As mentioned before, less than 200 children survived Terezin. By an amazing coincidence, I met one of these children. I don’t know what prompted me to mention my blog in the career advising seminar. After all, I hadn’t really developed the blog yet, had only drafted a few posts and was trying my best to get permissions to reprint the Terezin poems. Yet, I felt compelled to speak about my project and though my heart raced, I mustered up the courage to mention the blog. Then, to my utter shock, one of the women in my class, a research librarian at a Jewish seminary, spoke up.
“My mother was in Terezin,” she said, to my complete astonishment. I had only met a few Holocaust survivors before, but never anyone who had been in Terezin. And to think that the mother of one of my classmates had been there…my classmate offered to put me in contact with her mother so I could learn more about her experience. Her mother graciously agreed to meet with me, and a couple of weeks later I found myself riding the subway far uptown to an unfamiliar part of the city to meet Mrs. Diamant. As I rode uptown I worried that I would accidently say the wrong thing, since I could never truly understand the experience of a concentration camp survivor. I was also nervous that Mrs. Diamant might become upset when talking about her experience and I hoped I would know how to react. And I was also concerned about how she would react when I revealed I was a convert to Judaism, since the other survivors had reacted with bewilderment or skepticism when they learned that fact. I had been asked “Why would you ever want to be Jewish?”, and “Do you really understand what you are getting yourself into?”
But my worries began to subside as soon as I arrived at Mrs. Diamant’s apartment. She had warm blue eyes and a friendly personality that put me at ease immediately. In her soft British accent, Mrs. Diamant welcomed me to her home and led me down the hall to her living room, where we sat in lounge chairs in a room with Jewish-themed art, paintings depicting African villages and a silver mezuzah adorning the doorway. Then this unlikely pair, the Irish-American convert to Judaism and the child survivor of Terezin, began to share stories with one another.