Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 

Little Bodies

Sarah Cohen

My mother was four years old when the storm troopers marched into Hungary and shattered her childhood.

The details are familiar in the collective Jewish memory, and form the dark underside to my personal brightly lit, Generation-X American existence. The roundups. The executions. The starvation. The cruelty. And the recurrent leitmotif of gas and barbed wire. Mom doesn't have many clear memories of those harrowing days. Miraculously, her parents and brother were with her throughout, and so her four-year-old world remained largely intact, its edges barely nibbled by the brutal reality outside its windows.

But she does remember the day they threw her out of her house. It was a lovely home, full of beautiful things for the adults, and scads of toys and clothes and jewelry for a pampered little girl. She didn't know where they were going, or why. But she knew that she certainly wasn't going anywhere without her flaxen-haired friend, her treasured doll. And so she snatched it up, and took it with her as they were herded onto the train and into the ghetto.

In the days that followed, as the tornado whirled around her, it was to her doll that she turned for solace and comfort and companionship.

But not for long. Though her memory of the episode is strangely - or perhaps not so strangely - absent, her mother later told her what became of it. "A Hungarian soldier, a collaborator, swaggered up to you and knocked it out of your hand, sneering 'You won't be needing that anymore where you're going.'"

If the twentieth century has bequeathed humanity anything, it has provided the cure to any lingering romanticism any of us might still have clung to about war. It is not a splendid adventure, a glorious proving ground for manhood, a noble exercise in mailed chivalry. War is, truly and like few other things on earth, hell. People are dislocated, killed, left bereft of possessions, family, hopes. But even within hell, it takes a truly twisted and evil mind to smash a jackboot down on the face of a porcelain doll and declare war on a child.

I thought of my mother's doll when I saw a recent newspaper photograph. It showed the twisted remains of a wrecked car, a shattered windshield, and a small body face down, arms and legs wildly akimbo.

For one heart-stopping moment, you think it is a baby. And then the caption clarifies things: "The shattered windshield and a doll lie at the site where Rabbi Binyamin Zeev Kahane and his wife, Talia, were shot dead in a hail of Palestinian gunfire near Ofra Dec. 31."

Sixty bullets were fired at the Jewish family. Which of the five orphaned girls did the doll belong to? Surely not the two-month-old. Maybe the ten-year-old, still grasping for childish comfort on the cusp of teenagehood? Or the two year old, or her sister who is four?

Perhaps it was the companion of the five-year-old, who is now lying, on a respirator, in a hospital's intensive care unit, unaware of the fact that she no longer has a mother to hold her hand?

The doll cannot tell us. She lies on her stomach beside a bullet-riddled car, limbs splayed, blue dress torn, face ground into the blood-soaked earth.


AM ECHAD RESOURCES

Sara Cohen is a teacher and writer in New York, part of Am Echad's writers pool.


 

ARTICLES ON NASO:

View Complete List

Messiah, Can I Keep My Rolls?
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5761

How Much Do You Love the Torah?
Shlomo Katz - 5762

A Celebration of Preparation
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5767

> Camp Isn't For Everyone
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

The Blessing Which Can Never Be Retracted
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

A Little Peace in Our Time
Jon Erlbaum - 0

ArtScroll

A New Found Freedom
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

More Precious Than Pearls
Shlomo Katz - 5766

Do Your Thing
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5767

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Self-Confidence
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5775

Priestly Pipeline
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5767

Something to Wine About
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Domestic Harmony and National Peace
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5755

Shevet Levi of Today
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5774

It's a Wonder
Shlomo Katz - 5763

Behold Your Teacher!
Shlomo Katz - 5774



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information