Okay, I was going to write a clever parable about Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, where as you all know, the selfish boy takes and takes and takes while the selfless tree gives and gives and gives until it becomes a stump on which the selfish, ungrateful old man sits.
But, in this story, which may be a little too mushy for my taste and could probably become a better after-school special movie than a big-screen epic, Jakob Silberstein actually has his life saved by enlarging the hollow core of a tree. He hid in it while Nazis came to search the home of the Czech woman, Jana Sudova, who was hiding him – at great risk to her own life.
Jakob hid in the trunk of a tree, survived the Nazis, moved to Israel and spent his life searching for the tree and the woman who saved him. Ultimately, he found her daughter and half of the tree…which will now be part of Yad Vashem’s museum. It’s a nice story, but the real “giving tree” here is the righteous gentile, Ms. Sudova, who hid Jakob and three other Jewish youths, for no money, despite her realization that they were Jewish and not partisans as they claimed. Fortunately, Jakob was also entirely unlike the selfish boy in the Giving Tree and spent many years of his life searching for this great and brave woman.