Lilith

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LILITH

In 1928 a girl child was born to Benjamin and Edith Gervasi in London while Benjamin was attending Imperial College. He named her Lilith because it was an interesting name.

Interesting in the way 'Jezebel' or 'Medusa' or 'Typhoid Mary' is interesting, Edith complained, but she knew she could do nothing to change Benjamin's mind, so her daughter was Lilith.

In Jewish legends, Lilith was Adam's first wife, created from the same soil at the same time as Adam, rather than from his rib like Eve, his second wife. Lilith left her husband when she refused to accept the missionary position that Adam insisted on doing, since it left the man on top. Cursed by God, Lilith became a she-demon who roamed the night looking for the souls of newborn infants to steal, but the prophet Isaiah foresaw that she would find rest in the Messianic Age.

As the decade of the 1930s wore on, Jews were systematically stripped of their civil rights on the Continent, and began to be moved into work camps that evolved into racial hygiene (extermination) camps, but nothing like that happened in Britain. There were Jews in Parliament. The Gervasi family had been royal subjects for many generations, and Benjamin Gervasi was a meteorologist with a speciality in numerical methods of mesoscale forecasting. He lived, unfortunately, before the proper tool for his work, the computer, had been invented.

Jews on the whole were rather rare in the United Kingdom. During the years of the Great Depression Benjamin Gervasi could only find work as a lighthouse keeper at Atherfield Lighthouse on the Isle of Wight, just a few miles off the southern coast of England.

This job, however, had several good points associated with it, Benjamin thought. First, his wife and eventually also his daughter aided him in his work. It became a family endeavor. Second, the lighthouse grounds doubled as a meteorological outstation. During daylight, they sent by Teletype hourly reports of temperature, humidity, cloud height, cloud formation, wind direction, and wind force to the Meteorological Office in London. This allowed him a small amount of satisfaction, to work within his chosen field.

Once a week when Benjamin was paid his salary, a small amount of petrol was delivered to power the engine that turned the lighthouse shaft. He was never tempted to divert even a small portion of this petrol to his motorcar, as he had no motorcar, but he did have to keep an eye out for certain neighbors who did. Every weekday morning Lilith trudged up the hillside to the nearest village for her Primary school, and sometimes her mother accompanied her when she needed to attend to shopping. On Shabbat they ceased from their labors and remained indoors. Very rarely, Benjamin would arrange transportation by bus and ferry, and they took such holidays as they could afford, often in the Lake District, camping in the high, treeless hills called fells that qualified as mountains in England.

The horrors that confronted the Gervasi family during the war years could be attributed to their Jewishness, certainly, to Hitler's insane hatred of Jews, to Benjamin's chosen profession, and his decision to moonlight for His Majesty's government as part of the electronic "Wizard War" against Hitler's regime that culminated with the deception leading up to D-Day.

But perhaps the three biggest factors that contributed to the terrible things that befell Benjamin, Edith and Lilith were location, location, and location, for the Isle of Wight lay in the English Channel, and the English Channel was the chief arena of contest between the UK and Germany. That is not to say the Gervasis would have been immune from tragedy if they had moved upcountry; the town of Coventry, for example, was severely damaged in an air raid. But there would have been no German frogmen.

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