After these Arab plumbers learned their client was a Holocaust survivor, they gave her a ridiculous bill: nothing
Via Good Deeds Day / Facebook

It's estimated that only a few hundred thousand Holocaust survivors are still living. Sadly, in the coming years that number will eventually make its way to zero.

Nazi concentration caps were liberated 74 years ago, so a twenty year old who made it through the atrocity is now 94. Elihu Kover of Nazi Victim Services for Self-help Community Service spoke of the conditions many of these elderly survivors face as they advance in age at a Senate hearing in 2013.


"Holocaust survivors are growing older and frailer. … She may be coping with the loss of her spouse and have no family to speak of. In addition to the myriad problems associated with so-called 'normal aging,' many survivors have numerous physical and psychological problems directly attributable to their experiences during the Holocaust. … And many of these problems only surface in old age, having been hidden during their working years when the survivors struggled and made a new life for themselves as productive citizens of this country."

This sympathetic view of the tragedy isn't as popular in the Arab world where Holocaust denial is rampant and many cynically accuse the Jewish people of exploiting Western sympathy surrounding the tragedy to establish the State of Israel.

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However, two Arab men in Haifa, Israel made a beautiful show of respect this week to a Holocaust survivor who found their gesture "uplifting."

Simon and Salim Matari, who are brothers, were recently called to the home of Rosa Meir, 95, to fix a leak.

"When we got there, we saw there was a large blast of water and we started fixing it," Simon told the Times of Israel. "At some stage, while working, my brother Salim started to talk to Rosa about her life. She told us she's 95, a Holocaust survivor, and that she has a daughter."

"Her life story touched my heart," Simon continued. "At that moment, I decided I won't take a cent from her."

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After the brothers finished their work, they gave Meir a bill that read: "Holocaust survivor, may you have health until 120, from Matari Simon and Matari Salim," adding that the cost of the service was "0 shekels."

"May you live until 120" is a Jewish blessing that carries the implication that the receiver live a happy and healthy life until the age of 120.

The gesture brought Meir to tears.

"The brothers really surprised me," she said. "It was so moving and uplifting, and I thanked them a lot."

The brothers also told the woman that if she needed anything else they would be by to fix it for free.

True

Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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