Cape Town, 14 August, 1900

To my dear wife, Taube Kretzmar, and to my dear children, David and Noah, and my daughters, Leah and Freda, may they all grow up in wealth and comfort.


My dear wife, I have not yet received your letter this week. I expect it tomorrow, but I must write today because when I had received your letter, I can nevertheless inform you that I am in good health. May God grant us good health for luck and success. I hope to hear the same from you and the children.


My dear wife, in our area we can already await the arrival of the Holy Days, when everybody must hand in his little book to give an account of himself and pray that God will not fail him in the new year. Therefore, we must pray to God to save us from all tsoris, but for this one must prepare oneself to ask the Lord for mercy (Mr Stein refers to poetic rhyming, bitton and ritton – ahonis and rahmonis – and then patience and existence).To pray God should enter in the book that everyone’s industry shall thrive and, the Lord forbid, not to go bankrupt. And if the rich are going to do very well, then the poor should also do better– but Jewish preparations – as we know involve no dangers. You have to have a a few good ingredients – for instance a warm prayer which includes a piece of piety and with a broken heart, a  tekiyacouped with tzedakah and after that everything will come right. All these producrts can be found in a machzor and slichot at a time when thechazonim are quivering. The Ba’al tekiahs begin to blow ( i.e. blow their own trumpets).


In general we do whatever we can to pray for a good new year  that it will be better than the last one. Because if He wishes He can surely do it as we have already seen it in Russia. Several people who came on the same boat with Meish Katz Rubin went to Johannesburg, but they stayed there because they did not have the funds to get out of Johannesburg and now they have done very well and they are going back home. I would have liked to be amongst them but my time has not arrived yet. 


But I am convinced that we see here a hope to improve. In good times we will get it and God can make many miracles

In the present time, about parnassah one must hope that things will improve. In the meantime, we must thank God that it shall not become worse. I have no special news to write at present because they do not put out news, and the old news is already depressing. All is as it was! One gets tired of it and one would like to see a change for the better, and if there should be anything I’ll write you at once. So now I am asking you to be satisfied as things are now and I close my writing – Keep well and in good spirits, as is the wish of your ever devoted husband, who wishes you everything of the best from the bottom of his heart, Tuvye Kretzmar


I greet cordially my dear parents, my learned father Yehuda Leib Kretzmar, and my pious and modest mother Beile, and my brother the learned and keen Zionist Mr Jacob Kretzmar, and my sisters Hinda and Chana, may they all live well. I can inform you dearest brother that the idea of Zionism is making good progress in Cape Town, almost everyone is a Zionist of the highest grade. They hold meetings and make speeches and sell shares with great enthusiasm, and in London there is going to be a congress and South Africa will be sending a delegate! Dr Hertz [i]– who was the rabbi of Johannesburg – he is now in London. So he was given the authority to be South Africa’s delegate. I also bought a shekel [ii], and if I can I will buy more. Be well and happy, as I wish you, your dear son and brother, who wishes you all the best of luck and blessings, now and for the new year still more, your son, Tuvye Kretzmar


I cordially greet my dear mother-in-law, the modest Neche, and her son, my brother-in-law, Moishe Schochet and his wife, my sister Sarah, and their children, may they live in much happiness, and my sister-in-law, Chana Reza, and my brother-in-law, Aaron Morris, I wish you all the best from me, your son, son-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, Tuvye Kretzmar


A special letter to my dear friend, Shmuel Rubin c/o Yoseph Kretzmar and his wife and his children – may you all live well and may I have good news from you. I suppose you wonder why I am writing today. It is nearly a year since I parted from you and we have not written to each other, and so I am informing you that I still love you very much and because you have not answered my first letter I did not write to you again. but now it is time for chazanim (cantors) to sing with a full voice to God and the listeners will pay them for it. And now I am in a lucky situation, I have been honoured to become a baal tefillah to conduct the service, so I am generous to write to you now and bless you with all the best, from me


I also greet my dear cousin, Menachem Mendel Kretzmar – I wish you lots of luck and am awaiting your letter with impatience. Your best friend, Tuvye Kretzmar


Notes:

[i] Many of the refugees from Johannesburg who had arrived in Cape Town were Zionists including members of the Zionist Federation. Marcia Gitlin reported that “the presence of members of the Federation’s Executive had an invigorating effect. They appeared at public meetings and by their addresses helped to keep Zionism in the foreground, Dr Hertz passionately proclaimed the justice of the Zionist cause from Cape Town platforms.” A share club was founded to promote the sale of Jewish Colonial Trust shares and about 400 people in Cape Town bought shares which cost a £1 each in instalments of 1s 3d per week and in four months 1000 shares were sold. Dr Hertz was elected as their delegate to the Fourth Zionist Congress held in London in August 1900. see Marcia Gitlin, The Vision Amazing; the Story of South African Zionism, The Menorah Book Club, Johannesburg, 1950 , 49-50. Rabbi Joseph Herman Hertzwas the rabbi of the Witwatersrand Old Hebrew Congregation and a keen Zionist. Later he became British Chief Rabbi .

[ii] The purchase of a shekel indicated membership of the Zionist Organisation – the money went to fund Zionist activities. The South African Zionist press before its conferences used to print lists of how many shekels each town or village purchased – the identification was so strong that there was hardly a little siding that did not have shekel holders. See Zionist Record, April 14, 1916 - Jews in Pampalenga purchased 22 shekels, those in Tomachu took 9 and those in Lealui bought 62!

© Kaplan Centre
Letters courtesy of Phil Kretzmar