"I have loved thee, my people,
even dressed in rags." (Gretrud Kolmar)

January 6
After three days a column of partisans came from the east, a Russian at their head. And they took the boy out of the pit [1] and gave him food and drink, and the commissar took him under his protection. And for three months the partisans encamped in a valley, which was bare of forest. At the end of the valley there was a stock of bombs that the Soviet Air Force had abandoned during the retreat but not destroyed. The commissar taught Velvele how to disarm the bombs and

Selections from the Scrolls

The Diary of Leo der Junge

The Trail of Fire and Jewish Brotherhood

Shaul Returns

Does Birkenau Exist?

Passover in the Seventh Block

Crossing the Sea

Never Say There's Only Death

thus provide the partisans with more explosives for making mines and blowing up German trains. The commissar also said, "If you carry out your duty bravely, the time will come when you will be awarded a medal for gallantry, for your contribution to the Great Patriotic War."

And Velvele faithfully performed his task. He would sit crouched over the back of a huge bomb, leaning over the nose, and very cautiously do as instructed until the detonator budged slightly between his fingers. His hands did not tremble as he removed the fuse from the bomb and placed it on the grass.

Every morning the boy went down to the valley of the bombs and fulfilled his quota for the day and never asked why he was the one chosen for the job, though he saw the small red flags placed all around the site to warn the partisans not to approach the danger area; they might get hurt if the boy should blunder. (I heard all this from Krisia, for Velvele had already left for Landsberg.) Once when he was hitting the top of the screwdriver with a hammer, he heard clicks like the ticking of a clock. He was convinced that by mistake he had activated the detonator of the bomb. He thought his heart would burst, his feet turned to stone, and he closed his eyes in anticipation of death's fiery chariot. His eyes were still closed when he realized the dry clicks came from beyond the bomb and he saw the head of a bird in the undergrowth pecking at the bark of a tree. And then Krisia said, "That was your ram."

Velvele said, "That wasn't a ram, it was only a woodpecker."

Krisia said, "But it's just like the story of Isaac."[2]

And Velvele asked no questions, just kissed her on the forehead, as though it was natural for Krisia to speak without sobbing. The next day I asked Krisia where she heard the story of the Binding of Isaac, and she gazed at me a long while, wondering and searching her mind, and said, "Once, once I was sitting on my grandfather's knees and I think I heard it from him"

January 18
Before Velvele left he taught Krisia the song the Jewish partisans used to sing.' Now the whole camp sings the song and many of them stand up as though they were singing "Ha-Tikvah."

February 14
Tomorrow we go on board. A large ship. More than thirteen hundred will go on board. It's called the Chaim Arlosoroff [3]: ' Ahrele, the captain, made a speech. He explained to them what it was all about. That there would be difficulties and there might be violent clashes. "If anyone is afraid and wants to wait for a legal boat"-he kept repeating-"this is the moment to decide." Leo was sitting next to me, biting his fingernails with growing irritation. I know him, which is why I hastened to ask him if anything had happened. Leo said, "Tell your friend he doesn't have to frighten us. We're Jews who are not afraid anymore. Tell him." He rose and went to the door of the hall and opened it. A chill, salt wind blew in through the wide open door. And people's heads turned toward the door. Leo was standing there with his eyes closed. His eyelids blinked as though affected by the regular cycle of the tides. At that moment a new moon was breaking through a desolate, muddy sky, like the smile in a child's drawing. From some secret source the rocky shore was suddenly flooded with wave upon wave of light.



[1] AND THEY TOOK THE BOY OUT OF THE PIT: When Midianite traders passed by, they pulled Joseph up out of the pit. They sold Joseph for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites, who brought Joseph to Egypt. (Genesis 37:28) [back]

[2] THEN ISAAC SAID TO HIS FATHER ABRAHAM, "Father!" And he answered, "Yes, my son." And he said, "Here are the firestone and the wood: but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?" And Abraham said, "God will see to the sheep for His burnt offering, my son." And the two of them walked on together. And they arrived at the place of which God had told him.
They arrived at the place of which God had told him. Abraham built an altar there; he laid out the wood; he bound his son Isaac; he laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to slay his son. Then an angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!" And he answered, "Here I am." And he said, "Do not raise your hand against the boy, or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your favored one, from Me." When Abraham looked up, his eye fell upon a ram, caught in the thicket by its horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son. (Genesis 22: 7-13) [back]

[3] CHAIM ARLOSOROFF: The Chaim Arlosoroff ran the British blockade. The captain ran the ship aground on a sand bank opposite Bat Galim, near Haifa. More than 1,300 illegal immigrants were taken by force to deportation vessels. About 30 of them were injured while fiercely resisting the deportation. This took place on February 27, 1947. [back]


SCROLLS Introduction



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