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Letter to the editor

(03/28/16 5:13am)

“There is dark and there is light. I chose the light,” said Aron Bell, the last surviving of the Bielski brothers who formed the Bielski Brigade in 1941. In a time when hope was hard to find, the Bielski brothers provided a glimmer of light to more than 1,200 Jews in Belorussia. Following the deaths of their parents, the brothers Tuvia, Zus, Asael and Aron fled the Belorussian village they called home and entered the surrounding Naliboki Forest. While in the forest, the brothers decided that, rather than just save themselves, they would strive to save as many Jews as they could. Rescuing refugees from nearby towns and ghettos, the Bielskis did not turn anyone away, regardless of age or gender. They formed a forest community, often times referred to as a “Jerusalem in the Woods.” While enduring Nazi attacks, harsh Russian winters and unending persecution, the Bielski Brigade managed to form a partisan fighting force, coordinating raids on Nazi headquarters and collaborating with Soviet partisans. By war’s end in 1945, the Bielski Brigade came out of the woods as the largest group of Jews saved by Jews during the Holocaust.