The Other I

June 10, 2016

The minute two lives changed

Filed under: Just Stuff — theotheri @ 3:46 pm

As I said in my last post, two people have sent me stories about wonderful, unplanned, and unexpected reunions following devastating separations of World War II.

The first story was sent to me by a friend whose own childhood was in Norway during the war, and who now lives in Brooklyn.  She knew Golda Steinberg personally.  

During the war, Golda and her husband were separated and sent to different concentration camps in Poland.  After the war, Golda immigrated to the United States,  earned her degree in Social Work, married and had several children.  She also eventually taught at Columbia University school of social work, at 110th Street and Broadway.

One day, when she was in her 60’s, as she was walking down Broadway, she saw – and recognized – her first husband from Poland.  He had also immigrated to NYC, and now lived with his wife in the immediate area.  Both couples became steadfast friends.

The second story was told to me by someone who did not know the people involved personally but saw it told on a tv documentary.   When a mother was sent with her young daughter to a concentration camp, she was given the opportunity to pack a few things.  Like many others, she took various items of food.  When they reached the camp, she took out a chunk of chocolate and gave it to her daughter.  

“This is not for eating now,” she told her.  “It’s for you to keep for a day when you may have nothing else to eat and may be starving.”

One day a detainee in the camp who was about to give birth was also starving, and the girl’s mother asked her if she would be willing to give her the chocolate.  She did, and undoubtedly contributed to saving the lives of both mother and her new-born daughter.

Many years later, the child who had given up her chocolate had immigrated to the States and obtained her nursing degree.  One day she was giving a talk to others who, like her, had survived their time in concentration camps and made their way to the U.S.  In the talk, she told the story of giving the chocolate to a starving mother.

After the talk, a women who had also attended the conference, came up to her and said “I know you.  I have known you all my life, because you saved my life.  My mother told me about that gift of chocolate and that she believed we would have starved without it.”



June 4, 2016

“The Tablecloth”

Filed under: Just Stuff — theotheri @ 7:28 pm

Below is an allegedly “true story” was sent to me last month by an old high school friend.  It is, I admit, a lovely story which I appreciate might actually be true.  But I was seven years old when I asked my father why, if God loved us so much and if He could do anything He wanted, He let so many good people suffer so many bad things.  It is a question to which there is no logical answer:  good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people.

And so I found the final paragraphs of the communication below so unconvincing and even naive that I wondered about whether the story was simply made up.  So I sent the story to several friends whom I thought might be familiar with it and could verify or refute it.

I got several amazing answers, which I will write about in my posts later this week.  But first, read this story yourself:

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.  They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc, and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and 

just about finished. 

On December 19 a terrible tempest – a driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days. 

On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church.His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high. 

The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity, so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.

 By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later.

 She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area.

 Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. “Pastor,” she asked, “where did you get that tablecloth?” The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria .

 The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten “The Tablecloth”. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week, but he was  captured, sent to prison and she never saw her husband or her home again.

 The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church.  The pastor insisted on driving her home. That was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.

 What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return.

 One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving.

 The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike?  He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years between.

 The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride.  They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier.  He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

 This is a true story – submitted by Pastor Rob Reid who says God does work in mysterious ways.

I asked the Lord to bless you as I prayed for you today, to guide you and protect you as you go along your way. His love is always with you. His promises are true, and when we give Him all our cares we know He will see us through.   So when the road you’re traveling seems difficult at best, just remember I’m here praying and God will do the rest.

Pass this on to those you want God to bless and remember to send it back to the one who asked God to bless you first.

When there is nothing left but God, that is when you find out that God is all you need.  Take 60 seconds and give this a shot! All you do is simply say the following small prayer for the person who sent this to you.


Father, God, bless all my friends and family in whatever it is that You know they may be needing this day!

May their lives be full of Your peace,prosperity and power as they seek to have a closer relationship with You. 

 Then send it on to five other people, including the one who sent it to you.  Within hours five people have prayed for you and you caused a multitude of people to pray for other people. Then, sit back and watch the power of God work in your life.

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