In September 1965, Elie Wiesel, the well-known novelist, spent a number of weeks visiting the Jewish community in the Soviet Union. His report on that trip has recently been published as a book, The Jews of Silence (Holt, Rinehart & Winston). Mr. Wiesel returned to Moscow in October 1966 for the holiday of Sukkot; the present article, translated from the Hebrew by Neal Kozodoy, contains his impressions from this second visit to the Soviet Jewish community.
Actually, I should have been disappointed. I had in fact anticipated a certain letdown, and had even prepared myself for it. No holiday can be real unless it has something of the miraculous about it, and by definition a miracle must be a single, unique event. In this case, I had seen it all the year before: the ecstatic prayers of the Hasidim on the night of Shemini Atzeret; the processions in the Central Synagogue on Simchat Torah; the furtive questions put in a whisper to foreign guests; the communal singing; the sudden appearance of thousands of youngsters, demonstrating in public their unshakable solidarity with the Jewish people. Such images—sorrowful and sublime at once—had been indelibly engraved upon my memory from my last visit to Moscow in the fall of 1965. My experience then had been so strong, and so deep, that I feared a mere duplication of it would rob the event of one of its most important dimensions, and myself of a priceless memory. What would happen this year had already happened before. It would no longer be a mystery, or a surprise, but would seem somehow natural and routine. I had already seen everything to be seen, and had said about it everything I was prepared to say. There are some visions which I am convinced we must not behold more than once.
Yet I decided to return. Why, I don’t myself know. Perhaps because I needed to confirm, for myself, that what I had seen and heard the year before was not in the nature of a momentary dream that had suddenly ignited my imagination. Or perhaps I returned because I felt an inner need to spend this particular holiday with these particular Jews. Something, at any rate, drew me to them—to their songs, to their enthusiasm, to their pride. And once among them, I witnessed a second miracle. Far from being disappointed, far from having to undergo the mere repetition of a previous experience, I found myself caught up in new surprises, and overcome by a new shock of recognition. The report I brought back last year was true—that much has not changed; but now I have come to see that its import is both more valid and more serious than even I had thought at the time. It may even be for this new knowledge that I returned.
* * * * *
I arrived in Moscow on October 5, the sixth day of Sukkot. Upon reaching my hotel I learned that a performance would be given that same evening by one of the Soviet Union’s few troupes of Yiddish actors, led by the famous singer, Anna Gozik. It is virtually impossible to get tickets to these programs, even though they always consist of the same play: Sholem Aleichem’s Wandering Stars—the only offering in the troupe’s repertoire. People who have seen the performance twenty times return avidly for a twenty-first; the troupe visits Moscow only once a year, and the theater is always packed.
I noticed in the audience a considerable number of young people, who followed the action of the play through the whispered translations of their parents and grandparents. Whenever an actor delivered a line that suggested a double meaning, the audience burst into applause and loud bravos—as for instance when Miss Gozik, portraying Uriel daCosta, declared, “I am a Jew, and a Jew I shall remain!” The significance of such an affirmation for the Jews of the Soviet Union cannot be overestimated. The musical theme that evening was Hava Nagilah; at the end, everyone in the audience sang it together with the cast.
During intermission I spoke with some of the youngsters I had spotted in the audience. Although I asked them dutifully why they had bothered coming to a Yiddish performance rather than attending a Russian play or ballet, I knew beforehand what they would answer. In fact, they will go to anything that is Jewish, and are irrepressibly curious about the fragments which still remain of a Jewish culture that was once quite powerful in their country. Should a Yiddish theater be established again in Moscow, there would be no difficulty filling the auditorium. Of that I am sure.
* * * * *
The next day I went to the Central Synagogue on Arkhipova Street. The sanctuary had been redecorated since the last time I was inside; it seemed better lit, more attractive. By contrast, however, the venerable chief rabbi, Yehuda Leib-Levin, appeared to have aged. It was clear from the weariness and grief reflected in his dark eyes that he had not yet recovered from the incident that had occurred in his congregation on Yom Kippur, and about which I had heard the night before. In his sermon on that day he had spoken in passing of the “two million” Jews murdered by the Germans twenty five years before. A number of those present in the synagogue protested, “Six million, not two!” The unfortunate rabbi was forced to explain that he had been referring only to Jews who were Soviet citizens. Unable—or unwilling—to understand why the rabbi felt constrained to differentiate among Jews, especially dead Jews, the congregation protested again. One supposes that they were justified in their complaint, although it is not for us to judge. The rabbi speaks as he is told to speak, and there is no guarantee that another man would have spoken differently.
The sexton had also changed. He too seemed older, less sprightly than a year ago. Who knows what he had gone through since then. Standing some distance from him was the most notorious of the Moscow “informers,” a short hunchbacked man—wearing a green hat—whose features bore ugly testimony to his vocation. I myself saw him strike a Jew who dared to ask me for a prayer-shawl and siddur. It is estimated that there are at least twenty informers in the Moscow congregation—a number large enough to ensure the perpetuation of a constant sense of fear and suspicion among the others. It was this sense of fear that had been most strongly impressed upon me in my last visit, and that had haunted me throughout the year.
* * * * *
This time, however, I had come not in order to witness Jewish fear, but to participate in a Jewish festival. The following evening was Simchat Torah, the occasion which tens of thousands of Jewish youngsters have chosen as their annual evening of public celebration. During the previous week, posters had appeared on bulletin boards around the University: “The ‘symphony’ of Simchat Torah will be performed on the night of October 6, as usual, at the usual time and place.” On that night, between thirty and forty thousand young Jews appeared outside the Central Synagogue, where they remained almost until dawn, singing and dancing in hasidic abandon.
By now, this holiday has become something of a tradition in the Soviet Union. The numbers of the participants have steadily increased over the years, and this year—although estimates vary according to the hours at which they were made—there appear to have been close to forty thousand youngsters at the Moscow synagogue. The police closed off the neighboring streets to traffic, and doctors and ambulances were stationed nearby in case of need. They were never called upon. Throughout the entire night of dancing, not a single person was injured; no one fainted, no one needed emergency first-aid. No one became drunk or got out of hand. Not a single person was arrested.
(About two or three years ago, the authorities had in fact tried to discourage similar festivities in Leningrad. The young people were asked to disperse. When they refused, about ten of them were arrested on the spot, but the others simply went on singing as if nothing had happened. Since then, the government has taken a more tolerant position: it allows Jewish youth to have its one holiday a year.)
As the first young people began to gather in the street outside the Moscow synagogue, I sat inside, waiting for the religious ceremonies to begin. Despite the unbearable crowding, the sanctuary seemed to exude a distinct air of lighthearted cheer. No one complained about the need to stand for long periods of time, or about the lack of room. Everyone—men, women, and children—waited patiently for the processions to begin. Of the four generations that had gathered together this evening, only the oldest knew what it was to pray. The oldsters still keep the tradition, while their grandchildren clearly have no concept of what the Jewish religion entails. They are interested not so much in the Jewish God, as in the Jewish people. Yet they too had pushed their way into the synagogue, to see for themselves what was to transpire in front of the Holy Ark.
This year, too, the ceremonies began only after a considerable delay. The congregation was not in a hurry. Friends shook hands, strangers exchanged smiles of greeting. Men and women mixed freely rather than remaining in their customary separate sections. Tonight, all barriers had fallen. Tonight it was permissible to talk, to laugh, to trust in the future. Even to converse with guests from abroad. Tonight, the hunchbacked informer, his eyes bulging with the rage of thwarted authority, was powerless.
The time came to begin. The foreign guests were invited to participate in the first procession, which was led by the chief rabbi himself. Each of us took a Torah scroll, and we set out together on our circuit of the hall. Within a matter of seconds, we had become separated, each of us surrounded by a sea of heads. The Jews refused to let us move. Kissing the Torah I held in my arms, they showered me with blessings and personal requests: “Tell them in Israel we’re with them”; “Be strong, be valiant”; “Don’t forget us, we haven’t forgotten you.” Later I was to find little slips of paper that had been thrust into my pockets: “Next year in Jerusalem”; “Blessings from an old Jew who will die on foreign soil”; a verse from Hatikvah. One of these pieces of paper had a characteristic request: “Please, give me a Hebrew grammar book for my son. He wants to learn. I’ll wait for you tonight at ten. Outside.” Just like that. No name, no place of meeting.
I tried to move forward, to complete our circuit of the hall; the procession had lasted a long time. Each step forward was like crossing the Red Sea. They refused to let me go. At that moment I had become for them a living link with world Jewry. Here and there I met persons I had spoken with the year before. We managed a few hasty conversations. “Has anything changed?” Nothing. “Is the situation better?” No. “Worse?” No. Three Jews had been sentenced to death for “economic crimes.” In one city or another, the warden of a synagogue had been ordered to sever connections with his co-religionists in Moscow, “Are you still afraid?” Still. “What will happen?” Hope for the best. . . .
On the dais stood a young man wearing glasses; he was an army officer, recently discharged. He held in his arms a Torah scroll which he refused to relinquish. He stood close to the microphone, and his voice rolled out over the hall: “Blessed is our Lord who has created us for His glory . . . O, O, for His glory.” The old rabbi began to sing along with him: “Yes, Yes . . . for His glory.” Hundreds joined in. Only the sexton seemed serious, abstracted—as if he had for the first time discovered the meaning of the words and was quietly taking pity on Him who created such a world for His glory; or perhaps on himself for having been forced to live in such a world.
Last year, the younger people who came to the synagogue had stayed apart from the older Jews. This year, however, they too took part in the festivities, if only as enthusiastic onlookers. Here and there one of them overcame his embarrassment and, following the example of his neighbors, kissed the Torah (even though no one ever told him what is written in it), or sang a hasidic tune he had just learned (without pronouncing the words). A girl clapped her hands, another girl grinned broadly. Behind her stood a boy, preoccupied with his thoughts. I turned to him: “What are you doing here?” He answered, “No, you tell me.” I knew the answer, even if it had not yet penetrated his own consciousness. He knew that I knew. He smiled at me: he was looking for himself.
This boy’s education had failed him. He had been taught to despise his origins—yet he had returned to them. Every attempt had been made to poison his attitude toward Judaism—yet he had retained his ties. Nothing he had learned in school, or in libraries and youth clubs, had succeeded in cutting him off from his community. He had been taught that Judaism was an anachronism, that only criminals frequented the synagogue—yet this too had failed to sway him. He does not, to be sure, come to the synagogue to pray, but he does come to see Jews praying. And that is enough. There are certain silent glances that are worth more than all the prayers composed by the ancients.
As was the case last year, however, the real holiday did not take place inside, but outside in front of the synagogue, where two gigantic floodlights had been installed to illuminate the street. It seemed as if the entire city had emptied its youngsters here, where now they formed into groups, singing and dancing. One circle stood around a girl strumming her guitar and singing Yiddish folktunes. Further away, hundreds of students listened to a young man coaxing a melody from his balalaika. There in the corner someone played a harmonica, and there again I found an amateur poet reciting satiric verses about anti-Semitism in Russia. All these voices and melodies seemed to swell together into one pure crescendo of sound, overwhelming the listener and drawing him inexorably into the mounting wave of excitement. Last year the youngsters knew only two or three Yiddish and Hebrew songs. This year they had managed to learn another, and yet another. But their own unique anthem had not changed. It is a song we used to sing at Jewish weddings, when the guests were invited to greet the bride and groom; but the lyrics have been altered by these youngsters so as to refer to their new-found identity: “Come let us go, all of us together, and greet the people Israel.”
Walking among them, I suddenly recalled a story by I. L. Peretz about a village lad who played his flute in the synagogue because he didn’t know how to pray. Like him, these youngsters also do not know how to pray—nor, perhaps, are they interested in prayer. But they know how to sing, and how to dance. And as a hasidic rebbe once put it, it is also possible to bring the Messiah through the power of dance.
* * * * *
At a certain moment, close to midnight, the lights went out. The two floodlights in front of the synagogue suddenly went dark and stood like blind men. A gloom descended over Arkhipova Street. The crowd stood silent, confused, waiting. Short-circuit? No. A subtle hint from above that it was time to break up. One mustn’t overdo things. Tomorrow was a schoolday, a workday. It was time to stop, time to go home for another long year. One could return in 1967.
The confusion lasted no more than a minute. It was followed by a groan of disappointment, then a roar of protest. They didn’t want to leave. Somebody took a newspaper out of his pocket and set it on fire—the natural act of a man who wished to see where he was. His neighbors quickly followed suit. The idea seemed to please everyone, and word of it was passed along from group to group, from circle to circle. Thousands of newspapers were lit at once, and within a matter of moments the celebration had become transformed into a weird procession of people bearing flaming torches. No one organized this parade, no one arranged for it ahead of time. No one could even have known it would take place. It all happened quite suddenly, and in silence. The quiet was virtually absolute. There was no singing, no talking—only the crackle of burning paper.
Then, in the quiet, about a hundred students climbed onto the balcony of a nearby building. Holding their torches high, they began to chant in unison in both Hebrew and Russian: “The people Israel lives! The people Israel lives! The people Israel lives!” The slogan electrified those standing below, and they roared in answer: “Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!” It was a simple and spontaneous affirmation, but one which should put to rest our doubts about the future of Jewish youth in Russia. There, too, the people Israel lives.
* * * * *
This, perhaps, is the most forceful lesson now to be learned about the Jews of the Soviet Union. Although the same evening had made an overwhelming impression upon me a year ago as well, this time the experience was deeper, and more complete. It had taken on a new and all-important dimension of self-assurance. Not only were more young people present, but they had given a more open and straightforward expression to their Jewishness. It is a mistake to speak of this event as a passing phenomenon; those who are still accustomed to declare at every opportunity that in the course of ten years there will be not a single trace left of Jewish life in Soviet Russia have not seen these youngsters. It is true, of course, that in the past, certain activities took place only in darkness. Young people preferred to meet in the shadows, in side-street courtyards. Unsure of themselves, they could hardly become reconciled to the fact that someone had taken the initiative of setting up special floodlights in the street for the holiday. Despite the general easing of tensions, they remained, justifiably, suspicious. There was no way of knowing whether the man standing off at the side, watching the celebration, was not memorizing names or faces.
This year, however, they had taken the decisive step: they became angry when the lights went out. Now they were demanding both to see and to be seen. For me, their spontaneous torchlight parade is a symbol of their new desire to come up from underground, and to assert their Jewishness in open pride.
On this visit, too, I talked with them for long hours on end. Their knowledge of Jewish matters has not improved. Their faith in Marxism has not been shaken, nor have their ties to Soviet Russia been weakened. I heard not a single word of criticism against the regime in which they live. But I can report that their Jewish consciousness has taken deeper root. Judaism is no longer a matter of apologetics with them. Unlike many of their counterparts in the West, they are not defensive about their Jewishness, but regard it as a basic fact of life which is not open to discussion or philosophical debate.
“Anyone who wants to defame us can go ahead and do so,” said a chemistry student I had talked to once before, a year ago. “That’s their business. We simply don’t answer. We refuse to argue with them. Our answer lies in the fact that we continue to survive—and that we wish to go on surviving.”
Another student said, “We refuse to lower ourselves to their level. They’ve convinced us we’re right, and that’s the greatest compliment we can pay them.”
A girl, a student of Western literature and a friend of them both, said to me in Yiddish: “No one denies that there are anti-Semites here. We present a problem to them, but we’ve decided not to let them present a problem to us. Once and for all, we’ve simply refused.”
And yet, it is the anti-Semites who have caused these youngsters to return to Judaism, who have coerced them into becoming more Jewish. “It hurts me that our ‘revival’ has come about because of external, rather than internal, pressures; my only comfort is that this fact hurts the anti-Semites even more,” said a man who teaches foreign languages at one of the Soviet universities. A year ago this same man had told me how he had decided not to tell his son about his annual visits to Arkhipova Street, on the night of Simchat Torah, but had then actually met his son here, in the crowd. “This year we came together,” he said proudly. I asked him about the rest of the year. Did he talk with his son about Jewish matters? No. His wife is not Jewish, he explained, and there seems no reason to cause trouble at home. “But,” he went on, “let’s not worry. The situation cannot remain static. It has to change. Once you come to dance on Simchat Torah, you want to live like a Jew the rest of the year too. We’ll see.”
Indeed, since last year the situation has clearly changed. Young people who formerly knew about the existence of one Jewish holiday have uncovered others. Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur do not, it is true, attract them; they want to celebrate, not to fast and grieve. The “festival of freedom” is a far more exciting prospect. On a night during Passover 1966, several hundred youngsters gathered opposite the Moscow synagogue and began to dance and sing. They were the pioneer core, scouting the territory. Had there been no interference, Passover would probably have become another Simchat Torah. Someone, however, suggested to the community leaders that it was inadvisable to overdo such things. The warden of the synagogue was sent outside to ask them to leave. When this failed, the old rabbi himself came out and begged them to return home. “You’re disturbing the peace,” he told them. The youngsters finally took pity on these men, and rather than endanger their position with the authorities, decided to leave. They could wait until October. On Simchat Torah all the enthusiasm pent up during the year would finally be released.
* * * * *
About a thousand men and women filled the synagogue on the following day, for the second ceremony of processions. Many had brought presents for the guests: vodka, cake, and apples. They had saved up for a week or a month in order to provide this personal gift to the Jews who came to them from afar. A bottle of liquor costs about five rubles—a day’s wages for an officeworker or skilled laborer. I found myself surrounded by a dozen men, all pleading with me to drink, to accept a piece of cake or an apple. The congregation consists in the main of pensionnaires, retired workers. Last night was the youngsters’ holiday; today was theirs. “Drink lehayyim,” a Jew whispered to me. “I’ve kept this bottle for six months, waiting for this moment.” Standing next to him was a man with a red beard, who also urged me to drink: “Drink to us all; who knows, maybe your benedictions will be accepted in heaven.”
Here and there I heard people say proudly that the whole city was talking about what had happened the night before. Thirty- to forty thousand youngsters had taken part in the “symphony of Simchat Torah,” and no one had been arrested, or even molested. This morning the chief trustee had contacted the police to ask if everything had been all right. Everything was fine. Not a single incident had been reported—highly unusual in the case of such a large gathering.
The processions ended. Men were being called up to the Torah. We all sang: “Blessed be He who has chosen us from among all nations and given us His Torah.” I returned to my bench in the visitors’ loge. Hunched in a corner, I read the anonymous notes I had once again found in my pocket: “Next year in Jerusalem”; “Be strong and valiant”; “Don’t forget us. . . .”
Suddenly, to my astonishment, I heard singing outside. I thought at first it was the effect of the vodka. But the voices became louder. I left the visitors’ section and hurried out to the street. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Hundreds of young Jews were there, singing and dancing, exactly like the night before. Where they had come from, how they had managed to leave their classrooms or offices—I don’t know. But they had come. Once again the police were called upon to block the street off. Only pedestrians were allowed to pass, and I heard some of them querying the officers about what was going on. One of the policemen replied, “It’s just the Jews, celebrating their holiday.”
For the second time in twenty-four hours I heard the old familiar songs in Yiddish and Russian. Circles were again formed to dance the hora. A young man climbed on the shoulders of his friends, shouting, “Long live the Jewish people!” The crowd roared back its approval, and urged him on. For a minute he seemed at a loss, then recovered himself and began to shout out the names of famous Jewish personalities in the Soviet Union: “Long live Benjamin Dimshitz!” “Long live David Oistrakh!” “Leonid Kogan!” “Yevsei Liberman!” “Botvinik!” “Maya Plisetskayal” “Nehama Lipshitz!” All Jews. But the list was quickly exhausted and his audience wanted more. Unthinking, he chose the name of one long forgotten: “Long live Lazar Kaganovitch!” Someone near me asked jokingly whether Kaganovitch was still alive. Yes, he is still alive, but only the Jews remember him. I wonder if it ever crossed his mind that a day would come when his name would be trumpeted aloud outside the Jewish synagogue, while he himself was banished from the Kremlin walls.
A boy was pointed out to me who had traveled a distance of thirty miles in order to return a notebook that belonged to a foreign tourist. A second had come all the way from the other end of Moscow because the night before someone had promised to bring him a Hebrew calendar. Others came for no specific reason other than to continue what had been started the night before, as if they had simply resolved to ignore their official allotment of one night a year. It appears that when I expected to see nothing new here this year, I too had not reckoned with Jewish youth.
* * * * *
In all other areas, however, it must be said that the situation remains as petrified as ever. No one holds out any hope that the general discriminatory measures against Jews will be put to an end. German citizens living in the Soviet Union, for instance, have their own schools, their own theater, their own folklore, publishing houses, cultural life, and even radio and television programs. The Jews still have nothing. All others can pride themselves on their national heritage—but not the Jews.
As for the economic trials, it is difficult to ascertain whether they have been completely stopped or not. The press, at any rate, has ceased to publicize them, and that is a good sign. But there are persistent rumors about Jews who have been sentenced to death or imprisonment for alleged economic crimes. These rumors are not spontaneous, nor are they groundless: the place of trial and the names of the accused are known. In addition, the pervasive fear which I encountered a year ago may still be said to exist. This time, too, I came across Jewish tourists from abroad who had tried unsuccessfully to speak with their relatives in Kiev and Minsk. The average Russian citizen does not hesitate to talk with foreigners; Jews shy away from them. In the synagogue I met someone who had been interrogated about a conversation he had had with me last year. They had showed him photographs, had wanted to know every question I asked him and what he had replied. He was released after twenty-four hours, but the effects of the interrogation had yet to wear off. Only because there was a large crowd around us did he feel free to speak with me again. In another place, in different circumstances, he would have avoided me completely. He told me so himself.
On the other hand, I heard of Jews in other cities who had overcome their fear. This year a number of Jews even had the courage to request permission to be reunited with their families abroad. A short while ago an old Hasid was granted an exit visa. Hundreds of his fellow Hasidim, singing and dancing, accompanied him to the train station, to the general astonishment of the other passengers. No one interfered.
Whether or not there will be interference in the future, only time can tell. I believe, however, that no amount of interference will succeed in dampening the new spirit of awakening that breathes in Soviet Jewry, especially among the young. And I believe that the authorities know this. Soviet policy toward the Jews seems to be at a crossroads; the trouble is that no matter which direction it finally takes, the results will in all likelihood be the same. A policy of leniency—even token leniency—will cause many Jews who have hitherto wandered about as strangers among strangers, along the fringes of their people, to return to Judaism. Once it is known that it is permissible to live openly as a Jew—without the fear of public insults and degradation—such people will return in the thousands, for the simple reason that it has been proved to them in their very bones that a Jew cannot live in Russia as a non-Jew.
But an opposite policy—of suppression through the real means of fear and terrorization—will only bring about similar results. The experience of past years has taught us that young Jews will oppose this kind of pressure. They have already demonstrated their unwillingness to surrender either to blandishments or to threats, and their adherence to Judaism will increase precisely as they are asked to reject it. The further they are separated from their people, the more will they assert their identification with it.
It is possible therefore to say that Soviet authorities have missed their opportunity. It may be that at one time—two or three generations ago—it was possible to solve the “Jewish problem” in the Soviet Union, for better or for worse, through a process of voluntary or forced assimilation. Many Jews, if given the opportunity, would perhaps have tried to assimilate and to live as non-Jews; but this was denied them. The general populace refused to accept them as citizens with equal rights. A Jew born as a Jew remained a Jew until the day of his death, whether he liked it or not. His national origin was stamped on all his documents.
By now, however, young Jews in Russia have rejected the solution of assimilation altogether. Although they have had no education in Judaism—except what they have learned from anti-Semitic literature—they cling ferociously to their community. Although non-religious, they celebrate Jewish holidays and sing Jewish songs. Under no circumstances will they allow their Jewishness to be degraded or killed.
I returned from my second trip to Moscow somewhat encouraged. I am convinced that however events turn out, these young Jews will continue to seize every available opportunity to demonstrate their solidarity with the Jewish community. I have no doubt that in the not too distant future they will appear in front of the synagogue not just once a year but twice, then three or four times, and then once a month. Something is taking place among Jewish youth in the Soviet Union, and the time has come for us to realize it. Without outside help, without teachers or books, without leaders and meeting places, even without an appropriate spiritual climate, they have managed to survive, and will manage in the future as well. And they will do so, I should add, on their own. They learn Hebrew in secret, translate a Hebrew song into Russian, pass from hand to hand slips of paper with a few lines of Jewish history written on them. They listen to foreign broadcasts and circulate among themselves news of what is happening in world Jewry and in the Jewish state. This activity is not organized by any single person in any single place. Each one of them takes part and feels personally responsible for its success.
Their salvation, then, will come from within themselves, not from us. They may already have realized how futile it is to rely on us—either on our help or on our sympathy—and so have taken their destiny into their own hands. In past years, guests from abroad played an important role on the night of Simchat Torah. Each one of us would be surrounded by hundreds of youngsters, and we would tell them what was happening elsewhere in the world. We taught them new songs. This time, however, we were only observers. A year ago, they seemed to be making a conscious effort to explain and clarify their Jewishness, both for themselves and for others. This year, everything had suddenly become clear. Few of the participants were to be seen engaged in discussions among themselves or with the foreign guests. Rather than besiege us with questions, they appeared content with what they themselves knew. They didn’t need us any longer. And the next day, when they came in groups to the synagogue, and began to sing and dance, it was without our knowledge. We went home; they continued to dance and shout: “The people Israel lives!” That song will never die.