Menachem Posner – Chabad.org
When two yeshivah students knocked on a door in the northeastern Hungarian city of Miskolc, they had no idea what was waiting for them on the other side.
“We had just arrived in town the night before,” explains Mayer S. Brook, who came from Brooklyn, N.Y., as part of Chabad’s Merkos Shlichus “Roving Rabbis” program, together with fellow rabbinical student Levi Mintz. “Rabbi Slomó Köves, of Lubavitch of Hungary in Budapest, had given us a list of Jewish names and addresses in Miskolc, and this was simply the first one on our list.”
The door was opened by a middle-aged couple. “I don’t really know why they let us in considering that we speak no Hungarian and they speak no English, but hand motions and genuine love broke through all barriers,” says Brook.
“She served us some coffee, and we sat down to talk, if you could call it that. It was more our hearts speaking to their hearts. We showed her a pair of Shabbat candles and him our tefillin. He put them on for the first time in his life. We sang and danced together to celebrate the milestone.”
The couple then called their son on the phone, inviting him to come meet the two Americans with black hats and sprouting beards who showed up at their home.
Their son, who spoke some English, explained to them that his father, György Faludi, was one of only two surviving children known to have been born in the Auschwitz concentration camp (the other, a woman named Angela Polgar, lives in Canada).
Faludi was born on Jan. 27, 1945—the day the Soviet army entered Auschwitz and liberated more than 7,000 remaining prisoners, most of whom were ill and dying. In fact, his mother and Polgar’s helped one another through the deliveries, and stayed friends while they made their way back to Hungary with their infants. Babies did not survive in Auschwitz; they were immediately killed, often along with their mothers. These two beat the odds.
By the time the young men said their goodbyes, the Faludi home had a new mezuzah on the front door, and Mrs. Faludi was the owner of a starter set of Shabbat candles.
“We then went on to spend the next three days visiting as many as 50 Jewish homes in town and had an uplifting Shabbat together with the local community in their cavernous 150-year-old synagogue,” describes Brook. “That first meeting really set the stage for heartfelt encounters that we would have in the days ahead.”
With thanks to Zsófi Steiner of “Gut S ábesz” publication.