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Total devotion: An extended Yom Kippur fast in Auschwitz

האחיות טסלר

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin ([email protected])

Yom Kippur is over, but here is a Yom Kippur story that you will never forget:

The story of sisters Hanna and Sara Tesler -- uncompromising in total devotion to their faith -- is the story of our people. It's the story of two girls in Auschwitz who wanted to fast on Yom Kippur (even though according to halacha or Jewish law they were not, of course, required to do so). They fasted together with other prisoners but at the end of their fast they understood that their calculation was wrong and Yom Kippur was actually the next day. So they fasted again only to realize that they had again been mistaken and were still one day away from Yom Kippur. So they fasted a third consecutive day in Auschwitz -- and somehow managed to survive.

Eventually they were liberated, made aliyah, and settled in Kvutzat Yavne, a religious kibbutz. They were privileged to live to a ripe old age. Just four years ago, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, Sara passed away and this year, on the eve of Yom Kippur, Hanna passed away at the age of 97. Several hours before the fast began, Hanna's funeral was held, exactly 80 years after her triple Yom Kippur fast in Auschwitz.

Yom Kippur, 5784. The soul of a defender of the honor of Israel ascended on high. At her kibbutz, no one with a number tattooed on their arm remains. It's our obligation to dedicate new chapters in our story to the memory of these courageous sisters who symbolize total devotion to our heritage and to our faith.


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