Thursday, July 13, 2017

It Could Be the Last Year

Beep! Beep! Beep! 

Although it sounded as if a heavy truck was in reverse there was no traffic outside our small duplex. Rather the sound came from the radio and indicated that the seven o’clock morning news was beginning. We were quiet, concentrating on the commentator’s recitation in English of what was important for us to know for the day. One of the headlines brought joyous smiles to our faces.

Avital Sharansky had given birth to a healthy baby girl in a Jerusalem hospital. This was in 1987. The baby’s father, Natan, former Soviet Prisoner of Conscience, had been released from prison and allowed to finally join his wife in Israel a little more than a year earlier. I think even our children understood the significance of the event.
My mood continued to be exuberant as I walked to my ulpan class in the Absorption Center for new immigrants in Mevasseret Zion outside Jerusalem.  It was a fascinating place to be and the euphoria of finally living in Israel more than made up for the modest living conditions. We had neighbors from all over: South Africa, Australia, Columbia, France, Iran, Ethiopia, and even a couple of families from the Soviet Union. I ran into one of them entering class and gave a warm mazel tov to Leonid Sharansky.

“What?” he asked me quizzically in Hebrew.

Briefly I explained what I’d heard on the morning’s broadcast. He, of course, reacted with excitement and abandoned class. Instead of learning he ran to the pay phones to call his brother, Natan.

In 1987 the number of immigrants from the Soviet Union rose from about two hundred to a little over two thousand. Two years later it would rise more, to almost thirteen thousand. And in 1990, when the Iron Curtain unraveled the numbers swelled to over one hundred and eighty thousand. The prison walls were down! Ten years earlier who would have believed such a thing could have happened?

Recently someone asking me if I believed this could be this last year that we would need to fast in mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple that occurred over two thousand years ago. I smiled and didn’t answer immediately. As the day wore on I remembered writing letters to Refuseniks when I was in high school.  At the time I really thought I was wasting my time but was too embarrassed to say so. If perhaps, one of my letters did manage to arrive at the home of a Soviet Jew, maybe it could give him encouragement. Now I look at the hordes of Israelis whose parents succeeded in beating the odds and made their way to Israel. 
courtesy of Tablet Magazine

Just like I was a witness to that miracle I believe I can be a witness to the most major miracle of all. I do believe that this could be the last year I’ll need to fast over the destruction of the Holy Temple. 

I believe with perfect faith that the Moshiach will come, even though he might tarry, I will wait daily for his arrival. I believe.

So sang countless Jews throughout the centuries. Jewish martyrs sang it on their way to their deaths. Today in Israel we sing it at Remembrance Day, Independence Day, and other ceremonies. We sing it at the Shabbat table. We sing it when we pray. And I will continue to sing it until the Moshiach does come, until we no longer need to fast for the destruction of the Holy Temple.

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