Gertruda Bablinska, Righteous Among the Nations

In honor of Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day, I remember Gertruda Bablinska, a Gentile and a devout Catholic.

Gertruda worked as a nanny for a Jewish family in Warsaw, Poland. When the Germans invaded, the father of the family was away, and never returned. Gertruda accompanied the mother, Lidia Stolowicki and her son Michael, to Vilna. Mrs. Stolowicki was terrified. Gertruda took charge. Soon after they arrived, Mrs. Stolowicki suffered a stroke and died. Two months after her death, the Soviets occupied Vilna, began killing Jews, and established the Jewish ghetto.

In testimony to Yad Vashem, Gertruda recalled, “I was left alone, with a circumcised five-year-old child.”

Gertruda somehow managed to obtain false papers, and a baptismal certificate for the boy, claiming he was her nephew. Because she knew German, Gertruda wrote petitions to authorities in exchange for food. When Michael got sick, she took him to a Jewish doctor in the ghetto. She said, “There were many difficult moments, but I knew that my mother was praying for me.”

After the war, Gertruda took the boy to visit her parents’ home in Gdansk. Her parents begged her to stay, but she and Michael joined other refugees in a DP (displaced persons) camp in Germany, waiting to transport to the land of Israel. Jewish Defense Forces assured Gertruda that they would care for Michael, but she insisted on staying with him.

In 1947, she and Michael boarded the Exodus, a boat full of Holocaust survivors hoping to rebuild their lives in the land of Israel. The boat was intercepted by British war ships, and the passengers forced to return to Europe. They again ended up in a DT camp.

In 1948, Gertruda and Michael tried again. They settled in Israel. Gertruda remained a devout Catholic all of her life. She raised Michael as her own son, and–keeping her word to Michael’s mother—she raised him as a Jew.

On June 4, 1963, Yad Vashem recognized Gertruda Babilinska as Righteous Among the Nations.

See Michael Stolowicki’s testimony:

For more stories of the Righteous Among the Nations, visit the Yad Vashem website.

Copyright 2011, Kathryn A. Frazier, all rights reserved. Shevarim.com

When You Have Eaten, and Are Satisfied. . .

Poised at the edge of the Promised Land, Moses tells the Children of Israel: “For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills;  a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.” (Deuteronomy 8:7-9)

He spoke of Israel, the land that God promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But the description reminds me of home. In the midst of financial stress, compounded by natural disasters, we Americas tend to forget how abundantly blessed we really are.

Moses warned Israel, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. . . You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth. . .” (Deuteronomy 8:10, 17-18)

If you live in a land of plenty, as I do, how about joining me in a shout of praise to God for giving us this good land?

Copyright 2011, Kathryn A. Frazier All rights reserved. Shevarim.com

10 Ways to Remember Passover if You Don’t Celebrate

Passover starts at sunset! Quick! Give your chametz to a non-observant neighbor, start cleaning and shopping, dig out your haggadah, and call your friends over!

If you’re not ready by now, though, you probably planned not to celebrate. Even if you’re not joining a Seder this holiday, you can still observe the spirit of Passover. Take a moment each day this week to remember how God brought his people out of bondage with a strong arm. Some ideas:

  1. Eat some matza, the bread of our affliction, every day.
  2. Drink a bit of wine or grape juice every evening.
  3. Read the book of Exodus. If you read five chapters per day, you can complete it during the eight days of Passover. This makes a nice family project, if you read it together, too.
  4. Watch The Prince of Egypt. It’s not just for children.
  5. Before the Exodus, the LORD struck down the firstborn of all Egyptian homes. Hug your firstborn child, and pray for and bless all of your children.
  6. Send a Passover greeting. Write a note and pop it into the mail, or send an online greeting. Try 123 Greetings or Yahoo! Greetings.
  7. Go at least one day without eating chametz (food with leavening or yeast).
  8. Make a donation to a charity that supports freedom.
  9. Sing “Dayeinu” with a thankful heart. Hear it [HERE].
  10. Eat a store-bought or homemade Passover treat, like this apple-matza kugel recipe [HERE].

Yo, Christians! Did you know that the Last Supper that Jesus took with his disciples was a Passover seder? Find out more about the Jewish heritage of Jesus, and what the Passover looks like for followers of Jesus [HERE].

חג פסח שמח  Chag Pesach Sameach! Have a happy Passover!

Copyright 2011, 2016, Kathryn A. Frazier, all rights reserved. Edited March, 11, 2016 to remove broken links.

Telling religious to Get Over It is the wrong message.

In a video message addressed to “religious people who use the Bible to justify their anti-gay bigotry,” Dan Savage says, “there’s so much in the Bible that we’ve learned to ignore: the anti-female, anti-woman stuff…the stuff in the Bible that forbids us to eat lobster…that justifies and defends the institution of slavery…we’ve learned to ignore what the Bible says about pork, and…about polyester. We’ve learned to ignore all of that. We can also get over the anti-gay stuff in the Bible.”

As a Christian, I’m deeply sorry for the attitudes and behavior of those who use the Bible to discriminate, shame, belittle, or dismiss the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered) community. It’s indefensible.

Savage’s call for religious people to ignore the Bible, however, divides Jewish and Christian communities and the LGBT community even further; and it stems from a misunderstanding of what the Bible actually says.

For the record:

I do not choose to ignore the “anti-female stuff”. It isn’t there. Men use the Bible to justify their anti-female bigotry, sure. But I don’t see it in the Bible. I see in the Tenach (Jewish Bible and Christian Old Testament), Deborah, the prophet, ruling over Israel, and leading in wartime1, Ruth taking charge of her own destiny2, and Abigail preventing a massacre by wisely going against her husband’s wishes.3 I see God providing for women4, protecting women5, and warning men not to deal treacherously with them.6 The Ten Commandments require respect of both father and mother.7 The ideal woman is described as a decisive, assured, powerful, working property owner.8 An entire book is devoted to sexual love between husband and wife, where the wife is equal throughout, and receiving as much as she gives.9 In the New Testament, I see the teaching, “there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”10

I do not choose to ignore the stuff that forbids us to eat lobster and pork, and wear polyester. Those laws were always intended to be temporary. In the Bible, Levitical laws forbid eating certain foods11, and wearing blended fabrics.12 God intended these laws to be temporary. He didn’t give them until over 3000 years after the creation of mankind, and he put them aside after the coming of Jesus.13 According to the New Testament, we have freedom to follow or to not follow them, as we choose.14

I do not choose to ignore the parts about slavery. I admit that I stumble over them, though. Under the law of Moses, God commanded masters to treat slaves with respect, as hired workers.15 He commanded they get a day off once a week.16 If a slave owner harmed a slave—for example, knocking out a tooth—God commanded them freed.17 Still. According to the Bible, humans could be bought, sold, and inherited as property under the law.18 Perhaps God established laws requiring humane treatment of slaves, because slavery already existed. Perhaps not. I don’t say I understand it, but I don’t ignore it. We are no longer under that law, and slavery was never required, so I can argue and work for the abolishment of slavery without violating the Bible.

Both Testaments say, “Love thy neighbor as thyself”19   Savage says that the New Testament says to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Actually, both Testaments say that. Maybe instead of calling upon religious people to ignore the very book that we stake our eternity on, Savage, and others concerned with equality, should call upon us to stop ignoring parts of it. We, as religious people, need to get over our pride, and recognize that we are called to serve and to love.

Please watch the following video for a truly Christian perspective on the treatment of LGBT people.

Copyright 2011, Kathryn A. Frazier. All rights reserved. Shevarim.com

No One Lied to Us

“Why don’t you go to another church?”

“Because I’m Catholic,” Harold answered.

“You’re not Catholic,” I argued, “if you don’t believe what they teach.”

Harold just smiled. “I’m Catholic.”

Harold and I were in high school, those extraordinary years of challenging the faith of our parents, and forming a faith of our own. In some ways, adolescents must vilify authority, in order to become independent adults. I rejected the secularism of my upbringing, and chose Jesus. My friend, raised Catholic, questioned the tenets of his church. He never entertained the thought of leaving, though.

During Lent, the Catholic/Protestant issue invariably surfaces. Protestants insist that “it doesn’t take all that” to please God. Catholics just smile. They’re Catholic.

Like teenagers, wrestling with childhood uncertainties, people of all faiths struggle with opposing doctrines during this Holy Season. I believe God appreciates our questions. “Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD” (Isaiah 1:18). How else can we know Him for ourselves?

When questioning, however, adults may resort to the ways of adolescence, accusing their spiritual predecessors of deliberate fraud. Vilifying parents, or church leaders, is the only way some people know how to cope with a new viewpoint.

I say it is time to put away childish things. No one lied to us. Right or wrong, our ancestors shared what they believed, mostly with good intentions. No man or woman can hand us pure truth. Only God is all-knowing. It’s up to each one of us to pray, study, listen, and learn.

Last I heard, Harold was still Catholic. I’m still not. He embraced the beauty and truth in his church, and didn’t worry about the parts he disagreed with. By staying in the church that he loved, Harold saw opportunities to reach out and make a difference in the lives of people I would never meet. Good for him!

Copyright 2011, Kathryn A. Frazier All rights reserved. Shevarim.com

Why (Some) Christians Blame Japan

As with hurricane Katrina—which some blamed on legalized abortion—Christians found a way to link disaster to God’s rage. “Japan did it to themselves,” they’re saying. “God is bringing his curse for going against Israel.”

While most of the world prays for the Japanese people, and sends support, a vocal few claim that an angry God is punishing Japan for their aid to Palestine. Why he chose Japan, and not the other forty-six countries aiding Palestine, is a mystery.

How can anyone believe God is pleased with such suffering? Reasons vary, but the top ones are:

  • They’re Scared. By believing that people who suffer and die did something to deserve it—something they didn’t do—they feel safer. They think that God would never allow them to be caught in such a tragedy, and that belief eases their fear.
  • They feel powerless. Earthquakes, tsunamis, and radiation leaks are out of our control. Believing the events are linked to something they can control (behavior) helps them feel empowered.
  • They’re Self-Centered. Whatever makes headlines, in their view, must somehow revolve around them. Good things happen to those who agree with them, they think; and bad things happen to those who disagree.

Whatever their reasons, the Bible does not support their position. The book of Job is about a righteous man who suffered. His friends told him that he must have done something wrong. In the end, God calls Job’s friends into account, and makes them compensate Job for falsely accusing him. Jesus also denied the notion that those who suffer are worse sinners than anyone else. (Luke 13:1-5)

“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) Weather happens. To everyone.

Please pray for the people of Japan, and text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to Japan relief.

Copyright 2011, Kathryn A. Frazier, All Rights Reserved  shevarim.com

Should Christians be barred from fostering children?

Conservative Christians are unfit to serve as foster parents, because their beliefs regarding sexuality may “infect” children in their care, the High Court of the UK ruled February 28, 2011.

Eunice and Owen Johns applied to foster a child in 2007. They expressed their desire to love any child, but their religious beliefs prevented them from teaching the child that homosexuality is good. The battle was on. The High Court finally ruled that “That there is no religious discrimination against the Johns because they were being excluded from fostering due to their moral views on sexual ethics and not their Christian beliefs”, even though their moral views on sexual ethics are based on their Christian beliefs.

The High Court’s decision is in line with United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), protecting the child’s international human right of sexual expression, above the right of the parent’s religious expression. If the United States ratifies the UN treaty, the same law would apply in the US.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre said, “If Christian morals are harmful to children and unacceptable to the State, then how many years do we have before natural children start being taken away from Christians?”

As a Christian, I believe minors should be encouraged to remain abstinent, regardless of their sexual orientation, because they are children. But I know that doesn’t always play out in real life.

What do you think?

To learn more about this case, visit  Christian Concern >>here<<

Copyright 2011, Kathryn A. Frazier, all rights reserved. Shevarim.com

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