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Tefillin for the Tankist

Tefillin for the Tankist


We called a local Jewish gentleman and asked if we could come over and meet with him. He immediately agreed and we headed over. Unfortunately, finding his building was not as easy! We roamed the streets of Kamentz Podolksi for almost two hours, asking just about everyone we passed how to find his address. Finally we succeeded and sat down with our host, Avraham Itzik, who is 90 years old.

We offered to put on tefillin with him, and Avraham Itzik was overjoyed at the opportunity. He told us that he couldn’t remember the last time he’d done it.

When we mentioned that we were visiting from America, our host became teary and told us that during World War II he was a tankist for the Russian army. When he was discharged he learned that his entire family, except for one brother, had perished. This brother immigrated to America shortly thereafter, and Avraham Itzik stayed behind in Kamenetz Podolski rebuilding his life amongst the ashes. Our mention of America brought back memories of his brother, who is no longer alive, as well as the rest of his family who were taken well before their time.

We tried to encourage him, telling him that his bravery during the war undoubtedly saved countless lives. We explained that our ultimate revenge against the Nazis is keeping our Jewish pride alive, and doing mitzvahs – like the tefillin he just put on - which will bring the final redemption, and reunite us with our loved ones.

Avraham Itzik nodded, and smiled through his tears.

By JJ Hecht and Benji Licht
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