Sara Giborat Nili

Summary of Ch. 9 – 24 by Ari Gilder

Chapter 9

Years pass after the kids’ adventures as the “Gidonim” and they barely see Avshalom. Aharon becomes famous for discovering “em hachita” – the origin of the wheat plant. One day Avshalom comes back from learning in France and the girls, Sara and Rivka, are very excited to see him. He is very endearing to Sara but is astonished at how Rivka (the younger one) has grown and blossomed into a lady. A while later, their mother dies in her sleep because her heart stopped. Sometime after, when Sara and Rivka are in their room at night, Rivka (who is now going out with Avshalom) asks Sara what Avshalom means to her, and she responds that he’s just a good friend. They conclude that Sara has to fulfill their mother’s last wish, that Sara should get married.

Chapter 10

A guy named Chayim Avraham visits in the Aharonson’s house and he starts becoming a regular there. One night, he asks Sara to marry him  (how’s that for moving fast?). She contemplates the idea since it would mean leaving Israel, but it also means she gets to be treated like a princess since he’s rich. Finally, she agrees to marry him since he promised that whenever she wants to return to Israel, she can. They go to Istanbul in Turkey and they live in his mansion, which she “gives a woman’s touch” to.  The months pass and she gets bored, having nothing to do while Chayim Avraham is inundated with work, and she starts to miss home. World War I breaks out in Europe, with Turkey involved. Sara is worried about her family and wants to know the situation, but she can’t outright ask. So she sends a plain old letter with a hint to look behind the stamp. Behind the stamp she asks for details about the situation. She waits, and no letter.

Chapter 11

Finally, she gets a letter in response. Chayim Avraham is home, so she can’t check behind the stamp for the info she wanted, so she pretends to be sick and locks herself in her room, reads it, then writes a response. When she gets the response to this letter, Rivka informs her that David Katz, someone from Zichron Yaakov, is in Istanbul because he was exiled. She goes out in the middle of the day to find him, and eventually she finds him in an Arab’s house and he tells her that the situation is bad, transport routes are cut off, people are hungry, etc. All of Sara’s family were drafted into the Turkish army. When Sara goes back, Chayim Avraham is waiting for her, mad that she embarassed him that she went out all by herself, and she responds by insisting she has to go back home.

Chapter 12

Stubbornly, Chayim Avraham agrees to let her go, and she goes by train. On the train, she is with lots of Arab soldiers. The train stops, and she looks out and sees the train ran over someone. She asks a soldier why no one does anything, and they explain because the victim is an Armenian, and the Turkish hate the Armenians. This worries Sara that the same situation will eventually happen with the Jews. Finally, she arrives home.

Chapter 13

She comes home and finds only her dad, Tzvi and Shmuel there. She asks where everyone is, and they tell her that Rivka and Alex are in Syria because it’s not safe here and Avshalom is in the desert doing some research thing. They explain how bad it is that every day the Turks come searching for deserters. At some point, Aharon comes in and starts telling her that they’re really gathering info for the British, and Alex, Rivka and Avshalom are among their spies. Aharon invites her to help them out in “Nili” which stands for “Netzach Yisrael Lo Yeshaker.”

Ch. 14

Aharon takes Sara to his research station. He explains that her job is to organize the info collected and signal the British boat that passes every month if there is anything important. In the middle, a Turkish brigade comes to “investigate” and the commander makes empty threats to Aharon, but he bribes them and gets them away. That night, Aharon tells her all the secret codes and ways of passing info. He tells her that Avshalom and a guy Yosef Lishanski are in charge of gathering the info. One night, they come and give Sara info about positions of tanks and cannons, so she encodes it at puts up the sign on the clothes line for “urgent.”

Ch. 15

That night, an Arab guy named Jamal (a friend of her family) comes to visit and starts asking about Istanbul. She doesn’t have patience to deal with him, so she gets him drunk and he passes out. Meantime, his group of soldiers is camping not far from there. She and a guy Menashe go out to the shore by crawling there so that no one sees them, and they pass the info on to the guy who came from the boat.

Ch. 16

Avshalom brings in the key for the Turks’ code plus lots of other info, but they wish to send more important stuff. Luckily, Jamal invited Sara to his wedding where there will be lots of Turkish officers, so she sews herself a dress and goes to the wedding, and manages to pull info out of the officers. Everyone is so pleased with her that they invite her to visit them again sometime.

Ch. 17

The end of the month came and went and no boat came. Menashe suggests it’s because of mines or submarines. Eventually, the boat comes and she puts up the signal, but the boat passes on by. They find a note tied to the dog saying that a guy did come from the boat, but couldn’t get in because of the dog, and he will be waiting again in 3 days by the shore. They end up getting the info on time to him on the 3rd day.

Ch. 18

Sara gets a letter from Chayim Avraham who says he misses her and that it’s already been a year when she said only 2 months. He warns that if she won’t return, he’ll divorce and remarry. She hesitates and thinks about returning, but ends up deciding not to. While she’s thinking about it, a Jewish guy from the boat comes and asks her for any info and he tells her that Aharon sent him. So she gives him the info and writes Aharon a short note. The guy ends up returning because he couldn’t return to the boat due to a storm. For the meantime, they need to hold him up, so they give him some job in the research station. He says that he’s from Jerusalem but he’s really from Alexandria. The workers that are not involved with Nili begin to suspect something fishy.

Ch. 19

Sara tells the guy to go to Zichron and stay by her father’s so nobody suspects him. At the end of the month, the guy returns to the boat. Yosef Lishanski comes to Sara and she notices that Avshalom is not with him. He explains that while they were in the desert, they had a Bedouin guide, and suddenly a bunch of other Bedouins attacked them, and they barely escaped. Avshalom was injured critically and insisted Yosef move on without him, so he did. Sara refuses to believe Avshalom died, but it is an inevitable fact.

Ch. 20

Again, the boat comes late because of German subs. A guy named Rafael comes to take Sara with him back to the boat because Aharon wants her to come to Egypt, where he is right now. When she gets there, the British ask her questions because they want to know what the situation is first-hand from someone who knows everything that’s going on. She learns a new code to write things in because now getting info is more important, since the British are planning to invade. Sara goes out in the city, searching for Avshalom, hoping she can find out that he is alive in some hospital. When she goes back, they give her a cage of homing pigeons that will carry info to them in Egypt a lot quicker than the boat will.

Ch. 21

When she gets back, she is questioned by a Turkish officer as to her whereabouts during the past few months. She lies and says that she was in the hospital in Zichron and wasn’t allowed out, she only escaped from the hospital the night before. The officer insists on searching the station and they rip up the place looking. She goes to Zichron to visit her father, and everyone there is a refugee. Everyone tries to get Sara to quit these “spy games” because the Turks are torturing them there, looking for spies. She considers it, but decides she must go on.

Ch. 22

Sara asks a Turkish general for help. At first, he’s reluctant but she convinces him to help them acquire a map of the Turkish forces. She let’s the Brits know via pigeon that they’ll soon have a map. Yosef comes and tells her that one of their informants, Naaman Belkind, was caught and jailed. Yosef says he’ll try to coordinate a rescue effort. A guy named Al-Din comes to Sara and hands her the map, and she sends Al-Din to Haifa to hide out. She sends another pigeon so that the Brits know to send the boat early. Thing is, the pigeon didn’t fly, it just started hopping around because it was a female and only the males fly and carry the messages. The bird lands in Caesarea and the Turks find it and go nuts, even though the words are encoded, they know someone’s spying. No surprise, they come and search, pretty much destroy the place. After that, Sara and Yosef start to bury and/or burn incriminating documents. Rafael comes from the boat and Sara hands him the map.

Ch. 23

Naaman is freed, Sara and everyone involved in Nili go to hide out in Zichron Yaakov. They wait for the boat, but it doesn’t come, even though they said that they’d be there. Sara knows that the Turks will search soon, so she hides her gun under a tile in the bathroom. Yosef comes and tells her that Naaman got jailed again, and this time they have evidence that he’s a spy. Yosef himself goes and hides somewhere.

Ch. 24

On their way to shul, Sara and her dad hear the Turks coming to invade Zichron, so they run back home. The Turks come and start searching for Yosef, and they search the Aharonson’s house. They are convinced that Sara knows, so the Turks grab her father and her brother Tzvi and start whipping them and torturing them, but she still doesn’t reveal a word. The next day they start torturing her. They drag her to a house that they turned into a jail. On the way, she starts singing. The lyrics of her song are a hint for whoever hears that they should close the window in the Aharonsons’ vineyard, which is a sign to the boat that the situation is urgent. Every morning, when they took her to the torture room she sang this, and one day an old man sang back that the window was closed. Sara is now deeply injured and the Turks decide to send her north for interrogation, where they will surely break her. Sara asks that before they go, she go back home and get a new change of non-bloody clothes. While she’s home, she says she wants to go take a shower. In the bathroom, she writes Aharon a goodbye note and tells him to make sure they aren’t forgotten. She then takes out her gun that she hid under the tile and shoots herself. She doesn’t die immediately, but after 40 days she finally does while saying to the doctor that if he contacts Yosef, he should die rather than divulge info. The night that Sara’s grave was dug, the boat waited and signalled, but no one signalled back.