Essay: Avraham Shifrin: KAL 007 Researcher
Sometimes, pain can only be "managed" by going through it, and there are different kinds of pain, to be sure. But we know that pain will not have the final word, and there will come a day, when every tear shall be wiped away. We know One who for the joy set before him, and for our sakes, despised the shame which he endured on our behalf - Jesus the Savior.
Avraham Shifrin, was a Soviet major and chief criminal investigator for the Krasnador region of the Crimea who, on his own word, sent many to the Gulags. But strangely enough, it was the criminal element he sent, rather than the political dissidents,. This was because Avraham himself was a dissident, and more precisely, an espionage agent, again his own admission, for both Israel and the U.S. This stemmed from his hatred for communism and what communism had done to his father in 1938 (when Avraham was 15 years old), a Jew who was executed by the Soviets because he was a Jew. As a son of an "enemy of the state", Avraham had been drafted into a penal battalion to fight the Germans. He was given no weapon, and when he asked where his gun was, he was told, "In the hand of the enemy. Go get it". You can see something of a reenactment of this sort of thing in the "Enemy Within" starring Jude Law. Avraham was wounded twice, and, finally found a way out of the penal battalion. He escaped from the hospital, changed his name, and worked himself up, as I said, reaching the status of Major and chief prosecutor for Krasnador, and then his spying being found out, he was sent to the Gulag himself, and sentenced to death after years of hard labor. Just before his execution, his chief prosecutor and KGB head, Lavrenti Beria himself, upon order from Stalin, was executed and Avraham was sent instead to exile in Siberia. But while Avraham had been in interrogation, first in Lubyanka prison Moscow, and then in KGB Military prison in Lefortovo, also in Moscow, he was made to stand in freezing water in winter up to his knees. Eventually, he was released after 17 years of this torture of Gulag and exile, and let free to go wherever. The wherever was Israel, where I met him. Exie and I and the children had settled on the hill opposite his research center in Jerusalem and we met the man who at that time, from his debriefing immigrants to Israel who had been in the Soviet military, was receiving reports that Korean Air Lines Flight 007 shot down by the Soviets in 1983 and which had among its 269 passengers,my wife Exie's father and cousin, had made a successful water landing, and the Soviets had abducted the people and the vaunted black box which would tell all. We had moved as immigrants to Israel and found ourselves right next to the only man in the world who then believed that our people were alive. So, I began to learn from him, and in a certain way to become part of this movement of rescue, which has not ended.
In Israel, Avraham was one legged, having had a leg amputated because of standing in freezing waters. I had seen him many times wincing. Eleanora, his wife, had this to say about Avraham and his pain. "Avraham was in pain much of the time. Both legs hurt him- the one that was and the one that wasn't" , and, "When his legs were hurting, Avraham would reply, 'I'm okay'. When the pain was absolutely unbearable, he would say, 'It hurts.'"
Avraham, an orthodox Jew, once told me that the only time he had any peace during his gulag days was when Pentecostals in prison, in his hearing, would sing to God in tongues. He died in 1998 and is buried on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem