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Thursday, May 01, 2008

His father's will

I was about to go work (finally!) when this article caught my eye and nearly made me break down in tears.
RECENTLY, WHILE searching in the Yad Vashem archives, I came across the testimony of a survivor from Treblinka, who later immigrated to Chicago. This is what he wrote:

"On the 9th day of the month Heshvan, 5703, came the turn of our city. 'Jews, find shelter. Hide yourselves and do not go like lambs to the slaughter,' the rabbi of our city addressed his people.

"He himself, the rabbi and leader of the community, went out to the square - umschlagsplatz - with a small Torah scroll in his arm. The people asked him, 'Rabbi, why don't you hide?' He answered that he would not abandon his people on their last journey and would go with them wherever they would go."

The survivor's account went on: "In the early morning we arrived at Treblinka on the transport from our ghetto. On the ramp the selection process had begun. Together with a group of youngsters, I was taken from the crowd and pushed aside. We stood and watched the groups being led in the direction of the gas chambers.

"Suddenly, we heard the familiar, strong voice of our rabbi. He was standing in the midst of the Jews of his community reciting the confessional viduy prayer said when Jews know they are about to be martyred. The rabbi said a verse, and his "congregation" repeated it after him, verse by verse."

THIS HAPPENED on the 11th day of the Hebrew month of Mar Heshvan, 5703, corresponding to October 21, 1942. The Jews described were from the city of Piotrkow in Poland, and the rabbi referred to was my father. My father's life was taken at Treblinka after he said the viduy.
Read the whole thing. The writer is Naftali (Lau) Lavie, the older brother of Israel's former chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau. The picture at the top of this post is of the two brothers at the liberation of Buchenwald in 1945.


At 9:32 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

During the Holocaust, there are amazing stories of incredible holiness displayed by the Jews that reduce one to tears. They devoted themselves to doing G-d's will first in the face of pure evil. Few of us can emulate the conduct of people like Naftalie Lavie's father. There is a divine message of blessing in the story. The younger brother became the Chief Rabbi Of Israel. Its an amazing parallel to the story of the younger brother motif we read in Genesis, who after suffering hardships, is blessed by G-d. This is true of the Jewish nation throughout history. That's why we must never forget.


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