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My Story

A true story of a former security guard.

Never thought it would be so difficult to talk about myself...

Born 1950 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

The family both from my father's and from my mother's side – Guslitzers and Nodels – fled to Uzbekistan during World War II among many other refugees from Europe.

Spent most of my life in Tashkent – one of the most beautiful cities of the former Soviet Union. As life took its unpredictable turns, ended up in Jerusalem – the gravitational focus of the Jewish nation. Worked as a security guard in a supermarket in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood.

Was born again on a rainy day March 29th having survived an encounter with a suicide bomber.

A girl wearing jeans and a winter jacket with a backpack – nothing special. I ask her to let me check the backpack. She doesn't answer just murmurs something to herself. I point again to the backpack with the metal detector – let me check it. She just continues murmuring…

My son who served in the military taught me: look in their eyes, the eyes say everything. And mind you, never touch a woman – you don't want to get in a situation with sexual harassment charges.

I feel the backpack with the metal detector – it beeps. She suddenly tries to break through past me. Forgetting everything that my son has taught me I grab her by the shoulders and throw her out of the store…

The blast tears her up to pieces four to six feet in front of me. I become crippled for the rest of my life. No one else is hurt.

After an eight hour surgery and then another one, the main thing is that I am alive! This happened just after my first seven months in Israel.

We arrived in Israel a few days before the yortzeit my mother, Yodel Tzeita, z"l. I never knew exactly what Judaism mandates for yortzeit, but this time I wanted to do it right. My son, who was learning at one of the Toldos Yeshurun evening collels, referred me to his rosh collel, Rabbi Ben Zion Zilber.

The meeting with this most wise and kind man left an indelible mark in my heart. There was a lot of warmth and genuine friendliness about him. Thanks to the rabbi's ability to unite everyone around him into one whole, I felt completely at home among people which I have never met before.

There, at Rabbi Zilber's collel, we later had a thanksgiving meal for my miraculous survival.

After a while, another significant event occurred in my family – my son got engaged. While standing beside him under the chuppah I remembered the chuppah of my own. It took place in 1976, in Tashkent, in a small back yard of my parent's friends. The participants were happy but rather uncomfortable – such events were frowned upon by the Soviet authorities. However, everything was done according to the tradition. After a glass was crushed to remind us of the destruction of the Temple, the marriage certificate – the kesuba – was signed. Here in Israel, they couldn't believe that somebody would make a chuppah and draw up a kesuba in 1976 Tashkent!

It is amazing how eventually I also became a small link in the great chain of the Jewish survival. My grandfather, Shmul Nodel, a respected chazzan and melammed (tutor), and my grandmother, Sheine Moleh Charkatz, were pious Jews, may their memory be blessed. And now, after years of oppression by the Soviet regime, our family is again keeping Torah and mitzvos!

Anatoly Guslitzer, former security guard at a Jerusalem supermarket

May 24th, 2004

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