Page 108 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
the daughters of Maria, the proud, ladylike village prostitute, her
survival instinct tells Tzili that this is indeed good protective col­
oring. And so when asked her identity she simply declares that
she is one o f Maria’s daughters. She unconsciously parrots the
way o f speaking, the manner of behavior o f the non-Jewish
farmers, as a simpleton would. When she meets Marc, a culti­
vated Jew who has escaped from a concentration camp, he mar­
vels at how well she has transformed herself into a non-Jew. She is
now ready for the next stage o f emergence from primal nature to
create home and family.
The winter and the need for animal warmth throw Marc and
Tzili together into a pit which Marc has prepared for protection
against the elements. There are biblical echoes here with Tzili
and Marc re-enacting the myth of man’s beginnings. The story of
Noah is also present in Tzili’s and Marc’s tale. When the rains be­
gin he builds up the pit as an ark for protection while destruction
rages all around. And as Noah, facing the end o f the world, Marc
takes to drink. The experience of the pit and his relationship with
Tzili give him strength, help him overcome his fear somewhat.
But this fear was realistic, for when he goes down to the village,
he never returns. Tzili waits in vain. Her relationship to Marc has
awakened new aspects o f herself. She has known love and with its
loss, comes memory. It is this which signals a slight but significant
emergence from animal existence. Pregnant, she seeks Marc out,
dreams o f him, talks to him. But he does not return .
Tzili has no choice but to proceed to the next stage of human
connection, the community. She joins a band of Jewish refugees
as they make their way to Zagreb. Her innocence, her resilience,
and simple endurance as well as the child she is carrying, become
a rallying point for them, and when Tzili can no longer walk they
take turns carrying her on a stretcher. For a short period o f time
a community develops around her; they experience solidarity
and union. But this passes quickly in Zagreb where each turns to
grab what he can get, and Tzili delivers a stillborn baby. In spite
o f some fleeting moments of human elevation, the events o f the
Holocaust can only give birth to death. But Tzili accepts this as
she would have accepted the responsibility o f the child. She is still
pure and trusting, albeit more experienced, as she boards the
boat for Palestine.