A Passover of small favors

The Exodus of Holocaust survivors from Europe had its own Amalek, and his name was Mackenziez King.

Jack Engelhard

OpEds SS Exodus 1947 carrying Holocaust survivors on a failed attempted to bring them to Israel
SS Exodus 1947 carrying Holocaust survivors on a failed attempted to bring them to Israel
צילום: מתוך האתר האישי

Among the recent wave of immigrants there seems to be a sense of entitlement…entitlement rather than gratitude.

Some, like the Dreamers, go marching to INSIST on their RIGHTS.

Others, like the Holocaust survivors who came to America in the 1940s, imagined no rights. They, like my own family, were grateful for anything and everything.

Small favors were all they asked…and small favors were what they got.

There was no Israel back in 1944 when my family managed to flee Nazi-invaded France, Toulouse, to be exact. There was America and there was Canada.

Either one would do. They (my family again) would be grateful for a helping hand from either FDR or Canada’s Mackenzie King.

There were no open borders back then. Not for these people…106 families that, in 1944, trekked across the Pyrenees and from Lisbon sailed the Serpa Pinto towards any land that would take them. Why not Canada…big country, Canada…small population…plenty of room. Not enough room, as it turned out.

Asked how many refugees from the Holocaust Canada would be willing to accept, Mackenzie King’s government announced, “None is too many.”

That is now a famous remark. Canada’s Justin Trudeau, to illustrate how times have changed, used it in reverse only yesterday to justify bringing in thousands more immigrants from Muslim countries and elsewhere...men (of military age) outnumbering women by a considerable margin. (Canada now brings in 250,000 immigrants per year.)

That was never the story for Holocaust survivors, for whom it was all about the women and the children.

We should expect those arrivals of today to be grateful. Who knows? Though we do know that these refugees expect big favors.

They expect and even demand medical care, feeding, clothing and housing, and it’s precisely what they get.

Nothing like that was expected, or given, back in 1944 among the passengers of the Serpa Pinto. These people were grateful to have found this ship, any ship, only not the Saint Louis, which was turned back to the Gestapo. Not so the Serpa Pinto. This was a lucky ship, if people on the run, people turned homeless can ever be called lucky.

But these people were the survivors – a term not used much back then. But they had survived, only now faced more high seas, more German U-Boats; no welcoming land in sight.

FDR had only whispered what Canada had said out loud – that none was too many. At last, though, some trickled in.

Some 5,000 made it into Canada. For my family it was Montreal. But before that, they were taken to Philadelphia (and later became American citizens).

They arrived in Philadelphia in time to celebrate the first night of Passover, 1944.

But that first night in Philadelphia, that first Seder in relative safety, was a moment this family would never forget.

(You are welcome to read about this in my memoir “Escape from Mount Moriah.”)

They had no Angela Merkel greeting them with warm speeches, nor was Justin Trudeau welcoming them with hugs and kisses at the airport. It was still Mackenzie King.

But as they recounted the Exodus from Pharaoh as answered prayer, so too they remembered the redemption from Hitler with heaps of gratitude.

From Seder to Seder, never a complaint about the lack of hospitality. Gratitude was the byword around the table.

New York-based bestselling American novelist Jack Engelhard writes regularly for Arutz Sheva.

Just released is his augmented HOLLYWOOD EDITION of “News Anchor Sweetheart.” Engelhard wrote the international book-to-movie bestseller “Indecent Proposal” and the inside-journalism thriller “The Bathsheba Deadline.” He is the recipient of the Ben Hecht Award for Literary Excellence. Website: www.jackengelhard.com