In Crown Heights, there was a Jewish man named Yankel, who owned a bakery. He survived the concentration camps, and always said, “You know why it is that I’m alive today?”
“I was a kid, just a teenager at the time. We were on the train being taken to Auschwitz. Night came and it was deathly cold in that boxcar. The Germans would leave the cars on the side of the tracks overnight, sometimes for days on end without any food, and no blankets to keep us warm,” he said.
“Sitting next to me was this beloved elderly Jewish man from my hometown. He was shivering from head to toe, and looked terrible. So I wrapped my arms around him to warm him up. I rubbed his arms, his legs, his face, his neck. I begged him to hang on. All night long, I kept the man warm this way.
“I was tired, and freezing cold myself. My fingers were numb, but I didn’t stop rubbing heat into that old man’s body. Hours and hours went by until finally, morning came and the sun began to shine. When there was some light in the boxcar, I looked around to see the other people. To my horror, all I could see were frozen bodies. All I could hear was deathly silence.
“Nobody else in that cabin made it through the night. They died from the cold. Only two people survived: the old man and me. The old man survived because somebody kept him warm…and I survived because I was warming someone else.
“Can I tell you the secret to survival in this world? When you warm other people’s hearts, you remain warm yourself. When you seek to support, encourage and inspire others, then you discover support, encouragement and inspiration in your own life as well. That, my friends, is the secret to life.”