We don’t always know the impact of our actions. At times, I find myself doing things I haven’t thought through. When I follow my inner voice—what I call “a whisper from G‑d”—without question or hesitation, I never know where it will lead. Usually following such an inspiration, however, brings a positive outcome and has taught me that all Jewish souls are deeply connected, regardless of affiliation.

I am a childMany parts of my parents’ stories are too painful to comprehend of Holocaust survivors. Many parts of my parents’ stories are too painful to comprehend, to “let in.” Without a doubt, their experiences have deeply impacted me, helping shape the person I’ve become. One attitude I emotionally “inherited” from my parents was that everything that’s yours can be taken away—and taken away in a flash. Like my parents, I learned to build a hard shell around my inner self to the extent that, as a young woman, I didn’t even realize that I had an inner life or inner voice. I operated strictly on a surface level and never quite understood why at times I felt angry and sad.

As the years passed and I experienced difficulties in relationships, I decided to seek out a therapist who specializes in working with children of Holocaust survivors. In time, I came to hear and understand my inner voice. My therapist felt that a support group made up of Jewish adults, not all of whom were children of survivors, would prove helpful.

Each week I sat quietly in this group, silently wondering what was the point of being here? Despite this recurring question, I continued to attend, week after week. Before I knew it, I was able to answer my own question: I was here to be of help.

During my time there, I quickly learned the health history of one of the participants. This woman was stocky, with pale skin and piercing blue eyes. She spoke openly and in great detail about all aspects of her cancer, including her symptoms, her feelings, and the chemotherapy treatments that were causing her to lose her hair. The deeply sad part of her story was that she seemed to be trying to deal with end-of-life-issues. While we were all afraid to ask “the question,” we knew from her stories that her prospects for surviving her disease were poor. I couldn’t think of any words that might ease her pain, so I, like the others, listened fully. Perhaps that was enough.

One day I came to group wearing a solid-gold Jewish star on a long gold chain. Gold leaves formed the shape of the star. Although my necklace was impressive, it held a much deeper significance. What made it so special was that my father, now deceased, had made it. A Holocaust survivor, he went on to become a jewelry-model maker: a person who molded the jewelry from wax, and then had it cast in gold and stones set in it. A true craftsman and artist, he made jewelry for the Museum of Natural History in New York, as well as for Tiffany’s. Needless to say, this creation was very special to me. Looking back, I think I wore this special piece that day for confidence and to share part of myself, even if it wasn’t the verbal part, with others.

During this session, I listened intently as the woman with cancer spoke ... and then a thought emanated from my inner voice. Maybe having this Jewish star would also strengthen her. Maybe this can be my contribution. I didn’t overthink; I just took the necklace off over my head and handed it to her.

“I’d like to lend this you,” I told her. “I hope it will give you renewed strength each day.”

The group members turned and looked at me in shock. The woman, however, did not hesitate to accept my gift and place it in the pocket of her jacket. She looked at me and nodded her head. “Yes, it’s a good idea,” she said. The group sat silently looking at one another until the woman added a soft-spoken “thank you.”

That night, my mind filled with questions and regrets. I asked myself what I was thinking to part with my father’s gift. Questions also flooded my mind: Did I make it clear that I was lending and not giving it to her? Did I do something ridiculous? Clearly, I was following my inner voice and giving from my heart, but had I gone overboard? I felt troubled. During my individual therapy session, I talked about it. I knew I would never ask for the star back—at least not while she was sick. I decided I would just wait until she hopefully recovered and then request it back. I somehow also knew that giving it to her was the right thing to do, even though I did not fully understand why at the time.

Weeks went by, and the woman with cancer continued to share her experiences. During the sessions, she never once referred to G‑d or her faith. She spoke, instead, of the help she was receiving from her husband, family and friends.

Given that I never saw this woman wear the Jewish star, one day I asked her if my loan was giving her strength. “Yes,” she answered. “I’m so thankful that you gave it to me. I carry it with me always. I have it right here with me in my pocket.” She reached into her jacket and pulled out the gold Jewish star still on its chain. I looked at her, nodded, and said: “I’m glad.”

The next session, the woman was not present. The therapist sadly informed us that she had passed away. We looked around at each other in silence, bonded in the realization that we would never see her again.

During theI was following my inner voice and giving from my heart subsequent session, I remembered my Jewish star. What had happened to it? I decided to bring up the question. The group discussed possible scenarios and steps to take. I figured that the best option would be to wait and see if her husband returns it to me. If not, I thought, I can call and ask him about it. By this time, the star itself didn’t take center stage. I had lent it to her from my heart and was willing to accept whatever outcome there was. This acceptance didn’t come easily; I had to work on it until I fully came to terms with my initial intention. If having the star provided a little comfort, giving it to her was well worth it, even if I never got it back.

A few weeks passed, and I called the husband. When I introduced myself on the phone, he said: “Yes, I know who you are. You gave my wife a Jewish star.” He continued, saying, “You should know that she carried that star around with her everywhere, every single day, to all her treatments. It was so important to her that we buried her with it.”

I was astounded to hear that the star meant that much to her. After a few moments of silence, I said, “I’m glad. I hope it helped ease her pain.”

In the end, I didn’t get the Jewish star back; it remains in the ground with this Jewish woman. After some time, I went ahead and had the star recast in gold (I had the mold he originally constructed), so I can once again wear it as a proud tribute to my dad.

There is no question in my mind that a Jewish soul always senses G‑d, regardless of how observant a person is. Without fully understanding why, I had an impact on this woman very deeply. “Give with a full heart” is now the rule by which I live.

Editorial Note: According to Jewish custom, under ordinary circumstances, an individual is not buried with necklaces or any other adornments.