National Geographic : 1996 Apr
Upstairs exiles, Ethio pian Orthodox monks and nuns have lived on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre since the mid-1800s to press their claim to a portion of the sanctuary below. Barredfrom the build ing by a rival Christian sect, the Egyptian Copts, Ethiopians trace their claim back to a gift Solomon made to the Queen of Sheba. In the adjacent Arme nian Quarter of the Old City, kindergartners (be low) are the latest gen eration in a community that has endured since the fourth century. Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Memorial when Silman, his eyes moist and his voice steady, told me about his family. In 1937 Silman had left his hometown of Warta, Poland, with his father to work in Australia. The rest of the family remained behind. "When the war broke out, my father and I couldn't get back to Poland," he said, "and my mother, brother, sister, and cousins couldn't get out. When the war was over, my father and I sent letters to the Red Cross and to the town hall in Warta to find out about our family. My father kept working hard, saving up every cent to get a place for the family when they would join us one day. But eventually we discovered that the Nazis had killed them all." Silman stayed in Australia, where he mar ried and had children, but decided in 1972 to move his family to Jerusalem, the heart of his people's spiritual universe. "There are better places to live," he said, "but there's no place like home." At the wall, survivors of concentration camps described their liberation. The mood was solemn, and the crowd was quiet until everyone rose to sing the Israeli national anthem-"Ha-Tikva," or "The Hope." As the audience shuffled slowly toward the plaza exits, Silman got caught in the crowd, which carried him off in another direction. Weaving and sidestepping against the flow, he slowly worked his way back to us. "Stick together," he said. "Stick together, or we'll get lost."