Sunday, April 07, 2013

Holocaust survivor fulfills dream to fly

Decades after dreaming of the Holy Land as an infant in Budapes, Holocaust survivor realizes dream to fly across Israel; NGO helps make survivors' wishes come true 

Ephraim Leichter, a 71-year-old Holocaust survivor, got to realize his dream to see Israel from above on Sunday.

Leichter has never been on a plane until Sunday, when a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Holocaust survivors make their wishes come true, put him on a plane that took him flying across the Israeli sky.

Ever since he was three, a Jewish infant in post WWII Hungary, Leichter dreamed of Israel, hoping to see it from a bird's eye view.

"I think of the orphan Jewish boy; the rejected boy I used to be in Hungary – and here I am flying over those beautiful houses and the amazing coastline of my country," he said Sunday, sitting in the cockpit. "I can't believe I was fortunate enough to experience it."

Leichter was born in war-stricken Budapest in 1942. He and his family – his parents and brother – survived shipments to concentration camps and remained in the Budapest Ghetto until the war was over.

After his mother passed away, he was put in an orphanage, but when he turned 16 he and his brother decided to escape to Austria, from which they boarded a ship to Israel. The two brothers lived together in Bat Yam, until Ephraim's brother passed away.

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