A Sewing Machine Saved her Life

On a table in a small cottage stands a manual Singer sewing machine that is close to ninety-years-old. This sewing machine survived World War II and was Dominca’s companion throughout the years until today. Dominca is now 102-years-old and lives alone in Stanyshivka, a small town in Ukraine. The sewing machine does not work anymore but if it could talk, it would have a long story to tell.

Dominca's sewing machine was beside her during the war when she watched the Nazis kill her family members one by one.

"One of the Nazis walked in, sat right here in this chair," the 102-year-old Jewish widow recalls. The Nazi demanded, “Fix my uniform with your sewing machine". Dominca told him that the machine did not work even though it really did. "I looked him in the eye, this person who had just killed my family, and I told him that it didn’t work because I didn't want to do something to help him."

Dominca does not know why she survived yet she did. She has carried the memories of her parents and two brothers in her heart all these years. Since her husband died and her son moved away, she is more alone than ever and very lonely.

After the war, Dominca went to work on a communal farm called a Kolkhoz. During the years of working on the Kolkhoz, her faithful sewing machine made it possible for her to also make extra money as a seamstress. She remembers the horrors of the war and the terrible famine that followed clearly. She was the only survivor of her entire family. After the war, she married and had a son. When her husband was alive, they built two houses on their property, hoping their son would live in the second house when he grew up. Despite the house waiting for him, after her husband died, her son moved far away and now she seldom sees him.

Dominca is almost completely deaf and lives on a small pension that is not enough to buy the food and medication she needs. When Yael Eckstein visited her on a freezing January day, she brought her a box filled with food. Dominca, who looked weak and exhausted when Yael and her companions walked in, perked up and smiled with delight when she saw the food - juicy oranges and lemons, shiny green and red peppers, cucumbers, eggs, tuna fish, cooked grain, cookies, and a lot more. "Thank you so much, thank you so much," Dominca said with emotion, and touching the green pepper, added, "it's the most beautiful pepper I have ever seen."

Dominca could not remember the last time she had fresh fruits and vegetables. "Life is so good," she said, "thank you." And then she added, "God bless you with a long life, God bless you for answering my prayers and giving me hope."

"When these elderly Jews pray, they're praying for food, not for a car or a renovation of their kitchen," said Yael. "The best thing this 102-year-old woman has seen in years is a pepper. That is what brings her joy."

Yael told Dominca that the food package was from her Christian and Jewish friends abroad who love her and care about her. “They should be blessed with long life and no wars,” Dominca responded.

With your help, The Fellowship can provide food products and hot meals to many more people like Dominca who are struggling to survive in the freezing Ukrainian winters. There are many Holocaust survivors like Dominca who desperately need your help. Please donate today to help the many Israelis and Jews in the former Soviet Union who are suffering and need your help.

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