Svo Pigeon To The Rescue
By SHULAMITH SINGER
Nizah lived with her father and
mother in a little house in a tiny
village in Israel. The house had
green shutters, a flower garden in
front, and a vegetable patch in the
back. Before the war Nizah
thought her house was the best in
all Israel. But now that her father
was a soldier in the army of Israel,
serving at the front, her home
One day an army truck drew
up in front of the house. Two
soldiers jumped down to help a
third soldier off the truck. Nizah
would have paid no attention,
except that her dog Cushy
suddenly started to bark and jump
all over the third soldier. It was her
father! His leg was in a cast, his
arm in a sling, his head bandaged
For a moment everyone stood still.
Then Nizah's father yelled
cheerfully, "Are you all struck
dumb? I'm home and all in one
piece! I've got both legs, both
arms, both ears, both eyes and my
heart is where it always was!"
It was almost a half hour
before everyone could stop talking
long enough to sit down to eat.
Father was still finishing the story
of his adventures, when suddenly
there was a little noise. Peck,
peck, peck, peck, it went ...
Nizah ran to open the door, but no
one was there. As she turned
around, one of the soldiers opened
the window. In flew a white pigeon.
It circled the room and landed on
her father's shoulder.
"Hello, there!" shouted Father.
"This is my pal," he explained.
"The bomb that wounded me also
hit the tree on which she was
sitting. The explosion knocked her
off, right into my hands. She was
shivering and frightened and ..."
FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 1990
"And when we found them,
they were both unconscious," put
in one of the soldiers.
"Oh, yes," said Father. "And
since that time we have always
Three wonderful weeks
passed. The house was full of
Father's voice and the smell of his
cigarettes. Father was well now,
the cast had been removed, and
he was going back to the front.
Again the house was empty.
Mother did her work in silence.
Even Cushy seemed unhappy,
walking around and around
aimlessly. And the pigeon fluttered
all over the house, never standing
still for more than five seconds at
More weeks passed. "Mother,"
Nizah said one day, "how do you
write the word lonesome?"
Her mother looked at her
daughter. "Why do you want to
"Oh, no reason at all," said
Mother wrote the word, and
Nizah carefully copied it onto a
note she was writing. When Nizah
finished, she rolled the note up.
With a thin piece of thread she
tied it carefully to the pigeon's leg.
The Nizah whispered to the bird,
opened the window, and let it fly.
In a moment the pigeon had
Far away in an Israeli outpost,
Nizah's father and six other
soldiers were counting the
minutes. They were stretched out
in a trench. Sten guns in hand,
watching for the enemy. Behind
them a shack with a gaping hole
in one of its walls and broken
pieces of a radio strewn on the
floor told their story. The only
means which the little outpost had
of communicating with
headquarters and calling for help
had been destroyed.
And now seven Jewish
soldiers were waiting for the final
Something stirred behind the
shack, and a sharp rat-tat-tat was
heard. It couldn't be a machine
gun — the sound was too soft.
Nizah's father turned to the man
next to him: "Dan," he said,
"Crawl around and see what's
happening back there."
Slowly Dan wriggled away. He
returned in a few minutes. "It's
your pigeon," he said to Nizah's
father. "She must have come back
here to spend your last day with
Nizah's father hurried to the
back of the shack. In a moment he
returned, pigeon in hand. He lay
down, fumbled with the thread
around the bird's leg, and unrolled
Nizah's note. "At least we still get
postal service around here,"
remarked Dan, at his elbow.
"Sure," said another man,
"but try sending a letter where it
would do some good. Too bad this
pigeon doesn't know the way to
Nizah's father thoughtfully. "Why
not? Who says she has to fly to
headquarters? All she has to do is
His companions looked at him
as if he had gone suddenly mad.
"Of course," Nizah's father
shouted and sat up. "It will work.
It must work. Listen! We know that
the pigeon will fly only to my
house. But the Arabs don't know
it. The Arabs will assume that this
is a trained war pigeon, carrying a
message to headquarters. It's our
only chance. I'm going to release
the pigeon. The Arabs will shoot at
her. If they don't hit her, we may
be safe. If they think
reinforcements are coming, they
With trembling fingers Nizah's
father tied a piece of paper, on
which he had scribbled one line, to
the bird's leg and sent her aloft. A
volly of rifle fire broke the desert
silence. Smoke filled the sky, but
as the Jewish soldiers watched,
the white pigeon flew higher and
higher until she was out of
It was Friday night two weeks
later, Nizah and her mother were
sitting in their tiny house with the
green shutters. On the table the
Sabbath candles were burning
Suddenly there was a sharp
rap at the window. Nizah ran to
open it, and in flew the white
pigeon. It took only a second for
Nizah to untie the tightly rolled
note around the bird's leg. "I am
coming home. Father," said the
As she looked up, there was
her father, standing in the room.
Nizah threw herself at him. "The
pigeon brought you. I knew she
Yes, daughter" he said "The
pigeon brought me."
It took a long time for father to
explain how the pigeon had saved
his life and how the Arabs
retreated when they thought that a
message had gone through to
Israeli headquarters. By that time,
Nizah was half asleep. But there
was one thing she understood
clearly. The pigeon brought her
father back. ❑
Reprinted from A Kid's Catalog of
Israel. Written and illustrated by
Chaya M. Burstein, Jewish