20 September 2015 - 7 Tishri 5776 - ז' תשרי ה' אלפים תשע"ו
Silvain shares his personal experience Print E-mail

The year is 1942. In a small, rural village in Belgium, he is a local Catholic boy by day. He is five. His surname is Gilbert. He has been baptized, speaks French, serves as an alter boy and attends the local school.

At night he is a Jewish boy. His surname is Silber. He is alone and afraid. He is a hidden child. The sounds of Yiddish and Flemish and the voices of his parents are softer now, locked away inside his heart. The images of his home in Antwerp are growing dimmer, dreamlike.

There is no kosher food. There is little food at all.

It is a game of make believe- but not a child’s game- a game of life and death. Can a five year old understand?

Silvain Gilbert can still recall the trauma. He and his sister were separated from their parents and forced to bury their identity, roots and religion deep within their souls, as their very survival depended on it.

They, along with many other children in Belgium, were taken in by Catholics who risked their lives to save them.

At the end of the war, he and his sister were reunited with their parents, but for many this day never came. He never knew his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The Nazis robbed him of that.   

Silvain seeks to educate the future generation, to ensure that the world will never forget.  

To children today, given the gift of being born into a world where they are free and safe, he says, “Be proud of your roots, live in dignity and become the great women and men of this world in peace and good health.”

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