“A righteous man falls down seven times and gets up.” – King Solomon, Proverbs, 24:16.
Life is all about the ability to get up from challenge. Greatness is defined as getting up one more time than what you’ve fallen down. The Torah defines someone who’s righteous not as someone who had succeeded, but someone who has persevered. It creates a paradigm of what righteousness is – trying to do what’s right, getting up from failure, and keep moving forward.
They did try, during the 2nd World War, to interrupt his life forever, but Chaim Klein, a Jewish Israeli, has risen from the ashes of the Holocaust and gone on to thrive, in the only Jewish homeland in the world, the State of Israel.
Chaim, as an Israeli soldier, was wounded in the Yom Kippur War. He and his family were ethnically cleansed from Gush Katif, known to the world as Gaza. They lost their home, their farm and livelihood. They have gone on to rebuild their lives, even adding some beautiful grandchildren to the tribe.
I had started the telling of Chaim’s story while the latest Jihad attacks have been going on in Israel. After the very recent heinous attacks, which occurred all over Israel in just one day – culminating in the death of an American tourist – I felt even more compelled to tell the story of Chaim and other Jewish Israeli friends in the future – to show everyone just how they have come from unbeatable odds to live and thrive in the Jewish State even while being attacked from all sides, both internally and externally. All I ask is that I can give this family, especially the ones who lost their voices in the Holocaust, my very best as I share their story.
Chaim tells his story.
Beauty for Ashes
My Life – Chaim Klein
My Father, Martin, “Mordechai” Klein, of blessed memory, was born in 1909 at Püspökladány in Hungary.
My Mother, Stephanie, “Datia” Frankel, of blessed memory, was born in 1912 at Hajdúhadház as well.
My father, Mordechai, of blessed memory, was a youth wrestling champion in Hungary before the Holocaust. He was taken to forced labor battalions and into The Death Marches. He helped fellow Jews, in the marches. By taking one on each side and supporting them with his shoulders, he helped them survive this exhausting and barbaric torture.
He died at 93 and he was a lion. My father saved the life of many pilots of the Allied Forces. When the Nazis took military airfields, he took a bullet out of a cannon of a Nazi air gun. Who knows how many pilots were saved when the air gun in a Nazi plane was stuck and did not fire!
My father had a wife and 3 children before the Holocaust.
My maternal grandfather was a General of the Hungarian Army. He was a friend of Stalin and he defected to Russia. He became a general in the Red Army, becoming the commander of Socialists and Communists the forces in Spain, where he was murdered by the KGB on the orders of Stalin. His name was Komrand Lukas’s and his Jewish name was Baruch Frenkel.
His wife, my grandmother, was Simcha Frankel.
My father lost his wife and 3 kids (two boys and one girl) and all of his family (8 brothers and sisters and his parents.) Almost all of his kin.
My mother lost her husband and one brother. Her brother, Laszlo Frankel, escaped from the Germans and joined the Red Army as a pilot and died in battle.
After my mother and father return home to Hungary, they got married. I was born in 1950, and I also had a step-sister, Agnes, from my mother’s first marriage.
We moved to Israel in 1957. We were a religious family, but we were placed on a non-religious Moshav. I went to school and lived a normal and happy life in Israel.
I was drafted into the IDF in 1968. I spent 2 months in pilot school where it is written: “Good is Not Good Enough.” Then I was stationed to a patrol unit where I served 3 years.
In 1973, I participated in the Yom Kippur war in the Fording Unit and we made the Bridgehead over the Suez Canal. I was wounded on this mission.
After the war, I became religious.
Later, I got married and started a family in Israel. I am now a tour guide working in Israel.
Stay tuned for part 2 of Chaim’s story.