|NOW WHERE DO WE GO?
by Jack Engelhard, June 18, 2003
|As my sister remembers it, we were up in the Pyrennees with the Nazis in pursuit. We were making our way from France
into Spain. The escape route was mapped out by underground guides who took us from point to point. Sarah was a Shirley Temple-type beauty of about 10, while I, a baby, was being carried inside my father's rucksack, into which he'd cut two holes
for my legs to dangle free.
We were permitted one suitcase, so my mother wore as many clothes as she could, plus her jewelry. We'd been quite wealthy
in Toulouse. I had two nannies.
But now we were a bedraggled foursome, bloodied and weary from the trek. The snap of every twig could mean Gestapo.
My father became so disoriented that he panicked when he thought he'd left me behind. Sarah said, "Papa, he's still on your\
back." On orders of the guides, my mouth had been stuffed with cotton to prevent a childish whimper, but I must have known what was going on.
Even I remember our quick stop at a church on the mountain. A nun rushed out to embrace us. She wept when she beheld my mother's finery covered in dust and mud.
"Thank G-D," said my mother at this welcome. "No," said the nun, shaking her fist to the heavens.
So we traveled on, fighting limbs above and traps beneath, Sarah up front with the guides. The guides were a comfort. They
knew the way -- and they had been paid well, in advance. They'd been paid so well that it finally broke my father's prosperity, since he had also paid for the escape of many others.
At one moment up in the mountains, the guides disappeared. Gone! Atop a hill, my parents turned east, west, north, south --
all of it Hitler.
Mother turned to father, and this is what she said: "Now where do we go?"
Later, in Montreal, there was a particular song that kept playing on our record player, and it was called Tell Me where Can I
Go. It was sung by Leon Fuchs, half in Yiddish, half in English. I still remember some of the words -- "Tell me where can I
go... there's no place I can see ... where to go, where to go... every door is closed for me... to the left, to the right, it's the same
in every land..."
Perhaps you can imagine the emotion upon listening to this, especially when it came to the last refrain: "Now I know where
to go... where my folks proudly stand."
Yes, Israel! Never again would Jews have to wander. Never again would Jews have to live with their bags packed. For, prior
to 1948, Jews always lived with their bags packed. From land to land they'd been evicted, depending on the whim of the
tryrant in power. We had our bags packed even back in Toulouse when life was good.
Life was so good that my mother regularly hosted a "salon." Everybody came, most notably a very high ranking member of
the Church, who studied Talmud with my father.
Yes, life was very good. But we still had our bags packed. This was true not only of our family, but of all Jewish families throughout Toulouse, throughout France, throughout Europe, throughout the generations. That's the way it was. Even the Rothschilds had their bags packed, and even Freud and even Einstein.
You never knew. You never knew when you'd hear that knock on the door.
Israel, of course, would change all that; that's where our folks proudly stand. No Jew in the entire Land of Israel would ever
have to live with his or her bags packed.
No Jew in Israel would ever fear that knock on the door. (Certainly not from an army of fellow Jews.)
No Jew in Israel would ever be at risk of being evicted.
No Jew in Israel would ever have to ask, "Now where do we go?"
This is true, is it not?
Tell me this is true. Please.
|Jack Engelhard is the author of the international bestseller "Indecent Proposal" (ComteQ Publishing) and is completing his
latest novel, "The Uriah Deadline," a fictional thriller involving Mideast news manipulation. His columns can be read online
at http://www.comteqcom.com/jackcolumn.php and he can be reached at JackEngelhard@ComteQcom.com.