Wednesday, 19 July 2006

Amid barrage, a Holocaust heroine shakes off fear

By Matthew Kalman, Globe Correspondent
BOSTON GLOBE | July 19, 2006

NAHARIYA, Israel -- Orna Shorani, 76, was named a ``Righteous Among the Nations" for her bravery in rescuing Jews from the Nazi Holocaust. This week her character was on display once again when she brushed off a direct hit by a Hezbollah rocket on her house in this town in northern Israel.

Orna was fast asleep last Thursday morning when a Katyusha rocket fired by militants from Lebanon struck her home, crashing through the roof of her grandson's apartment upstairs and sending her bedroom door flying across the room, where it hit her on the head.

But she refused to go to the hospital, and yesterday she was back at home while workers patched up the damage. All the windows in the front of her house were smashed, the doors were blown off their hinges, and the roof had a gaping hole.

``There was a huge boom, and I got a crack on the head," said Orna, who sees and hears with difficulty and walks with a cane.

``My grandson came running down to see I was OK, but I told him to go away and let me go back to sleep," she said.

Orna lives in Nahariya, a few miles from the border with Lebanon, and the target of attacks by Hezbollah in the past few days. Half the town's residents have left, but Orna said she had no intention of leaving.

``I lived through the Second World War and all of Israel's wars," she said. ``I think I'll survive this one, too."

Orna did more than survive World War II. With her mother and sisters, she hid 25 Jews from a Nazi labor camp next to their home in Hungary and smuggled them to safety. One of them, Ladislav Shorani, jumped over the fence into her garden, kissed her, and declared:

``You will be my wife!"

``He went off to fight with the Russian Army," Orna recalled. ``Three years later, he came back and married me. After the war, we moved to Israel."

Orna had a simple explanation for why she saved Jews from the Nazis back then.

``God said `Thou shalt not kill.' We couldn't stand by and let the Nazis kill these innocent Jews," she said.

And, said Orna, she still believes the same today.

``We need peace in all the world," she said. ``Every person, wherever they live, is entitled to live in peace and good health. This is what I wish for our side, for the other side, and for all the countries of this region."

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