Cape Town, 18 December, 1900

To my dearest wife, Taube Kretzmar, Zol leben, in much happiness, and to my dear children, my sons David and Noah and daughters Leah and Freda, may they live and grow up in wealth and comfort.


Dearest wife, I have safely received your letter of the 5th November. I am very happy with your letter, especially about your health and that is the best news. From my side, I can tell you that TG I am well, may God grant that you shall receive my letter in good health.


Further, about your query that I should write out all the details, I do not understand what you mean by it. You write in one letter, who does the domestic service? I can tell you, I don’t know what you mean by ‘badient’ – service? We don’t do our own laundry – we cook our own food – and the crockery and cutlery we wash ourselves. Our socks, as long as they were whole it was all right. And when they became a little torn, it was also all right. And if they were entirely torn in ribbons – then we throw them out. Because I cannot ask you to knit socks for me and send them out. I don’t know that it will be a payable proposition so we have to manage as it is, as you can guess it. It is a city and you can get everything for money, and the same with shirts, but of this I still have those you made for me as you have said that I should use them in good health. But I have bought a few shirts, because one is not in a village or in a little shtetl in Lithuania, and so we live in Africa. I eat very little in a restaurant, because one is not sure about the kashrut, and if you know, then it costs more than when you prepare it yourself. So we prefer to do it all ourselves, if possible.


About business, you must understand yourself that I cannot write you everything I buy and sell, e.g. I have bought an etrog and also a share in an important aliya, chatan torah, shabbos and aliyah, and in the week I buy other stuff and I sell them, and you ask God to grant you success so that you may arrive at a goal at the end. About that, that you ask, that when I say, ‘it will get better’, is it only a hope or is it a fact? I can tell you that after being in a town for a year that you are likely to earn more and more, in comparison with what you started as a griener, when you don’t know how to begin and where. I can say that with God’s help business will improve.


Further, where you ask in your previous letter about our friend Lipman Rubin who intends going home, I can tell you that it is a big problem and you need a lot of time and talk to answer it, but I will give you a small but important example so that you can judge what it looks like, e.g. if you live in Russia in a poor village and you have tsores and tribulations by the hundredweight and yet you manage to make a living and you don’t want to move away because if you are in one place then you don’t look for any fortunes elsewhere because it is always better when you are not there. And if you lose even that little bit and you are forced to borrow money from other poor people in order to go elsewhere and when you arrive at a place where after enduring a good deal of trouble you finally arrive at a little business and once made TG a fine living, how can one take and throw it overboard so easily and run home? And where is home? That we don’t know. And when you take along a few roubles from here, you know that it has as much value as butter in the sun. It is no wonder that he is not thinking of it yet.


Where you ask if I have met Mendel Aronov from Rakeshik [i], I can say that I meet him very often. He makes a good living for a beginner. You can say that to anybody who inquires about him. Although I have asked you to write me evreything that you hear there – at your place – but you do not write. Maybe because you don’t know much. The less written there is to read. So I must close my writing. Be well and keep well, as is the wish of your ever loving and true husband who wishes you much luck and blessings from the depth of his heart, Tuvye Kretzmar

I greet cordially my dear parents and my honoured father, Yehuda Leib Kretzmar, and my chaste and modest mother, Beile, and my scholarly brother, Yaacov Kretzmar, and my sister Hinda and my sister Chana, to all of them I wish shalom, peace and blessings, may God grant you all of the best, as is the wish of your son and brother, Tuvye Kretzmar


I also wish my brother-in-law, Moishe Schochet, his wife, my sister Sarah, and their children, I thank you very much my dear brother-in-law, for writing me all the news from home – may God grant that our letters should always meet each other in happiness and pleasure, as is the wish of your brother-in-law, who loves and honours you, Tuvye Kretzmar


Notes:

[i] Rakeshik (Lithuanian Rokiškis) is in north-east Lithuania. Its Jewish community (40% of the population) were murdered by the Einsatsgruppen in the nearby woods.

© Kaplan Centre
Letters courtesy of Phil Kretzmar