“She has no family there. It has never been done, Director.”
“Never been done? Yes, you are right, of course, Magdalena. It has not. But, is the other choice better?”
I overheard the conversation between them, those two women that had cared for me, each in their own way, those last few years. The Director loved and guarded me from a distance. Hers was a love that fought many battles for me to stay with them until I could be reunited with my family, even when, at times, it put her own position in jeopardy. Magdalena’s love was the warmth of shared tears and the bosom of the tender embrace of a mother. I was the child she never had. She was the mother I had, but lost.
“What has not been done?”
They both turned to me, startled that I had heard their whispered conversation.
“‘Dassah, you shouldn’t sneak up on people!”
The Directors words were clipped and harsh, but I had known her too long to think that there was any real anger in them. She patted her now short and tamed red curls. The wildness of it was gone, but the habit stayed. I’d learned that it was her way of pausing to collect herself, to still her anxious thoughts.
“I’m sorry, Director. It just seemed that, perhaps, you were speaking of me. I meant no harm.”
“Of course you didn’t, Pequeño.” Magdalena patted the couch beside her, bidding me to sit down.
They both exchanged nervous glances as I sat and then each started to talk at the same time.
“I’m sorry, Director. You speak first.”
“No, Magdalena, carry on. Appropriate words fail me at the moment.”
I turned to Magdalena, a growing fear took hold. I could almost taste their tension and it settled in the pit of my stomach. I had been at the orphanage for five years, and in that time I had come to feel at home. It was not my true home, I knew. But, I felt safe and needed. As I had healed, I began to help Magdalena care for the younger children. I was still a child myself, but what had happened had aged me beyond my twelve years and caring for them eased the emptiness after I learned of my family’s fate.
Magdalena started hesitantly, “Pequeño, we have news.”
She paused, looked at the Director for support and down at her own hands for inspiration.
“This orphanage is being closed. The children that are left, who we cannot find homes for, will be transferred to another one in North Portugal. Neither I, nor the Director, are being kept on.”
She stared intently at me, gauging my response. I had none, except that my breath became still and my body stiff.
She continued, “As you know, all of the other children are either Portuguese or Spanish.” The tears cropping up in the corners of her eyes gave me a sense of dread.
“The new orphanage is refusing to take you unless you are willing to convert.”
The love and kindness of these two
women had drawn me to their faith, their Jesus. But, my faithfulness to my family and to my heritage left me standing at the threshold, looking in, longing to cross over but unable to.
“But, you said that it is a personal matter between me and Yahweh. You said that it isn’t about Governments
or Churches! Has that changed?!”
The Director responded, “Yes, ‘Dassah, we did and it has not. Noe that the recovery has started, the Christian Society that supports us has moved its support to other countries, based on need. They are moving us too.”
Magdalena grabbed my hands firmly, “Pequeño, there is another way. It has not been done before, but perhaps it is God’s provision. The Director knows a good family of Crypto-Jews that is moving to Palestine, now that there is a homeland for them. They are willing to take you with them. They need help with their small children.”
"I know Hadassah, it seems to make no sense,” said the Director. “It is His provision. We believe, in time, He will reveal His Son to you in the land of your forefathers.”
Once again, I was being transported against my will, away from the people I loved. Only now, it was my choice which path to take: the safe one opened by false promises, or the dangerous one where I might lose my way.
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