By Gideon Frieder

Why to be man developed alone? Is it not true the the creator might have created thewhole of humanity? but man was developed alone to teach you that whoever death onelife death the civilization entire, and also whoever conserves one life saves the human being entire.

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—paraphrased native the Talmud

Imagine you are a devout Catholic and also live in a small, hill village. That is snowing, the is cold. Yourhome—just a bedroom, a main room, and also a kitchen—is boil by a timber stove. Girlfriend share your homewith two other adults, both family. Battle is raging about you. Day and also night friend are most likely to hear shelling. Food is scarce. An ext than one home in your town has actually been torched, the occupants insideburned alive, because that hiding Jews or partisans.

Imagine over there is a hit at her door at nightfall. It is dark as soon as you open up the door. Ushered into yourhome is a scared, young child. Over there is blood ~ above his clothing. You recognize he is Jewish. What would youdo? and also after you decision to store him, what then? right here I concentrate only on one facet of mine somewhatparadoxical and also miraculous survival, and this has to do v the people and also with the location.

The work after i arrived, Jozef and also Paulina sat me down to teach me my new identity. I had actually a brand-new name, ns hada new family, and also they also taught me to memorize a collection of sentences. They started with “Ochenasknonabi....”We exercised the sentences until I can recite castle by heart as though I had known them transparent allmy young life. Castle instructed me to recite them if asked to carry out so through the Ukrainians (who fought on the sideof the Germans), the Germans, the Guardists (members of the Slovak Fascist Hlinka Guards), or anybodyelse for that matter. They offered the blurb a name—a name that made no sense to me—but i did memorize thesentences, i beg your pardon were simply an i can not understand garble to me.

I carry out not remember if I had to recite them ever before alone or only as a component of a group of children, but I knewthem well. What were these sentences? and why to be they so vital of all things, the teaching themto me was the very first course of activity upon welcoming me into my new home and also my new reality?

The Holocaust ended. Year passed. I went to school. Ns studied: math, languages, science, civilization religion.I was in the army. I married and created a brand-new family. Indigenous time to time I would certainly come confront to confront withan echo from mine past. Ns repressed them. Conversely, native time come time I would come across a passageor human that ns knew that I had seen before. Ns knew that it to be familiar. I searched mine memory, myknowledge, and my past—all in vain. Ns did not discover it. The fail to determine what i sought come remembertormented me for a while. Slowly, the faded—other interests, other issues filled mine mind. I can’t honestlysay that ns dwelled ~ above the lines teach to me therefore long earlier in the small, snowy village by world wholoved and cared because that me.

More years passed and also I moved my family members to the united States. Slovakia came to be independent andappointed one ambassador come the united States. The tried come rally assistance for Slovakia and also got a list of allthe inhabitants of the Washington, DC, urban area and its environs that he considered to be Slovak.Suddenly, for the ambassador in ~ least, Dean Prof. Dr. Frieder was transformed: He was no longer thestinking Jew he had actually been thought about while in reality living in Slovakia; that was now a respect Slovak.I was invite to a agree in the embassy. Ns hesitated, together I had never figured out as a Slovak, and also the newSlovak flag is practically identical to the old Fascist flag. Eventually I walk there—my curiosity obtained the betterof me and also compensated because that my aversion to anything Slovak.

Slovakia is 85 percent Catholic, so the was no surprising the the reception opened with a quick prayerof many thanks recited by a Slovak Catholic priest, in Slovak:

Otce náš, ktorý si na nebesiach,posvät’ sa meno tvoje.Príd’ král’ovstvo tvoje.Bud’ vôl’a tvojaako v nebi tak i na zemi.Chlieb náš každodenný daj nám dnes.A odpust’ nám naše viny,ako aj my odpúšt’ame svojim vinníkom.A neuved’ nás carry out pokušenia,ale zbav nás zlého.Lebo tvoje je král’ovstvo, moc i sláva teraz i vždycky ns na veky vekov. Amen.

The very first words captured my attention. The closing words seemed familiar and disturbing. Ns mulled.I contemplated until suddenly, choose a blinding lightning strike, the words hit me. This to be the blurbthat Jozef and also Paulina had taught me, the meaningless set of slurred words. Except now, they to be clearlyenunciated. I approached the priest and also casually inquired after ~ the prayer he had recited. It was theLord’s Prayer, the told me.

I go home and also opened the brand-new Testament—in mine case, in Hebrew. Below it was. What i was readingwas the Lord’s Prayer, its native clear, the sentences well phrased: “Our Father that art in heaven, Hallowedbe your name1” (Yitkadal V Yitkadash Shmei Raba 2).

Our Father, plainly stated, no slurred together in, possibly, “ourather.” our Father, in the language of thecountry, even ago then when the Mass was recited in Latin. Our Father, most likely one the the just twoprayers known by Jozef and also Paulina, these wonderful, ignorant, intelligent, primitive, yet full with theknowledge of life angels. Our Father...Thy kingdom come (Avinu Malkenu3)—arguably the many Jewishpart the the Christian liturgy. They taught me the prayer the way they knew it, instinctively, slurred,without parsing it. It was a mantra the identified children who must live, and also the lack of it wouldkill. It was a mantra request by the murderers from the youngsters they met—and those that did notknow it did no survive. It was the shield through which Jozef and also Paulina safeguarded me indigenous the evil—not only due to the fact that they knew the I needed it, but likewise because they to be professing what they believed in.That faith, personified for them by the Lord’s Prayer and by the Hail Mary, to be a important shield inthose dark times. It sustained them as they prayed every night before the picture of the heart of Jesusthat they’d hung on every wall in their hut, and it to be the reason that they and also their fellow inhabitantsof that hamlet saved numerous lives. In a nation where the president, who was a Catholic priest, paidthe Germans to kill the Jews, this true humanitarians teach the Lord’s Prayer to conserve a Jewish child.

“Whoever conserves one life”—in this case, by faith and prayer.

“Our Father that art in Heaven” (El Maleh Rachamim, Shochen ba Mromim4), conference under her wingsthese righteous souls.


1. I use here the English variation of the Lord’s Prayer provided in the Catholic tradition. The King James variation starts with“Our father which art in Heaven.”

2. “Glorify and also sanctify the surname of the Lord” is, in Aramaic, the opening phrase of the Sanctification (Kaddish) in Jewish liturgy(translation for an interpretation rather climate verbatim).

3. “Our Father, our King” in Hebrew is the most typically used phrase in the liturgy of Yom Kippur—the most divine holiday in the Jewishcalendar (verbatim translation).

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4. “God complete of Mercy that dwelleth in Heaven” is, in Hebrew, the opening expression of the prayer because that the dead in the Jewish liturgy(verbatim translation).