Centurion: From Glory to Glory

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Rebirth

“While there's life, there's hope.” - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Aalina went limp and fell to the ground. Valerius’ anger got the best him. This had not been his plan, but now she was dead and he could do nothing but dispose of the body. He didn’t see Camiria, which was fortunate for her. In his state of mind, he might have turned his anger toward her. But beneath the surface of his anger laid tenderness Valerius would never allow anyone to see. Picking up Aalina’s lifeless form he waded into the water, and treated her with a respect he had never shown her in life. Laying her body in the water, he pushed her toward the middle of the river and watched as the current swept her away. Turning, he quickly returned to the camp hoping the gods would look favorably on his soul.

The river’s current was gentle as Aalina was carried further away, waves lapping over her face and cold water preserving her body. It was these things that caused her to stir. Suddenly, Aalina awoke. Roused from death, she coughed and sputtered, trying to breathe in the air. In her slumber she had floated easily downstream, but now in her panic she was struggling to remain afloat. As she tried to swim to the shore the current became stronger and white caps formed on the surface. The river seemed to come alive and rocks appeared out of nowhere. She slammed hard into one and it almost knocked her breath away. She fought to turn herself around so she could see what was coming next, and a sharp pain seared through her leg as she pushed against a fast approaching boulder. Her tired arms flailed as she tried to pull herself to shore, but the closer she got the more dangerous the waters became. Finally there seemed to be a lull in the current, and the backwater, swirling in the opposite direction, made swimming to the shore easier. As soon as she thought she had made it, an undercurrent pulled her below the surface near a low hanging branch. The riverbed was littered with old, decaying logs that had fallen into the river. The undercurrent trapped her beneath one, and for all her struggling, she felt her life slipping away again.

Aalina was screaming, and hoped the roar of the rapids wouldn’t keep someone from hearing. But Hermes rode the wind that swept across the river, and carried her cries to a family of travelers on a small road nearby.

“Eitan, did you hear that?” Ariella was sure she had heard something.

“No, it was just the river. Maybe a fox caught a rabbit, or something.” Eitan always thought his wife exaggerated what she heard. Ariella didn’t like traveling, and every sound was fraught with danger. Yet, he trusted her intuition and didn’t want her to feel patronized. “Chaim, did you hear anything?”

His son shook his head no, but Ariella had that look in her eyes.

“Go, check it out, over there by the river.” He pointed in the direction of the rapids. “But be careful. You never know what lurks in the woods.”

Chaim was tall and strong. His dark hair accentuated a light complexion that made his brown eyes seem penetrating. He followed in his father’s footsteps and had learned the business of fabric and perfumes, but really he liked working with his hands, fashioning wood and rock. For now, he would do his father’s bidding, but maybe someday make his own way. He was lost in thought as he trudged through the underbrush that thickened the closer he came to the river. Haste wasn’t on his mind; he too, thought his mother’s imagination had gotten the better of her.

As he cleared a small knoll just before the river’s edge, he saw Aalina’s hand grasp for a branch, then disappear beneath the surface. Chaim jumped into the water, holding on to the tree limb. He hadn’t expected it to be so deep, and was almost pulled under himself. Blindly grasping for her hand, Chaim finally closed his strong hands around Aalina’s. He pulled her up onto the shore and turned her head sideways as she coughed up water.

She is beautiful, was all he could think. Chaim sat back on his heels and hoped she was all right. He wasn’t sure what to do, and then remembered that his mother would know. He scooped her up and rushed over the riverbank, through the underbrush, and back to the wagon and his mother. “Mama, Mama, I have found a woman in the river!” He was breathless by the time he set her down on the blanket his mother had laid on the ground.

“Quickly, you men move to the other side of the wagon. Shlomit, help me take off these wet clothes.” Ariella and her daughter removed Aalina’s clothes and wrapped her in a warm blanket. Ariella knew that if they didn’t warm her significantly, her body would become as cold as the river water and she would die. “Eitan, get a fire going.”

Eitan had already sent his youngest son, Tuvia, and his son-in-law, Yochanan, for wood. “I guess we will be camping here for the night.” He put his hand on Chaim’s shoulder. “You best put on some dry clothes and warm yourself by the fire. You can do nothing for her now.”

“Do you think she will recover, Papa?”

“I am sure, if it is God’s will. Your mama knows how to care for others, and if anyone can bring her around, she can. When are dressed help me get some food ready. It will take your mind off the girl.”

Usually Ariella and Shlomit would prepare the evening meal, but as they were busy Eitan didn’t mind lending a hand, and he was hungry. Throwing back the tarp, he uncovered bolts of fabric he had been peddling in the Upper Peninsula, but business was not so good, and he was returning to Calabria with almost as much as he started. Eitan pulled out some cheese, bread and a small portion of fruit that had been wrapped in the damp cloth. This would have to be enough for tonight. He had hoped to fish the river, but with the girl and all, there was no time.

When Yochanan and Tuvia had returned with enough wood for the evening, Eitan gathered the family around their young guest and said, “Before we ask the blessing for our meal let us entreat God for the care of our young friend. ‘Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed; save us, and we will be saved, for the one we praise is You. Bring complete healing for all our sickness, and for this young woman whom we have found, O God, for You are our faithful and compassionate Healer and King. Blessed are you, Lord, the Healer of the sick of Israel.’” And everyone said amen. Eitan took the bread and said, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.” And when he had handed a piece to each of the family, he took the basket of fruit and cheese, saying, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.” It wasn’t much, but it was with family, and family was everything.

Aalina was wavering in and out of consciousness. Her body was hard at work, trying to fight off cold and infection. She heard voices and the prayer, but couldn’t make out much of the strange dialect. Her mind never ventured to wonder if they were friendly or not; she knew they had pulled her from the river and that was enough. Tomorrow she would concern herself with who they were, and with these thoughts she fell asleep.

“I will stay with her next to the fire,” Ariella said, always concerned for the welfare of others.

“Papa, will we need to leave early? If we can delay our travel a day, I believe she would be strong enough.”

“I am sure the store will be fine without us one more day. It will give us an opportunity to do a little fishing. Maybe we will have some meat for tomorrow’s evening meal.” Eitan stood and stretched. Walking over to the pile of wood he placed a couple of more logs on the fire.

Shlomit and Yochanan huddled under their own blanket, while Tuvia and Chaim found a place as close to the fire as possible. Ariella stayed close to Aalina. She would get little sleep anyway. The night sounds were ominous, so she would keep watch over the whole family and offer up prayers for Aalina. “Blessed are you God, Sovereign of the universe who brings sleep to her eyes and slumber to her eyelids. May it be your will my God and God of my ancestors, that you lay her down peacefully and awaken her peacefully. Do not let troubling thoughts or bad dreams disturb her sleep and may her bed be perfect before you.”

A woman of sixty, like a girl of six, runs at the sound of wedding music. -- Jewish Proverb

After a days recovery and four days travel, Eitan and his family were on the outskirts of Rome. Their small donkey could travel only so fast while pulling its load, but they had made it through half their journey home. Eitan had family in the great city, with whom they would stay while he conducted business. Aalina had regained her strength and was able to walk, which was better than riding in the wagon. The roads of Rome were well constructed, designed to make travel easier for both commerce and the army, but the cobblestones still made for a bumpy ride. She was glad to join the rest on foot.

At first Aalina struggled to understand her rescuers. Their thick accents and strange dialect took some time to comprehend. They were patient and kind. They were also very religious. Every morning began with prayer, every meal with a blessing, and every evening the family gathered to worship. Aalina was used to the gods of Rome. They were everywhere, and when people traveled they brought their family gods made of wood or stone. But Eitan and his family were different. They only worshipped one God, and they didn’t seek him in nature or craft. For them He seemed to be everywhere, nowhere, or somewhere else completely. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, as they spoke to him personally, passionately, and reverently. They also laughed together. Aalina had spent a lifetime serving and servicing other people. She had never experienced a family like this, though she had known love.

The day after her encounter with Valerius, Aalina remembered very little of her ordeal. But as her body temperature rose and she had some food, the fog of her experience began to clear. She shuddered at the memory of Valerius’ hands around her neck. Her last lingering thought before she passed out, and the first when she regained consciousness, was of Gaius. His gentle touch and thoughtfulness seemed ages ago, and it pained her that it all was becoming an echo.

“Are you feeling all right?” Chaim asked. “You look like you’re in pain.”

“I am fine,” she said. They had finally begun to communicate in the Greek language. Aalina had learned it growing up in General Sextus’ house. As a servant she was responsible for communicating to a wide variety of people, and though the Romans would rather speak in the Latin tongue, the language of commerce was Greek. As a businessman, Eitan, too, learned and taught his family Greek. If they were to thrive they needed to have a larger view of things than their small community.

“I was just remembering something unpleasant.” She liked Chaim. He was warm and thoughtful, and reminded her of Gaius. Yet, his strength was different; it was natural, and it wasn’t made for war. Aalina liked that.

“Chaim, go help Papa.” Ariella shooed him away. She could see her son’s interest in this young woman, but they didn’t know anything about her. There was silence between them for a while as they walked. “Aalina, would you mind telling me about your family?”

She was quiet for a moment, and Ariella thought she might have offended her. Aalina distrusted people. They had always used her, but these people were different. They asked questions, but gave without wanting anything in return. Even Chaim, who Aalina knew was interested in her, never forced himself upon her, but was always polite. Emotions she hadn’t felt in a long time began to flood her eyes with tears. Immediately Ariella put her arms around her and led her to a nearby stone to sit. Seeing her mother, Shlomit too sat with them and held Aalina in her arms. Mother and daughter didn’t say a word to her; they just let her cry. The source of the pain didn’t matter. What this young woman needed was to be held.

“Papa,” Tuvia pointed to the women. “What’s wrong?”

Eitan shrugged his shoulders and said, “They are women. It is better to let them alone. Remember the poet Ovid said, ‘It is some relief to weep; grief is satisfied and carried off by tears.’ Our new friend has experienced some deep pain. Your mama and sister can help her through it. We will just be in the way.” Eitan took this opportunity to adjust the harness on the donkey, and had Chaim check the ties on the wagon. But Chaim couldn’t keep his eyes off Aalina, hoping that whatever troubled her would find rest in the Creator. He said a prayer for her.

“I am a terrible person,” Aalina said between her sobs. “I have been a slave my whole life, I have been used by men, and the only man who showed me kindness I left when he bought my freedom.” She was surprised when her comforters didn’t respond; they just sat silently, as if encouraging her to continue. “Valerius, a Roman soldier, enslaved me again, and treated me harshly. He is the one who threw me into the river and left me for dead.” She wept even more. Ariella held her tight and silently prayed. Aalina’s tortured life would not disappear with simple words; it would take patience and love. For as long as Aalina was willing, she had a home with them.

“Ariella,” called Eitan. “We need to go. My brother Abraham will not be at his shop much longer. I want to get there before evening.” As he tugged on the donkey’s harness, the wagon lurched forward and they entered the great city. Eitan was glad to be moving again. The road leading into Rome was busy, and people were yelling at them to get out of the way.

Rome was magnificent, awe-inspiring to those who entered its walls. The Via Flaminia entered the city from the north and passed by the Mausoleum of Augustus the Great and the amphitheater of the Statilius Taurus. They were marvelous structures, but Eitan couldn’t help feeling an overwhelming darkness of conquerors that did not know the Great God of the universe. His brother lived near the Elaias synagogue, built at the apex of the Via Latina and the Via Appia, on the south side of the city. Paying the commerce tax, Eitan wound his family through the serpentine streets until they came to a row of fabric shops. Eitan and his brother had learned their skill from their father, but instead of staying home, Abraham wanted to live in the center of the world. He had made a name for himself, and supplied fabric to some of the more prominent families in Rome. Though Eitan wished his brother had stayed in the province of Calabria, he had profited from Abraham’s enterprises. Because Abraham’s shop was both store and home, Eitan kissed the mezuzah that hung on the doorpost.

Aalina waited outside with Chaim, and seeing Eitan’s actions, asked, “What did your papa do before he went inside?”

It took a moment for Chaim to understand her question, because kissing the mezuzah was such a common practice among his people. “God instructed our people to place the Shema on the door posts of our homes.” He saw that Aalina didn’t understand the word. “The Shema is a statement about our God. It says, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ We are to hang them on our door as a reminder to ourselves and to all who enter that God is the one who rescued us from our captivity.”

Aalina didn’t understand what he was talking about, but she liked the idea of a god who rescues. Maybe that’s why these people were so kind. They rescued her because they themselves had been rescued. Yet, they were subjects of Rome, so how powerful could their god be? She wanted to ask more questions, and Chaim was so patient to explain things to her, but standing in the middle of the street was not the right time.

Abraham and his family were as gracious as Eitan’s, and Aalina felt the warmth of their love even though she struggled to understand their strange ways. Ariella said they would visit for three days and then begin the two-day journey to Brindisi. But it wasn’t really a visit, it was about work, and Ariella and Shlomit worked with Abraham’s wife to organize the shop and supervise the dyeing process. Most of the dyes used for coloring fabric were imported from Tyre in Lebanon, and primarily used for the wealthy. Abraham believed that he could produce as good a quality at a cheaper price. The wealthy would probably not use it, but it would be more affordable for the rest of Rome. Certain merchants labeled him a counterfeit, but he didn’t hide his work, and didn’t try to pass it off for something it wasn’t.

Processing the colors was not easy. A gland from the whelk, a marine mollusk, produced yellow mucus, which would change colors several times when exposed to the light. They used this sparingly, however because whelk was costly. Most of the dyes that Abraham used were from plants. It was a messy process, and the labor of mixing and dipping cloth was left to servants. Aalina was taken on a tour of the dyeing house that was behind the initial shop and apartment.

Several workstations were set up around the dye house. The first station consisted of women who chopped into small pieces various flowers, berries, or woods, depending on the desired color. These were placed in a pot at the next station, where another group of women tended the boiling process. They would maintain a one to two ratio of one plant and water, bring the mixture to a boil, and then allow it to simmer for an hour. They strained the plant material while pouring their containers into the dye bath. While the dye bath was prepared, the fabric was placed in a color-fixative bath of salt water. After ringing the salt water from the fabric, it was placed in the dye bath and left to absorb the dye until the desired color was obtained. The process was long and smelly, and the servants’ hands were constantly soaking up the dye. As hard as they tried to clean them, their hands were forever stained.

Aalina expected to work with the servants, but was surprised when Ariella told her that job wasn’t for her; she would help them in the shop. At that moment she realized she had been made part of the family.

The next six months were a whirlwind. They had returned to Brindisi, in the province of Calabria, and Aalina became an integral part of the family. She also became accustomed to the family’s strange rituals. Eitan and Ariella never pushed her to participate, but they didn’t excuse her from activities expected of the whole family. Their love and care for her broke down years of walls built by pain, and she came to understand their actions were an extension of their beliefs. One day as she and Ariella were cooking the evening meal, Aalina asked her, “How do I become a Jew?”

Ariella’s heart leaped with joy, but she didn’t let it show. “Aalina, why would you want to become a Jew?”

“Don’t you think it would be a good idea?” Aalina was a little confused. She thought the family would want her to convert to their faith.

“It’s not about what I want you to do. Papa and I would love for you to embrace God Almighty. But, the question remains, why do you want to become a Jew?” It was a penetrating question, and Aalina really had to search her heart.

“I guess it’s because I have seen in you everything that I have always wanted: family, love, and hope. But more than that, I know that everything that you are stems from your faith. If in the midst of losing your home and being driven from your land, your God can still keep you from being angry and bitter, then I want to follow him too.” That’s what it was. The family’s faith was a total package; you didn’t get one without the other. If she were to be truly a part of this family then she too would have to accept their faith. As she thought through it she could say, “I believe in you and your God.”

Ariella jumped up and hugged Aalina so tight she almost passed out. “It will not be easy. You must go through a lot of learning and preparation. We have to talk to the Rabbi and if he is satisfied with your reason you will have to spend the next six months learning our history, the prophets, and the psalms, but that’s the easy part. The Bet Din, our religious court, will then test you, and when you have satisfied them, you will take a ritual bath, offer a sacrifice at the Temple, and choose a new name. Then you will be presented before the congregation.” She was speaking so fast that Aalina missed most of the details, but those would come in time.

And the time flew by. Over the next year, Aalina learned and deepened her understanding of her new found faith. It wasn't the only thing that blossomed, however. Chaim was also glad she had decided to convert. He had fallen in love with Aalina, and when she said she wanted to become a follower of God, he knew that God had blessed him and answered his prayer.

The day came for Aalina to be presented to the congregation. The whole family was up early that Sabbath, and the atmosphere was electric as everyone prepared to go to synagogue. The women were giddy, and the men beamed with pride. The synagogue was unusually full as they entered, and sitting toward the front was Abraham; his family had come especially for her.

Everyone found their places, the Rabbi went through the usual rituals and prayers, and at the end he drew everyone’s attention to their new convert. Once Aalina was introduced the men of the congregation left, and the women stood as witnesses to the mikveh, the ritual bath. Ariella led her to the bath’s edge and walked with her into the cool water. Once Aalina had been immersed three times, the Rabbi said, “Blessed are You, Adonai, Ruler of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with the mitzvot and commanded us concerning immersion. We welcome our sister into the congregation of Israel and give her a new name, Zohar, for she will be your light.”

Zohar didn’t think she could be any happier, but after the evening meal Chaim asked if she would sit with him for a while. As tradition dictated they were chaperoned by Yochanan, who couldn’t help but smile. She tried not to be noticed by bowing her head and pretending to knit the yarn she had brought, but Zohar knew something was about to happen.

“Aalina, I mean Zohar…” Chaim was obviously nervous. “I have spoken to Papa and Mama, and both of them agree,” he cleared his throat, “that if you are willing, I should ask you to be my wife.” She squealed with glee and threw her arms around him. At the same time Yochanan let out a squeal that signaled to everyone in the house the proposal was made. Zohar jumped as the door to the room flew open and the rest of the family entered. As she had come to learn, everything was a family affair.

When Eitan read the letter from his brother, his heart sank. He had just sent Tuvia to work with his uncle for a couple of months. Rome was home to nearly one million people, and out of that number close to 100,000 were Jews. Surely Tuvia would be safe. But he would not wait; Eitan packed a bag and left for Rome.

Reports had surfaced that a young Jew had defrauded a woman of Roman nobility. Though fraud was a usual practice in the empire, certain elements of the government took every opportunity to blame the Jewish community for civil unrest. Sejanus, the closest friend to the Emperor and the head of the Praetorian Guard, took it upon himself to make an example of the Jewish people. He ordered the rounding up and deportation of 4,000 Jewish youths. He was going to send them to Sardinia to fight the marauding bands of thieves that had taken over the island. It was an excessively large group of young men, but it was one way that Sejanus tried to suppress the Oriental cults.

The Praetorians were as ruthless as they were efficient, and Sejanus sent his troops to every Jewish ghetto in the city. Each regiment was instructed to conscript a quota of Jewish youth, and Sejanus’ thirst for vengeance would be satisfied only when he rid Rome of every filthy Jew. Why he hated them so much wasn’t clear, and why the defrauding of Fulvia would spark such hatred was a mystery, though rumors of her attraction to Judaism had appeared. Abraham told Tuvia and his own children to stay off the streets. They were less likely to be enrolled if they were not seen, but Tuvia’s curiosity always got him into trouble. When a unit of Praetorians were going from house to house they saw him peeking through the door.

“Open the door!” The Praetorian captain yelled. “We know you are there! If you don’t open this door we will knock it down.”

Standing in the middle of the doorframe, Abraham tried to stall the soldiers. “Can I help you, men?”

“We have been ordered to conscript 100 youth from this area of town. I saw one of the village rats peeking through the door. Bring him to me and report his age.” The soldier was trying to see past Abraham.

“Levi,” Abraham called his youngest son. “Come here.” Levi was only ten years old and wouldn’t be taken. “This is my only son. God has blessed me with many girls, but my Levi is the only boy in the house. Please, he is too young to be of any use to you.”

The captain pushed into the house. “This isn’t the boy I saw. Where is he? If you don’t bring him now, we will find him.” He knocked over a table and chair and headed to the back of the store.

Not wanting to bring the soldier’s anger down on the family, Tuvia stepped through the door. “I am Tuvia, and Abraham is my uncle. He did not lie; Levi is his only son. I have no skills that can help the army. Maybe you have the wrong house.”

Grabbing Tuvia’s arm, the soldier started dragging him outside. “You are not going to be in the army, but the army has some use for you.” He pushed him out the door and yelled at the other soldiers, “Shackle him with the rest.”

Tuvia didn’t resist. He knew it wouldn't do any good, and could only mean his death and pain for his family. As he was being chained to the other prisoners, the captain fastened a note to a message post in the middle of the square.

By order of Tiberius Caesar Augustus, protector of all Rome, keeper of the Law, and defender of the glory of the empire, to all children, adults, wives, husbands, slaves, and servants of Jewish decent, you are hereby ordered to leave the lands, provinces, and borders of Italia. Thirty days after the posting of this notice all Jews who have not vacated Italia will be prosecuted and enslaved.

Mothers, sisters, and wives wept in the streets as the soldiers left with their parade of descendants. They knew they would never see their men again. Eitan was too late. He rushed to his brother’s door as the soldiers disappeared around the corner. He felt as if his heart and soul had been ripped from his chest. Tearing his clothes he rushed into the street, bent down, and grabbing the dust from the street, threw it in the air allowing the dirt to fall on his head. Abraham stood next to his brother, placing a hand on his shoulder. Weeping, he prayed, “Incline your ear, O HaShem, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Keep my soul, for I am godly; O Thou my God, save Thy servant that trusts in Thee. Be gracious unto me, O Lord, for unto Thee do I cry all the day.”

The entire family was crushed. It was one thing to bear the weight of another’s misfortune, but when hatred touches one’s own, a mother’s heart does not know how it will go on. All Zohar knew to do was sit with her new mother and put her arms around her in silence. How could Rome be so cruel to such loving people? She didn’t realize that she had verbalized her question out loud.

“Zohar, do you believe that we, as Jews, have a purpose?” Eitan asked.

“Papa, I am a new convert. I do not know,” she responded.

“Do you think God just told us to be Jews so He could treat us badly, or do you think he has a plan?” Eitan was trying to help her understand the joy and sorrow of being God’s chosen people.

“Yes, papa, I remember the Rabbi teaching me that God has chosen Israel for His own purpose. But why would he allow Israel’s persecution for so long?”

“God has chosen the Jewish people for a task, to be a kingdom of priests and a Holy nation. We are to be a light of His existence, the representation of his interest on earth.”

Zohar mulled that over, but the incongruence of this honor and the fact of persecution was puzzling. “So then, our reward is death?”

Eitan laughed, not because she was silly, or because their present situation was humorous, but because her question echoed that of Jews for over a millennia. “We are an eternal people. Even if one of us dies, as a people we live on.” He thought for a moment. “Zohar, sometimes we have suffered because of our own sin. Sometimes we have suffered because the nations of the world hate God’s people. However, God has promised a Messiah.”

“I remember that God told King Solomon that if he built a temple He promised to establish his throne forever, and that the prophet Jeremiah said, ‘But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will put My law within them and on their hearts I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, “Know the LORD,” for they will allknow Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,’ declares the LORD, ‘for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.’ Is it for this reason that the peoples of the earth hate us?” Zohar was beginning to understand.

“You have learned well, Zohar. It has been said, ‘If God lived on earth, people would break his windows.’ But since he has chosen us to represent him, it is our windows that are broken. So, we wait for God to bring an anointed king who will deliver us from our oppression. Until then we will continue to fix our windows.” Gathering the family together Eitan continued, “I am pleased that Chaim and Zohar have married, but Zohar has not had the opportunity to offer a sacrifice at the Temple since becoming a Jew. Since we have to leave and make a fresh start…” Everyone listened with expectation. “I have decided that we will go home, to the place of our ancestors. We are going to Jerusalem.”

The jubilation that filled the home went far towards mending their sorrow. Their exile from Rome ended their exile from Israel. Everyone set about collecting as much as possible, and packing for the journey. Eitan sold whatever people would buy at a fraction of its worth, but it was enough to buy passage to Israel. Brindisi was a port city on the eastern side of Italia, and sailing would be a faster way to leave everything behind. “Ariella, your mind seems far away. Are you all right?” Eitan was worried about her.

“I will be fine. My heart is breaking because of Tuvia, but I know that we don’t have a choice.” Tears welled up in her eyes. “Will we forget him, Papa? Will he fade from our memory?”

Eitan held her tight, in silence, for words were never sufficient to heal the wounds of the heart. In their silence he did what he always did and prayed. “See mine affliction and my travail, and forgive all my sins. Consider how many are mine enemies, and the cruel hatred wherewith they hate me. O, keep my soul, and deliver me; let me not be ashamed, for I have taken refuge in You. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, because I wait for Thee. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.”



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