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“We Want to Go Home!” (cont.)

On the Combine

Two weeks transpired. Wounded people kept arriving at the hospital. They wanted to transfer me to a convalescent home, but my sister insisted that I come to her home. At the time, they lived in one room and a small kitchen – a family with two children – but nevertheless they found place for me, and cared for my injured leg and me.

While I was in the hospital, members of the Hakibbutz Ha'artzi[8] visited me, and I remember that they brought me a book as a gift. The person in charge of immigration on behalf of the Jewish Agency, Lena, wanted to help me get settled. She suggested that I learn to be a diamond polisher, or study at the Teachers' Seminar, as I was fluent in Hebrew, but I asked to go to a kibbutz…

I was sent to Kibbutz Ramat Hashofet, where I had friends, also from my shtetl, and I wanted to be with them. I was assigned to a Polish garin there, and everyone was a new immigrant. Although my leg was still in a cast, I asked to go to work, and was given the task of driving a combine. My happiness had no bounds. I was working on a combine in Eretz Yisrael!

What did the shtetl give me? A warm heart, friendship, treating everyone like human beings, mutual assistance and social openness, and other admirable traits that also found expression in the Lithuanian Division, in which most of the soldiers were Jews. These traits immediately “disclose” the Lithuanian Jew.

The shtetl landscape was an important factor in the forming of our lives: the forest, the lake, the snow – to live in natural scenery! We learned to love nature and to relate to it.

People like me, who underwent so much suffering – the war, the wandering, the painful encounter with the survivors of the camps who were just skin and bones – could bear this suffering only by virtue of the belief that they would one day immigrate to Eretz Yisrael. I absorbed this belief at home, in the shtetl.

I will never forget it.

 

Gathering of Dusiaters, Chalutzim and Survivors (1950's)

From right to left, top: Rachel Rabinowitz (Slovo), Dovid-Leib Aires, Yitzchak Porat (Poritz), Abba Yavneh and Gitale (Musilewitz), Naftali Sarver, Yitzchak Orez
Second row: Zvi Levitt (son of Getzl and Michle), Rachel Vitkin (Shub) , Batya Yardeni (Milun), Rivka Shteinman (Shub), Israel Lavi (Levitt) (son of Getzl and Michle), Baile-Betty Aires, Chana (Pores) and Misha Fisherman, Sarah and Yossi Slovo (son of Ella and Chaim), Batya Aviel (Levitt), Batya Duchan (Levin), Yitzchak Aviel (Abel), Shayke Glick, Shmuel Klass, Chaim Slovo, (-)
Seated: Arye Gershuni, Feigitzke Orez (Pores), Rivka Rogov (Milun), Masha Gershuni (Slep), Slova Sarver (Segal), Elka Slovo (Melamed), (-)

 

At the Yizkor Book Launch, Tel Aviv, October 15, 1989

From right to left: Relatives Adina-Hinde Rasman (Glick) (from Dusiat), Reinke-Rina Ivri (Levin) from Antaliept) and Gitale-Tova Yavneh (Musilewitz) (from Zarasai), Tzilka Gudelsky (Shub), extreme left

 

From right to left, back: Shayke, his brother-in-law Moshe Rasman
Second row: Bracha Lavi (Levitt) and David Yardeni
Front: Rivka Friedman (Orlin)
Far back, extreme right: Julia Hadar (daughter of Avraham Levitt)

 

Footnotes

  1. Kibbutz federation to which Hashomer Hatzair is affiliated. Return

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