How Israel glorifies us everywhere

Jews could fight back once they had a state of their own. The creation of Israel gave Jews the world over courage and self confidence.

Jack Engelhard, | updated: 19:21

Jack Engelhard
Jack Engelhard
צילום: מתוך האתר האישי

Mother tried to stop me from going to the movies Sunday afternoons at the Talmud Torah. In the morning, when we went for our studies, it was also dangerous. The French gangs were always waiting, but later on they came in waves to beat up as many Jewish kids as they could get their hands on.

I usually came home with a bloody nose. But Father let me go, saying I had to learn to take care of myself. Far away, Jews were doing exactly that.

Here, the street was Saint Urbain. Doodie was the toughest of us all, but even he was no match for the “Pepsis” …not a nice term, but they called us much worse.

Montreal was like that back then, a big place inhabited by all sorts of people, but it was mostly about the French and the English…Jews right in the middle of it all.

No Israel yet, but Zionism was becoming a big word. Some of the older guys had gone over there to fight. We were too young.

Most of the movies were shoot-em-ups, you know – Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and Hopalong Cassidy. About a thousand of us kids were packed into the auditorium, always thunderously cheering the heroes. We wanted to be like them, and sometimes we were. We did fight back when the French gangs came at us as soon as the Exit doors swung open.

But it was no use. They knew how to fight. We didn’t; I mean fight for real. Everybody was afraid of them, even the English. They owned the streets, the Pepsis did. We ran to escape their fists. We knew they hated us. We just didn’t know why. Our parents knew. Some of us were still new in town from Europe.

Over there, there were no Jewish soldiers…not a single one. Same story over here in Montreal, so we ran for our lives.

Their leader was a monstrous kid. They called him Serge. He was there first when about 50 of them came charging at us. Serge used his belt as a whip.


One day, Father came down the street with tears streaming down his cheeks. I ran over to ask him what’s wrong. He said it was the most beautiful day of his life…a sight to behold…the picture of a Jewish soldier…right beneath a headline that declared the creation of Israel.
So Mother had a point. So did Father. This now was some time in May. Each morning Father went up the street to get the Yiddish paper.

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Much of it was about the fighting between the Jews and the Arabs. This was amazing – Jews fighting like that after 2,000 years of taking whatever came.

Back in Poland, Father had lived through a number of pogroms. There were no Jewish soldiers there, either.

Then one day, Father came down the street with tears streaming down his cheeks. I ran over to ask him what’s wrong.

He said it was the most beautiful day of his life…a sight to behold…the picture of a Jewish soldier…right beneath a headline that declared the creation of Israel.

“Imagine that,” he kept saying. “A Jewish soldier.”

Now everything was different, and we felt it that Sunday at the movies. We would all be Jewish soldiers…and we were.

Doodie started it when he dashed straight for their leader Serge and beat him to the ground. The rest of us followed with the same fury and now THEY ran.

I came home with the usual bloody nose. But even Mother understood that this blood was different.

New York-based bestselling American novelist Jack Engelhard writes regularly for Arutz Sheva.

He is the author of the award-winning Montreal memoir, “Escape from Mount Moriah.” Just released is his augmented HOLLYWOOD EDITION of “News Anchor Sweetheart.” Engelhard wrote the international book-to-movie bestseller “Indecent Proposal” and the inside-journalism thriller “The Bathsheba Deadline.” He is the recipient of the Ben Hecht Award for Literary Excellence. Website: www.jackengelhard.com











 

  


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