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[Pages 384-385]

Thanks To Our Dream …

By Arye (Leibele) Slovo

Translated by Judy Grossman

 

My Mother's Signature
”Best wishes from Netl to her son Chaim Slovo and bride Ella,
on the occasion of their aliya to Eretz Yisrael, 1937”

 

I was born in Rakishok [Rokiskis]. My father passed away when I was still young, and my brother Chaim was two years older than I. We moved to Dusiat, and my mother Netl married Asher Chaitowitz there.

We attended school in Dusiat for a while, and the photos presently lying in front of me arouse memories of my years in the shtetl, and one after another I can call the people by name. Here are Yudl Slep and Hillel Schwartz, the teachers who taught me Hebrew. Here are the teachers and counselors who instilled the love of the homeland in me… I go back to those years and think that we have to continue telling the story, and perhaps in this way the dream that impelled us to hagshama [realization] of making aliya to Eretz Yisrael will once again be awakened.

 

 
The Whole World - One Field of Slaughter!
Leibele Slovo's letter “Dusiat's Front – July 23, 1944”

 

I read my letter again from “Dusiat's Front – July 23, 1944”, which was published in the Mishmar newspaper on September 26, 1944[1]:

 

“…My hand can no longer write down the acts of cruelty perpetrated here against the Jews.

…Everywhere the tears of innocent children's voices can be heard calling for revenge, revenge! …”

And I conclude:

“… You in Eretz Yisrael, the pearl of Judaism, …build and fortify the foundation so that the whole building can be completed

… The Jewish nation has been frightfully reduced, but it will not sink…”

 

Throughout the entire period of the tribulations I suffered – the flight from Lithuania, the wanderings in Russia, the battles during the war – I was constantly accompanied by the dream we had dreamt in Hashomer Hatzair, to make aliya to Eretz Yisrael, to build and be built up there. I was constantly reinforced by the belief that the day would come and I would fulfill my dream and would join my comrades from the movement.

I am perusing the letters (in Yiddish) I sent to Eretz Yisrael after the war, to my brother Chaim and Ella Slovo and little Yossi. I was active at the time in the Bricha Movement[2]- and we thought that we would finally be making aliya shortly:

 

Dvinsk [Daugavpils], April 16, 1946

… How happy is the child, the man, who doesn't know the language of the Diaspora, which is connected to suffering and pogroms.

… This evening is “Leyl Haseder” - the evening of the Passover Seder, the seventh one without a home since 1940.

… I have just recalled the Passover of 1935 in Rakishok in my mind. When the door was opened for the prophet Elijah, Chanoch (Patz) entered with a beautiful mask, just like the prophet Elijah, and caused a bit of a fright.

Ah! How beautiful our tradition is…”

 

Paris, January 18, 1947

…While we are only on the way, our hearts and souls are with you, together with you, to take the few who remained to our hearts, and to reunite the chain of our family. Oh, how much I miss you!

 

By the way, in all my letters I also wrote things in praise of the Soviet Union, because if I hadn't written them, it is doubtful whether they would have reached Eretz Yisrael at the time.

 

 
First meeting – Givatayim, 1963
“To take the few who remained to our hearts…”

Left to right: Arye-Leibele with his brother
Chaim and sister-in-law Elka

 

At a Hashomer Hatzair conference that took place in Kibbutz Lehavot Habashan, I found a picture of myself with my two friends, whom for many years I had yearned to see again. And what is written on it? “Regards to your nation, regards to the Kinneret [Sea of Galilee]…”

I was so moved. It is hard to explain today what love for Eretz Yisrael burned in us then!

Sonia Slovo (Ichilov): I was born in Dvinsk [Daugavpils] and was active in the Netzach[3] movement there. I met Leibele after the war, and we were married in Dvinsk. We were both active in the Bricha Movement, and we were supposed to make aliya to Eretz Yisrael. This was at the end of 1947. The bloody riots had already begun in Eretz Yisrael, and the letters that arrived from there were not encouraging. Friends from Australia pressured us and sponsored us to come there, and events moved in such a way that we didn't make aliya then.

I didn't think that so many years would go by until I fulfilled the dream of my youth.

We were pleased to host the gathering of the Dusiaters in our home, and it was obvious to me that I would prepare dishes from home in honor of this event…

And memories came up …

 

Footnotes
  1. [28] Sneh, Henia. Private collection, Beer Sheva. Return
  2. At the end of World War II, the 'great escape' (Habricha) of Holocaust survivors began, initiated and led by the pioneering youth movements. Return
  3. N.Z.Ch. – Noar Zioni Chalutzi – Pioneer Zionist Youth movement. Return

 

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