Cape Town, 1 April, 1900

To my dearly beloved wife, Taube Kretzmar, Be well and live in much happiness, and my dear children, may they live in wealth and comfort.


My dearest wife, first of all I want to tell you that TG I am well, may God grant that this letter should find you and the children in the best of health. About business – medium – from the time that I sent you the £3 through my friend Moishe until today I have saved £3. I am sending it to you so that my daughter Leah should not complain that her father sends only letters and no money. And what the people say about me, that I collect pennies, let them talk. And I would be very happy if they talked so much that I could say ‘I have the silver and I have the gold’. May God come to my health so that I could save a good few pounds and it would be quite different. I would become more of a scholar and more of a higher prestige and who knows even of more status than Lieppe Pogerver – but this will only be when it is all done.


If the Lord will show His mercy – I now send you £3 honestly earned PG without desecrating the Shabbos and without a lot of heartache as it hits a Jew in Russia to earn so little. And I hope you will use it for your pleasure, and further I hope to send you PG every month as much as possible and as much as you may need to get by and to pay a debt. If the Lord will provide, we will manage. We have to be patient and all will come right.


About what you ask about life for men living alone and who serves. I can write you that it is such a life as only men can endure. As the posek says (from Adam and Eve, Genesis), ‘And the Lord God said It is not good for man to live alone’. And about ‘service’, domestic help. I can tell you that according to our business we cannot afford it. I would not have the money to pay for it. So we have to share things, e.g. the laundry we have to give to a washerwoman, she brings it back and says it has laundered, so it’s okay. Bread you buy from the bakery and I see that it is well-baked. The only problem is with cooking, and this is indeed a problem – kosher. But I can tell you that no one is perfect like an angel, so we learn by experience. Even of our wives, may they live Leben Zollen, cooking, of which there are no complaints, they were also not born with a successful tsimmes in their hands. And making tea I am nearly an expert already, I know the rules. You must not add salt and pepper, not even onions. And we just cook until it gets hot and soft, and then it is good. And the rest, we shall learn in time.


What more can I write you – this week’s letter I have not yet received. Therefore, I have nothing much to write about in this letter. I will write you in detail about how we spend Pesach. But you please write a speedy reply. Further, no news. Be well and kisses from your ever loving and true husband, who awaits your writing as to know how you spent your Yomtov, Tuvye Kretzmar

I greet friendly my dear parents, may they live in wealth and comfort, my father, Yehuda Leib Kretzmar, my mother, Beile, my brother, Yaacov Kretzmar, and my sisters, Hinda and Chana, may they all live well. My dearest parents, I am surprised that you have not written to me about your business affairs. There are only two weeks to Pesach, so we already have to know about the earnings, as is the custom in Russia that you have to sit at the seder. But I reckon that is in the letter that is on its way. I will write good news. May it be a good budget. Be well and stay well from me, your son, Tuvye Kretzmar


Write me if you are continuing with the hiring of the farm in Bogdanovich.


I greet cordially my brother-in-law, Moishe Schochet, and my mother-in-law, the chaste and modest Neche, and his wife, my sister, their children, and my sister-in-law, Chana Reza, I greet you all. About my health I am PG well and wish to hear the same from you and that you should have a good, kosher and happy Yomtov and that we may be able to say with a full heart, ‘It is the season of our freedom’. That we shall be able to make the brocha, I share gayalame, who has redeemed us. Then afterwards we will be able to say, ‘that they left the gallot with much wealth’, amen. From me, your best friend, Tuvye Kretzmar

© Kaplan Centre
Letters courtesy of Phil Kretzmar