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A 6 Year old in Hiding in a Church, In Canada


By Avrum Rosensweig

The day was the way we wanted it to be, sunny and warm with a sweet wind cascading through the trees.

I walked into the church and noticed an assuming door where a small window had recently been cut out. Jozsef Pusuma, a Roma/Jewish man from Hungary, answered the door and I embraced him as we Canadians do. He hugged me back and I wondered if Hungarians are as affectionate as we are.

I entered the room and his wife Timea, a longtime activist, was resting on the couch. A woosh of hot air hit me despite the fact a window leading to the street was open. I arrived with a colleague, Jenn. We are working on a rally to free the Pusumas. Jenn commented on the stifling nature of the room. Timea said she was cold.

We sat and talked for an hour. Jozsef prepared dinner for us, schnitzel and spicy pasta. He said he wants “to share his tastes when he is free”; to open an eatery where patrons can feast on Hungarian dishes like paprikash.

Lulu is the Pusumas 6 year old daughter and she was attending a class in the church. I couldn’t wait to see her resplendent face. Lulu was protected by her father when the family was attacked by neo-Nazis back in Budapest. She was 15 months old. Josef lay on top of her during the beating. Her mother says Lulu understands everything “and she is not really 6. She is 600.” I thought of Methuselah. Lulu is wise.

Jon arrived, another colleague working on the May 23rd rally. We set about explaining to the Pusumas the ins and outs of the May 23rd rally to help free them. We told them it would be in front of Minister Alexander’s office and start with people blowing rams rams horn just like the Jews did to bring down the walls of Jericho.

The Pusumas’ faces shone with hope. I asked myself (and believe I said aloud), “I’m not sure I would be so strong if I were in sanctuary for 29 months, unable to go outside, unable to walk my child to school, unable to see the mighty Canadian trees blossom.”

Timea told Jenn, Jon and I that she was not scared. She said she was angry but knew she had to follow through until the end because so many people were fighting for them and she knows it is God’s will. She added that one day Lulu asked her if God was just a story. She says Lulu knows everything about what is going on.

Jozsef picked up a classical guitar and began playing a gypsy melody. The moment was surrealistic. I had to catch my breath. I couldn’t breathe realizing where I was and with whom and why. As a Jew my mind heartened back to my Holocaust education; to Anne Frank; to the Survivors I know today who were hidden as children, one in the closet of a priest – day in and day out when he went to work. I thought about my son.

Lulu walked into the room. I hadn’t seen her for a few weeks but you know how six year olds are. One day they are wearing size 11 shoes and the next, size 12. I hugged her. You develop a unique and rich love for people in hiding. I don’t know why. I didn’t want to let her go. Lulu gave me a round chocolate egg. I thanked her making a silly joke about how I wanted more. Her face, young and old, didn’t get the joke.

We finished telling the Pusumas about the rally and again they said they were hopeful. We chatted a bit about their humanitarian work in Hungary and their wish to do good here in Canada. I told them how disappointed I was that more Christians, Muslims and peoples of all backgrounds weren’t fighting harder for an obvious injustice, and how perturbed I was too by so many of my own people who knew the Pusumas were part Jewish, had been beaten by neo-Nazis and were scammed by an unethical lawyer. I told them I wondered what we had learned from Holocaust education.

I left the church and walked by the open window. Lulu was looking out at me. So was Jozsef. I passed the window and then came back thinking I had to take a picture of them so I would always have a reminder of their faces and be vigilante of leadership. I snapped the picture and looked at it. The frame of the window seemed to have bars.

As I walked to the car I thought how the Pusumas were trapped inside of a church and might be arrested and sent back to Hungary if they went for a walk. They were in a cell. I was free and in Canada 2014 I couldn’t get it – I just could not understand how it was that anyone couldn’t see how just it was to give the Pusuma family a Temporary Residency Permit to finally get a fair trial.

That evening I went for a walk and felt guilty, thinking about anyone who had ever hidden from their government and wondering where our country’s compassion was going. The wind had quietened down. An elderly Russian couple strolled by me hand in hand.

My walk was short.

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This entry was posted on May 17, 2014 by in Pusumas, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , .
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