Victory Gardens – Chapter 120


Mutty chases after Papa to the pier and finds the Zayits. Papa is understandably hurt and angry that no one told him that the Zayits would be traveling in place of Manny and Esther. The Zayits are excited by their first taxi ride.

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Dearest Papa and Mama,

I hope this letter finds you well. We are fine, baruch Hashem.

Esther has finally gotten permission to leave the house, though in a limited way. Baruch Hashem, the worst of the danger seems to have passed.

I’m sure it was a surprise to find another couple arriving in our place. I’m sorry that Esther and I could not travel, but those were our doctor’s orders, and so we had no choice but to decline your generous and heartfelt offer.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you and long to see you, but on the other hand, not a day goes by that I am not thrilled to be here in Eretz HaKodesh. The very air breathes Torah, and I try to inhale it in lungfuls. I have a fine seder in one of the shtieblach here.

At first, I was learning in the same yeshivah as Mutty. It was very inspiring, but I found I couldn’t keep pace. I looked around for another place to learn and thank G-d I found a place where I can learn in peace.

It is such a good time to be here, and I am so grateful. I know, Papa, that when you sent me to find Mutty you did not intend for me to remain here, but I simply could not leave. I didn’t know that I was so hungry for Torah until I came here and saw it being lived and breathed. And I have you both to thank, because you were so careful with me. You protected me from outside influences and built into me a love of Torah and mitzvos. Every word I learn here is in your merit, and I have even devised a short tefillah, thanking you for giving me the zechus to learn.

I’m sure Mutty must have told you by now that I ran into some trouble with Hearst’s people. Apparently, Captain Eckner neglected to inform the powers-that-be that there would be an extra person traveling along in the Zeppelin. I heard that you went to visit Hearst with Mutty and asked him to call off his thugs. He didn’t manage to get to them before they got to us, but thank G-d I was rescued at the last minute by a venerable Rav, whom I have since discovered is the well-known Tzaddik of Yerushalayim and a few days later at home, by Achmed, an Arab friend of Mutty’s whose family owned the fruit and vegetable store in Chevron.

Since then, there has been quiet, but I am still walking around with a thin steel rod tucked up my sleeve. (Mama, close your ears… Papa, thank you for showing me that and other survival techniques!…okay Mama, you can come back now!)

Papa, I have no words to convey to you how sorry I am about the factory. I can only imagine how devastating it must have been to have your life’s work go up in smoke.

But Papa, I must tell you, the factory has done its job. It allowed you to raise us b’kavod, send us to learn Torah — and, for me, at least, to see me to the chuppah and beyond. Now that it is gone, you can be a yeshivah bachur again, and make up for all the time you spent supporting us and helping us to grow. Don’t worry about Mutty’s expenses at the right time, G-d willing. I will take care of all of it.

I heard that you are learning b’chavrusa with Shlomo Zayit while he is there with his wife receiving treatment. Zayit is a wonderful man, Papa. He is earnest and honest, and I saw the way he treated Mutty with such tenderness. He has been a good friend to the family, and we are grateful for him. I also understand that Mrs. Zayit and Mima Faiga have become the best of friends, and this is good to hear.

I cannot imagine what it will be like to spend Purim and Pesach in Eretz Yisrael. I’m sure I will be homesick every minute for Mama’s lukshen and kneidlach, but I’m sure that Eretz Yisrael will reveal its charms. We will also be celebrating Purim on Shushan Purim, as you know, because Yerushalayim is a walled city.

I’m sure you are anxious to know when we are planning to return home. I realize I cannot leave my business in the hands of my foreman indefinitely, but on the other hand, I feel as if I belong here. I wonder, Papa, if you would be willing to fill in for me while I am abroad. Managing a printing business is not so different from managing a textile factory. As you always say, “business is business.”

I’ll look forward to hearing back from you about that. I do not know when we will be allowed to plan a return — the three of us, im yirtzeh Hashem — but I will leave those decisions to the doctor. We are davening that mother and child will be healthy and well. Please daven for us, too!

With great love and respect,

Your son, Emanuel


To be continued . . .