To commemorate Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Rashi welcomed speaker Eva Paddock, a Shoah survivor. Students, faculty, and parents listened to her personal story, which was one of intense gratitude and altruism. Part of a Kindertransport group, Eva recalled those who risked their own safety to allow her family’s survival.
The Kindertransport was a rescue effort, removing nearly 10,000 children from Nazi-occupied territories during WWII and relocating them to England. Eva and her sister, Milena, boarded the train in former Czechoslovakia, leaving behind their mother and remaining relatives. Eva’s father, Rudolph, had already escaped, hearing by word of mouth that the Gestapo would be looking for him upon their arrival in Czechoslovakia.
Many people contributed to Eva’s survival, including her parents, British stockbroker Nicholas Winton, and the British family that housed her and Milena. Once in Manchester, Eva and her sister grew to adore their foster family, referring to them and Mummy and Daddy Radcliffe. After the occupation of Czechoslovakia began, Eva’s mother, Sonia, was one of three people to be granted legal exit from the country, allowing the entire family to reunite in England.
After listening to her story, students were able to ask questions, and reflect on not only the sadness of Yom HaShoah, but the blessing of being able to live safe, rich Jewish lives today. The gratitude Eva expressed to those who molded her life’s course was palpable, and something she encouraged the students to embrace as they gave her their thanks.