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June 14, 1991 - Image 66

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-06-14

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Adding A Lot Of Value.

Moment Of Truth

Continued from preceding page

half an hour to fill the 200
seats with 400 Ethiopian
Jews. Avital had told me:
Don't behave like a jour-
nalist, help the people; only
this way will it be a mission
of saving lives, for which
even Shabbat may be
violated. So I set to work as a
steward, distributing water
and bread. The Beta Israel
were obviously hungry but
were impressively serene.
They displayed a noble sense
of their own dignity for the
entire four-hour journey
We shared only two words:
shalom and Yerushalayim.
But each time our eyes met,
they were smiling, respon-
sive. Sometimes I held and
patted one of the clamoring
children so their parents
could open food parcels. But
this was a pretext: I simply
wanted more communica-
tion and contact. Clearly,
this was their desire, too.
Through all the events of
that night, our passengers
showed full trust in the
messengers from Israel, and
were calmly confident
despite the astonishing
events overtaking them.
Again, this implacable con-
fidence in the future
reminded me of my own
state of mind in the plane
that took me from Russia.
As I had then, they now
experienced a pure rapture
and knew no fear. They too
left with almost no posses-
sions. I had then two things
which they did not: I had
shoes, while many of them
were barefoot; and I had my
Book of Psalms — but they
themselves seemed like fig

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ures come suddenly alive out
of the Psalms. Their very
journey was a psalm of re-
joicing. I felt as though my
own particular history was
suddenly being shared by
great numbers: I had come
out of prison where I had
been held as a political
hostage, traded for whatever
benefits the government
could obtain. But here was a
whole people who had been
held against their will,
pawns of a doomed regime.
Again I was gripped by
that sense of faith trium-
phant. For me, and for the
other Israelis, journalists
and crew, all the doubts and
anxieties of daily life were
abruptly erased by this
sense of trust and faith.
The sun rose. The plane
started its approach to
Israel. The pilot brought the
plane low so we could see the
land and it was announced
in Amharic that below us
was the land of Israel. We all
began to applaud and never
stopped during the whole
descent. Everyone was
laughing and crying.
This, then, was the answer
to the question of what had
impelled me to make this
brief, eternal journey. This
was the moment I had come
for. Here were no black or
white, educated or unschool-
ed, cynics or idealists, left or
right, believers or
secularists, immigrants or
oldtimers. Here was one Am
Yisrael (People of Israel)
returning to its land whose
applause, singing and
African ululating merged
into one impossible and
triumphant symphony. ❑

Polish Jews
Upset With Pope

New York (JTA) — When
Polish Jewish leaders met in
Warsaw with Pope John
Paul II, they complained
about his comparison of
abortion to the Holocaust in
comments he made during
an earlier stop on his nine-
day tour of Poland.
His comparison prompted
an uproar in Jewish com-
munities worldwide.
The delegation of six
Polish Jews also urged the
pontiff to establish diplo-
matic relations with Israel,
something which the Vat-
ican has refused to do.
The pope told the Jewish
leaders that the Middle East
situation does not yet permit
such ties.
The Vatican has rejected.

Jewish criticism of the
pope's comments, saying
there was nothing wrong
with comparing the "killing
of the unborn" to the Holo-
caust, in which the Nazis
systematically murdered 6
million European Jews.
During their meeting at
the Vatican Mission in War-
saw, the Jewish leaders also
told the pope that they hope
he will work to uproot the
residual anti-Semitism in

Poland's prewar Jewish
community of about 3.5 mill-
ion people was wiped out in
the Holocaust. Today, under
10,000 Jews live in the
overwhelmingly Catholic

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