F F orward, forward, always moving forward. Pass through forests, fields, towns, highways. Sometimes there were small battles, snipers, an occasional SS regiment still in fighting form, but for the most part, the American G.I.'s in Germany marched forward towards Berlin day after day.

Moe’s time passed in a frenzy of interrogations. With hundreds of thousands of German soldiers surrendering, entire divisions encircled and captured, the work was unceasing, relentless. But Moe didn’t mind — every mile covered, every soldier disarmed, brought the Allied troops closer to what they all dreamed of: victory.

It was a lovely spring morning when he reported to his CO for his orders. The colonel was holding a sheaf of papers, his fingers gripping them so hard his nails had turned white. He stared quietly at Moe, his face grim, his eyes hooded, a man seeing something too terrible to grasp, too monstrous to share. Moe looked at him, expectant, puzzled.

Finally, his commanding officer spoke. “Freed, I’m detaching you for three days service with the 222nd. They’ve found… they’ve liberated a camp and they need help with translation.”

Moe spoke lightly. “Another chance to improve my German, sir.”

The colonel’s lips were a straight, unsmiling line. “Not German, Freed. They need someone who speaks Yiddish.”

*

“Are you sure you don’t want to come with me, Abe? Mrs. Horn can take care of Mutty.”

Abe looked up from the book he’d been reading to his son. “No thanks, sweetheart. We’ll be fine here. I’m not really in the mood. Wish Bubbe a very happy birthday and tell her I’m looking forward to her visit.”

Annie smiled at her husband and walked out the door.

And then her smile disappeared, like sand beneath a powerful wave.

*

“He wouldn’t come?”

“He wouldn’t come.”

Bubbe pursed her lips; a sure sign of disapproval. Annie quickly rose to her husband’s defense before Abe’s clearly unhappy grandmother could speak.

“It’s not that he doesn’t want to, Bubbe. He… he can’t.”

“He can’t? Is that what the doctors say?”

“Well, no. They’re actually very pleased with his progress, baruch Hashem. He’s gained back a lot of weight, and he’s getting stronger every day.”

“Why, then, couldn’t my grandson find time in his busy schedule to wish his grandmother a happy birthday?”

Annie hesitated. For several weeks she’d been making excuses for Abe to his family. At first, thrilled to have him home again, they’d happily trooped to his room in the hotel, reluctantly leaving only when it became clear he was fatigued by all the excitement. Now, though, they were waiting for him to start resuming a normal life. And that wasn’t happening.

Annie would never forget those Sedorim, held only a few days after her husband’s unexpected early arrival home. Papa, showing his newfound, wonderful sensitivity to others, had suggested that they make quiet, private Sedorim for Abe, away from the boisterous and excited boarders, with only his parents, grandmother, and the children. “And perhaps Harry can lead them for you,” Papa added.

That had been a brilliant idea, Annie realized. For Abe to see Harry, whom he’d remembered as a weak and frail invalid, now recovered and full of plans for the future, was better therapy than anything the VA hospital could offer. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 543)