Native Americans relate to Holocaust survivor

Sunday, May 4th 2008, 10:16 pm
By: News 9

By Christian Price, INsite Team

As the gates to the concentration camp's ghetto closed, Eliezer Ayalon's mother pushed him through with nothing more than a cup of honey and a blessing that he would survive.

That was the last time he ever saw his family.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City invited the Holocaust survivor to the metro to share his story with others.

"The world still doesn't really know about the Holocaust," Ayalon said. "That's why it is so important for us to keep telling our stories."

Life as he knew it ended for Ayalon on Friday, September 8, 1939.

"I was 12 years old when the war broke out, and the German's invaded our hometown in Radom, Poland," Ayalon said. "I had a joyful life before the war started. I had my dreams, my fantasies, my hobbies, and all of a sudden my life changed."

Throughout concentration camps the word ‘liquidate' meant one thing and every prisoner knew it.

"My family was sent to an extermination camp where they died in gas chambers," Ayalon said. "I miraculously survived this deportation of the Jews because of my dear mother who saved my life by pushing me out from the ghetto on that eve of the deportation."

Ayalon has been visiting schools, universities and churches in the metro. One group of Oklahomans that feel they can relate personally to what Ayalon lived through is the Native American Indians.

The American Indian Cultural Center and Museum hosted a luncheon last week where tribal elders met with Ayalon to share stories of horror and survival. The Public Relations Officer for the cultural center, Shoshana Wasserman, wasn't surprised by how similar personal stories related to each other.

"The process of moving to Israel and beginning a new life and defeating Hitler, by the very fact that he has started a family and a legacy. I think our native people feel very much the same way, that we were meant to be extinct, and yet, we're here, we're resilient,"  Wasserman said.

Ayalon's education ended for him at the age of 12 once the occupation of his hometown took place. That is the main reason he likes visiting different people from different cultures. He enjoys sharing and learning. According to Wasserman, that's the main focus of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum.

"I think that we will become a real location of international dialog where the global communities will come together and share our come experience's and also be able to articulate our very unique experience," she said.