Short story by Shoshana Vegh
The house next to the synagogue
His father always walked around in a tailored suit, wearing leather shoes from haute couture. His appearance was compelling. He was tall and handsome. A Jew whose appearance attracted the attention of all who see, it was the genes of his family, the Finegold family. Jews who wanted to be free and not bound by the yoke of the commandments. They felt privileged from the rest of the inhabitants of the small village of Kreshnoszlec north of Warsaw. His father was not a man of observance. He loved the good life, meat, vodka, everything that makes him happy. And has always been the most nurtured of all the villagers. His eyes sparkled as he talked to customers. And when he laughed his white teeth gleamed. Always shaved and always perfumed, his fingers like a pianist’s. He was an excellent tailor. His name has spread far and wide and even from Warsaw customers have come to saw an elegant suit for them in winter, a comfortable woolen fabric, and in summer, cotton fabrics made only from fine fabrics.
As he grew older the boy always took care of this look of the fancy suit and was tying a tie as he was about to go out to a lawyer’s office. It was his beautiful father who lived within him, the talented tailor father of the village.
When the war began the boy was eight years old, already literate, both studying in the room and a little in the Polish school. He was a gifted boy. He learned the multiplication table within one day, already knew how to read in Polish and knew some alphabet letters from studying in the heder for young Jewish kids. Last summer he still had time to wade in the lake that was nearby, fishing with his father, his older brothers had already learned crafts. His older brother Boris was ten years older than him, he had already learned the craft of tailoring from his father, his second brother and sister were growing up. His sister helped their mother in the household and the other brother Aaron maneuvered between household chores, errands and services for the family members.
But on the day the German army entered the small village’s main street, in a parade, Tuvia. knew it was not a theater play, Isaac standing at the window and peering into the street admired the sight. Soldiers in military vehicles, motorcycles, weapons close to the shoulder and they in a procession of victory cross their peaceful village. Isaac was amazed at the exemplary arrangement. He moved restlessly, turned to his father who was standing behind him and put his hand on his shoulder, “Dad, what is it?” Tuvia looked at Isaac and replied, it was probably ominous. There is nothing good about a military parade.
On the next Friday, September 1939, German soldiers from the street shout for children Isaac and Aaron to come to the synagogue.
And when they enter the prayer hall, there stand on one side the members of the Jewish community, the butcher, the rabbi, the teacher of the room. Families clinging to each other. Jews in Shtreimel, women and children next to them, in the center of the synagogue a pile of burning Torah scrolls, the place where people only pray on Tuesday, a small and loving community is about to be wiped out. The Jews whose Jewish appearance stood out were first sought out, they complied with Hitler’s racial laws. In the same class
As the children Isaac and Aaron stand in the synagogue plaza of the village they notice how the bully butcher catches one of the Nazi soldiers and pulls him with him to the fire, before their eyes a heroic struggle of a Jew who is unwilling to go when the massacre takes place.
A bundle of shots pierces the air. You are not enough to think about why you stay alive and why the others were slaughtered. Isaac and Aaron bend down and cleanse the blood.
My eight-year-old father cleans Jewish blood, and then his father takes a cart loaded with shakes and travels to the Russian border. Looking for rescue.