know that he got killed right away when he jumped. My mother and my little brother and my little baby sister who was two years old, they went with a transport before and I know that they are not there. My sister was with me and she got killed in Auschwitz, so I know that she is not alive either, so I really don’t have-I don’t have where to look because I know nobody’s there.
NARRATOR: Dora’s comments on the importance of saying Kaddish, the Jewish memorial prayer, for the relatives she lost in the war.
INT: What did that mean? That was important, to marry a survivor?
DORA: It’s very important. Very, very important. I just recently…we go now to Florida for three months, and I have a friend of mine that comes from Canada, and he married a Canadian girl so somehow we were sitting and talking and I say to him: “Tell me, is it a difference of marrying a girl that was not in the camps?” He says: “Yeah.” I said: “What is the difference.” He said: “You don’t have constantly to talk about the camps. If I start, and she knows that it’s not good for me, that, you know, I get very upset, she doesn’t let me talk about it.” Were we, as two survivors, we won’t stop each other. I mean with this…and this is really — I can believe that this is true, –because it’s fifty years after the liberation. I mean, we have talked about it. No matter-no matter what we talk about, this is the last thing that we finish off with. It’s always about the concentration camp. And he explained to me that she would not let him talk about this. And I think this is-if I would know before, maybe I would also look, but you wanted to be with somebody that went through the same thing and-
INT: So there was comfort and compassion?
DORA: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And as we have seen through the years, most of us are married to each other, you know, from different…but all of them that went-of course there is I would say maybe, I don’t know if there is five percent people that are married to, how do you call them? Non-survivors. But, you know, they make non-survivors come to the organization. They made them, otherwise they did not take them away to their-they came rather to us, and the find the comfort what we are doing. We have built a beautiful monument and we have a cemetery for ourselves. We built a beautiful monument there. I mean a beautiful…we don’t have where to say kaddish, you know, to come, so we decided that we’re going to build and put our names, the names of our parents and the children and whoever we want, and when you come there you feel like you-this is where it is. I mean you look up and you see the name of your father, of your mother, of your sisters and brothers, and we come there.
We have our get-togethers, what we girls, and you feel that this is the place. Maybe they are not buried there, but at least it’s close, because none of us know where they are. Their ashes are thrown all over the land, all over the universe. But this brings us together and makes us feel that this is the place. That we did the right thing. That some have gone to Israel. Some have gone to Poland and they brought some ashes, they brought some earth. And this is all buried there. So it gives you the-the feeling, you know, like this is death. You should come. And many times I just go with my husband there just for a while. We look at the…and we say a prayer. You don’t have to go with the whole organization or with everybody. You just go for peace of mind, and it’s very satisfying. Very satisfying.
NARRATOR: Dora discusses the transmission of her religious beliefs and identity to the second and third generations in her survivor family. She elaborates on the circumstances surrounding her daughter’s engagement to a non-Jewish man who converted to Judaism before they married.
DORA: Yes. I’m proud of my children, but I don’t say that I am behind this all, that I did it. No. They did it on their own. We helped and we told them stories the way we grew up, the truth, and which were stories, you know, nice things in families. We value very much, you know, family life. I think it’s very important. We go to synagogue. I don’t want nobody to become so that…but I think, you know, as they say: “If you pray together, you stay together.” I think, you know, nothing bad comes out of it. It comes out if anything some good, you know. Synagogue doesn’t teach you any bad things. It gives you a lot of life. You meet friends, nice friends and etc., etc. It’s-it’s good.
INT: So it sounds like you see an important role of faith and Jewish tradition in the family.
DORA: Yes, yes, yes. Yes.
INT: And in your own family, this played a role.
DORA: When she told us about it we were devastated. Absolutely devastated. And we tried to talk her out of it. We tried different ways, and then we went to our Rabbi. And we made an appointment. We spoke to him and told him the story so he said he wants to talk to her and to him and I don’t know. I don’t even remember if they went to speak. I said: “Rabbi, there is no use. I can tell that she is not going to be talked out of it or whatever.”
And then a friend of hers who she’s close with them very much — that’s my friend’s son — and I said: “Benny, what do you say?” He says: “You know, he’s a very nice guy. Meet him.” I said: “I just don’t know what to say. We can’t.” And he says: “Meet him and you’ll see.” Well, it went by, I think, a couple of months or more, and I said: “I’m not against the guy. I mean, I have nothing against him.” But I felt that she shouldn’t have done this to us. But, you know, it happened.
INT: The choice she made-she didn’t see it as doing something to you.
DORA: No. She was-I don’t think she was…she met this guy who was very understanding, who’s a very nice fellow, who is family-orientated, who has a lot of respect for us. At that time they were going to synagogue. He loved the synagogue. That’s the only thing that I really-that when they moved away they belonged to another synagogue, which was now sold to a…and they joined our synagogue back, and I really wanted them to be more synagogue [involved], you know, to go more to synagogue. I don’t mean every day or etc., but the holidays they come, but, you know, it’s or you go or it like evaporates.
INT: That’s what you worried about.
DORA: If I feel if he knows so much, he knew so much of Judaism. He knows. He still does. And that if she would have gone to the synagogue, you know, on a daily basis like maybe Friday, Saturday, they don’t have the time. It’s true. They don’t have the time. But I think if you want very much you would find the time. And this is one thing where I am really hurting. I wanted Josh to be more in the synagogue, I, you know, something like this. He is right now between things. He’s Jewish but he’s not. I mean he’s both things.
INT: It doesn’t mean the same to Elaine, her husband and grandson as religion does to you?
DORA: They give him a lot of freedom, you know, to make up his mind, to choose his professions, to go to school. He now’s taking…the University of Pennsylvania. He’s very bright, but a lot of things that I would probably do different if he would be my son. Before I couldn’t do much, but being born here and etc., etc., I would probably do a lot of things different. But they give him a lot of freedom, and he stayed this summer-he’s staying in a rooming house where he’s gonna live. He works, and he likes it very much. The reason is that he has all his friends there and he’s working in the library and he’s trying to get a job in a book store, which they promised him, and he seems very happy.
So I guess… look, the main thing is that he should be happy about it. They trust him. He’s getting along fine. He’s a very good-hearted boy. He’s like his father…very very good boy.
NARRATOR: Dr. Goldenberg sums up the importance of faith to survivors. She writes, “Faith is rarely static in the face of adversity; it is strengthened, changed or abandoned. Helping survivors of faith understand how their belief systems have been affected by their experiences is an important part of reintegration and healing often ignored by mental health practitioners.” We hope that sharing Dora’s thoughts on the role of faith in her life will be of help to others.