A beautiful story told by a humble, Jewish man of nearly 75 years, named Yankel, who owned a bakery in a small town in Wigan. He had survived the concentration camps during the Nazi regime and always felt very happy to narrate his story to anyone who met him. He would make someone or the other who came to his bakery listen to his story and said, ‘You know why it is that I’m alive today?’ and when the person would ask, ‘Pray tell me, Sir?’ Yankel like a small child narrate his story:
‘I was a kid, just a teenager at the time when the Germans were killing us Jews by the dozens. We all were on the train being taken to Auschwitz, in Germany. There were thousands of us all shivering and starving. Night came and it was deathly cold in that box car. They would leave the cars on the side of the tracks overnight, sometimes for days on end without any food and no blankets to keep us warm,’ he said.
He further went on: ‘Sitting next to me was this beloved elderly Jewish man from my hometown. He was shivering from head to toe and looked terrible and dreadful. So I immediately went across to him, wrapped my arms around him to keep him warm and comfortable. I rubbed his arms, his legs, his face and his neck and begged him to hang on. I assured him not to worry at all and that everything would be fine and I am there to keep him company. I suppose he did hear me, cause I could see from the gentle stare that he gave me but he was so scared of dying that he did not once speak but simply stared at the walls of the box car.
All night long, I kept the man warm in this way. I was also very tired and freezing cold myself. My fingers were numb, but I didn’t stop rubbing heat into that old man’s body. Hours and hours went by until finally, morning came and the sun began to shine. When there was some light in the box car, I looked around to see the other people. To my horror, all I could see were frozen bodies. All I could hear was deathly silence. Nobody else in that cabin made it through the night. They died from the biting-cold. Only two people survived that was the old man and me. The old man survived because somebody kept him warm and I survived because I was warming someone else’.
With a simple grin on his face Yankel said: ‘Can I tell you the secret to survival in this world? When you warm other people’s hearts, you remain warm yourself. When you seek to support, reassure and inspire others, then you discover support, encouragement and inspiration in your own life as well’.
That my friends, is the secret to life. Can we give warmth and few words of cheer to someone and receive hugs and love in return……….