United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Nir Winter resides in Yokneam and runs the regional project of Ten Kavod, a project aimed at providing free medical care and companionship to Israel’s elderly population. Nir visits an elderly man named Avraham Weinreich every Sunday. Avraham, 88, a double amputee and Holocaust survivor, is a well-known figure in the community of Yokneam. For many years now, Avraham has been wanting to write the story of how he spent the war hiding from Nazi henchmen and fighting as one of the partisans.
When Nir began to visit Avraham two-and-a-half years ago, Avraham told him about his dream but said that he was unable to do the writing himself. Nir gladly took up the call and during his weekly visits with Avraham, he sits and writes down Avraham’s stories in Avraham’s words.
“I can’t think of a more meaningful thing to do to help a Holocaust survivor than to help him tell his story. It is a gift that I am able to hear his story and a gift that he has someone to tell it to. I want to keep this gift going and help Avraham tell his story to as many people as possible,” Nir said.
Thus far, the work of Nir and Avraham has already resulted in one book being printed in what looks like it will become a series of stories.
“As the son of a Holocaust survivor who was also recently highlighted in a video by Israeli media telling his story, it is incredibly inspiring to hear the stories of someone who fought with the partisans and hid from Nazis throughout the war. It meant so much to me that I have brought my daughter to the meetings to hear the stories as well.”
For the past two years, Shani Winter, 15, has accompanied her father whenever she visits Avraham. “I believe she has missed only two visits in all of that time,” Nir said. “ We work together writing down the stories now and Shani and Avraham have become friends. To me, it is important that Shani hears these stories and keeps the memories of both sides of the war experience, those who were in camps like my father and those who were able to remain free and fight like Avraham. We all need to know this history to hear these stories. Shani getting to hear them first hand is a gift that not everyone gets. I know that she is interested otherwise, she wouldn’t keep coming back.”
Currently, Nir cannot visit Avraham due to the restrictions in place regarding visiting the elderly due to the Coronavirus, but he calls him multiple times a week to check in on him and continue writing their story. Nir spoke about the continued relationship in this convoluted Corona-era. “Avraham has a tenacity that I rarely see in others. He is quick-witted and very perceptive. When I asked him whether or not he was frightened by the Coronavirus epidemic, he told me, “I’ve survived the Holocaust, I will survive Corona as well.” I smiled when he said that. It helped me recognize the power of spirit that this man has and how he survived the war in the way he did.”