web analytics
March 7, 2015 / 16 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Tale of the Brave Soldier from Auschwitz

“Arise, Reb Yechiel—honored with the firing of one bomb!”
MorePartisans

My late father was a survivor of Auschwitz. He arrived there as a young Hassid from a Jewish village in Poland, and he left as he had arrived, with his faith intact, and with an awareness that following the Holocaust, he must not be tempted by the offers of the JDC and HIAS to travel to America. As he put it one of the few times he broke the long silence that characterized his life: “The time had come to go home.”

He went to fight in the War of Liberation, although my mother, who had survived the ghettos, already was carrying me in her belly. They had made a decision to build a family together, and were married by a British military rabbi in a Cyprus detention camp for Jews who attempted to break the British blockade of the Land of Israel. Upon arriving here he was immediately conscripted and sent to infantry training and then to serve at Hagana positions. He left my pregnant mother in a village in the north with other families that had come from the gloom of the Diaspora and forged a community of Hassidic laborers out of its wreckage.

Alongside him served other survivors. The cynics among them would later laugh about those days of “Yiddishe soldiers” whose maneuvers were executed in exquisite Yiddish that to my ears sounded like a Dzigan sketch. I remember their reminiscences about mortar-firing exercises accompanied by otherwordly orders straight out of the shtiebl. “Arise, Reb Yechiel—honored with the firing of one bomb!”

As much as this was a Hassidic community, it was a Zionist one, at once hard-nosed and idealistic. Its members took Independence Day with the utmost seriousness, and recited the formal blessing over the Hallel prayer. “Anyone who wasn’t there has no business telling us not to say a blessing,” Daskal, the synagogue manager, once said to me. He would later lose his son Ya’akov, a brilliant yeshiva student, when he fell with two fellow students in a terrorist ambush in the Jordan Valley.

There was no quibbling with decisions as to who was called up for duty. Encounters at the shtiebl between Torah students and fighters lacked the tension that is there today. There was agreement that everyone was on a mission, whether a military mission or one of Torah.

“A Head with Tefillin”

It was the first day of the Yom Kippur War. We were in the middle of the Mussaf prayer, and I was there in my commanding role in the Hassidic choir as we sang “Be with the mouths of your people the House of Israel.”

My mother, who had been informed well in advance that two consecutive calls were due cause to pick up the phone on a Shabbat or holiday, arrived at the synagogue and hurried me out.

“I think they’re calling from your unit,” she said nervously.

Before saying goodbye to me, the old Hassidim sent me to receive a blessing from the rebbe of the neighboring shtiebl, who was considered a miracle worker. He too had come from there.

With the convulsions of war and the battles, I moved around between various units so as to stay on the front. As time went on, as would be expected of me, I lost more and more of my equipment—but not my gun or my tefillin.

My gun—granted, but tefillin? To understand that you have to know a story from my youth.

One day in yeshiva I received a package of cookies from my mother, accompanied by an agitated letter from my father.

“My dear son,” he wrote in the rugged handwriting of a manual laborer, “you know what ‘a head without tefillin’ is. But the head of the yeshiva has informed me that you missed putting on tefillin one day!”

About the Author: Lt.-Col. (ret.) Meir Indor is CEO of Almagor Terror Victims Association. In his extended career of public service, he has worked as a journalist, founded the Libi Fund, Sar-El, Habaita, among many other initiatives, and continues to lend his support to other pressing causes of the day.


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.

4 Responses to “The Tale of the Brave Soldier from Auschwitz”

  1. Your father's memory is truly a blessing.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., the United States, calling for rejection of a bad nuclear deal with Iran, on March 03, 2015.
Post-Bibi Bipartisanship May Result in Congressional Ability to Review Iran Deal
Latest Indepth Stories
Ron Prosor

Values at the very heart of the UN are threatened by extremist ideologies targeting our way of life

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Anti-Semitism today focuses on Israel and the quest to delegitimize it.

Ballots for elections "made in Samaria."

Any Jew who ties his fate to Israel should be able to vote in Israel’s elections-even before aliyah

A young Moshe Meir Weiss introduces his mother, Mrs. Agnes Weiss Goldman, to Rav Moshe in 1979.

There were no airs about him. Rav Moshe was affectionately known as the Gaon of Normalcy.

Israel’s full sovereignty over a united Jerusalem is the only path for true peace in the region.

Just like Moses and Aaron, Mordechai decides to ruin the party…

The president has made clear – I can’t state this more firmly – the policy is Iran will not get a nuclear weapon.

Obama has an apparent inability to understand Islam in particular and Mid-East culture in general

Pesach is a Torah-based holiday whose fundamental observances are rooted in Torah law; Purim is a rabbinic holiday whose laws and customs are grounded in the rabbinic tradition.

In honor of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s successful speech before Congress.

Mr. Spock conveys a message with painfully stark relevance to our world today, especially in the context of PM Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.

Obama created the “partisan politics” by asking Dem. party members to avoid Bibi and his address

Enough is enough. The Jewish community has a big tent, but the NIF should have no place in it.

I vote for the right and get left-wing policy. Every. Frigging. Time.

More Articles from Meir Indor
Omar Barghouti BDS

By warning of a boycott, “Israel’s captains of industry” are actually encouraging one.

Zeev (Zambish) Chever, a friend of late former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, eulogizing him.

Sometimes one must love with one’s eyes closed.

The message from the recent episode near Eish Kodesh is clear: violence pays.

“Arise, Reb Yechiel—honored with the firing of one bomb!”

Instead of being treated as common criminals, Palestinian terrorists receive an exceptional degree of autonomy within the prison walls.

Instead of giving new young couples some time in public housing until they’re ready to move forward, they want to give away the apartments to people who have been reaping the benefits for years.

Terrorism has become a military tool of states, not just sub-national organizations.

The top Israeli advocate for letting the terrorists out of jail is none other than Shimon Peres.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-tale-of-the-brave-soldier-from-auschwitz/2013/12/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: