| Building Dreams |

Building Dreams: Chapter 15  

“We wouldn’t need to heal had those Arab maniacs not tried to kill us”




iriam?” I whispered to the sleeping figure in the bed to the right of me. The pale rays of the early morning sunlight were already creeping in through the windows and lighting up the white walls and rows of metal beds that lined them. “Miriam,” I whispered again, a little louder this time. She didn’t even stir. I’ll never understand how she could sleep no matter where we were or what was happening. Slipping out of my bed, I leaned over and shook my younger sister until she opened her eyes. “Miriam.”

She looked at me with a sleepy gaze, but I knew she was up.

“I need you,” I whispered, longing to have her close by. Yisroel was sleeping in a different room with the other babies. Even Leiba was in a different room, with all the younger girls, so I couldn’t cuddle close to her, either.

By now Miriam was up, sitting upright and blinking sleepily. I sat down next to her. And so we sat there, quietly, watching the rays from the sun get stronger as the sun rose slightly higher. It felt good to have her next to me, even if we didn’t say anything.

“I’m going to check on Leiba and Yisroel,” I whispered finally. Other girls were stirring now and there was a good chance my siblings would be awake, too. “I don’t want them to wake up alone and confused.”

Miriam nodded and got up as well. Quietly, the two of us slipped into our clothing and headed out of the room to find our siblings.

“I’ll go to Yisroel, you’re better with Leiba than I am,” I said to Miriam once we had left the room and closed the door behind us. She nodded once and turned toward the room where the younger girls slept while I headed for the door of the baby room.

Well, if the girls in my room were barely stirring, the babies in this room were all wide awake. Some were even standing up in their cribs. Quickly scanning the room, I spotted Yisroel lying down in his crib and made my way down the row of cribs toward him.

“Yisroel,” I crooned, noticing the way he was looking around. At the sound of my voice, Yisroel quickly stood up and stretched his arms out toward me. There was no need for another invitation. Immediately, I scooped him out of his crib and held him close, his warm body relaxing against mine. My baby. But as much as he needed me in that moment, I needed him more. It was only when I was holding him that I felt calm once again. It was only while I held him that the images of Mama and Papa and Dovid didn’t swim before my eyes, only while I held him that I heard quiet instead of the sounds of screaming Arab voices, and I had peace from my memories. Memories of… could it really be only yesterday? I looked around at the starkly clean room and rows of cribs. So much had changed since yesterday.



The paper the nurse gave me three hours ago was already in shreds from having been folded so many times. I had already folded it into an airplane, a boat, a fan, and any other shape I could think of. There was just nothing for me to do here. I watched the nurses coming and going. They seemed to glide from bed to bed, not walk. Not that there were that many of them, and the ones who were here were very busy taking care of all of us. So many people had come in with really horrible wounds. Those Arabs — they didn’t just try to kill us, they tried to hurt us first. And it showed. My head throbbed as I watched the nurses circle the room.

“Are you okay?” one of the nurses asked as she passed my bed.

“Fine,” I replied.

“Just don’t try to get up,” she warned before moving on to the next patient. As if I didn’t know that. Every nurse who passed by my bed made sure to mention that I shouldn’t lift my head. Sure, my wound was cleaned and bandaged, and I was even feeling a lot better, but getting stabbed right above my eye was apparently a good enough reason to keep me on my back. Not that I would have gotten up without their warnings — my head hurt too much when I lifted it.

I turned back to the paper in my hand and continued folding it. Not into shapes, just folding and unfolding again and again. At least it kept my hands busy. And as my hands moved, my mind roamed, rehashing the past few days again and again and again. I wondered how Mama was. She was somewhere here in this hospital, that I knew, but no one had mentioned anything else and the nurses were too busy for me to bother them. As for where Elka and the rest of them were — I’d probably find that out only after I left the hospital.

“Why are you here?” a voice called out from somewhere to my right.

Gently, I turned my head toward the bed next to mine where another boy was lying, his head wrapped tightly in a white bandage. I vaguely recognized him from Chevron — he was one of the Sephardic boys. Probably, had Mama and Papa sent me to the regular Talmud Torah, I’d have known him much better, but since I was always so busy in the yeshivah, he only looked vaguely familiar.

“For the same reason you’re here,” I replied. “To heal.”

“We wouldn’t need to heal had those Arab maniacs not tried to kill us.”

“We wouldn’t need to heal had that British excuse for a police force not ignored us when we asked for help,” I countered.

The boy looked shocked for a moment — or maybe his face was just pale from his injuries. I didn’t really know. “You think this is all the fault of the British?” he said slowly, as if trying to understand.

“Oh no,” I replied, shaking my head. It hurt too much, so I stopped. “There’s no doubt it was those Arab pigs who killed my father and tried to kill me. But the Arabs have always hated us. Who asked the British to get involved and take sides? They probably wish the Arabs would have just slaughtered us all — it would get rid of the problem. No Jews to argue that Eretz Yisrael is ours too.”

The boy looked shocked.

“Yes,” I nodded. This time, though, the anger building up inside me overrode the pain of nodding. “As soon as I get out of here, I’m going to find a way to get back at them.”

“At the British?” the boy asked.

I nodded again. “You can join me, if you want. I will make them pay for what happened to my family.”

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 913)

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