Thursday, November 12, 2009
Erev Shabbos Kodesh Ki Sovo – 28th August 1953
Dear Parents Amv"s
It is now exactly three days since I arrived in Eretz Hakodesh, but it seems much longer. There is so much to write – impressions, people I have seen, events – that I do not know where to start. Well, I think the first thing is the wonderful, thrilling feeling of being in Yerusholayim. To think that in these very streets walked the Acharonim, Rishonim, Amoroim, Tano’im, Anshei Knesses Hagedolah and even the Nevi’im and saw the same deep blue clear sky and the same rocky fields, is alone enough to make it seem worthwhile. But first I shall confine myself to the continuation of my previous letter. I arrived in the Yeshivah here on Tuesday afternoon and saw several friends including [Rav] Eli Sternbuch [now Rosh Beis Din in Antwerp], who have helped me a lot. There is a great shortage of rooms in the Yeshivah but they have many nearby, and I may have to sleep in one of those. Meanwhile, nothing is settled and I just have a temporary vacant bed. Chevron is just as I imagined it, no better and no worse. Whether I shall be satisfied here it is far to early to judge, but I shall certainly be satisfied that I came. The food is alright, except that it is quite bewildering to get used to being Mafrish Trumos and Maasros, worrying about Shemittoh and Orloh, which are both extensive problems here. But I shall write more about the Yeshivah later.
The afternoon when I arrived there was a massive demonstration against Giyos Bonos as that was the day of the final reading [of the Knesset Act] when it was passed. I did not realize how deeply it affects the people here until I saw a crowd of several thousand people saying Tehillim. In the evening I went round to Meah Shearim, which is near the Yeshivah. Full description later. On Wednesday I went to see S. [Rebbetzen Yaakov Arieli, ne Sternbuch] and her husband – a charming young man. ..... On Wednesday evening I went into the Gerer Rebbe [R' Yisroel] to say Shulem. There was a queue and I had to wait three quarters of an hour to get in. However, it was well worth it. I had a talk with him for twenty minutes in which he cross examined me about everything. How am I related to the Rottenbergs, the Sternbuchs? Who wears sheitels [in Manchester]? All details about my journey, cost, route, etc. Every now and then he gives a shout "Ich Her Nisht" and altogether shouts a lot at one, but I was forewarned about that. He also said in English, "Do you spik English?" and was interested in the rate of exchange I got and a lot more. He then gave me a brochoh after the exhaustive and exhausting inquiry. Thursday evening I went to Feter Yossel’s [Reb Yosef Halpern – a Manchester-based uncle] sister’s house and also met their father [ R' Shmuel Halpern – the first Moro D’asro of Zichron Meir] who is staying there at the moment. ... Of course they are very interested in the news from England. I also heard on the radio there is a recording of the Knesset debate about Giyus Bonos. Now that it has become law a Shul in Meah Shearim said Kinos last night with all the Tisha B’Av accessories.
It is now late for Shabbos.........
אמר הציג: Notice how not many in Manchester wore sheitlach back in the day; we can see from the question that not many did. The same could be said for London outside Stamford Hill - that means you guys in Golders Green - or anywhere outside of New York for that matter. Ask your parents or grandparents if they lived out of town in the 50s or 60s and see them smile. Notice how the BY needed to know everything about him, his family and his trip. But most of all I was surprised by how the English bachur didn't think giyus banos was such a big deal! He needed large groups of people to say tehillim to see that. He's fascinated by the fact that they take everything so seriously there, even going as far as saying kinos and all. Which goes to show you how different even frum Jews were at that time. I dare say that had this happened in the US there would be no outcry, no cries of yeherog veAl yaavor, and no mass protests. Call me an insensitive Lubavitcher freyak, but you know I'm right. No Jew in America would rock the proverbial boat in 1953 and go out en masse against the Government. They were happy to be here and have refrigerators and wall-to-wall carpet.