Cried my way through this one.
"The guest speaker at the Illinois Holocaust Museum posed an unanswerable question to the dozen Chabad
eighth-grade boys sitting in front of him."
"Mitchell Winthrop, 88 years
of age, a survivor of the Auschwitz and Mauthausen Nazi concentration
camps, had been raised in a secular Jewish home in Lodz, Poland. Why had
he, he asked the boys—someone who hadn’t even had a bar mitzvah—been chosen to survive the Holocaust and not his pious, white-bearded grandfather?"
"His question was meant to provoke thought, but it also spurred the graduating class of Chicago’s Seymour J. Abrams Cheder Lubavitch Hebrew Day School into action."
“It’s never too late to make a bar mitzvah!”
called out 14-year-old Yankel Raices."
"The group was on a trip to the
Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, the highlight
of which is to hear a first-person account from a survivor.
“We can do
it right now. We can put on tefillin.”
"A few moments later, with a yarmulke on his head and a pre-war photograph of his entire family on the screen behind him, Winthrop donned tefillin for the first time. As he finished saying the words of “Shema,” the boys began to dance, pulling the older man into the joyous circle."
"Unbeknownst to the group of boys at the time, one of Winthrop’s sons was
in the room, capturing the moment on video and witnessing an event that
Winthrop refers to as bashert—something that was meant to be."
“It was my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, all of my
relatives, and one of my sons there, too; I was in front of my whole
family. It was very exciting and emotional for me.”