web analytics
August 1, 2014 / 5 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Visiting IDF bases and receiving briefings from IDF officers. Ultimate Mission – November 2014

Don’t miss this opportunity to explore Israel off the beaten track, feel the conflict first hand, understand the security issues and politic realities, and have an unforgettable trip!



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

A True Jewish Hero

Zobin-040612

Stories of the heroes of our Jewish nation are heartwarming, eye opening, encouraging, and sometimes even frightening. When we hear such stories, we salute those people (most of whom we have never met) for their courage and perseverance, but most of all for their commitment to Judaism and the Jewish people.

One such story was outlined to my children at a Seder several years ago.

Hirsh was born in the small village of Kaydanovo, Belarus (White Russia) in 1913. His father, Reb Dovid, gave him a Jewish religious education, instilling in him an appreciation for the beauty of Yiddishkeit. In addition to learning in yeshiva until his late teens, Hirsh attended public school until 8th grade. He always ran home to his father and to his rabbis and teachers to absorb all he could about Judaism.

Hirsh learned to lein for his bar mitzvah, which was a small, quiet gathering celebrating his love of learning.

Times were not so easy for Hirsh’s family in Russia in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Just after his bar mitzvah, Hirsh started working in a metal fabrication plant.

Not long after Stalin rose to power in Russia, Jewish education and practice became illegal. On February 26, 1938, about a year after Hirsh was married, he was arrested for “being an active member of a counterrevolutionary national Jewish organization.” At trial, the prosecution depicted Hirsh as “…an enemy of the Communist Party and of the Soviet Power who carried out anti-Soviet propaganda and made comments betraying the fatherland.”

Hirsh was sentenced to ten years of hard labor in Siberia for one reason: He was Jewish. While serving his sentence, Hirsh learned his wife had given birth to a daughter. Some years later he also learned that his wife and daughter both perished in the Holocaust.

The sentence, it turned out, had actually saved Hirsh’s life, as he was in Siberia while the Holocaust decimated European Jewry.

As we sat around the Seder table a couple of years ago, we asked the kids if they could relate this story to Sippur Yetziat Mitzrayim. After thinking for a moment, they replied, “We guess we could. But Bnei Yisrael left Mitzrayim. Did Hirsh leave Siberia?”

Hirsh was released on February 6, 1948. He settled in the city of Kutaisi, Georgia, where he worked as a carpenter. He married a woman named Necha Kronghaus. On August 19, 1949, their son, David, was born.

Although Hirsh served ten years of hard labor for being Jewish, he continued to learn, teach, and honor the Jewish tradition that we all hold so dear. But the nightmare did not end. Before David’s first birthday, on June 29, 1950, Hirsh was again arrested for “…participating in a counter-revolutionary national group and continuing to engage in anti-Soviet activities.” This time the sentence was not ten years of hard labor but permanent exile to the Krasnoyarsk region of the USSR.

The kids stopped the story right there. “It’s not fair!” they shouted. “Bnei Yisrael did not have to go back to Egypt!”

Hirsh, Necha and David lived in the small village of Dolgi Moste among criminals who were serving sentences for real crimes. But Hirsh gave all the laborers respect and in return those men saved him on a number of occasions from physical attacks. While in Dolgi Moste, a daughter, Anna, was born to Hirsh and Necha.

After Stalin’s death, the political prisoners in exile danced in the streets. Hirsh prayed. On September 13, 1954, Hirsh and his family were released from the Krasnoyarsk region. They settled in the city of Rostov. Hirsh received a full pardon on September 13, 1957. In Rostov, Hirsh quietly became the chazzan and ba’al koreh, read the megillah on Purim and blew the shofar on the High Holidays.

The story of Hirsh can be summed up by the four expressions of redemption represented at the Pesach Seder by the four cups of wine: vehotzeiti, vehitzalti, vegoalti, and velakachti.

As most of us know, there is a fifth expression of redemption in the Torah: veheiveiti.

Hirsh and his family repeatedly and unsuccessfully applied for exit visas to Israel. Hirsh had a sister, Tzila, living in Montreal. Every Pesach Tzila sent “care packages” to Hirsh in Rostov that contained matzot. In 1971 Tzila advised Hirsh to apply for an exit visa to Canada. Tzila was granted a meeting with an administrative assistant to Canada’s then-prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, and asked if Trudeau would discuss Hirsh’s situation during a forthcoming visit by then-Russian prime minister Alexei Kosygin.

The application for an exit visa to Canada was granted. Hirsh and his family immigrated to Montreal just before Pesach 1972.

The kids sat in awe. “They came to Canada right before Pesach? They left Russia just like the Jewish people left Mitzrayim!”

Every year since then, we discuss modern-day stories of Yetziat Mitzrayim during the Seder.

About the Author: Michael Zobin lives in Montreal with his wife and three children and works for a customs brokerage firm. He attends Congregation Beth Israel Beth Aaron, where he is actively involved with the youth minyan.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A True Jewish Hero”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Iron Dome Contrails
Overnight/Morning Slew of Rockets as Cease Fire Approaches
Latest Indepth Stories
Hamas' leader Ismail Haniyeh and Erdogan. Haniyeh is the terrorist on the left.

Qatar’s wealth and Turkey’s size should not preclude us from telling it as it is: Qatar and Turkey are among the worst villains in the Gaza tragedy.

Parliament_House,New_Delhi

New Delhi would do well to remain aware of the predicament of Israel today.

120px-Hrw_logo

HRW “investigations” reflect anti-Israel bias, lack of research, and flat-out fabrications.

Borenstein-080114

his Tisha B’Av, and this Tu B’Av, remember: Hashem will protect us if we unite and rally around Him

Israel’s morality is underscored by its unprecedented restraint and care for loss of life.

The Gazan octopus arm is a test case, as the rest of the arms are closely watching it.

Obama has chosen shaky ally on the way out over strong ally solidly in the American orbit.

Where is the outrage against Hamas ..?

When will the world realize, by the grace of Gd, we are here to stay?

World War I had sown chaos throughout the centuries-old Jewish communities of Eastern Europe.

The IDF pounding continued and it again seemed only a matter of time before Hamas would be forced to accept the Egyptian proposal.

Nothing is ever so clear in the complex and often brutal calculus of urban warfare.

For breaking his oath of allegiance, Tzidkiyahu was forced to witness the death of his sons before he himself was blinded and exiled to Babylon.

ISIS poses a great threat to the entire civilized world in general and liberal democracies in particular.

More Articles from Michael Zobin
Zobin-040612

Stories of the heroes of our Jewish nation are heartwarming, eye opening, encouraging, and sometimes even frightening. When we hear such stories, we salute those people (most of whom we have never met) for their courage and perseverance, but most of all for their commitment to Judaism and the Jewish people.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-true-jewish-hero/2012/04/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: