A Life Bookended By the Holocaust and a Pandemic

A survivor says she is losing time to tell her story
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2021 4:26 PM CST
A Life Robbed By the Holocaust, Now COVID
A wooden synagogue built in the 17th century in Chodorow, Poland, now part of Ukraine.   (Getty/flik47)

Toby Levy lost her teenage years to the Holocaust, hiding in a barn in what was then Chodorow, Poland. Nine people lived in a 4-by-5 space, not knowing if each day was their last, unable to make any noise, often unable to even look outside. Now, at 87, Levy is losing time to the coronavirus, nearly a year so far. "And this bothers me terribly," Levy writes in the New York Times. She's able to go outside, to walk the boardwalk, sometimes going to Coney Island. "I keep very busy, and it helps me a lot," says Levy, who uses Zoom to visit grandchildren and give lectures for the Museum of Jewish Heritage; she's learned to use a computer during the lockdown. "I'm doing everything I can to stay connected, to make an impact," Levy writes. Still, "I'm a little bored."

When Levy and her family were in hiding, she writes: "We had lice. We had rats. But every day in the barn was a miracle. I’m not a regular person. I'm a miracle child." Most of the Jews in her town were killed. "So when the coronavirus came, I thought, 'I'm a miracle. I will make it. I have to make it." But time is being lost. "The way we have lived this year means I have lost many opportunities to lecture, to tell more people my story, to let them see me and know the Holocaust happened to a real person, who stands in front of them today," she writes. "It's important." Staying home is frustrating, as well as boring. "But there is no comparison of anxiety, of the coronavirus, to the terror I felt when I was a child," Levy says. And it helps her to remember that now, "No one wants to kill me." (You can read the full piece here.)

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