Mrs. Zak is
my Hebrew school teacher. She's saying, "A v with a dot inside is a b." No one is listening. Barry Rosenthal raises his hand, and says we can't concentrate today because last night the Brady Bunch got stuck in Hawaii, and we need to leave class early so we don't miss the beginning of tonight's episode.


What Is Important


We are all embarrassed for Barry's bad behavior. But we are quietly waiting for Mrs. Zak's answer.

Mrs. Zak is quietly waiting, too. She is looking at us.

She tells us to close our books, and she passes out licorice to the class. This is a big deal, because you can't make the guttural sounds with food in your mouth.

Then she tells us she was at Auschwitz. She says she will tell us a story about it. She folds her hands on top of her desk, and she tells us from the beginning, from the time when she was a fifth grader, like us. She tells us her mother didn't let go of her hand for three days. That's how scared her mother was of being separated. But they were separated anyway, and Mrs. Zak never saw her mother again. I think about if I never saw my mother again, and I can't believe Mrs. Zak isn't crying. Her hands are shaking, though.

She says if you don't tell stories, people can pretend it never happened. I think that even though she yells at us for not doing our homework, she likes us because she is letting us see her shake. I want to do something nice for Mrs. Zak, like do my homework every week. But I know I can't do that, so I decide to be a person who holds stories.

She lets us touch her tattoo, and it is black and bumpy. Then she lets us out of class early.




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