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December 19, 1986 - Image 25

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-12-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

AUDETTE CADILLAC, INC.

IS PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THE APPOINTMENTS OF

as he had expected, but
for Mother Russia." But
to him, a Jew, "Mother
Russia" is alien. It is all
more than he can bear. He
has lost his wife and chil-
dren, lost his ideals, his
faith; Ms life has ceased to
have meaning. He commits
suicide, and the only one
who understands his
tragedy and mourns Mm is
the refugee from the west,
Chaim Grade.
Among the victims of the
Soviet regime that Lev
Kogan had helped install is
another of Grade's road
companions: the durachok,
or simpleton. The durachok
is a young convict, one of a
group of temporarily freed
prisoners riding with civi-
lians on the open platform
of a train. As Chaim Grade
contemplates these men,
he realizes that the Soviets
during just one year in the
Baltic republics have
populated the land with
slave labor camps and he
understands that, whereas
the victims from the an-
nexed regions have been
shipped to central Russia
and to Siberia, the victims
from Russia proper were
filling the new camps in
occupied Latvia,
Lithuania, Estonia. In the
heat of June the convicts
wear worn-out, dirty,
quilted winter outfits.
Grade also comprehends
that at the outbreak of the
war, aware that camp in-
mates might consider the
Nazis their liberators, the
Soviets were shipping
them away from the front
lines, even at the price of
leaving behind a civil
population eager to flee.
Thus, collectively, the
Chaim Grade classic and his
wife's foreward combine as a
definitive historical docu-
ment. My Mother's Sabbath
Days is a commentary on
Russia, a Jeremiad on the
Holocaust, a confessional on
faith that faced destruction.
There is a tribute by Inna
to her husband Chaim and
his first wife Frumme-Liebe
and their love for each other
that adds to the deep respect
with which the Grade life
span is treated.
Chaim Grade, the widely
acclaimed and admired mas-
ter of Bible and Prophecy
learning, the humanist-
secularist whose name keeps
acquiring a wide literary fol-
lowing, registered his Jewish
legacies in his writings. In
his poetry and novellas there
is the spirit of Isaiah.
Upon his return to Vilna
after the war, he gave vent to
his Jeremiads. He lamented
the devastation of his
mother's home, and wrote
about it in My Mother's Sab-
bath Days. Then, on Yom
Kippur, another Lamentation
amidst the polluted and of-
fended remains.
It is upon witnessing the
horror of the devastated

Vilna synagogue, on that
Yom Kippur upon his return
from Russia, that he cries out
in his panegyric:
I run to Reb Shaulka's
Synagogue on Jatkowa
Street, opposite the court-
yard of the goose-dealers'
row where we used to live,
and opposite the gate
where all her life, until her
marriage to Reb Refoel,
my mother served God as
she attended her baskets
filled with rotting apples.
Now, in the hour of
Ne'ilah, it is fitting that I
return to that same beth
midrash where as a child I
played among the benches,
where in my youth I
studied. Here every
wallwas covered with
bookcases filled with sac-
red tomes, every bench
occupied by pious con-
gregants. Not for nothing
was there a saying in
Vilna: So much Torah is
studied in Reb Shaulka's
Synagogue by day and by
night that its benches are
trayfa from the tallow
drippings that cover them,
but the hearts are kosher.
There it is — Reb Shaul-
ka's Synagogue! I lunge
fiercely at the boarded-up
door, which emits a muf-
fled groan, like a wooden
gallows when the corpse is
cut down. In the death-
emptied Ghetto the silence
reverberates, as though
the ruins are shuddering
at my desecration of the
Day of Atonement. With
murderous force I con-
tinue pulling at the door,
until at last the rotted
boards give way. I go up
into the beth midrash — it
is in ruins, as in all the
other synagogues ...
I gaze at the bima, where
the tall Gabbai, Reb
Shraga, would stand on
Sabbath mornings and
give out the aliyoth. And
then I call to mind another
man who also once stood
on that same bima — the
sexton, Reb Dov-Ber Ga-
lein. Reb Dov-Ber, a ritual
slaughter as well as a sex-
ton, was a passionate reli-
gious zealot. His full black
beard and great black eyes
were perpetually aflame
with rage against the
"worldly" Jews....
I stare at the bima and a
gasp, a wailing, bursts
from my throat, as though
someone were strangling
me:
"Twenthy
thousand
Jews for the Opening of
the Ark. But the Gate of
Heaven did not open ...
"Forty thousand Jews
for the Opening of the Ark.
But the Gate of Mercy re-
mained locked ...
"Seventy thousand Jews
have perished. Com-
munities outbid each
other: Which would bring
more sacrifices? But none
could induce the Gate of

Continued on next page

MARTY MARTENS AND ALAN E. SWARTZ
TO OUR SALES STAFF.

THESE PROFESSIONALS ARE READY TO AS-
SIST YOU IN YOUR SALES AND LEASING
NEEDS FOR 1987 MODELS.

AUDETTE CADILLAC, INC. • 7100 ORCHARD LAKE ROAD, W. BLOOMFIELD • 851-7200

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On sale.

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BRUCE
WEISS

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YOU HAVE IT MADE

26325 TWELVE MILE ROAD, SOUTHFIELD, MICHIGAN

IN THE MAYFAIR SHOPS AT NORTHWESI ERN HIGHWAY

HOLIDAY HOURS

MONDAY THRU FRIDAY 10:00-9:00
SAT. 10:00-6:00 & SUN. 11:00-6:00

(313) 353-1424

25

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