At 110, oldest known Holocaust survivor dies

(CNN) — The world’s oldest known Holocaust survivor has died at age 110, her grandson told CNN Sunday.

Alice Herz-Sommer, a talented musician and pianist, lived alone in her London flat, according to a 2014 Oscar nominated documentary about her extraordinary life.

“My world is music. I’m not interested in doing anything else,” she said in “The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.”

Originally from Prague in what was then Czechoslovakia, Herz-Sommer was imprisoned at the Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II. It was music that saved her. She and others performed concerts that entertained the Nazis.

“I knew that we will play,” Herz-Sommer told the filmmakers. “And I was thinking when we can play it can’t be so terrible. The music, the music! The music is the first place of art. It brings us on an island with peace, beauty and love.”

Theresienstadt was a ghetto-labor camp to which the SS deported and then incarcerated certain categories of German, Austrian, and Czech Jews, based on their age, disability as a result of past military service, or domestic celebrity in the arts and other cultural life, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Continue reading

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New Year Reflection

I was working on my final sermon of the year for December 29. The passage of Scripture I chose was from 1 Samuel 12:14. As a prophet of God Samuel was a unique character. He was a transition figure in the history of Israel. He was the last of the Judges, and the first of the Major Prophets. But what set him apart was his role in representing God in anointing the first two kings to rule Israel: Saul and David.

The following paragraph is part of Samuel’s farewell speech to the people of Israel from chapter 12.

“Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the LORD has set a king over you. If you fear the LORD and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the LORD your God—good! But if you do not obey the LORD, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors.”

This got me to thinking. The United States came into being because a group of Christians from England longed to be free to worship God in their own way. One hundred and fifty years later the Founding Fathers of our nation won an unlikely war against the most powerful army in that day. And the leader, I believe, was a man of God’s choosing: George Washington. If you want your heart stirred, and your appreciation for our beloved country renewed, just read any of the innumerable books that have been written about this exceptional man. Washington was a man of deep faith, who knew that if this rag-tagged band of farmers and merchants, known as the “Minute Men,” had any chance of defeating the superbly trained British Army, God was going to have to perform some miracles. And that’s just what God did. Continue reading

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Character Does Matter

A story that has gone viral on the Internet has to do with a 19-year-old employee of Dairy Queen. The term, “going viral” can mean a number of things. In searching for some basic definition for this term I came away with this assessment: Going viral means your video, article, or picture became fabulously popular virtually overnight.

So, this young man, Joey Prusak, working for Dairy Queen in Hopkins, Minnesota has now been crowned “King of Kindness.” Just exactly what did he do to receive such an honor? Well, as the story is told in the newspaper, Joey was working the counter at the ice cream shop when a young customer who was blind unknowingly dropped a twenty dollar bill. Before Joey could say anything an older lady (50-60ish) standing behind the blind customer reached down and pocketed the cash. What happens next should cause each of us to take pride in this young man and his willingness to do what is right. That’s a true sign of character. Continue reading

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