Congregation Chevra Thilim hosts Zvi Bielski – son of “Defiance” hero

Huddled in the lovely sanctuary of Chevrah Thilim, a group of around 80 people imagined what it would have been like to be rounded up, surrounded by antagonistic police, the military then surrounding them, and shuffled off to a camp. What could you do? If you were lucky, you would have been rescued by the Bielski partisans, a group of 3 brothers who grew up on the edge of the forest, and sheltered and saved 1,200 Jews in Belarus. Rather than a WWII casualty, you would be a survivor.

Zvi Bielski set the mood this cold Sunday afternoon, detailing the larger-than-life figures of his father and two uncles, whose heroism is becoming more legendary since “Defiance” was released this month. Perhaps even urban-legendary, as the brothers, reputedly 10 feet tall, rode horseback, rescued neighbors, and worked with the Russians to their advantage – to save all Jews, including the sick, young, and aged – from the Nazi roundup. In Judaism, it is said that each soul is like a universe, and the brother’s goal was to do whatever it took to help every person in need. One wonders what role we would play should the situation happen again. At least we know that Jews can and do fight back; the Bielski’s heroism is worthy of the best Bible story.

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