A Holocaust Story of a Different Sort

“Yesterday,” he said, “someone came from Parabek, and told us ‘Simcha umar,’ that Simcha had died. And so I volunteered to bury you.” … Read More >>


Our Own Private Passover

But the Communist credo, after all, was “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” and so they were really only being good Marxists. They had spiritual needs, including kosher-for-Passover matzoh. … Read More >>

Making the Cut

It was the very beginning of 1942 and the group of ten young men and their yeshiva dean, exiles in frigid Siberia, couldn’t believe their eyes. Betzalel Orlanski had somehow gained release from the Siberian labor-camp where he had been sent, somehow found out where they – and his wife – were located, somehow secured a sled and driver, and somehow crossed the large frozen lake – the only way to reach Nizhna Machavaya, the exiles’ home, in the winter.

The exiles – my dear father among them – had been part of the Novardhok Yeshiva in Vilna, Lithuania. When the Soviets occupied the country, they offered the yeshiva boys and faculty – most of whom were Polish nationals who had fled to Lithuania – a stark choice: accept Soviet citizenship (and be conscripted into the Red army) or be banished to the wasteland of Siberia as foreign nationals deemed a threat to the Soviet Union. They opted for Siberia, a choice that would test them sorely but likely saved their lives.

When the cattle cars had been loaded with their human cargo in Lithuania for the long trip east, sent along with the Novardhok group were several families, … Read More >>