Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Strong Jewish Women: From the Bible to Holocaust

Don't forget to submit an entry to the Second Annual Star of Davida Essay Contest!

Jael stops for a moment. As she takes a few breaths to calm down, she stares at the sleeping man on the floor of her tent. Jael cannot believe that Sisera, the Canaanite army general, the second-in-command to the king subjugating her people, chose to barge into her tent as he escaped from the war field. When he fell asleep, she realized that God gave her the opportunity to save her nation. How could she turn it down?

She breathes deeply and looks around her home, spotting a tent peg out of the corner of her eye. She quickly unties it, fingers shaking with anticipation. The tent wall flaps in the wind as she nails the peg into Sisera’s temple.

“That’s for killing my people,” she says bitterly. She feels remorse for committing murder, but reminds herself that she saved innumerable lives by ending Sisera’s, avenged thousands of Jewish deaths. The least she could do is fight back.

The Jews live in their homeland for centuries. They are exiled, their Holy Temple destroyed. They return, rebuild what was lost, and are exiled again. They spread throughout every corner of the world, strangers in strange lands, a nation that is scattered and separate. They are always persecuted for being different, punished for their beliefs. But like their biblical foremothers, they fight back.

“Wrobel, are you coming?”

Eta looks up at the speaker. Although the trees in the dense Polish woods block out all the moonlight, she can still recognize him as one of the men in her partisan unit. “Yes. Of course.”
“We’re going now. Take this shovel.” He hands her a rusty tool and leads her to where the rest of the partisans are gathered. Several men carefully hold landmines, which they will bury in enemy territory to cut off supply routes and disrupt Nazi activity.

After whispered conversation, the partisans begin to walk through the woods. They are silent; their lives depend on it. Even though it’s difficult being a partisan, Eta does not regret her decision to become one for a second. When she joined the group, she realized that God gave her the opportunity to save her nation. How could she turn it down?

When they reach their destination, the partisans stop. Silently, they begin to bury the mines. Eta digs a hole in the hard winter ground and gently places a mine inside it. She then carefully covers it with dirt, patting the soil down so it is undistinguishable from the rest of the earth. Eta repeats the process several times, until every landmine has been buried.

“That’s for killing my people,” she whispers bitterly as she finishes concealing her final mine. Eta feels remorse that lives will be taken because of her actions, but she reminds herself that the Nazis’ mission is to wipe the Jewish nation from the face of the Earth. Anything she can do to hinder their efforts is a slap in Hitler’s face, a way to avenge the millions of Jews he has murdered in cold blood. The least she can do is fight back.

Six million die, but many survive. They return to their homeland, rebuild what was lost yet again. Despite everything that was taken from them, they reestablish the decimated Jewish communities, reunite families, recreate homes and businesses. They teach the next generation what they learned the hard way: always fight back when injustice and prejudice rear their ugly heads. As Jews, it is part of our legacy. How can we forget our foremothers’ actions and stand idly by?

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