Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



The Great Escape

Leah Tisser

I grew up in Hungary. When I was 16 I left my family, my home, my country — everything I knew — to build a new life where I would be able to live freely as a Jew.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Eastern Europe had been occupied by the Soviets since 1945 when the USSR “liberated” us from the Nazis, imposing a Communist dictatorship on all the occupied countries.

Everything was nationalized; no private enterprise or ownership was allowed. Organized religion was outlawed. We struggled just to keep Shabbos. It was a dreary existence, yet we were not allowed to leave, held captive behind the Iron Curtain. Then came October 1956, when the Hungarians revolted against Soviet occupation. At first the rebels were successful, but they were ultimately crushed by the mighty Red Army.

During the chaos that followed, a great opportunity arose. Many border guards had abandoned their posts, and the borders were mostly open and unguarded. The Iron Curtain had been torn. Not knowing how long this would last, we had to act quickly. The frum Jewish community began fleeing the country in droves. Families literally disappeared overnight. Every morning my father came home from shul and reported who else was missing.

Most people who fled made it over the border, but even those caught and brought back, tried again. No one was even jailed because the law of the land hadn’t yet returned. Chaos and confusion reigned.

My family couldn’t escape. My frail grandmother couldn’t undertake such a hazardous trip, and my parents wouldn’t leave her behind. After much agonizing and contemplation it was determined that I alone would leave, with family friends. At least I would be saved.

 

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Evolution vs. Revolution
Shoshana Friedman I call it the “what happened to my magazine?” response
Up, Up, and Away
Rabbi Moshe Grylak What a fraught subject Eretz Yisrael is, to this day
Where Do You Come From?
Yonoson Rosenblum Could they be IDF officers with no Jewish knowledge?
Heaven Help Us
Eytan Kobre Writing about anti-Semitism should rouse, not soothe
Work/Life Solutions with Chedva Kleinhandler
Moe Mernick “Failures are our compass to success”
An Un-Scientific Survey
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Are Jerusalemites unfriendly? Not necessarily
Out of Anger
Jacob L. Freedman How Angry Lawyer was finally able to calm down
5 Things You Didn’t Know about…Yitzy Bald
Riki Goldstein He composed his first melody at eight years old
When the Floodgates of Song Open, You’re Never Too Old
Riki Goldstein Chazzan Pinchas Wolf was unknown until three years ago
Who Helped Advance These Popular Entertainers?
Riki Goldstein Unsung deeds that boosted performers into the limelight
Your Task? Ask
Faigy Peritzman A tangible legacy I want to pass on to my children
Are You There?
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Emotional withdrawal makes others feel lonely, abandoned
A Peace of a Whole
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt Love shalom more than you love being right
Seminary Applications
Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald, as told to Ariella Schiller It’s just as hard for seminaries to reject you