The joy of the Balfour Declaration in the town
by Gedalyahu Gil'adGrimtchansky
Our town was not blessed with abundance. Major men of means were nowhere to be found, and those that were comfortable a child could count them. All the townsfolk were hitched to the wagon of providing for themselves, bringing food for their families and the authorities would impoverish them and prevent them from gaining access to any position of economic wealth. The Jew would run around all week wondering what tomorrow would bring? And only on the Sabbath and Festivals would he throw off the yolk of worries or cares.
It happened just once that the entire town's soul was lifted and a sort of exaltation prevailed. This happened at the time of the great celebration after the Mandate over the land of Israel had been awarded to the British. The entire town adopted a festive and carefree air. The shops closed early, and the Jews, dressed in their Sabbathbest, thronged to the Synagogues. Inside the synagogues all was light and joy. The lights were lit and these merged with the internal lights of the hearts, the pillar of fire that was lit for the Jews in the darkness of their long exile, the anticipation and the hope for salvation. Who will arise to say his words at such an emotional and festive time? By the side of the holy ark stands reb Shlomo the Shochet. With a dignified appearance and with his long and wide black beard he appeared as one of our forefathers. In holy silence we await his words. Yisrael our grandfather, who has been long asleep, two thousand years, and during all the years of his long exile his sun did not rise. But now go out and see How great is the salvation and consolation, and how great are the miracles and wonders that Gd has done for us. After all, these are the words of the prophet [Isaiah ch 40 v9]: Upon a lofty mountain ascend, O herald of Zion, raise your voice with strength, O herald of Jerusalem; raise [your voice], fear not; say to the cities of Judah, Behold your God!. And reb Shlomo told of the many obstacles that stood before our leaders as they ran from country to country until they had secured the declaration and the Mandate. The audience listens, and a great song of consolation bursts out from their mouths.
In the gathering a Me sheBeirach [prayer for wellbeing of nominated person(s) said on Sabbaths and Festivals] is said for all of the leaders: for Professor Weizmann, for Nakhum Sokolov and for others, and a mi sheBeirach almost fell also to Herbert Samuel, had not Reb Zalman Yaffe commented: But he's a British official! For hours the lofty raised voices of the gathered in the synagogue were heard, until we all went our separate ways full of hope and faith in the future.
The sons of Suchowola dreamt of Zion and loved her, but did not merit to witness her revival.
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