This is one of those stories that you tend to think is a fairy tale, until you hear them first hand: Boris Heikin, 87 years old of Rishon LeZion, grew up in Kharkiv, Ukraine, where he was denied his Jewish heritage and identity, made Aliyah, and made Aliyah to Israel in the 90’s. Recently, he sat with his family and looked through old pictures, when he found a picture of his grandfather, who was a religious Jew. Behind the picture were written words in Hebrew, which Boris didn’t understand at all. Ina, his daughter, says that she and her husband translated the message for him, the will, that his grandfather wrote there in his hand writing in 1934. This was a poem by the Russian-Jewish poet, Simon Frug:
“The time is near when our Nation – the son that forgets who his Parent is,
Will not understand even one word of his own language,
The Holy Tongue in which his Torah is written.”
The daughter felt that these lines speak precisely about her father, who has difficulty understanding Hebrew. She said: “We all had a feeling that this was not meaningless, that this is his grandfather’s will for us to keep the legacy. We called ‘Hebron Tefillin’ to order Tefillin for my father, for the first time in his life. Pinchas Dell, a Sofer Stam (a scribe) and a guide in the factory, was moved by the story. He is used to making Tefillin for children who are 13 years old, not 87 years old… He came over to my father’s home, especially in order to teach him how to don Tefillin. Later, my father sat and watched YouTube videos in Russian, that teach how to don tefillin, in order to practice it, and now he keeps this practice up. We learned from him that it is never too late, that all the attempts of big empires to turn our light off will never succeed, and that even very old prayers in the Ukraine – can be revived and fulfilled in Rishon LeZion after almost a hundred years. My father’s grandfather was so afraid that the chain would break, but here – it didn’t”.