Malmesbury, 27 July, 1903

To my dear wife, Taube Kretzmar, and to my dear children, may they all grow up in wealth and comfort.


My dear wife, please excuse me that I have not written last week. There is no real reason except that I had no time to write, so there was no letter last week. Now I can inform you that TG I am well and happy and I hope that my letter should also find you in a similar situation. Further, I have no news to write except that tomorrow I’m going to Cape Town to fetch my brother moishemoishe, and then we will both write. So in the meantime I’m closing my letter and if I have anything more to write I will do so next time. Keep well and happy, as is the wish of your devoted husband, Tuvye Kretzmar


My dear father, Yehuda Leib Kretzmar, and my modest mother, Beile, and my scholarly brother, Yaacov Kretzmar, and my sisters, Hinda and Chana.


My dear parents, as my brother Yaacov wrote to me in your name about my brother Eliyahu Zalman, that he would be happy to come to Africa because he can get smicha and he can get a teaching job. I can tell you that all the time he used to travel to Warsaw and Bialystok and he has not come to Africa and he tells me nothing about it. It is just too bad. So it is when you are in the clerical class it is possible for you to observe Judsaism, but it is not easy to go into business and when a person is successful in business then he can avoid being naked and hungry. It is difficult to make a choice. Afrikaner business, which the green ones start, are very difficult, but as a reverend it is possible to do better. So I have consulted Meish Rubin and I have written to you that if he should learn to be a slaughterer, he can perhaps get a job and to arrive at some good goal. 


About slaughter I don’t know, everybody has his own luck. At home, they did not believe in the posek ‘they shalt eat and be satisfied and then shall bless the Lord thy god’ (taken from Grace After Meals). They were fussy over all details, and here they ‘have a meal as King Solomon in his day’. A man must only do something, and in time he may be successful and be able to observe the Jewish law. I think he could do better with slaughtering, and it should be a payable proposition. I have nothing more to write. In Malmesbury we don’t need a rov. But it is better in Cape Town. May God give you whatever is best. [i]


Further I can tell you that I have arrived today with Shmuel Kretzmar, today from Cape Town. He is well and he is happy to have arrived. Not as a griener. I imagined that he would be a long fellow with a long kapotte (topcoat) and coloured handkerchief and with big boots and with a long shawl around his neck and he would have been a ballebatisher bocher and a richtiche griener – and he would deserve to be sought after. But when the boat arrived, I did not recognise him, but he recognised me and he shook my hand. I thought that he does not mean me and that it could be a person from Zudgala. He was quite a young man – one need not be ashamed of him. I hope that he will learn the language and be able to stand on his own feet. He will stand his man. May God grant him success. In the meantime, he will stay with me until he has learnt a few words, and then he will be able either to get a job or to open a business.


Further there is no news. Keep well and happy, as is the wish of your son, who wishes you everything of the best, Tuvye Kretzmar


I heartily greet my dear mother-in-law, the modest Neche, my brother-in-law, Moishe Schochet and his wife, my sister Sarah and family, also Chana Reza, keep well, from me, your son-in-law, brother-in-law, and brother, Tuvye Kretzmar

I also greet Mr Yisrael Yaacov Greentug and his wife and his daughter.


Notes:

[i] When this writer’s great grandfather was offered a job in Johannesburg, he was also advised to first qualify as a slaughterer. Schrire, Carmel & Schrire, Gwynne, The Reb and the Rebel: Jewish narratives in South Africa 1892-1903, Kaplan Centre, 2016.

© Kaplan Centre
Letters courtesy of Phil Kretzmar