Malmesbury, Chol HaMoed Succot (between 30 September - 3 October), 1901

To my dearest and most precious wife, Taube Kretzmar, may she live in wealth and happiness. And to my dear children, my sons David and Noah, and my daughters Leah and Freda, may they grow up in wealth and comfort.


My dearest wife, I have received your letter from the previous mail. I read it with pleasure that you are TG well. May God grant us always good health and prosperity in everything. I, on my side, can tell you that I am TG well and happy – may my writing find you in the same condition. Amen.


Dearest wife, you appear disappointed that I write short letters. I know very well that it is more pleasant to read a longer letter with more news – because, alas, it is our only pleasure and happiness, until God in His mercy will make an end to our separation. Believe me, I would wish to provide you with pleasure even if it costs money and trouble, and especially a thing that costs no money or anything – I would gladly do it, but you can’t force nature. When business is quiet and one is in Africa, it is the same as in Russia, except that one is farther away from you and one gets some comfort in the hope that all Jews are waiting and hoping, so I must also hope that God will help me with all the other Jews.


At present, it does not enter my head to busy myself with writing, and especially an anecdote with news. When things get better, the times will also improve and then I will be able to write you more. If you spread your wings, it makes the bird look bigger. And so this letter is getting bigger, and so one gets self-satisfaction. At the same time, you are a better husband to your wife. So everything is right. But now, in the times of unrest, and in addition in the period of the Yomtovim, which are called zman simchatenu [happy days], one can be wise and consider yourself happy. Because to make yourself happy and forget everything else requires a lot of strength, and to cause happiness to someone else, one must be patient until God will make us happy. And so I will be happy together with klal yisrael.

So it may come to the story of the son who travelled away from his father. At first he wrote that all was going well, a church is being built and he is happy with the church. But later he started to write that business was poor and getting worse, until in the end he wrote that it was getting very bad because a shul was being built. His father considered it painful and shameful that his son is not doing well and that he was more happy with the church than with the shul, and so he related the story to a friend of his who explained to him that when a church was built there were few Jews to do business, and because they had to build a shul, then more Jews came and it got worse because there was more competition. It is the same with us here. We build shuls and arrange a minyan, and we buy Sefer Torahs, but business is now very weak. May God grant a better year to all of us.


I greet cordially my dear parents, my father Yehuda Leib Kretzmar, and my dear mother Beile, and my brother Yaacov, and my other brothers and sisters. May you all live well, from me, your son, Tuvye Kretzmar


I greet cordially my dear mother-in-law, Neche, and my brother-in-law, Moishe Schochet, and his wife, my sister Sarah, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, may you all live well, from me, Tuvye Kretzmar

© Kaplan Centre
Letters courtesy of Phil Kretzmar