Vol. 11


A Risky Plan

c. 1943; Tbilisi, Georgia, USSR1

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a plan that could get you arrested? Well, someone had one. When my great-great-grandmother Bubby2 Luba lived in Russia in 1943, Russia was in the middle of World War II. If you were Jewish, you couldn’t daven in a shul (worship in a synagogue), so there was a traveling shul.

On Simchat Torah (a Jewish holiday) it was my great-great-grandparents’ turn to host the shul in their home. Everyone was celebrating when a terrifying officer came in. He saw people celebrating and got mad. “What do you think you’re doing? Don’t you know Russia’s in the middle of a war?” he screamed. Then he thought, “Such traitors! How dare they celebrate in the middle of a war!” Again he shouted, “I’m going to arrest you!”

Bubby Luba felt horrified. If they didn’t do something soon, they would all get arrested!

Just then she had a plan. She whispered it to her husband, Zaidy3 Moshe, and Zaidy Moshe said, “Oh, we’re not celebrating our holiday. We’re celebrating for the Russian soldiers.” Then he took a glass of vodka (an alcoholic drink) and said, “This is for the soldiers. Long may they live!” And the officer had to drink, too, so it would be respectful towards the soldiers.

Then Zaidy Moshe did another toast — and another and another until the officer got drunk and fell asleep. Then everyone left.

When the officer woke up, he asked, “Where is everyone? I have to arrest them!”

Bubby Luba said, “Nobody else is here.”

“I’m going to tell my boss about this,” the officer said.

Then Bubby Luba said, “If you do, I’ll tell him that you got drunk on duty, and then you’ll be the one in trouble.”

So the officer left, and they didn’t get arrested.


Yael Zimmerman; New York, USA


1. In 1943 Georgia was a republic in the Soviet Union (USSR). In 1991 it became an independent country.

2. “Bubby” is Yiddish for “grandma.

3. “Zaidy is Yiddish for “grandpa.



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