Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

10 Cheshvan 5767 - November 1, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








The Journey

Fiction by B. Navon

"I would like to go to Israel," Paula said to her parents one day. "The youth group is planning a trip and all the kids are going."

Paula was a young American teenager raised in a home where anything at all religious was viewed as fanatical. It wasn't that they really hated religion. Rather, their lack of observance stemmed from a combination of ignorance and a fear of the unknown.

Seeing the look of surprise on her parents' faces, Paula continued. "The trip isn't expensive and it includes visits to Zionist and Jewish sites as well as a little bit of studying. It sounds interesting and everyone else has already signed up."

"I hope they aren't planning to do any Jewish brainwashing," Paula's mother said, cringing in disgust.

"Why should they brainwash the kids about Judaism?" Max, Paula's father asked, laughing. "I know all about these tours. They're really `in' now. All the kids are going on them. They expose kids to the world and teach the kids a little bit about Zionism: kibbutzim, history and the challenges of life in Israel."

"Fine," Paula's mother said, effectively ending the conversation and setting the stage for everything yet to come.


A group of excited, noisy teenagers gathered in the JFK Airport. Parents and counselors gave last-minute instructions that would be forgotten as soon as the group boarded the plane and the trip began.

"I just hope that she won't come back with any weird ideas," Paula's mother said on their way home from the airport. "I just hope that they won't lecture them too much about religion."

"You're still worried?" Max laughed. "I'm telling you that it will be okay."


The trip got off to a good start. The group spent their first few days in a guest house in Jerusalem. They visited the Kosel, museums in the Old City, the Arab market, the Knesset and the prime minister's and president's houses.

When they left Jerusalem they went to a "religious" kibbutz. The religion of the kibbutz consisted of a minimal level of kashrus and Shabbos observance. In the mornings they worked in the orchards, kitchen and cow sheds. In the afternoon they studied Hebrew in ulpan and went on small trips once every few days.


"Today we're going to Jerusalem," the counselor informed the group one morning.

"To Jerusalem?" the girls were confused, "We've already been there."

"Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day," the counselor explained, "and we're going to hear a fascinating lecture about the Holocaust."

"The Holocaust," the girls understood.

Some even made a face, "Yeah, we've already heard about the Holocaust, seen movies about it . . . It's a little sad."

"It's part of history," the counselor said. "Today we'll learn a lot about it."

They arrived at the auditorium and sat down. An elderly Jew with a yarmulke on his head stood in front of them.

"I was there," the man said to the large group of girls opposite him. "I was born into a religious family in Poland. I studied in cheder. Life was good. Then Hitler came and life came to a halt."

The girls listened intently to every word of the man's description of life in the ghetto under Nazi rule, of the selections and the train ride to the concentration camps. He described how his relatives were killed and explained what life was like in the concentration camps.

"One of the Jews had a small calendar in his bunk. He marked every day," explained the survivor. "That was how we knew when it was Shabbos. We tried our best not to break Shabbos, and when we were forced to do something forbidden, it caused us great pain, but it was a matter of life and death."

Paula was speechless. She looked intently at the speaker, hungrily absorbing his every word. A new world of ideas opened before her and she wanted to grasp as much as possible.

"We were starving," the man told them. "There was never enough food. Every day we received a small piece of bread and a bowl of watery soup. On one of their holidays we found a bone in the soup. The soup contained treif meat! We were aghast. Everyone who had already gotten soup spilled it on the ground. All any of us ate that day was a slice of dry bread!"

Paula looked down, embarrassed. She was ashamed of herself.

"This man," she thought, "is exactly like me and like everyone else. He also eats, sleeps, and gets angry just like us. He also feels happy, sad and satisfied like any other human being. But he lives a different life. He lives the Truth!"

Paula wasn't the same person that she had been just a moment earlier. Something had changed inside of her.

"He's Jewish, just like me. So what's different about us?" Paula did a lot of soul searching. "Why did he sacrifice so much for Shabbos and kashrus under the most horrible circumstances imaginable? Why am I not observant in America, the land of the free — and I'm not lacking anything?"

She left the auditorium deep in thought. Paula entered the museum. She felt deep down that part of her was connected to those difficult times, a part of her that was questioning and striving for truth.

They returned to the kibbutz in the evening to eat dinner. They fell into bed, exhausted.

"I have to start keeping Shabbos!" Paula decided while resting, "I need to keep Shabbos and to eat only kosher food!"

She knew that it would not be easy. She knew that she wouldn't have the courage to uphold her convictions in her parents' home.

But Paula felt that she had no choice. She would just have to find a way.

"I would like to extend my trip," Paula told her mother during one of their telephone conversations. "I love the kibbutz and I would really like to continue working here."

"How long do you want to stay?" her father asked when he heard of Paula's plans.

"I don't really know," Paula answered evasively. "I could finish school here."

"In the meantime you may stay for another month or two. Then we'll see."

Paula was happy. Every day that she ate kosher food was an added bonus for her. Every Shabbos that she observed was a relief. She felt that she was doing everything required by Jewish Law.

The two months passed by very quickly. They were filled with hard work and challenging classes in Hebrew.

"I would like to stay. May I please? I'm having such a good time," Paula pleaded over the phone.

"It doesn't sound like you're enjoying yourself," her father said suspiciously, "You sound tired and you don't have patience to speak with us. Paula, tell me right this instant why it's so important for you to stay there."

"It just is," Paula said. "I'm having a good time. I'm working and earning money. I'm learning Hebrew . . . "

"Since when do you like studying so much?" Paula's mother asked on the other phone extension. "Paula, we feel that you're hiding something from us."

Paula burst into tears.

"Paula," her mother cried. "What's going on? What have they done to you there in Israel?"

Now Paula couldn't hide it any longer.

"I want to keep Shabbos," she said, sobbing. "I want to keep kosher. I'm Jewish and I'd like to live the way Jews are supposed to."

"I knew it!" her mother cried. "I'm booking you a ticket right this instant and you're coming home right away! I knew this would happen."

"Paula," her father said sternly. "I'm getting you a ticket right now and you're coming home as soon as possible. Go pack your things!"

Paula packed her bags. Tears streamed down her face and soaked her clothes. She knew that the battle was just beginning and she had no idea how it would end. Paula prayed in her own words since she didn't know any formal prayers. She asked for the strength to withstand the challenges in her future and prayed for the courage to remain steadfast in her decision.


The first few moments with her parents after so many months of separation were very emotional. Despite the excitement, Paula felt distressed.

"Come, Paula," her father invited her after she rested briefly. "We planned a party for you with Grandma and Grandpa and the cousins at the White Bear Restaurant. Let's go."

Paula turned pale. The White Bear was completely treif.

"Dad," Paula opened the door and ran after her father. "Could we meet at a dairy restaurant instead?"

"Why, Paula?" her father inquired with piercing eyes. "The White Bear is very good."

Paula understood from her father's answer that the discussion was closed.


Paula sat at the table in the restaurant and watched her relatives enjoying the meal. Her plate was also laden with food that her father had ordered for her, but she wouldn't touch it.

"Why aren't you eating?" her grandmother asked, surprised. "Would you like something else?"

"Thank you, Grandma," Paula replied with a smile. "I'm not hungry right now. I don't feel like eating."

Everyone looked at her, but no one understood what Paula was going through. Though Paula smiled and gracefully acknowledged her family's good wishes, her smile was forced.

The food caused her discomfort. Paula was hungry and the aromas and the expensive dishes aroused her appetite. Nonetheless, she didn't eat a thing. Paula remembered the man who spoke at Yad Vashem. Now she too was sacrificing for her convictions.


In Paula's home, the family went about their normal routine.

The music played at full volume. The phone rang nonstop and the lights were turned on and off every few minutes. Tantalizing smells of food cooking wafted up from the kitchen.

Paula's upstairs bedroom was half-dark. Paula had left only a small night light in the corner. She sat next to her desk in her dark, neat room and ate her cold food.

"Paula," her mother called her from the doorway, "we're ready to eat. Aunt Suzy's here. Come join us."

"Thanks, Mom," Paula responded politely. "I'll be down in a little bit."

"After lunch we're going shopping," her mother added.

Paula sighed. Shabbos at home wasn't at all like Shabbos on the kibbutz. There everyone went to the dining hall dressed in nice clothes. They sang together and ate a warm, delicious meal. Paula hadn't eaten meat since she came home. She missed how everyone enjoyed a relaxed day together.

Paula was completely alone here. The whole family was planning to go out and she wasn't allowed to join them. They were enjoying her mother's delicious cooking, food that she hadn't so much as tasted since her return home.

How much longer would she be able to take it? How much longer would she have the strength to fight?

Paula's spirits plummeted further and further with each passing week. She spent hours alone, distanced from her parents, siblings and friends.

"The girl's depressed," her grandmother commented one Friday night while Paula sat by herself in her room. "She went from being happy and energetic to being sad and quiet. I think that she's also lost weight and isn't getting all the nutrients that she needs."

"It's because she refuses to eat meat," her mother said in a worried voice. "She needs to forget about all the nonsense that she picked up in Israel."

"Are you talking to her about it?" Aunt Suzy, who was also sitting at the table, inquired.

"She won't let us raise the subject; she refuses to talk about it," her parents said.

"I'll try to talk to her," the grandmother said as she got up from the table, "We've always been close."


"Paula?" Grandma whispered as she opened the bedroom door.

Paula looked up from her history book.

"Yes, Grandma," she responded politely.

"May I come in?"

"Sure," Paula said and moved to the couch.

"I want to talk to you a little bit; I would like to hear about Israel, the kibbutz and about you."

Paula smiled. Her smile was sad and pained, but unnoticeable in the dark room.

"I don't have anything to say," Paula replied. "I've already told you everything."

"Are you sure?" her grandmother asked gently as she moved closer to her granddaughter and hugged her warmly. "I think that there are things that you haven't talked about, like the new things that you learned there."

"I can't talk about those things," Paula said, "They're feelings. Something inside of me that I can't put into words."

"I know what you mean," her grandmother said, "but it seems to me that this isn't quite the right way to do things. I think that it's hurting you; it's isolating you and causing you lots of pain, even physical pain . . . "

Paula's eyes filled with tears.

"I know," she whispered, "but I don't have a choice. I wanted to stay there, but Dad wouldn't let me."

"Would you like to go back there?" Grandma's question was also a statement of fact. She massaged Paula gently.

"Yes," Paula whispered, embracing her grandmother. She felt that her grandmother understood her. Even though Grandma didn't completely agree with Paula, she was willing to help. At that moment Paula felt safe. Hopefully, the warmth of the moment would give Paula the strength to continue.

"I'll try to help you," Paula's grandmother told her, "There's someone who lives in my sister Anna's building. He helps young people who want to move to Israel. I'll try to make you an appointment with him."


When Paula and her grandmother entered Rabbi Klein's house they were in for a big surprise.

"He's a real rabbi," Paula whispered to her grandmother and grasped the older woman's hand. "Like they have in Meah Shearim in Jerusalem. With a beard and payos . . . and his wife is wearing a wig."

To their surprise, the rabbi received them warmly and invited them to be seated in the living room next to the large table.

"Grandma," Paula whispered as she looked around the room curiously. "Look at how many books he has in his bookcase."

The rabbi sat down across from them.

"Hello, my name is Eliezer," he introduced himself. "How may I help you?"

Grandma briefly told Paula's story to the rabbi and Paula answered all of his questions.

"We can't send the girl to Israel without her parents' permission," the rabbi informed them. Paula's spirits crashed. She had already envisioned herself on the plane to Israel. Now her dream was shattered once again.

"I have another recommendation, however," the rabbi continued. He proceeded to show them a fancy brochure.

"This is our institute," the rabbi explained as he pointed to a large building in the picture. "This is the Institute for Jewish Studies where we have classes about Judaism taught on various levels. We have classes for teenagers; you'd have absolutely no trouble fitting into them whatsoever. She could learn more and be taught how to proceed without hurting her parents and she'd receive encouragement from other girls in similar situations. In this way, she could develop a new social network which would be more appropriate for her at this point."

Paula was hopeful once again. The rabbi's suggestion really appealed to her. She wanted to go learn more and to become better acquainted with this amazing world.

Paula registered immediately and got a schedule for the upcoming weeks. She would begin attending classes the following day.


"Where are you going, Paula?" her mother inquired the following day as Paula was about to leave the house.

"I'm going to study," Paula answered. She didn't give any details.


Paula was fascinated as she faced the bearded lecturer who was wearing a suit. She took notes in a notebook that she had bought especially for the occasion. Her eyes sparkled and the color returned to her cheeks.

Paula would go to the same building week after week and fill her notebook with notes on what she was learning. One day, however, this too came to an end.

"The girl is becoming even stronger in her beliefs," Paula's father remarked one day. "It doesn't seem good to me. She still maintains that she has to keep Shabbos and she refuses to eat meat. She has to stop this!"

"I don't know where she gets the strength from," her mother added. "She was never so determined about anything before."

"I'm studying," Paula informed her father when he questioned her about it. "I'm studying in the Institute for Jewish Studies."

"Studying?" her father was angry, "Did you ask permission?"

Paula looked down. "No, but I felt that I had to go there." She didn't want to tell them about her grandmother's help as she knew it would make her father even angrier.

"You have to do one thing now!" her father stated vehemently. "You need to forget about all that nonsense and concentrate on your high school classes."

And that's how Paula lost yet another lifesaver. She began to sink.

She did what her father told her to do and quit the classes at the Institute. She immersed herself in her schoolwork and SAT preparation.

Paula slowly became more and more involved in her surroundings and lost her commitment to her ideals. She forgot the Jewish knowledge that she had acquired as well. Paula only remembered her commitment once in a great while — when she received letters from Rebbetzin Klein who continued to send her the Institute's brochures. At this point, though, Paula preferred to ignore them and to squelch her guilty feelings.


The years passed quickly. Paula finished school, entered college and was busy studying for the courses in her major: Management.

"I don't have any desire to earn top grades," she remarked once to a friend, "I'm happy just to pass with an average grade; I don't have the stamina to work too hard."

Her friend looked at her, confused. "You don't want to be an honors student?"

"Why should I?" Paula answered, "I'm doing just fine being average; I have other things to occupy my time with above and beyond my studies."

Paula's friend thought that there was always something strange about her after their conversation, "I even thought so when we studied together in high school."

Paula's first two years of school passed somehow as she tried to occupy herself with a million other things besides her classes. Then it was time for her internship.

"Everyone's signed up to work at Wolfszorn," Paula told her family one day during lunch. "They're really popular since they pay their interns."

"How many of the people that signed up will actually be accepted?" her mother asked. "I don't think that they can accept one hundred and fifty interns."

"Of course they can't," Paula laughed. "Only one applicant is accepted."

"Did you apply?" her brother Dan asked jokingly.

"Of course I did," Paula replied. "I applied just for the fun of it, not because I think that I'll be accepted. There's no way that I'll pass their difficult tests."

Paula went to Wolfszorn's first test along with all of her other classmates. She didn't study at all for the exam.

"There's no way that I have a chance," she told her friend Debbie. "So why study?"

Half of the students that took the exam failed. The other half passed and was invited to yet another exam. Paula passed.

"I don't understand how it happened," she told everyone with whom she spoke. "Maybe it was a mistake. I'll study for the next test a little bit anyway and we'll see what happens."

This time she studied a little bit on the day before the exam. Paula felt the tiniest bit hopeful when she went to the exam. Maybe she really did have a chance of succeeding.

Half of the group received a negative answer just like before. The other half was invited for a third exam. This time only thirty students remained out of the original one hundred and fifty. Paula passed.

She sat down and studied hard for the third exam. Now she felt motivated: She'd show them that she could do it!

Paula never dreamt that she would be the one that was chosen. Still, it was no small feat to make it to the highest level of exams.

Paula advanced to the final exam. Only five other students made it this far.

"This time I really don't have a chance," Paula told her mother. "It's a math test and I've never done well in it. But, at least I've made it this far."

"Yes," her mother said, "we're all very proud of you."

It was obvious that she lacked self-confidence when she took the exam. Paula kept repeating to herself, "There's nothing to get worked up about because there's no way in the world that I'll get the position. One of the others will undoubtedly do better than I."

She was nervous for two days after the exam. If she'd made it this far despite the absurdity of the situation, maybe a miracle would happen and she'd get the job after all.

And that's exactly what happened.

"May I speak with Paula Stein, please?" an authoritative voice asked over the phone.

Paula picked up the phone. She trembled.


"Paula Stein?"


"This is Stella from Wolfszorn. I have the pleasure to inform you that you earned the highest mark on our exam."

"Excuse me? I received the highest mark?" Paula's face paled and then flushed.

"Yes. You are invited to come to the office and fill out a form in order to accept the position."

Paula felt as if she were dreaming.

She, Paula Stein, the average student who never put in any special effort into her studies, surpassed one hundred and forty-nine other students and earned the sought-after position.

Paula's entire family celebrated her achievement with her.


The days passed by as if in a dream. In just one more month, Paula would pick up her bag and enter Wolfszorn as an employee just like any other.

"Hello, am I speaking with Paula Stein?" a formal voice was heard over the telephone.


"Hello, Paula. This is Stella from Wolfszorn. The boss would like to invite you to an introductory meeting in preparation for your job, which is to start in another month. Would you be able to come next Tuesday?"

Paula prepared with anticipation. A meeting with the boss was not something to be taken lightly.

The door was partially open. The secretary motioned for Paula to enter.

A young Korean man smiled at Paula and motioned for her to be seated on the chair opposite him.

"Paula?" he asked after quickly perusing the form in front of him.

"Yes," she answered shyly.

"I see that it says here that you are Jewish," he said looking up at her.

"Yes," she responded, surprised.

"That's a little problematic," the boss cleared his throat.

Paula was taken aback, but waited for him to continue.

"Your job entails traveling from place to place on Shabbos," he explained.

"So what's the problem?" Paula didn't understand.

"I have Jewish employees," the boss explained, "and I know that Jews don't work on Shabbos. They're not allowed to. They don't travel and they don't write; they're shomer Shabbos." His last words were heavily accented.

Paula's vision blurred momentarily. She pictured the lecturer in Yad Vashem describing his sacrifices in order to keep Shabbos. Then she remembered the Paula from the days after the lecture, but she immediately squelched the memories. "I'm not like them," she said.

The interview ended and Paula received some final instructions in preparation for her new job.

That night Paula tossed and turned for hours, unable to sleep. She sobbed quietly into her pillow. She clearly saw scenes from her days in Israel. She remembered what the speaker had said in Yad Vashem as well as the pictures and exhibits that she had seen there. She remembered the long night after the visit to the museum and the Shabbosim on the kibbutz. She thought about the period following her return while she was still able to remain faithful to her commitment.

Paula remembered the classes that she heard at the Institute for Jewish Studies, the rabbi and the rebbetzin — who continued to write.

"I already knew the Truth," she cried into her pillow. "I knew the Truth and I did what it required of me, only I wasn't strong enough and I fell. Later I forgot or forced myself to forget . . . and now, the Korean boss is reminding me of who I am and what I'm supposed to do! Why must the reminder come from him of all people? Why did I need to get it there of all places? Everyone was so eager to be accepted for the position and I drove myself crazy. Why there?"


When Paula woke up red-eyed the next morning from crying and a lack of sleep, she found a letter on the table in her room.

"It's from the Institute for Jewish Studies!" Paula cried, "Why did the letter come today of all days? How did they know what kind of a night I had?"

She tore open the envelope excitedly.

"Dear Paula," was written on a colorful paper in the rebbetzin's handwriting. "I would like to invite you to a seminar that will be held from Thursday to Sunday at the Club Hotel. I will be very happy to hear from you if you decide to participate in the conference. All the best, Sari Klein."

A brochure describing the seminar was attached. There would be lectures and talks with rabbis.

A lot of things ran through Paula's mind as she read the letter and the brochure.

"What timing! After a night like this? After such a strange conversation with the boss? Should I go? Or maybe it would be better not to. But it's a mistake to bury one's head in the sand. I need to pick it up again. But if I do, I'll have to give up my position. What should I do?"

Paula spent the whole day in her room.

That evening, she made her decision.

"Hello, is this the Klein residence?"


"This is Paula Stein."

"Hello Paula, it's so nice to hear from you," the rebbetzin said warmly. "How are you?"

"Fine, thank you," Paula was unsure how to proceed. "I received your letter. I would like to register for the seminar."

Paula didn't tell her parents where she was going. She preferred to avoid confrontation.

"I'm going on vacation for a few days," she said. "I'll be back Sunday night. I'm going with a group of friends."

To tell the truth, those few days were the hardest Paula ever went through up until that point. During the day she listened to the lectures; afterwards she sat by the window or on the grass and mulled over what she had learned. Paula spent hours crying at night into her pillow. She knew what would happen at the end of the seminar and she was afraid of it.

"I would like to speak with you," Paula said as she approached Rabbi Klein on Sunday afternoon, as everyone was getting ready for the closing symposium.

"No problem," Rabbi Klein said happily. "Let's go find a quiet place to talk."

"I'm standing at a crossroads now," Paula said as she told the rabbi her story. "If I start the job, I won't have any chance to learn about Judaism. The position entails long trips on Saturdays. On the other hand, if I decide to give up the job, I won't have any chance whatsoever of finding something else as all the positions are already taken. And, to make matters worse, I'll be resuming the fight with my parents."

Rabbi Klein remembered well exactly what she went through during the days that she tried to keep Shabbos and eat only kosher food.

"What do you want to do?" Rabbi Klein asked gently. He didn't pressure her.

"I would like to keep Shabbos," she said slowly, "I would like to keep kosher and become more observant. I know that I have a lot to learn."

The rabbi looked at her with respect. It really wasn't an easy decision.

"Are you able to do this at home?" he asked her.

"No," Paula gave the obvious answer. "I need to go to Israel."

"Don't say anything to your family in the meantime," the rabbi told her. "You need to be completely comfortable and confident with your decision. Let's wait a week. Take this week to calm down and think your decision over. Talk to your parents in a week. Then we'll see decide what to do. You'll see that people are led in the direction that they want to go."

Paula felt a sense of internal peace. She felt the calm that comes after making a decision.


"Paula," her father said Monday morning after she had time to recover from her "vacation" and organize her things, "I would like to go out with you today. I need to drive to the next town and I thought that I could take the opportunity to spend some time with my daughter."

Paula smiled. "Why not?"

They got into the car. Paula's father sat in the driver's seat and Paula sat in the front passenger seat next to him.

"How was your vacation?" her father asked.

"Very nice," Paula answered, refusing to offer details. "I enjoyed it and I got some rest."

Paula quickly switched the subject and was careful to steer the conversation towards nonpersonal topics. Anything would be better than discussing her "vacation" or her job.

The day passed. Paula was exhausted. She did enjoy their outing, but the emotional strain was severe.

In the evening as they headed toward home, Paula's father suddenly pulled off to the side of the road and parked in a dark corner.

Paula looked puzzled at her father. He shut off the motor, took his hands off the steering wheel and turned to face her.

"Paula," he said, looking straight into her eyes, "Are you happy?"

Paula didn't say anything.

"Are things going well for you? Are you happy with your life?"

Paula sat motionless. Thoughts raced through her mind.

"Wait another week. Then tell your parents about your decision to go to Israel," the rabbi had told her.

Her father looked at her, waiting for an answer.

"Yes," Paula said quietly, trying to prevent herself from crying.

Her father gave her an unusually gentle look. She burst out crying.

"I'm not happy," she said. "I want something different; I'm missing something . . . "

"What do you want?" her father asked.

"I want to live the way a Jew is really supposed to: to keep Shabbos and to keep kosher."

"And what do you need in order to do that?" her father asked.

"I need to go to Israel and study in a seminary." Paula looked hopefully at her father and added, "It's a branch of the Institute for Jewish Studies."

"When would you like to go?" her father asked.

"The sooner the better," Paula answered.

"Okay," her father said. He turned on the engine and they drove home.


Paula wasn't present during her father's conversation with her mother. She was sleeping then much more calmly than she had slept in a very long time. Everything would be fine; her father had said, "Okay."

Her father asked to speak to her the next day.

"Paula," he said to her, "I spoke with a travel agent and there's a flight available next week. Speak with the rabbi and check that the dates will work out with the seminary in Israel."


Another four years passed. Four wonderful years of learning, growth and spiritual development.

Paula sat on a majestic white throne in the middle of a Jerusalem wedding hall.

Today she would begin building her own home, a home of Torah!

Paula sheds a lot of tears today. They are tears of prayer, happiness and gratitude. Gratitude for the past, the present and hope for the future.

Paula's mother stands at her side; she adjusts her hat with one hand, while the other holds a flaming candle. Tears stream down her cheeks.

Grandma stands next to Paula's mother; she deserves so much credit for helping Paula on her journey. Grandma is also wiping away tears.

And here comes Paula's father. One of his hands grasps the chosson's, while the other holds another candle. He's biting his lip so as not to cry.

Paula doesn't notice any of this. She looks straight ahead while her lips move in prayer.

In her mind's eye she sees a figure with a small yarmulke on his head. She pictures the Jew, the Holocaust survivor, who spoke at Yad Vashem.

"We tried not to break Shabbos," he told them back then, "and when we were forced to, it caused us great pain . . . we were starving . . . there was never enough food . . . we found a bone . . . we spilled the soup outside and only ate bread . . . "

"I am also Jewish," she had thought back then. The same thought crossed her mind now as her family escorted her to the chuppah. "I also keep Shabbos and keep kosher and am careful about the other mitzvos. Thank you, Hashem that the journey ended this way!"


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