The treasures of our history, the main highlights of our lives, are often commemorated in our family photo albums.
Happy memories of family vacations, school awards, sporting events and competitions, marriages, babies’ births—all these are stored in these books that act as life’s time machines, transporting us back to another era in our lives.
When someone opens their family photo album to you, you are getting a glimpse into the real them. You are coming to know this person even more intimately. You are not just finding out about the person they are, but the person that he or she was all throughout his or her life in every phase.
The day before Pesach a lovely older German woman came through our doors. She came with her son, both of them bringing in a suitcase. I thought that perhaps they had just gotten off their flight from Germany, but when they opened up the suitcases in front of me, they pulled out four large photo albums, a few books, and some loose-leaf papers. When they opened the albums, I was pleasantly shocked.
Inside were pictures of Abram Poljak and Pauline Rose. The German lady who sat next to me had belonged to Poljak’s congregation in Germany when she was a teenager and then went to live in Pauline’s house on Mount Zion when this woman was just a young woman. Many of these pictures were pictures she took or pictures that Pauline herself gave to her.
The pictures show a silly side of Poljak, laughing and joking with his friends and congregants. They also show Pauline working hard in her garden, always looking elegant and well put together, yet always with a sweet, loving smile on her face. They showed me pictures of a little trip to the Negev that Pauline and Albert Rose took with Abram Poljak. They are laughing, joking around, and trying to find some reprieve from the hot desert sun under some picnic umbrellas.
There are pictures of Pauline standing in the aftermath rubble of the ’67 war, victoriously standing on Ben Yehuda Street, proving that even as an old woman this war did not break her, nor did it break the Jewish people. In every picture she looks fearless, yet filled with love and compassion, always finding a reason to be joyful and smile.
With these pictures, I got a look into the personal, intimate lives of people whom I greatly respect and love. In some ways I feel disconnected from them, in that they are no longer living amongst us, and I cannot sit down and speak with them and ask their advice. But I feel very connected in the sense that I can identify with their writings and teachings, and now I can see their sweet faces as they lived out their mission and their dreams here in the land of Israel.
It is a blessing to be able to continue their work and mission here in Israel through the Bram Center for Messianic Jewish Learning. Our lovely German visitor cried when she saw the joy on our faces at this priceless gift. Not only did she bring us these albums to look at, she gave them to us for safekeeping in our center. After telling her about our mission here, she had tears in her eyes and said that she knows for a fact that Pauline and Abram would have been happy and honored by what we are doing. As you might imagine, that filled my heart with joy and humility.
We have an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of our pioneers, and it is our duty. Thank God we have been blessed and equipped to carry on the vision that leads toward the kingdom of heaven. May HaShem continue to bless and increase our work.