By Anav Silverman
Tazpit News Agency
Although the Israel Border Police have been very busy in Jerusalem amid the terrorist attacks that have engulfed the city in the recent month, a group of border policemen took the time between shifts to celebrate a very important birthday to Leah Genzel, 79, a Holocaust survivor living in Jerusalem. Her husband, Yitzchak, turned 89 last week and the border policemen delivered a special birthday cake to celebrate with the elderly couple.
As part of a joint Yad Vashem project called Father and Sons, Israeli border police stationed in Jerusalem ‘adopt’ Holocaust survivors living in neighborhoods across the capital. Since 2007, the Israeli border guards have made a point to celebrate birthdays with Holocaust survivors, as well as calling them before holidays and making monthly visits to their homes. The Israeli border police also assist survivors in their own homes when their help is needed.
“We believe that we must know our past; our unit’s fighters must know in whose merit we stand here today in our democratic Jewish state of Israel,” said Zohar Araidy, unit commander and superintendent of the Border Police unit whose members organized the birthday celebration, in an interview with Tazpit News Agency.
“People like Leah, and her husband, Yitzhak – a decorated soldier who fought in many of Israel’s wars – are heroes and role models for us,” Araidy told Tazpit.
“We decided to surprise the couple and celebrate Yitzhak’s birthday. Seeing the surprised and happy expressions on both their faces when we sang happy birthday and brought out the cake was a very good feeling,” he added.
“Leah and Yitzhak’s lifetime experiences inspire our border policemen in their everyday work as they secure the streets of Jerusalem. This couple’s stories brings honor to our green uniforms.”
Araidy commands a unit within the Israeli Border Police that is comprised of Bedouin, Druze, Christian and Jewish policemen who come from all over Israel.
Police fighters from the unit visit Leah, who is an Auschwitz survivor, at least once a month and invite her and her husband to attend ceremonies and events that take place at their Jerusalem police base. More recently, the fighters got to know Yitzhak, who in his younger years served in the IDF and shared stories about his wartime experiences with the visitors.
“This project and forming these connections with Holocaust survivors does more than just warm our hearts,” said Araidy. “Leah and Yitzhak’s past leaves an imprint that goes deep into our hearts. We must always remember the difficult path that others walked before us and give some goodness back to them.”