Tuesday, September 16, 2014



     They huddled in a small frightened group in the enclosure at the Vienna airport. They expected many things on the other side of the Iron Curtain, but not this. The representative of the Jewish organization, which was supposed to help them with the immigration, met them at the airport, accompanied by half a dozen of soldiers with rifles: "for protection". Because most of the people were going to the U.S., they didn't want to surrender their visas in fear that they'd be compelled to go to Israel instead. That's why Rimka, who was approached first with the request to
submit her visa, brought her palm forward in a gesture of emphatic denial and announced with as much aplomb as she could master: "I have 'Nos-sing' (nothing)!" She and the other immigrants, who sensed a leader in her, then proceeded to trot away around the enclosure, followed by the official, looking exactly like a flock of sheep with a sheepdog nipping at their heels .
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 After a few minutes of fruitless pursuit, he got fed up. "Halt", - he roared - "get to the wall, put your luggage down!" He then gestured to the soldiers. They surrounded the group and pointed their rifles at them. Now, these were the Jewish people, standing in a totally unfamiliar environment, surrounded from all sides by rifles and the German speech, with an official rep yelling "Halt!" The situation reached such a degree of unbelievable that, Dina could hardly suppress the desire to giggle and stick her finger into the barrel of the rifle that was in front of her face!

 Docile now, the immigrants were loaded into the bus and driven to the compound where they were to stay. They took in the high walls with barbed wire on them, and the guards on the towers and started to sweat in earnest. What now: "Abandon hope, ye who  enter here" 
Everything was alright inside though. Each family got a clean dorm room and settled down for the night. 
The next couple of days brought trouble. 
Perhaps, because of her presumed special standing among the othersRimka's family was called first for an interview. After the scene at the airport, they wanted even less to do with going to Israel than ever before. Annoyed by their stubbornness, the officials retaliated. They took the family to the Vienna train station and left them there with all their luggage, - minus the visas, the translation or any idea what to do next!   
My dad, our savior!
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Fortunately, prompted by these dire circumstances, the rusty memory wheels in Meyer's brain turned and he remembered that he spoke some German! With his aid they found the American Embassy. There Meyer was obliged to disclose the names  of all the relatives in the U.S. He had a translator, but, once into German, he couldn't switch back to Russian!  
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Everything went smoothly from then on. They spent a few days in a motel in Vienna, then - an unforgettable month and a half in Italy, waiting for their entrance visas to the U.S. At first, Dina was sicker than a dog, - with cold as well as with longing for her friends and the theater. 
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The Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica 

She, Lera and Lera's husband, Grisha, went walking around Rome and to the Christmas Mass in Vatican. Dina sat separately: that gave her  the freedom to pray.               The Pope was giving the Mass. Dina's heart was overflowing with sincere repentance. She felt an incredible feeling of peace come and envelope her, warmer then any loving embrace. The priest, who was walking down the aisle, noticed how special her emotional state was; he came and blessed her. Ever since that day, she kept up the prayer. Because she didn't know about the great division in Christianity, she didn't understand, why the churches that she visited looked so different from one another. God's Grace found her in every one of them. 

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