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9. Leah feels ashamed for complaining about their arrival in Palestine when she realizes so many Jews were not given the freedom to enter the Promised Land (see pp. 44–45). It’s easy—and quite human—to feel sorry for yourself until you meet someone who is in a worse situation. When has someone else’s situation put your own sorrows and worries in perspective?
10. Have you ever, like Rabbi Lebowitz, felt “lucky to be alive” (p. 49)? If so, when?
11. “The best interest of nations is not the best interest of individual human life,” says Winston Churchill (p. 63). Would you agree? Why or why not? Use an example or two from today’s headlines.
12. How would you answer these two questions if someone asked you?
*“What value have we put on honor these days?”
*“What value have we put on human life?” (p. 64).
13. Why do you think so many forces have tried to possess the city of Jerusalem over the years (see pp. 19–21, 70, 155)?
14. Have you lived through a time when “no place feels like home,” as Leah did (p. 75)? Describe the situation.
15. You have always lived in one house. Then one night soldiers come to your door and say, “You had nothing with you when you came here, and you will take nothing out!” (see pp. 82–84). They force you to leave immediately and send you to a land where you know you will be persecuted. What thoughts would run through your mind on such a night?
16. Have you experienced a rift in a relationship due to differences in spiritual beliefs (see p. 91)? How have you handled those differences? What has worked? not worked? (Longtime friends Eli and Ibrahim sadly come to blows over their differences. It ends up in Ibrahim being beaten unconscious, his brother Ismael’s death, and ultimately Eli’s death, since he was a Jew who killed an Arab. See pp. 357–360 for a reminder of the story.)
17. Berta Grynspan was only fifteen years old when she stood with her parents at the German border station of Neu Bentschen. And yet, in this darkest moment in her young life, she was able to find a bit of good. “It is good that we have rain,” she says (p. 96). What glimmer of good has come from a dark moment in your life?
18. If you, like Eduard Letzno, were faced with a group of refugees, what would you do? What small kindness could you extend to a needy person in your area today?
19. Do you believe that there are “great cosmic forces behind” (p. 109) what happens in the world? And that men (such as Adolf Hitler) and women are the tools of spiritual forces? Why or why not? (See also page 372 for an explanation of what the swastika symbol really means.)
20. All of us face times of discouragement, when we wonder if anything we do is for any good purpose. Even the great Christian leader, Theo Lindheim, did. “My hands are tied,” he says (p. 111). When have you felt that way?
Anna, his wife, encourages him by saying, “Your heart is willing . . . and so God has some other task for your hands.”
The Mother Superior at the Russian convent echoes this idea, saying to Samuel Orde, “Perhaps you do not yet see how you may help . . . . It is not always clear until the Lord puts it right in front of you” (p. 119). Are there any answers right in front of you that you’re not yet seeing?
21. “We mortals have a small and troubled view of time. If the wicked could have one glimpse of their eternal future, perhaps they would repent . . . And if the righteous could have one glimpse of their eternity with God, they would no longer fear what evil men might do to them in this life. No. I think we might pity the wicked man for the price he will pay for his sin” (p. 120). Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
22. Have you ever helped someone “further a romance” as Moshe helped his brother, Eli (he carried messages to and from Victoria Hassan—see pp. 140, 144)? What happened to the relationship? Would you do the same thing again?
23. Do you believe Leah’s statement to be true: “It is a miracle, you see, that even one of us [Jews] has survived to come home. It is proof that God exists and that He does not lie! He has not forgotten His Covenant with Israel” (p. 156)? Why or why not?
24. If a friend pleaded with you to kill him (as the battered Thomas von Kleistmann pleaded with his friend Ernst vom Rath—see pp. 159–160), would you? Could you? Explain.
25. Eli is faced with a difficult choice. If he chooses to marry Victoria, the Arab woman he loves, he will lose his life’s dream—to become a rabbi (see p. 177). If you had to choose between a person you love and your career, what would you choose? Why?
26. Have you ever been in a position, like Eli, to envy the love other couples have (see pp. 182–183)? Explain. Perhaps you’re single, and you long to be married. Or perhaps you’re married, and you wish you had married someone else, that you weren’t married at all, or that you shared a deeper, more understanding love with your spouse. . . .
27. Theo Lindheim comes up with a plan—“a trade agreement with Germany that would allow refugees to depart with a portion of their assets” (p. 191)—to help the thousands of Jews who must leave their homeland. But in order for the Germans to even consider the plan, Theo must return to Germany and present it himself. If you were Theo, would you go—risk your life to save thousands who share a common heritage with you? Why or why not?
28. Imagine you are Victoria Hassan. You discover that your family has been involved in a sinister plot, leading to many deaths (see p. 193). What would you do? Would you warn the English of a potential demonstration (see p. 275)? Would you inform them that your own brothers were involved somehow in a bombing (see pp. 327–328)? Why or why not?
29. The kind Eduard Letzno was misjudged by the Jews of Warsaw since he lived like a goy. Yet the rabbi, Aaron Lubetkin, sees Letzno’s true heart. He was the “first doctor on the scene when the homeless Jews from Germany had been so much in need. His heart was Jewish” (p. 206). Have you or your motives ever been misjudged? How did you respond? Have you ever misjudged someone else? What was the outcome?
30. When the Americans sent Jell-O as a gift to Tipat Chalev (unusable in the unrefrigerated conditions of Jerusalem), the kind Samuel Orde traded with Rabbi Lebowitz for something more useful—milk, cocoa, and walnuts. The rabbi thinks, The Eternal be praised! All along the Merciful One had this in mind. Oy! Still sending manna in strange ways, nu? (p. 216). When have you received something you didn’t expect in a strange way?
31. Have you ever made a decision that made those you love angry? a decision that they couldn’t understand (as Eli Sachar did in choosing to love an Arab girl—see pp. 223–224)? What happened in the short-term? the long-term?
32. “I have too much to think about. What is right? I do not know myself any longer! Too many voices!” (p. 225). Have you ever had this same heart cry as Eli? When? What did you do as a result?
33. “Do You hear me, God?” Eli asks, but receives only silence. “He wanted to know God, but God was far away tonight” (pp. 234–235). Has God felt far away to you? When?
34. At one point, Eli Sachar claims that believing in Jesus would deny his heritage as a Jew, and he accuses Shimon and Leah of doing just that. Here is Shimon’s response:
“Leah and I believe that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel, the Holy One we watch for and pray will come to redeem His people Israel! First He came to redeem us individually, as the prophet Isaiah wrote in the fifty-third chapter. Jesus died for our sins. The Lamb of sacrifice given by God for our sakes. But He will come again as King to redeem the nation Israel. It is written, and we are seeing the beginning of the fulfillment” (p. 244).
If you are of Jewish heritage, do you believe that acknowledging Jesus Christ as the one and only Son of God would deny your heritage as a Jew? Why or why not?
35. Eli says, “Christians have slaughtered Jews in the name of
Jesus for centuries!”
“Those who have done these things have never known Him,” Shimon answered quietly. “Many who call themselves by Christ’s name worship a false Christ created by Evil to serve Evil. The real Jesus said that this would happen” (p. 245).
If this is true, how can you identify the real Christians from those who just claim to be Christians? (See also Matthew 7:20; John 3:19-21.) Contrast the actions of people like Theo, Anna, Elisa, Murphy, and Samuel Orde with Victoria Hassan’s half brothers and Haj Amin, who “promises Paradise for those who die fighting jihad! Holy war!” (p. 273). What do their actions say about what they believe in? (See also 2 John 1:6-11)
Remember Shimon’s statement: “If there is any victory that causes Evil to rejoice, it is to hide our Messiah from us by distortion, brutality, and false doctrine” (p. 245).
36. Shimon challenges Eli (p. 246):
“Jesus was a Jew, descended from King David just as our prophets foretold . . . .Empty your mind of . . . lies and darkness. You must meet Jesus first through the prophets . . . and then look at His life! . . . Face-to-face you must look at the real Jesus, and then you must choose to deny Him or believe Him.”
Have you chosen to investigate for yourself who Jesus is? Why or why not? What encourages you? hinders you?
If you wish to investigate more about Jesus, the following Scriptures will help you begin your search:
(Written over seven hundred years before the Messiah walked the earth, this book of the Bible records the characteristics and actions of the real Messiah)
(The genealogy of Jesus that goes back many generations to Abraham)
*Matthew 1:18–2:23; Luke chapters 1–2
(Jesus’ conception and birth, the Magi’s search for the king of the Jews, Jesus’ and His family’s flight to Egypt, and Jesus’ growing-up years)
(Jesus’ baptism, when God the Father claims Jesus as His Son)
(Some of Jesus’ miracles and teachings; note especially 4:38-41 and Peter’s confession in 9:18-20)
(Especially Jesus’ sorrow for Jerusalem in verses 34-35)
(The signs of the end of the world, when the kingdom of God is near)
(The betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus, His death and burial)
(The resurrection of Jesus, His appearance on the road to Emmaus, and His ascension to heaven)
*1 John 5:1-21
(Who really believes in God and follows Him? The answer here is clear.)
37. Little did Shimon, the kettledrum musician, know that he would be called upon to become Tipav Chalev’s nutcracker (see pp. 266–268). Anna Lindheim had no idea that she would be involved in a soup kitchen in Prague or helping refugees (see p. 271). When have you carried out a role that surprised you? Has it fit into the larger picture of your life in any way?
38. “Theo had been renamed by his Nazi persecutors, but they had never managed to change anything else about him. The stuff that made Theo who he was remained the same” (p. 280).
Theo Lindheim’s name was changed to Jacob Stern when he was interned at Dachau. How would you feel if someone in authority suddenly changed your name? Why is a name so important?
39. Because of a terrorist bomb, Leah, a musician, can no longer hear music (see p. 283). And she also is losing the baby she is carrying (p. 292). Yet her response is simply, “Why? Oh Jesu! Jesu! Warum?” (p. 284). If this happened to you, how would you respond (anger, self-pity, fear . . . something else)? Why?
40. Do you believe that it’s worth saving even one innocent life? That one person holding the light of God’s truth can make Darkness flee (see p. 286)? Why or why not?
41. “Once he had believed that the world was mostly good—people mostly good-hearted; nations just; governments trying their best” (Shimon, p. 293).
At what point in your life did you begin to understand that not everyone or everything in the world is good? How has that realization affected you?
42. Jews have been persecuted by numerous forces (including the Egyptians, the Romans, the Nazis, the Arabs) over thousands of years. Shimon finally realizes:
“Evil was somehow personal and real. It had chosen to destroy the People of the Book because to do so would be to make the Covenant of that book a lie and God a liar!”
Simon pinpoints Evil for what it is, and shakes his fist at it:
“No matter what you do . . . we will not curse God! Give up! You cannot defeat Him! Kill us and we will be with Him! Drive us into the sea and He is there! You will not have your way with Shimon and Leah Feldstein or our children! Even in sorrow we will believe in the promise of our Holy Messiah!” (p. 293)
Do you think Shimon is right, or is he simply believing blindly, so he won’t be disillusioned by life? Explain your answer.
43. “Chaim Weizmann has said that there are two places in the world for the Jewish people: the countries where they are not wanted, and the countries where they cannot enter. Where are they to go, then?” (Theo, p. 33).
Step back into 1938. If you were in charge of finding homes or a homeland for the Jews, what would you do? Where would you decide they would go? What about the people currently in that land?
44. Have you ever wondered, like Herschel Grynspan did, if dying would be easier than living (see p. 325)? What, if anything, has changed since you had those thoughts? What motivation has kept you alive?
45. Do you hunger, as Victoria Hassan does when she talks to Reverend Robbins (see p. 329), for the Light? Do you long to leave Darkness behind? If so, why not start today?
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:16-17)
Can you say with Victoria, “I am not afraid. God is not a terrible God of vengeance and hatred to me anymore. I have found His nature in Jesus” (p. 351; see also 1 John 4:11-18)? Why or why not?
46. When Etta Lubetkin, a Jew, walks into a Catholic cathedral, she is going against everything she has been raised to believe. Yet she is compelled to go to the “one righteous Gentile in Warsaw” (p. 360). Do you, like Etta, fear those who believe something different than you do—even if you both believe in God? What is one way you can go out of your way to reach out to and understand someone, of a differing faith? To think beyond the borders of your own “faith world”?
47. “You have forgotten that God rules over all.” (Theo)
“Which God? The Jewish God? The Christian God?” (Göring)
“They are one and the same.” (Theo, p. 378)
Do you believe there is only one true God who is over the world? Why or why not?
48. Göring suggests that “those who follow your weak and worthless God of love will die . . . because they have no strength to fight” (p. 378).
The prophet Isaiah says:
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Who do you agree with—Gö
ring or Isaiah? Explain your answer, using an example from your own life or from someone you know.
49. “Someday you will stand before Him in judgment, and then you will know” (Theo, p. 380). The Bible is clear: Every person will stand before God someday in judgment. Every word of ours will be known; every deed will be revealed:
For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:
“As surely as I live,” says the Lord,
“every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.”
So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God
(Romans 14:10-12, quoting Isaiah 45:23)
When you stand before God, what will you say about yourself and the way you have lived?
It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who you crucified but whom God raised from the dead . . . . He is “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.” Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
50. “Men are . . . given the freedom to hate, instead of love. . . . It was because He loved us that He suffered. Suffered for our wrong choices and the freedom we abuse. And if you suffer, . . . you will learn! You will reflect Him even more” (Mother Superior of the Russian convent in Jerusalem, p. 392).