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"Regular" People

צילום: לע"מ
At the end of one my speech therapy sessions, I asked my dear therapist, Dorah Ochikovsky, where she grew up. I was astonished to hear what an amazing story hides behind this resident of Jerusalem, a “regular" Oleh Chadash. As she spoke, all I did was write down profusely her words, with increasing awe and appreciation:
"I was born in Kiev. Everything was forbidden to us back then. My mother was a teacher, and this was an ideal profession - very communist-like. Nevertheless, she fasted secretly every year on Yom Kippur, and lit Shabbat candles. She used to bribe her gentile neighbor with food, so that she wouldn't tell on her, that she lit candles every week. When someone would pass away, they would ask my father to say Kaddish for the deceased. He was one of the few who knew how to say the Kaddish. But once, he was caught in the cemetery just as he was saying the Kaddish, and was threatened. He returned home crying. Ever since then, when someone passed away, dad would say Kaddish only in the deceased person's family home, quietly. He used to take my younger brother secretly along with him, in order to have a Minyan there. How afraid were we until they both returned. My father's siddur is with my daughter Irena today, in her home. She is a doctor, a psychiatrist. But the greatest story of our childhood was Passover. For the 'crime' of holding Matzah - the communists could punish us with jail. The KGB would look for Matzot around the time of Passover, and so Mom used to get Matzot already in January, four months ahead of time. We would await that knock on our window, and it was so moving and exciting. The underground people knocked, brought us Matzot in a pillow case, and Mom would hide the Matzot for months in the closet, until the Seder night. In the year 1990 we made Aliyah, exactly on Rosh HaShanah. Mom was incredulous that we could celebrate without fear."
The book of Devarim, which we read these days, reminds us that even when we live in a society of abundance, in a good, pleasant Land, we must not forget that which we have gone through along the way: "And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God hath led thee these forty years in the wilderness". Thank you, Dorah, for this reminder!


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