A DAUGHTER OF ISRAEL

There was a young man with a Christian heart and blue eyes—eyes that
made you look at him again and smile at his earnestness—who went among
the lowly Jews of the East Side to convert them to the faith of the
Messiah whom they disowned. Those blue eyes fell, one day, upon a head
of hair that gleamed like gold, fiery, red hair, silken and carelessly
tangled, and shining in the sunlight. Then the head turned and the young
man beheld the face of Bertha, daughter of Tamor, the rabbi. And Bertha
opened her eyes, which were brown, and gazed curiously at this young man
who seemed out of place in the Ghetto, and smiled and turned away.

A year went by and the Jews still disowned the Messiah, but a great
change had come over this young man. In the vague future he still hoped
to carry out his daring scheme, but now all his heart and all his soul
and all his hopes of earthly happiness were centred upon Bertha,
daughter of Tamor, the rabbi.

In the beginning she had been amused at him, but his persistence and his
earnestness won their reward, as those qualities always will, and when
this first year was at an end it came to pass that this Jewish maiden
wept, as a loving woman will weep, for sheer joy of being loved; she a
rabbi’s daughter, bred in the traditions of a jealous faith, he a
Christian lad.

She had kept the secret of her growing love locked in her heart, but now
it became a burden too heavy to be borne, and one night—it was shortly
before the fast of Yom Kippur—she poured out her confession into her
father’s ear. She told it in whispers, hiding her face in her father’s
long beard, and with her arms around his neck. When the full meaning of
the revelation dawned upon him, the Rabbi Tamor, ashen pale, sprang from
his feet and thrust her from him.

“A Christian!” he cried. “My daughter marry a Christian!”

He was an old man—so old and feeble that in a few days the synagogue had
planned to retire him and install a younger rabbi in his place. But now
fury gave him strength. His whole frame trembled, but his eyes were
flashing fire, and he had raised his arm as if he were about to strike
his daughter to the floor. But she did not move. Her eyes were raised to
his, tearfully but undismayed.

“Do not strike me, father,” she said. “I cannot help it. I love him. I
have promised to marry him. Will you not give me your blessing?”

“Blessings?” cried the infuriated old man. “My curses upon you if you
take so foul a step! Your mother would rise from her grave if you
married a Christian! How dare you tell such a thing to me—to me, who
have devoted so many years to bringing you up in the faith to which I
have devoted my life? Is there no son of Israel good enough for you?
Must you bring this horrible calamity upon me in my old age? Would you
have me read you out of the congregation? If it were the last act of my
rabbinate—aye, if it were the last act of my life, I would read out
aloud, so that all the world would know my shame, the ban of
excommunication that the synagogue would impose upon you! Have I brought
you up for this?”

But Bertha had swooned, and his rage fell upon ears that did not hear.

* * * * *

The cup of bitterness was full. Rabbi Tamor knew his daughter, knew the
full strength of her nature, the steadfastness of her purpose. He had
pleaded, expostulated, argued, and threatened, but all in vain. And to
add to his misery he saw in all his daughter’s passionate devotion to
her lover something that reminded him more and more vividly of the wife
whom he had courted and loved and cherished until death took her from
him. Many years had gone by, but whenever his memory grew dim, and her
features began to grow indistinct, he had only to look at his daughter
to see them before him again, in all their youthful beauty. His
daughter, the image of his dead wife, to marry a Christian! It was the
bitterness of gall!

The Rabbi Tamor’s father and grandfather had been rabbis before him, and
in his veins surged the blood of devotion to Israel’s cause. He had been
in this country many years, but the roots of his life had been planted
in Russia, in a Ghetto where the traditions of thousands of years still
survived in daily life, and in spirit he still dwelt there. To him
Christianity meant oppression, persecution, torture. His nature was
stern and unbending; there could be no compromise, no palliation; the
sinner against Israel was like a venomous serpent that must be crushed
without argument. And now his duty was clear.

When the officials of the synagogue met, a few days before Yom Kippur,
the Rabbi Tamor, pale and trembling, but firm in his determination, laid
before them the case of a young woman who had resolved to marry outside
her faith. The officials listened, horror-stricken, but turned to him
for the verdict. He was a wise man, they knew, learned in Mishna and
Thora, and they had become accustomed to abide by his decisions.

“The warning!” he said, in a low voice. “Let us read aloud the warning
of the ban!”

The new rabbi, who by courtesy had been invited to the meeting, and who
had listened with interest to Rabbi Tamor’s narrative, raised his hand
and leaned forward as if he were about to speak. But when he heard the
clerk ask for the girl’s name, and heard Rabbi Tamor, in a hoarse,
stifling voice, answer, “Bertha Tamor, my—my daughter!” his hand fell
and the words died upon his lips. But he frowned and sat for a long time
plunged in deep thought.

* * * * *

Upon the Day of Atonement Bertha fasted. She, too, had gone through a
bitter struggle. For a nature like hers to abandon the faith of her race
meant a racking of every fibre of soul and body. She had not slept for
three nights. Her face was pale, and her eyes were encircled with black
shadows. But through all her misery, through all the distress that she
felt over her father’s grief, she could not subdue the throbbing of
exulting joy that pulsed through her veins, nor blot out from her mind
the blue eyes of her lover or the ardour of his kisses. But grief and
joy only combined to wear out her vitality; she felt despondent,
depressed.

The sun began to sink below the housetops. The day’s fasting and prayer
were slowly coming to an end. Bertha went to the synagogue, where, all
that day, since sunrise, her father had been praying. The news of the
proposed reading of the warning had spread, and when Bertha entered the
gallery set aside for women in the synagogue, she felt every eye upon
her.

The Yom Kippur service is long, and to him who knows the story of
Israel, intensely impressive. When it drew near its close the Rabbi
Tamor slowly rose, and with trembling hands unfolded a paper. Several
times he cleared his throat as if to speak, but each time his voice
seemed to fail him. The silence of death had fallen upon the
congregation.

“Warning!” he began. He was clutching the arm of the man who stood
nearest him to steady himself.

“Warning of the ban of excommunication upon the daughter of——”

“Stop!”

The new rabbi, seated among the congregation, had risen, and was walking
rapidly toward the platform. A wave of excitement swept through the
hall. Rabbi Tamor’s hand fell to his side. For a moment a look of relief
came into his face. His duty was a terrible one, and any interruption
was welcome. When the new rabbi reached the platform he began to speak.
His voice was low and musical, and after the harsh, strident tones of
their old rabbi, fell gratefully upon every ear. He was a young man, of
irregular, rather unprepossessing features, and looked more like an
energetic sweatshop worker than a learned rabbi. But when he began to
speak, and the congregation beheld the light that came into his eyes,
every man in that hall felt, instinctively, “Here is a teacher of
Israel!”

“It is irregular,” he began, in his soft voice. “I am violating every
law and every rule. But this is the Day of Atonement, and I would be
untrue to my faith, to my God and to you, my new children, were I to
keep silent.”

When Bertha, in her place in the gallery, realised what her father was
about to do she had become as pale as a ghost, and had clutched the
railing in front of her, and had bitten her lip until the blood came to
keep from crying aloud in her anguish. And she had sat there motionless
as a statue, seeing nothing but her father’s pale face and the misery in
his eyes. When the new rabbi arose and began to speak, she became dazed.
The platform, the ark, and all the people below and around her began to
swim before her eyes. She felt faint, felt that she was about to become
unconscious, when a sudden passionate note that had come into the
speaker’s voice acted like a tonic upon her, and then, all at once, she
became aware that the vigorous, magnetic personality of the new rabbi
had taken possession of the whole synagogue, and after that her eyes
never left his face while he was speaking.

“‘The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation: He is
my God, and I will prepare Him a habitation; my father’s God, and I will
exalt Him!’

“So sang Moses unto the Lord, and so year after year, century after
century, through the long, weary dragging-out of the ages, have we, the
children of Israel, sung it after him. Our temples have been shattered,
our strength has been crushed, all the force, all the skill, all the
cunning of man have been used to scatter us, to persecute us, to torture
us, to wipe us off the face of the earth. But through it all arose our
steadfast song. He was our fathers’ God! We will exalt Him!”

And then the speaker launched upon the story of Israel’s martyrdom. In a
voice that vibrated with intense emotion he recited that world-tragedy
of Israel’s downfall, her shame, her sufferings throughout the slow
centuries. The sorrow of it filled Bertha’s heart. She was following
every word, every gesture, as if the recital fascinated her. It is a sad
story—there is none other like it in the world. Bertha felt the pain of
it all in her own heart. And then he told how, through it all, Israel
remained steadfast. How, under the lash, at the point of the knife, in
the flames of the stake, Israel remained steadfast. How, in the face of
temptation, with the vista of happiness, of wealth, of empire opening
before her, if only she would renounce her faith—Israel remained
steadfast. And he told of the great ones, the stars of Israel, who had
chosen death rather than renounce their faith, who had preferred
ignominy, privation, torture before they would prove untrue to their
God.




“He is our fathers’ God!” he cried. “Is there a daughter of Israel who
will not exalt Him?”

There was a moment of breathless silence. Then arose a piercing cry from
the gallery. Bertha had sprung to her feet.

“I will be true!” she cried. “I will be steadfast! He is my fathers’ God
and I will exalt Him!”

A commotion arose, and men and women ran forward to seize her by the
hand. But she brushed them all aside and walked determinedly toward the
new rabbi. She seized his hand and carried it to her lips.

“He is my fathers’ God,” she said. “I will exalt Him!”

And repeating this, again and again, she hurried out of the synagogue.
The elders crowded around her father and congratulated him.

* * * * *

It is but a short distance from the heart of the Ghetto to the river,
and in times of poverty and suffering there are many who traverse the
intervening space. The river flows silently. Occasionally you hear the
splash of a wave breaking against the wharf, but the deep, swift current
as it sweeps resistlessly out to sea makes no sound.

They brought to Rabbi Tamor, many hours afterward, the shawl which she
had left behind her on the wharf. They took him to the spot, and stood
near him, lest in his grief he might attempt to throw himself into the
water. But he only stood gazing with undimmed eyes at the dark river,
babbling incoherently. Once he raised his hand to his ear.

“Hark!” he whispered. “Do you hear?”

They listened, but could hear nothing.

“It is her voice. She is crying, ‘I will exalt Him!’ Do you hear it?”

But they turned their heads from him to hide the tears.

Continue Reading

THE SUN OF WISDOM

“And therefore,” concluded Salvin, stroking his long, grey beard, “we
are forced to accept the belief that the object of life is toil. We are
the advance guard cutting out the road down which the next generation
will travel, who, in turn, will carry the road further along. Our work
done—our usefulness ends. We have accomplished our mission, and nothing
remains but to make way for our successors.”

Young Levine smiled, and rose to go.

“You are wrong, my pessimistic brother,” he said, fondly laying his hand
upon the old man’s shoulder. “You are wrong. Some day the sun of wisdom
may shine upon you and you will learn the truth.”

Salvin had been the friend of Levine’s father, and, despite the
inequality of their ages, a firm friendship existed between him and the
son. He now blew a smoke ring toward the ceiling, and with a smile of
amusement gazed at the young man.

“And what, O Solomon,” he asked, “may the sun of wisdom have taught
you?”

Levine’s face lit up.

“The object of life,” he said, speaking swiftly and earnestly, “is love.
It begins with love; it ends with love. Without love life has no object.
It is, then, mere aimless, wondering, puzzling existence during which
the mind—like yours—struggles vainly to solve the riddle of why and
wherefore. But those who have once had the truth pointed out to them are
never in doubt. To them love explains all. Without love you cannot know
life.”

Salvin smiled, and then, as the young man departed, his face grew
serious. He sat for a long time plunged in deepest thought. Strange
memories must have crowded upon him, for his eyes softened, and the
lines of his face relaxed their tension.

But at the end of it he only sighed and shook his head gently and
muttered, “It is toil! Not love! Toil!”

Levine, meanwhile, was walking back to his work. He was a compositor in
the printing-shop of the _Jewish Workingman_, and it had been his
custom, for years, to meet his friend Salvin at the noonday meal in
Weiss’s café, where they discussed those problems of life that perplex
the minds of thinking men. One problem, Levine felt, had been solved—had
been finally and definitely made clear. And the magic had all been
worked by Miriam’s eyes—coal-black eyes that now seemed the alpha and
omega of all his existence. For Levine, the object of life was Miriam.
The sun rose in order that he might look upon her. It set in order that
night might bring her sweet repose.

The seasons—what were they but a varying background against which the
panorama of love could unfold itself? He toiled—for Miriam. He lived—for
Miriam. He thought—always of Miriam. Could there be a simpler
explanation of the mysteries of existence? Poor old Salvin! Poor, blind
pessimist! After so much pondering to achieve nothing better than that
hopeless creed! Toil? Yes, but only as a step toward love—as a means
toward the higher end. If man were created for toil, then man were
doomed to everlasting animal existence. Whereas love raised him to
higher planes, transformed him into a higher, nobler being. Could life
desire a sublimer object?

Levine trod on air. In his workshop the walls, the lights, the
papers—all that surrounded him—sang to him of love. The presses chanted
the melody of Miriam’s eyes all the livelong day. The very stones in the
street seemed to him to sing it: “She is fair! She is fair! She is
fair!” and “Love is all! Love is all! Love is all!”

* * * * *

One day they were married. Salvin was there, with a hearty clasp of the
hand for his friend, and a kiss and a blessing for the bride. And
laughingly Levine whispered into his ear, “It is love!” But Salvin was
stubborn. He smiled and shook his head playfully. But what he whispered
in return was, “It is toil!”

They were married, and the universe joined with them in their pæan of
love—love that, like the wind, “bloweth where it listeth, and thou
hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and
whither it goeth.”

* * * * *

Do you know that kind of woman whose temperament is like the smiling
sunshine? Miriam was one of these. A light, happy heart—a nature that
gloried in the joy of existence—ever ready to sing, to smile, to
frolic—sympathetic to all woe, yet realising sorrow only as an external
affliction, whose sting she could see, but had never felt—the soul of
merriment was Miriam. Her lot in life was an humble one; her task had
been severe; but through it all that sunshiny nature had served as a
shield to ward off the blows of life. Once—there was a man. For a few
hours Miriam’s brow had puckered in deep thought. But the man had been
foolish enough to ask for a capitulation—for unconditional surrender—ere
the battle had been half fought, and Miriam had shaken her head and had
passed him by. Then Levine had come. There was a delicate, poetic strain
in his nature that had immediately appealed to her, and his soft words
fell upon willing ears. He had wooed her gently, tenderly,
caressingly—in marked contrast to the tempestuous courtship that had
failed—and he had won. It “bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest
the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it
goeth!”

Love’s eyes are keen, and Levine was quick to see the change that slowly
came over his wife. He could not have explained it; there was no name
for it; it baffled analysis. The first time he spoke to her about it she
laughed and threw her arms around his neck, saying, “Can’t you see that
I am growing older? You cannot expect your wife to remain a silly,
giggling girl all her life.”

The second time he spoke to her about it she gave the same answer. She
did not embrace him, however. And when she had answered him her face
became thoughtful. He spoke to her about it a third time. She looked at
him a long time before speaking. Then she said, slowly:

“Yes. I feel like a different woman. But I don’t understand it.” He did
not offer to kiss her that night, as was his custom, but waited for her
to make the first advance. She did not seem to notice the omission.

He never spoke to her about the matter again. He never kissed her again.

The marvels of a woman’s mind, the leaps and bounds of the emotions, the
gamut of passion upon which her fancy plays and lingers—all these are
the despair of psychology. Yet their manifestation is sufficiently
clear. How it came or whence it came, or why it came, even Miriam
herself could not tell. But as a flash of lightning on an inky night
reveals with vivid clearness what the darkness conceals, so the sudden
revelation that she adored the man whom she had rejected lit up, for a
brief moment, the gloom that had fallen upon her heart and laid bare the
terrible dreary prospect of her life. It came like a thunderbolt. She
loved him. She had always loved him. He was the lord and master whom her
heart craved. The fire had been smouldering in her heart. Now it leaped
into devouring flame. He loved her! He had fallen upon his knees and had
tried to drag her toward him. He had sworn that his life would be
wretched without her. And now that she was married he had thrown all the
energies of his heart and soul into incessant toil in order that he
might forget her. Married? She, the wife of Levine? A cry of despair
broke from her lips.

Ah, yes. The lightning flash had passed. But she remembered what its
brightness had revealed. She knew now!

For a long time—for many weeks—she often felt an almost irresistible
impulse to scream aloud, so that her husband—so that all the world might
hear: “I love him! Him only! No one but him.” But the heart learns to
bear even agony in silence. Miriam settled down into the monotonous
groove that fate had marked out for her. The revelation that had come to
her so suddenly developed into a wall that rose between her and her
husband. An invisible wall, yet each felt its presence, and after many
ineffectual attempts to surmount this barrier, to woo and win her heart
anew, Levine abandoned the effort and yielded to despair. She never told
him, and he never knew—never even suspected. But after that they lived
in different worlds—each equally wretched. For there is only one other
lingering misery on earth that can compare with the lot of a woman who
is married to one man with her heart and soul bound up in another. It is
the lot of her husband.

For Miriam there was no consolation. Her secret was buried in her inmost
soul; she was doomed to live out her life brooding over it. During the
day she often cried. When her husband came home she met him with a calm
face—often with a smile—and then they would sit and talk over trivial
matters the while that her agony was eating into her heart.

And Levine—the torments that he endured were beyond all description! Of
a sensitive temperament, yet endowed with a clear, critical, philosophic
intellect, he sought for an explanation and a remedy in a scrutiny of
every incident of their married life, in self-analysis, in the keenest
introspection, and found nothing but that insurmountable wall. Nothing
seemed credible or tangible save that dull gnawing pain in his heart.
Once or twice the thought of self-destruction entered his head. Why he
thrust it aside he could not say. He was not a coward. The prospect of
fighting his way through life with that burden of misery upon his soul
possessed infinitely more terrors for him than the thought of suicide.
Nor did he pursue the suggestion sufficiently to come to the conclusion
that it was unworthy. It was an alien thought, foreign to his nature,
and could find no lodgment. That was all. He lived on and suffered.

Have you ever heard of Levine, the poet? He is a compositor in the
printing-shop of the _Jewish Workingman_ by day—he writes poetry, and,
occasionally, short prose articles at night. He is not a genius. He is
not a born singer. But his work is strong in its sincerity, and through
it all runs a strain—that world-old strain of pleading—of weakness
pleading for strength, of the oppressed pleading for justice. He is not
a great poet, but among the readers of the _Jewish Workingman_, and
among the loiterers in the East Side cafés, he is looked upon as a
“friend of the masses.” And what they all marvel at is his prodigious
industry. A day’s work in the composing-room of the _Jewish Workingman_
is a task calculated to sap a man’s vitality to its last drop. Yet, this
task completed, Levine throws himself with feverish activity into the
composition of verse, and writes, and writes, and writes, until the lamp
burns low. Sometimes, when he tires, he pauses to listen to the gentle
breathing of his wife, who sleeps in the next room. It acts like a spur
upon him; with renewed energy he plunges into his work.

The poem which the readers of the _Jewish Workingman_ like best of all
Levine’s writings is “Phantoms.” It ends—roughly translated from the
Yiddish—like this:

_And when the deepening gloom of night descends
Upon the perilous path and towering heights,
And wild storm phantoms crowd each rocky pass—
Love sinks exhausted, but grim Toil climbs on!_

Continue Reading

WITHOUT FEAR OF GOD

Be pleased to remember that this tale points no moral, that there is
absolutely nothing to be deduced from it, and that in narrating it I am
but repeating a curious incident that belongs to the East Side. It is a
strange place, this East Side, with its heterogeneous elements, its
babble of jargons. Its noise and its silence, its impenetrable mystery,
its virtues, its romance, and its poverty—above all, its poverty! Some
day I shall tell you something about the poverty of the East Side that
will tax your credulity.

* * * * *

There lived on the East Side once a man who had no fear of God. His name
was Shatzkin, and there had been a time when he was a learned man,
skilled in the interpretation of Talmudic lore, fair to look upon and
strong.

Like many another outcast he had come with his story and his mystery out
of the “poisonous East,” and there was no tie between him and his
neighbours save the tie of Judaism. It is a wonderful bond between men,
this tie of Judaism, a bond of steel that it has taken four thousand
years of suffering and death to forge, and its ends are fastened to
men’s hearts by rivets that are stronger than adamant, and the rabbis
call these rivets “The fear of God.”

The heat of summer came on. You who swelter in your parlour these sultry
days—do you know what the heat of summer means to two families chained
by poverty within a solitary room in a Ghetto tenement, where there is
neither light nor air, where the pores of the walls perspire, where the
stench of decay is ever present, where there is nothing but heat, heat,
heat? You who have read with horror the tale of the Black Hole of
Calcutta—have you seen a child lie upon a bare floor, gasping, and
gasping and gasping for breath amid the roomful of silent people who are
stitching for bread? I would give a year of my life to wipe out a
certain memory that is awakened each time I hear a child cry—it was
terrible.

But I was telling you the story of Shatzkin.

The heat of summer came on, and his youngest-born died in his arms for
lack of nourishment. And while his wife sat wringing her hands and the
other children were crying, Shatzkin laid the lifeless body upon the
bare floor, and, donning his praying cap, raised his voice and chanted:

“Great is my affliction, O God of Israel, but Thou knowest best!”

And it grew hotter, and the other children succumbed.

“You had better send them to the country,” said the doctor, and, seeing
Shatzkin staring at him dumbly, “Don’t you understand what I mean?” he
asked. Shatzkin nodded. He understood full well and—and that night
another died, and Shatzkin bowed his head and cried:

“Great is my affliction, O God of Israel, but Thou knowest best!”

Within a week the Shatzkins were childless—it was a terrible summer—and
when the congregation B’nai Sholom assembled upon the following Sabbath
and the rabbi spoke words of comfort, Shatzkin, with his face buried in
his hands, murmured:

“My sorrow is nigh unbearable, O God of Israel, but Thou knowest best!”

And now the heat grew greater, and the sweatshops, with all their
people, were as silent as the grave. The men cut the cloth and ironed
it, and the women stitched, stitched, stitched, with never a sound, and
there was no weeping, for their misery was beyond the healing power of
tears.

Shatzkin’s wife fell to the floor exhausted, and they carried her to her
room above, and sent for a doctor.

“The sea air would do her good,” said the doctor.

“The sea air,” repeated Shatzkin, stupidly. “The sea air.”

“Keep her as cool as you can. I will call again in the morning.”

“The sea air,” was all that Shatzkin said. “The sea air.”

In the middle of the night the woman cried, “Shatzkin! Shatzkin!”

He looked down, for her head lay upon his lap.

“Shatzkin!” She was smiling feebly. “The baby—Aaron—Esther—dear
Shatzkin——”

* * * * *

The congregation of B’nai Sholom had assembled for Sabbath eve worship.
The rabbi was in the midst of the service.

“Blessed be God on high!” he read from the book. “Blessed be the Lord of
Israel, who holds the world in the palm of His hand. For He is a
righteous God——”

“Ho! ho!” shouted a derisive voice. The startled worshippers hastily
turned their heads. They beheld a gaunt figure that had risen in the
rear of the room, and seemed to be shaking with laughter. It was
Shatzkin, but so pale and worn that few recognised him.

“Who are you that disturb this holy service?” cried the rabbi. “Have you
no fear of God in your heart?”

The man ceased laughing and stared the rabbi in the eyes. “No,” he said,
slowly. “I have no fear of God.”

A terrible hush had fallen upon the assemblage, and the man, looking
vacantly from one to another of the faces that were turned to him, said,
in a hollow voice:

“I am Shatzkin. Does no one remember Shatzkin? I sat here only last
week,” and, slowly, “my—wife—went—to—the—seashore!”

The rabbi’s face softened.

“Good, brother Shatzkin,” his voice was trembling. “God has tried——”

“You lie!” cried Shatzkin, fiercely. “Do not speak to me of God! I have
no fear of Him! He killed my youngest-born, and I prayed to Him—on my
knees I prayed and cried, ‘Thou knowest best!’ And He killed the
others—all the others, and I blessed Him and on my knees I prayed, ‘Thou
knowest best!’ And He killed my wife—my darling wife—in my arms He
killed her. And I am alone—alone—alone, and I fear no God!
Curse—curse—curse! Ha! ha! ha! ho! ho! ho! Why should I fear God?”

And throwing a prayer-book to the floor he trampled it under foot, and
rushed out into the street.

* * * * *

For many years there worked in one of the sweatshops on the East Side a
shrivelled little man, with keen blue eyes, who was always laughing.
From sunrise until midnight he toiled, sometimes humming an old melody,
but always with a smile upon his lips. The other workers laughed and
chatted merrily in the winter time, and became grave and silent in the
summer, but rarely did they pay attention to the old man who seemed
always happy. Strangers that visited the place were invariably attracted
by the cheerful aspect of the man, but when they spoke to him he would
smile and answer:

“I must earn money to send my wife to the sea air!”

And if they asked, “Who is this man?” they would be told in a whisper of
awe:

“He has no fear of God!”

And then a significant shake of the head.

* * * * *

The heat of summer is here again. Shatzkin has been dead a long time,
and the story is almost forgotten. But in the Ghetto each day his cry is
repeated, and through the heat and the foul air there arises from a
thousand hearts the tearless murmur:

“Great is my affliction, O God of Israel, but Thou knowest best!”

Continue Reading