Jan 27, 2023 By Ros Barron Category: Travel,
My Name is Ros Barron, and I am a Proud Zionist
My name is Ros Barron, and I am a proud Zionist.
Both of my parents are Holocaust survivors. My mother survived Auschwitz, two slave labor camps, and a Death March. My father was from Olyka, Ukraine, a town with over 5,000 Jews. Under brutal Nazi occupation, my father and family escaped from the ghetto to the forest hiding in holes they dug in the ground. The winters were unbearable, and some of my family froze to death. They sought refuge and were hidden in a potato cellar by a Ukrainian police chief. When they emerged, they were among only 20 survivors of the 5,000.
We children of Holocaust survivors are well aware of how precarious Jewish continuity is. In 1944 there was no one to defend us. Who could imagine that only four years after my grandmother was murdered in Auschwitz, my mother was a slave, and my father lived in a hole in the ground that there would be a reborn State of Israel? And that she would have an army that would protect Jewish children!
Yet, Jews came home. The biblical prophecy of the ingathering of the exiles came true. The day after independence was declared five Arab armies attacked, intent on our annihilation. But we won, and over the years we have seen miracles happen. Who would believe that 80 years after all the Jews of my father's town were massacred, the President of Ukraine is a strong Jewish leader and that Israel would stand ready at Ukraine's borders to rescue Ukrainian Jews?
My cousin, Captain Assa Yaguri, and his 14 men defended Jerusalem on the first day of the Six Day War. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol begged Jordan not to attack, but they did, killing my cousin and his men. Yad Assa is their monument in Mevasseret Zion. They never heard those precious words: “Har HaBayit Biyadenu!”
My late husband Dr. Alan Barron of Blessed Memory shared my passion. From humble beginnings he rose to become a respected physician, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Tufts, and Clinical Instructor at Harvard. He won “teacher of the year” award. He was Vice President and Ritual Chair of our Shul. He rarely missed Minyan. He joined missions to Israel. He recited the Haftorah perfectly every Yom Kippur. He even climbed Mt. Sinai at sunrise. And in our love of Israel, we were a team.
Alan and I always did what we could for Jewish causes. We bought Israel bonds. Our children went to Jewish day schools. We donated to Yad Vashem. If a patient died, we bought a tree in Israel through Jewish National Fund-USA. Jewish life meant something to us.
One day I joined a Friends of the IDF mission to Israel. We flew from one end of Israel to the other, from the Golan Heights to Gaza, and met the soldiers. A lone soldier from France told me: 'I could die as a Jew in France but if I'm going to die, I'm going to die right here defending the State of Israel!' I came home with my heart on fire. I said to my husband: 'Alan, how do you thank the first Jewish army in 2000 years? With an education! Let’s sponsor a soldier who has finished his service to go to university! Because you don't just lift him, you lift his wife, you lift his children, you lift a family!” And so this became our mission. At Alan’s passing we had sponsored 60 years of scholarships.
One day someone from Jewish National Fund-USA said to me: “There are some people we'd like you to meet.” One was a young girl from Sderot whose life had been uprooted by the stress of having rockets come down any time day or night, with just 15 seconds to get to a shelter. She shared the trauma the children endure and the difference Jewish National Fund-USA’s Resilience Center in Sderot makes in their lives.
Then Yedidya Harush, head of the incredible Halutza pioneers, talked about the fire balloons that came from Gaza that burned down the fields the farmers had worked all year to grow. IED devices on balloons with soccer balls attached to blow up our children! And still Jews continue to build these communities. I even found Halutza olive oil to use one Passover!
I told Alan: “I know we do scholarships for the FIDF, but when I ask myself: What have I done for Israel today? I want to say: Today I planted a tree in Israel! Our enemies are trying to burn us down – we can build us up! Let's plant a tree in Israel every day for the rest of our lives.” And we have.
When I lost Alan two years ago, I dedicated the bomb shelter in Sderot to him, so that even in his death he will help save Jewish children. Helping Israel became our mission and my husband’s legacy. Alan is remembered as a man who educated kids willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend the Jewish people! A man who planted forests of trees to support the critical work Jewish National Fund-USA does. And now, in leaving a contribution to Jewish National Fund in my own will, everything that he was so passionate about will continue for generations to come.
Having recently returned from Jewish National Fund-USA’s Sunshine Tour in Israel, I look back on my time and think about all of the awe-inspiring things I saw and experienced. I also continue to feel a deep sense of gratefulness to Marc and Claire Perlman who made a very generous donation to honor my husband at Ammunition Hill. Maybe we didn’t make Aliyah, but with Jewish National Fund-USA we share in building the Zionist Dream! And you can too!
For more information about Jewish National Fund-USA’s next Sunshine Tour to Israel for Active Adults 55+ taking place June 4-13, 2023, visit jnf.org/sunshinejune.