Sara's Story

Sara's Story

"It doesn't have anything to do with being Christian or Jewish, its about being human."

Born on May 25, 1927, Sara Auerbach grew up in Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia). As a child, she was very poor. She grew up with a widowed mother and her five brothers and sisters. One thing Sara loved growing up was school. However, in that time they didn’t have clothing stores—your dresses were made specifically for you. She recalls one instance when she was at school and another girl came up to her and said, “I had that dress.”

When Sara was 12 she started living with another woman for work. A year later, after Passover holiday was over, Nazi’s came and put the woman and Sara in a ghetto for Jews. From the ghetto, they were transported to a concentration camp by a train. While getting off the train, you were to leave all of your items onboard—you could take nothing but the clothes on your back with you. Prior to entering the concentration camp, Sara, 13, was holding the woman’s child in her hands. A German soldier saw Sara, the infant and the woman and asked for the mother to come forward with the child. Sara never saw either of them again.

In Auschwitz, Sara was tattooed with a number on her arm. Sara was no longer her name—her new name was the number. She distinctly remembers the conditions in Auschwitz, her room was a large room with beds on top of each other. There were 4 crematoriums, each crematorium was a cornered room with windows. The windows did not open, however the back of the building had a slight hole which is where gas cans would be thrown into the room. She didn’t know German at the time, but she learned quickly because you would be beaten if you didn’t speak it. Their clothes were essentially rags. Every morning she would wake up, get “coffee,” which was really just hot water, and then work. Each day the camp would serve one meal. Since there were no spoons in the beginning, a group of people would have one bowl where they would take a sip of soup. As a worker, Sara would search the hems of the clothes left behind for hidden money. She would also have to clean streets after bombings.

One morning, the soldiers said that everyone who needed new shoes was to stay from work. Sara decided not to go to work for the first time in camp because she was in desperate need of new shoes. She says that staying for shoes was the worst decision—that day all the people who went to work were saved by the Swedish and sent to Sweden. While she stayed, the Germans came and made her get into a truck. Confused, she told the German soldier that she had only stayed behind for shoes. The soldier responded with saying, “It's because you’re petite.” She was put into the back of the truck, which was full of dead people, and was taken to the crematorium. When the truck reached the crematorium, it was full and she was put to work. The next morning, the war was over.

Sara hitchhiked to Berlin in a Russian truck filled with potatoes. A Russian, Jewish soldier helped her leave the country, however she was caught by the British as she was illegally traveling to Israel. After realizing that she was a survivor, she was allowed into Israel after being quarantined and checked for health. Sara did not go home, she said, “I did not want to go back home, I didn’t know who was alive.” She did write letters afterwards asking if anyone knew who was alive, and letting them know where she was located.

Sara’s mother, brother and grandmother were killed in a gas chamber, her brother did not want to leave his mother or grandmother. Another one of her brothers became a soldier for the Russian army. Sara’s sister never went into a camp, she stayed with a Christian family. In Israel, Sara met her husband and had two children, a son and daughter. She then moved to the United States where she had another son.

She told me she often wonders why she survived. She has outlived her husband and daughter, both of whom died on the same day hours after each other five years ago, as well as her sister. She credits her survival to being poor as a child. She was used to going to bed hungry, the rich girls were not used to hunger and died fast in camps. Sara spent a year and a half in Auschwitz. She has since visited her home in Slovakia, however she says no Jewish people live there anymore, not one family went back. A quote that Sara told me is, “A man makes plans, but God makes decisions.” All you can do is go with the flow of life. Life is what you make of it, and there are no words to describe how lucky I am to have been in Sara’s presence.

Cover Image Credit: CNN

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I'm A Christian And I Have A Tattoo

Stop judging me for it.

Like most people, I turned 18 years old during the course of my senior year of high school.

I'll never forget the months prior to my birthday, though, because I spent hours making a decision that would be with me forever, the decision of where I would go to get my first tattoo and where that tattoo would go, and of course I spent a lot of time deciding on the font, the colors, and all of the other aspects of the tattoo I wanted.

Throughout this time, two things stood firm 1) the fact that I was going to get a tattoo, and 2) the six letter name that it would consist of.

Now, three years later, I'm 21 years old and I still get the occasional dirty look at church on Sunday or in line at Walmart, and more often than not this look is accompanied by the following words: “Why would you do that to your body when God says not to?"

A few weeks ago at a new church, a woman came up to me and said, “How can you consider yourself a Christian when you have that blasphemous thing on your foot?", I simply smiled at her and said: “God bless you, have a good week." I let it roll off of my back, I've spent the past three years letting it “roll off of my back"… but I think it's time that I speak up.

When I was 8 years old, I lost my sister.

She passed away, after suffering from Childhood Cancer for a great deal of my childhood. Growing up, she had always been my best friend, and going through life after she passed was hard because I felt like even though I knew she was with me, I didn't have something to visually tribute to her – a way to memorialize her.

I, being a Christian and believing in Heaven, wanted to show my sister who was looking down on me that even though she was gone – she could still walk with me every day. I wanted it for me, for her. I wanted to have that connection, for her to always be a part of who I am on the outside – just as much as she is a part of who I am on the inside.

After getting my tattoo, I faced a lot of negativity. I would have Leviticus 19:28 thrown in my face more times than I cared to mention. I would be frowned on by various friends, and even some family. I was told a few times that markings on my body would send me to hell – that was my personal favorite.

You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks on you: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19:28

The more I heard these things, the more I wanted to scream. I didn't though. I didn't let the harsh things said about me and my choice change the love I have for the Lord, for my sister, or for the new precious memento on my left foot. I began to study my Bible more, and when I came to the verse that had been thrown in my face many times before – I came to a realization.

Reading the verses surrounding verse 28, I realized that God was speaking to the covenant people of Israel. He was warning them to stay away from the religious ways of the people surrounding them. Verse 28 wasn't directed to what we, in today's society, see as tattoos – it was meant in the context of the cultic practice of marking one's self in the realm of cultic worship.

26 "You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying. 27 You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard. 28 'You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD. 29 'Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land will not fall to harlotry and the land become full of lewdness. 30 'You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the LORD. 31 'Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God."
Leviticus 19:26–31

The more I have studied my Bible over the past few years, the more I pity those who rely on one verse in the Old Testament to judge and degrade those, like myself, who made the decision to get a tattoo for whatever reason they may have for doing so.

This is because, you see, in the New Testament it is said that believers are not bound by the laws of the Old Testament – if we were, there would be no shellfish or pork on the menus of various Christian homes. While some see tattoos as a modification of God's creation, it could also be argued that pierced ears, haircuts, braces, or even fixing a cleft lip are no different.

24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor."
Galatians 3:24-25

In Galatians, we read that the Old Testament law was created to lead people to Jesus. However, we know that Jesus has come and died on the cross for our sins. He has saved us, therefore we are no longer held to this law in order to have a relationship with the Lord. Our relationship with Him comes from believing that Jesus came to Earth to die on a cross for our sins, and repenting of our sins – accepting Jesus as our Savior.

I am a Christian, I have a relationship with the Lord that is stronger than it has ever been, and - I HAVE A TATTOO.

I have a beautiful memento on my left foot that reminds me that my sister walks with me through every day of my life. She walked with me down the red carpet at my senior prom, she walked with me across the stage the day I graduated from high school, and she continues to be with me throughout every important moment of my life.

My tattoo is beautiful. My tattoo reminds me that I am never alone. My tattoo is perfect.

Stop judging me for it.

Cover Image Credit: Courtney Johnson

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The Pulse Affect

Where do we stand 2 years later?


It's been 2 years since the infamous Pulse shooting and everyone, including myself, is still affected. I remember so clearly how I was too scared to go to any pride events afterward. I knew that's what the shooter wanted, was for us all to retreat back into the closest we so bravely came out of, but still, I couldn't bring myself to leave the bed.

The news had hit me harder than any of the previous shooting. While it was still a mass shooting such as what was happening at the schools, the target was more specific. He went in there with the mind of not just killing people, but people associated with the LGBT community. The scene was so horrible, that some of the first responders have even mentioned having PTSD still from the scene.

The news had sunk everyone's heart and many flocked to social media just to find out if friends were there or not. The toll was 49 innocent people who had lost their lives to a despicable individual I refuse to name. I feel he received too much attention in the media as it was.

It also didn't take long for the focus to switch from the victims to the "how could we prevent this"—which isn't a bad question, but the two sides who seemed to differ on opinions so much just turned it into yet another screaming match. That being said, those who weren't on the extreme end of it found themselves seeking comfort from each other. For many people, this attack did scare them, but I think within the horrifying event came a new sense of community.

For those who had family or friends that were victims of such an attack, my heart goes out to you. The mourning doesn't stop, and while I know there are no words that can be strung together to bring closure, I can show my support and continue to fight for equality and help educate whoever I can. The tragedy isn't something I wish on anyone, and the wound stills fresh to me despite not having any personal connections to anyone.

To end this story on a hopeful note, today people are doing positive things in honor of the victims of the pulse attack. One article writes about a couple who spends their time cleaning up the area of litter and mentions others donating money, objects, or their own time in hopes to help anyone in need. One direct quote from this article is "Last year, more than 2,500 people volunteered their time in support of Acts of Love and Kindness, and while there was no official tally yet for this year's outpouring, it seems likely that many will go uncounted."

I encourage people today to reach out to one another, no matter orientation or identity. Love one another and don't let things strip others of their human qualities. We are all human and have the ability to do good. The shooting was tragic, but we should not let it keep us from celebrating who we are and embracing each other with open arms. Don't let the worlds hate scare you or stifle your creativity. We will not let anyone push us back into the dark, no better their best effort. Live on and keep your heart open to love.

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