Out of context, no date, no place

I greet cordially my dear parents, sister and brothers, relatives and friends.


I also wish much happiness to my brother Jacob – let us talk together. It’s a long time since you have written. Although in the beginning you wrote a little, and I can tell you that your few words got me very excited. You write me that you have seen now that emigration is something good, and we know that when the idea takes root in your head it becomes like a sickness which is difficult to cure – such a sickness usually costs a lot of money, but it can’t be helped. And so, my dear brother Yaacov, although I am not wise I am already in Africa, and I see with my own eyes everything that goes on. As things are, you must not forget that for you it is already time to get married. After finishing your compulsory military service, you should decide to go to Africa. Usually to leave home is not very difficult, but to return is not easy. Only God knows.


In these parts you soon lose your homegrown skin. But it takes years to grow another skin. Money does not fall from the skies. You have to earn it in a difficult way. Here they don’t pay nadan (dowry). But if you earn, then you send something to Russia to get a bride. And for that you have to have a good pocket and then you have a chance to get married at the age of 40 years. Now at least you have a chance (phonetic representation of English) to marry a decent girl and get some money in order to leave home. Don’t wait one moment – get married and start enjoying life. You don’t know your luck when you buy a good piece of goods for the rest of your life – so there is no need for you to sell yourself because you cannot redeem yourself later. I don’t agree with my brother Shmuel, who left for South Africa before his marriage – Africa won’t turn away, but it happened in a matter of minutes. I did not have time to write

© Kaplan Centre
Letters courtesy of Phil Kretzmar