Ruti Deem

“I met my future husband through a friend of my sister’s, who self-assumed the role of Cupid. Our first date was not so successful, but everyone told me I should give him another chance. My sister’s friend said he was a serious guy, and warned me not to play with his feelings. Time had taken its course, and after eight months together we decided to get married.

Yosef, my husband, was born in the Polish town of Przemysl. His mother and sister perished in the holocaust. He managed to hide away for a long time, and later joined the partisans who fought the Nazis in the Polish woods. This intense period had actually shaped the man he came to be. He never liked talking about things he went through, and I always felt I had to forcibly “extract” the details from him. People didn’t know back then how to treat holocaust survivors. Psychological therapy was hardly available and there were no support systems like the ones we have today. People simply kept silent and refrained from digging into their dark past.

At night he would sometimes cry in his sleep, saying they were after him or coming for him. I would always try to calm him down, but had nothing to offer beyond my love for him and a warm hug, because he wouldn’t share anything with me. It was only during Eichmann’s Trial that we, the Israelis, came to realize what holocaust survivors went through. Only then I understood what he had had to cope with. On the Holocaust Remembrance Days, he was flooded with memories and it would make him even more withdrawn. I could not make him speak, despite my honest efforts.

What I loved the most about him was the fact he had been a true gentleman. His conduct was different, very “unIsraeli”, if you want, and he always made me feel he cared about me. He would help me take off my coat or put it on when we went out to the cinema. Doors would open up before me wherever we passed, and most importantly – he made me feel I was the center of his world. Gentlemen like him are hard to find nowadays. Looking back, I do think we made it, in spite of everything.”

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