Cape Town, undated

… It is not from envy because there is nothing to envy in the business, and about hatred there is none, so we can excuse him. But he has been warned that I will report it to my wife and mother-in-law and they will write to him about it. Please my dearest wife, write me a speedy reply and write all about your health and how you all are and about with whom my dear father conducts business and how the sales are in the shop and how much you have already spent there.


Write to me how much you’ve made off the shop and if you have received the rye from Klevansky, and also if there was a good crop of potatoes, and if you’ve harvested it already and how it grew in the house (shed) of my father’s, and what you earned, or the losses that you had.


And what’s the news of Yaacov Ben Yostentch? I lent him two and a half roubles – he promised to return it soon. Write me if he has paid it back or if he has not yet reminded himself. Write me where David [i] is going to cheder. Please write out everything because I am very keen to know about everything.

At the time Johannesburg was prosperous. One could make a living in Cape Town, but now that so many people have arrived [ii] like the sands of the sea, and each tries to do something to earn something, and so income is reduced but nevertheless don’t you worry, and as much as the storm and bad weather is severe, the sooner it will pass and the sun will shine and so it will be for us. In the meantime we have to be patient and hope for better times. At the moment I cannot send you any money – of my expenses I have left only £5 and a few shillings, which I had kept for expenses to go to Johannesburg.[iii] I needed now to do business because without money it is worse and when God will grant me a little business I will send you something.


I’m staying together with Moishe Tsabentsieker – Lipman Rubin comes to eat here and we spend some time comfortably although Moishe is not stingy with a pinch but he swears that he means it.


My dear father, Yehuda Leib Kretzmar, and my dear mother, the chaste and modest Beile, and to my erudite Yaacov Kretzmar [iv], and my younger brothers and sisters, may they all be blessed and may God grant them everything of the best, and also to my dear brother-in-law, Moishe Schochet, and his dear mother, the chaste and modest Getzel[v], his wife, my sister Sarah, and their children, I say Shalom to all of you. Tuvye Kretzmar


To my dear wife, Taube Kretzmar, I wish you happiness and blessings in all ways, my dearest wife.


To begin with I can tell you that I am well, God be blessed. May God grant that my letter should also find you in the best of health. About business I have nothing to write or how to picture it to you. I have only received one letter from you, which you addressed care of Lipman Rubin. Meish brought it to me in Cape Town. And the rest were addressed care of Glickman, so I will not get any more. Please write to me about everything – how is Uncle Zvi of Kesselshik? And also Zvi Ben Ha’Aron and his family? Please write me what our brothers who are in service are writing. Please in one word write to me everything in your area. I am closing my writing and I wish you all lots of luck and regard to our relatives and friends who ask about me. Keep well. As is the wish of your faithful husband, son, brother-in-law, son-in-law, Tuvye Kretzmar


To Israel Yaacov Greentuch, shalom to you, may He who grants peace to everybody should also remember you so that you should be able to receive all of His blessings, From me, Tuvye Kretzmar


I greet heartily Shmuel Rubin Ben Yosef. I hear that you have suffered a lot from the fire which occurred in the yard at Panemunė. I am sorry about it. I suppose you know the saying  “After a fire, people get rich”. And to prove it we found it in the Torah (Exodus Chapter 22:95). Shalom Ya Shalom Ha Maariv et ha Vaviv. (Quotation and comment: God will repay him double. Shalom va Shalom twice.) All the best to you From me, Tuvye Kretzmar


Notes:

[i] David was the oldest child of Tuvye and Taube, born in Birzh, 1893. He died in Cape Town in 1924.

[ii] Because of the South African War, also known as the Anglo- Boer War, 25,000 refugees, who had been expelled from the Witwatersrand or who had fled, arrived in Cape Town. This placed an enormous drain on the resources of the city.

[iii] Tuvye had planned to go to Johannesburg in the South African Republic, but the South African War broke out ten days after he arrived making travel impossible.

[iv] Yehuda Leib Kretzmer was born in Birzh, Lithuania c. 1845. His wife, Beile Katz, was born in Birzh c 1850. Tuvye’s brother Yaacov (Jacob) was born in Birzh in1880.

[v] This must be a mistakee – he must have meant Neche. Taube’s father Getzel must have passed away as Tuvye’s son David’s name was David Getzel and children were not named after the living.

© Kaplan Centre
Letters courtesy of Phil Kretzmar