Wish StoriesCousins and Holocaust Survivors Ernie & Sara Reunite in Israel
Ernest “Ernie”, age 90, and his cousin Sara, age 88, have a relationship that transcends love, compassion, and loyalty. Their friendship has guided them through the darkest of times, as they survived some of the most difficult experiences a person can face.
Ernie and Sara grew up in a small town near the border of Hungary and Romania. During their childhood, their families were very close and they saw each other often. They built a friendship that would last a lifetime, through hardships they could not begin to imagine at the time.
When the Nazis entered their region during World War II, their families were split apart. It was the start of an unlikely journey of survival for both Ernie and Sara, a time characterized by numerous near-death experiences and unspeakable terror. Both Ernie’s and Sara’s mothers perished at Auschwitz, alongside many family members and friends they would never see again.
Against all odds, Ernie and Sara both survived their time at Auschwitz. And miraculously, the cousins found each other at Bergen-Belsen, a displaced persons camp. It was a moment they hoped for, even when it seemed impossible after what they had been through.
When Ernie found Sara, she was 16 years old and weighed only 60 pounds. With little to no possessions to their names, Ernie helped find a dress for Sara—white with red flowers. She wore that dress home, and it became a symbol of their unlikely, miraculous reunion. And from that point, the bond between them was solidified beyond measure or explanation.
They began to live their lives again. After the war, Sara immigrated to Israel, started a family, and has lived there ever since. Ernie immigrated to the United States, started a family in California, and spent his days working incredibly hard to support them. Later in life, Ernie volunteered countless hours to give back to his community.
It had been over ten years since Ernie and Sara had seen each other, and his wish was to be reunited with her once again.
“I can’t express the feelings I have towards her,” Ernie said. The thought of being together again with his dear cousin and friend brought tears to his eyes.
Wish of a Lifetime was honored to make their dream a reality. In the spring of 2015, Ernie and his daughter Gilda traveled to Israel for a beautiful reunion with Sara. It was an emotional time full of smiles, laughter, and tears.
During their visit to Israel, Ernie, Sara, and Gilda had dinner with the mayor of Jerusalem and visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. But most of all, they spent valuable, priceless time with each other—reminiscing, laughing, and simply enjoying each other’s company.
“It was a dream come true,” said Ernie.
Want to see more stories like Ernie’s?
Sign up for our email list and continue to be inspired by the stories of older adults fulfilling their dreams.