These conditions, though necessary, only opened the way and would not by themselves have been sufficient. The will to start walking had come from somewhere else – from the generation that emerged bloodied and numb from the greatest disaster our people had ever seen.

Trained in survival, in assimilation, this generation determinedly raised their children not to be Jewish, to know nothing of their heritage and past, to be safe. And yet, possibly without knowing it, often assuredly not wanting it, they planted in their children a secret Yiddishkeit that was to be concealed but preserved. This is what made their children and grandchildren want this Jewish school.

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Soon we were so busy filing for construction permits and setting up curricula that we were almost oblivious to the miracle we were witnessing.

While some were busy with the school, others brought the shul back to life. Today we have congregants’ children running up the aisles, and I am counted among the “alte kakers.” A youth association was created, went into crisis, split and re-emerged. Jewish summer camps would start with davening Shachrit and end with fierce discussions of just how much religion a normal Jew can stand, as if it were normal to discuss normal Jews.

Twenty years later, this is what we have become. A normal Jewish community.

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