Last week, Crestwood School’s Grade 6 students had the amazing opportunity to hear the story of a Holocaust survivor. This man’s name is Andy Réti, and I hope to be able to share his incredible journey that we all got to hear and see about on Thursday. I hope you can recognize the significance of Andy’s story and see how important it is to recognize and to respect what so many people went through.
Andy Réti’s story began in in Budapest, Hungary in 1944, when he was just a baby. One day, when he was two years old, Andy’s life changed forever. Two young men no more than twenty years of age with guns strapped to their chest knocked on their door. They gave the family as little as five minutes to collect what they needed and could carry. Next, they were taken to a place called “the ghetto.” People crowded into the ghetto in such numbers that there wasn’t even space to sit down. It was a dark, cold place. It was a miserable living situation without any means to leave.
During Andy Réti’s mother’s lifetime, she had a ring which she called “The Ring of Love.” This ring has great significance to the family because it is believed to bring good luck. When it came to his mom getting checked for valuables, she knew she had to conceal the ring, so she hid it in Andy’s diaper. Later, the soldiers separated some of the Jewish people who were brought to the ghetto into another area; nobody knew what it meant to be part of that group. Andy’s family was approached by a young policeman with a heart (an upstander) who told Andy’s family that they must do whatever it takes to avoid becoming a member of the other group. People in the other group were going to Auschwitz. Thankfully, Andy’s family was not mixed in with the separated group and continued to live in the ghetto. He thinks the ring helped to protect them.
This ring has continued to bring him good luck. An example of this is when Andy joined a Jewish motorcycle club called “YOW Motorcycle Club of Toronto.” His top left pocket held the ring of love every time he hopped on his motorcycle. Andy was left uninjured after attempting a very difficult motorcycle jump.
Both the students and staff learned many important lessons at this assembly. We learned about the young policeman from the ghetto, for example. Had that police officer not stepped up and said something, Andy and his family might have been in a much more difficult situation. Andy claimed he was the only policeman with a heart. Andy and his family are forever grateful to this man because he showed empathy and cared about the Jews in a time when many people did not.
Overall, that assembly not only shared the incredible story of Andy Réti but also sent the students home having learned many important lessons that will help and influence them for the rest of their lives. I hope that his story has left you thinking about what you have learned.
Maya Kassam, Grade 6 student