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´╗┐Title: Pictures of Jewish Home-Life Fifty Years Ago
Author: Trager, Hannah
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Pictures of Jewish Home-Life Fifty Years Ago" ***

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Author of
_Stories of Child-Life in Palestine_
_Festival Stories of Child-Life in Palestine_
_Pioneers in Palestine_





in reverence and gratitude for their
    beautiful and holy example


My dear Mrs. Trager,

It gives me great pleasure to write a preface to your new book. I
consider it a real privilege, since it represents the fulfilment of a
hope expressed some five years ago. When you sent me the first article
for "The Sinaist" I told you that your pen would win the love and the
esteem not only of the child, but essentially also of the adult readers.

The simple joyousness of your style, the beauty and freshness of the
atmosphere, which you very well succeed in bringing to the pages of your
books, the strength of your faith, and the vividness of your
description, the love of Jew above the love of Palestine, all these
combine to render your volumes valuable additions to the small stock of
good Jewish literature in English. It is not only that you teach, while
talking so pleasantly; that you instruct while you interest and amuse;
that you have your own personality in the stories; that you convey the
charm of Eretz Israel, and the beauty of holiday spirit; but because
your stories help us to feel the depth of faith and the height of ideal
as the self-evident, normal factors of Jewish life.

For the children of our age, both young and old, should know that that
God-consciousness of the Jew, that wondrous sense of eternity in his
mission, is not a laboriously acquired conviction, not the result of
some spasmodic effort of grasping the innermost meaning of our history,
but the natural pervading spirit of Jewish life, the air which the Jew
breathes, when he lives with Torah as his guide and Mitzvah as his
ladder towards heaven.

They who read your stories conceive a deep love of Judaism, they find a
desire growing in them to live the life which produces such happiness
and goodness, they will want to study the Law and lore, of which that
life is an outward expression. I have given your tales to children in
various countries and all of them were enchanted with them, regretting
that "there were only two books by Mrs. Trager." I am glad indeed to
find that another one is coming out. And it is in the interest of our
youth that I hope you will give us every year some of these nourishing
and very palatable fruits of your pen.

You will thereby be doing an additional bit for our God and our people
whom you are serving so loyally. You reinterpret to the Jewish youth of
to-day the treasures they are so carelessly abandoning, you will shed
light and reawaken love and hope in the heart of many a Jew, who seemed
to feel that our glorious faith had no message for the child of to-day,
unless it were shorn by our 'religious' barbers, robbed of its native
beauty and reduced to some platform-commonplace. As a lamented London
Maggid told me, "There still live some real soldiers of God." Such are
those who use persuasion from the pulpit, such as shine through the
example of their own humane Jewishness and such as capture our hearts by
artless beautiful tales of Jewish life and lore.

I wish you every success in the world,

Yours very sincerely,







On a Friday afternoon everyone was very busy in Benjamin's home washing
and dressing to go to Shule. The mother was getting the living-room
clean and tidy for the Sabbath.


The family lived in a few rooms off Commercial Road, in one of the many
back streets. The underground kitchen had to be used as the dining-and
sitting-room, for they had not been many years in England and it was a
hard struggle for Benjamin's parents to make ends meet and provide for a
large family.

The father and the elder boys were dressing as best they could in this
room. Just then the mother came in, very excited, and said to her
husband: "What will you say to this? I gave Benjamin his Sabbath clothes
and a clean tsitsith, and what do you think he did?"

"What?" asked the father, and stopped brushing his clothes.

"Why, he took the tsitsith and threw it on the floor, and said he would
never wear it again. I punished him, and told him to put it on again. So
you had better go to him and give him what he deserves."

"You are rather hasty, my dear wife," said the father; "for, before
punishing him, you should have asked him why he did such a thing."

"What!" exclaimed the mother, "do you think I have nothing else to do
but to stand and argue with him just before Sabbath, when I have so much
work? You are far too easy-going, Jacob--you should really be firmer
with the children."

"No, no!" said Jacob, who was a kindly man and understood human nature
better than his hasty, but well-meaning and loving, wife. The struggle
and constant hard work in keeping the home of a large family was telling
upon her, and any disobedience in the children irritated her very much.

"We must not be hasty with the children," continued Jacob, "especially
now-a-days, for they live under different circumstances from those we
knew when we were young. Instead of hastily scolding and punishing them,
let us rather quietly reason with them, when possible, and show them
where they are wrong."

"Perhaps you may be right," said Benjamin's mother; "so let us leave the
matter till you return from Shule and have had our Sabbath meal--then
you can quietly ask Benjamin why he acted as he did."


An elder brother was sent to call Benjamin to go to Shule with his
father and brothers. Benjamin expected a scolding from his father
similar to that which he had had from his mother, so he came into the
room looking very sulky. As nothing was said to him on the subject when
he came into the room, he took his prayer-book, and followed his father
to Shule.

Benjamin was like many other boys of 13, not very clever, but blessed
with a good deal of common sense. His great ambition was to become a
teacher, and so he worked steadily at his lessons. His reason for
wishing to be a teacher was that he wanted to rule and to punish boys as
his master did. Whenever he had a caning from his headmaster he always
consoled himself with the thought that _his_ turn would come some
day--when he was a teacher--to do the same to other boys.

When they returned from Shule and nothing was said, even at the evening
meal, about the way Benjamin had annoyed his mother, he was rather
surprised. His mother, during the time they were at Shule, had made the
living-room, which was really the kitchen, look so clean and bright with
the five lighted candles placed on the snow-white table-cloth, and the
old stove so well polished, that it almost looked as bright as a looking
glass. What interested the young ones most was the saucepan which stood
on one side of the stove waiting for its contents to be put on the
table, and, oh, how they enjoyed the sweet savour which came from it!


They all gathered round the table to welcome the Princess Sabbath. The
father made kiddush, and the wine cup was handed round to all. Then they
washed their hands and said a prayer before sitting down to the evening
meal, which passed off very pleasantly, and zmires (or songs or psalms
of praise) were sung at intervals during the meal.

When the meal was ended, and the grace said by the father, they all
separated: one or two went out for a walk, while the other members of
the family took a newspaper or a book and quietly read.

When the table was cleared, the mother sat down to rest. Grateful,
indeed, was she for this Sabbath rest after her week's hard work. She
often said that, for such as herself, no blessing was as great as the
command: "Thou shalt not do any work on the Sabbath."


When all were quietly settled down, Benjamin's father took him between
his knees, and said: "My son, I wish to ask you something, and I want
you to answer my question frankly and truly. What made you throw the
tsitsith down on the floor this afternoon and say to your mother that
you would not wear it?"

The boy Benjamin dropped his head and was silent for a minute or two,
for to hear his father speak in a kindly way made Benjamin far more
ashamed of himself and his deed than if his father had scolded him and
given him a whipping--in fact, he felt so wretched that he longed to run
out of the room and hide himself from everybody. His father's knowledge
of human nature made him understand what was passing through Benjamin's
mind, and he said: "Do not fear to tell me, my son, why you acted in
such an unusual way, for there must be some reason for a Jewish boy to
act so."

With his head still down, Benjamin said: "When I go swimming in the
baths, my school-fellows see my tsitsith when I undress, and they make
fun of it and pull it about, and say all sorts of nasty things to me for
wearing it, and it makes me feel I cannot stand it any longer. I will
gladly put on my tsitsith at home in the morning when I say my prayers,
but, Father, do let me go to school without wearing it?"

"I expected something like this," said his father, looking at his wife.
"Listen to me, my child--instead of being ashamed, you should feel it a
privilege to wear tsitsith."

"But I can't see why," said Benjamin.

"Well," said his father, "I will tell you the idea of the tsitsith. When
you say the Shema twice a day, as every good Jew is expected to do, you
read in it that God commanded us, through Moses, to wear a fringe on our
garment--the tsitsith, a visible sign to remind us of His Commandments,
just in the same way as a table, spread ready for a meal, reminds us of
our meals. Our religion is not a thing to be kept only for the Sabbath
and the Holy Days, and left out of our minds on all other days. Our
religion must be a living influence, always with us, so the tsitsith is
a very simple kind of symbol to be ever worn to remind a Jew of his God,
his duty to Him and to his neighbour. It is not only we Jews who have
religious symbols; every other religion has them. Now imagine if you
were to go up to a Christian boy and mock him and say nasty words to
him for wearing a cross, or crucifix, he would turn round and fight you,
and he would be right in doing so, for no one has a right to insult
another for wearing or doing what he believes to be holy. Instead of
being ashamed when you were mocked and laughed at by Christian boys for
wearing your tsitsith, you should have asked them to hear you explain
the reason for wearing it. I am sure they would not have laughed at you
any more. They would respect you for trying to be true and to live up to
your convictions.

"We Jews have, in the past, made a great mistake in not letting the
outside world know more of the deeper spiritual meaning of each of our
symbols. Had we not done this, we should have been better understood by
non-Jews, and our children would not have suffered as you and many
others also have done, through the ignorant mocking of your Christian

"I know that in Palestine the Jews, whether old or young, greatly love
to wear their tsitsith, and take a pride in letting them be seen, so
that the Arabs and the Turks look upon the tsitsith as a sacred



"How do you know this, Father?" said Benjamin.

By this time all in the room had dropped their papers and books, and
were listening to their father.

"Well, this is how I know: nearly thirty years ago my uncle and his
family went to live in Jerusalem, and for many years one of my cousins
used to write to me about once a month. His letters were most
interesting. When his letters came I could almost imagine, when reading
them, that I was living in Bible times.

"Have you any of his letters still, Father?" they all exclaimed.

"Yes," said the father, "I have many of them."

"Oh, do read some of them to us!" they pleaded. "All right, I will; and
I will first try to find the one about the tsitsith."

The father went up to his bedroom, and soon came down with a bundle of
letters wrapped in a newspaper. He started looking through them while
all the family stood around him, watching as eagerly as if he were
searching for an heirloom.

"I will choose a very short one," said the father, "for it is on the
subject I have spoken to Benjamin about; but if you like I will make it
a rule every Friday evening, after our Sabbath meal, to read some of the
letters to you."


When all were quietly and comfortably seated, their father started

"My dear Cousin,--After a great many adventures and suffering (which I
will write to you about another time) we arrived safely in Jerusalem. To
me, it seemed rather dull after London, but both father and mother shed
tears of joy when they at last arrived in the Holy City. Some people met
us a little way out, for father had written telling them we were coming.
We were almost royally received and heartily welcomed, for very few Jews
come here with their young families.

"We must have looked a sight--you in London could not imagine anything
like our cavalcade! First went Father riding on a mule, with Mother
following on another mule. Mother's saddle was made with pillows, for it
is impossible for a woman to ride for sixteen or eighteen hours without
a soft, comfortable seat.

"You go up high hills, and then down again, imagining every time you go
down that you will topple over and fall over the precipice and be
killed. In fact, your heart is in your mouth every five minutes, so that
by the time you arrive in Jerusalem (which is surrounded by hills) you
are almost too weak to rejoice at the beauty that greets your sight, for
nowhere in the world can, I think, anything be seen more beautiful than
a sunrise over the mountains around Jerusalem.

"Oh, I forgot to tell you that we youngsters were put into baskets on a
camel's back, and how we were shaken! I felt as if I were praying and
shaking all the time, for it seemed as if we could never get to
Jerusalem alive in this way."


"At last we entered the Holy City, and arrived at Father's friend's
house, where we were made very welcome and treated most kindly. I soon
made friends with the boys, for, you know, I can speak yiddish quite

"They are funny little chaps. They look like old men, with long kaftans
(coats) and side ear-locks of hair, carrying their prayer book or Bible
to Shule. The first thing I noticed was the tsitsith. They wear really
long ones, with long fringes hanging down about a quarter of a yard or
more. They wear them as we do a waistcoat, so that they can be seen by
everyone, not as we wear them in England, tucked away out of sight. Here
young and old, even little boys who can only just walk and lisp their
prayers, wear them, and, what is more, take a real pleasure in wearing
them. I asked some of them why they wore them so openly, and they
answered: 'Because when we look at them we always remember that our
chief duty in life is to try to obey God's commands, and if we had them
tucked away out of sight we should forget to be obedient.' 'Besides,'
they said, 'we are commanded in the Torah to do so openly.' Then I told
them if we wore them so openly in Europe we should perhaps be laughed at
by some people and made fun of. They said: 'Why should doing so make us
be laughed at by other nations? Do we laugh at the symbols and charms
that many of them wear? Every nation,' they said, 'has its tokens and
symbols, and we Jews have ours, and we should rejoice in wearing ours
when they are to help us to feel that God is near us when we think and
act rightly.' All this made me think very seriously, and in a way I had
never thought before. I began to realize that they were more in the
right than we Jews are in England.

"So now I have decided to wear my tsitsith, too, on the outside, as the
Jerusalem boys do. The boys never play except on the quiet, just now and
then, for their parents think that their only duty in life is to study
and do as many Mitzvoth as they can. Really, the boys are as full of fun
and pranks as we English boys, and they just love a bit of play and
larking when they can get it.

"I must now end this letter, but I have a lot more to tell you, and I
will keep my promise and write you by degrees of all I see. Meanwhile,
I send you the greeting of Zion and Sabbath. Rachael wanted to put a
letter into my envelope to your sister, but she says she has not
finished it yet, although she has already written ten pages. So I will
wait no longer, in case I miss the post, as it goes only once a week
from here, and sometimes only once a month."

Thus ended the first letter, and Benjamin's brothers and sisters were so
pleased with it that they were delighted that one of the bundle of
letters should be read aloud after the Sabbath meal on every Friday

Benjamin was quite happy now, for, although he had done a thing which
was not right, now that he had repented good would come out of it, for
there was a chance of their now having pleasanter and more instructive
Sabbath evenings than they had ever had before. Besides, he now made up
his mind always to wear his tsitsith.


On the following Friday, after the Sabbath evening meal, the boys asked
their father to read them another letter from his cousin in Jerusalem.
He was pleased at their eagerness, and, while Upstairs getting the
letter, some of the boys' friends came in and settled comfortably down,
for all were eager to hear the letter read.

Mr Jacob said: "This time I will read a letter from your Cousin Dora to
my sister which will certainly interest you, my dear," turning to his
daughter, "but at the same time, I think it will interest you all."

"My dear Milly,--Isaac must have written to Jacob all about our arrival,
so I will begin by giving you some idea of our life here and my
impressions. The people, who so kindly asked us to stay with them till
Father finds a dwelling, have a few rooms in a house, which has a marble
paved courtyard. Six other families also have two or three rooms each.
All the work is done in the courtyard, even the cooking; for each family
uses tiny stoves, made of mud, into which they put a little lighted
charcoal and cook just outside or near their own doors; for there are no
kitchens or fireplaces in any of the rooms, and thus we see what each
family cooks. The Sephardim (Jews who have lived here for years) eat
their meals in the courtyard. They lay a mat on the marble tiles, on
which they place a small low table, and they sit on the mat and eat. Two
Sephardim families have rooms in the house and they speak Arabic and
Spanish, and their ways of living are more like those of the Turks, just
as the Jews in England live more like the English.

"Everyone seems most interested in us. Many people have come to visit
us, to see the new arrivals!

"The evening of the day on which we arrived was Friday; there was a
clear moonlight such as you would not often see in England, and it was
very warm, too; so we and our visitors sat in the courtyard. All eagerly
asked us many questions, till quite late; and thus the evening passed
very quickly and pleasantly.

"After prayers on Sabbath some people sent a bottle of wine and a most
delicious pudding, which is made nowhere but in Jerusalem. It tastes
like milk and honey, with other tasty things mixed up in it. Others sent
a lovely sponge cake, coated with different-coloured sugar-icing: many
other good things were also given to us; and they lasted us for nearly a

"Later in the day the people who sent the eatables paid us visits, and
ate some of the good things. It is rather a nice custom, I think, for
new arrivals to have no bother to prepare food for their visitors, as it
gives them time to enjoy their company. What a lot of talking there was!
The men discussed several things with Father, while the women wanted to
know many things about England which Mother could tell them. The boys
and girls could not take their eyes off our clothes, so much did they
admire them! It was quite amusing, the funny questions they asked us
about them. They all promised to help us look for a dwelling; and they
kept their promise. I can tell you it was a great help and comfort to us
that they did, for I don't know what would have become of us out here,
away from our old friends, where the ways of living are so different
from what we have been used to. Whether it will always be so or not, of
course I can't say--time alone will show.

"Very soon afterwards they found us a vacant dwelling, which Father was
very thankful to get, and in my next letter I will tell you something of
our life after we had moved in; but I must tell you more of what
happened when we were staying with our kind host. The first afternoon,
one of our visitors insisted on our I going to her home; so, when I and
our youngsters arrived, we were taken to a room, and in it was a table
covered with lovely apricots, and delicious-looking pastries and jams;
also wine which only cost 3d. a bottle, so it is very nearly as cheap as
buying water. When they handed us some of the good things we naturally
took them and ate them.

"Suddenly I saw our host's children move away from us saying: 'She is a
Shiksa,' and 'He is a Shakitz,' and they kept on whispering and pointing
to us. I could not think what we had done to make them act in such a
way, and so asked their mother. She answered: 'They are surprised to see
you eating without making a Brocha (a blessing), for our children unless
they first make a Brocha never taste anything.'

"You know, dear Milly, that, though we too were taught to do as they
here, yet the hurry and scurry of going to school and the busy life in
London have made us forget to practise these religious laws. We,
however, felt very uncomfortable and ashamed of ourselves, and made up
our minds to get into the habit of doing it--that is to remember to
thank our Creator for every blessing we receive, including food--so that
it should become a matter-of-course.

"Now I must tell you about our water-supply, for the scarcity of water
struck us, very much, coming from London; for here every drop is
precious and is used for several things, as every drop has to be
bought, and money amongst our Jerusalem brethren is very scarce. In
fact, it often costs more than the wine of the country.

"A water-carrier brings us up every morning a skin bag of water (it is
made of skins sewn together, with a small outlet at the top); for it we
pay twopence, which is equal to more than a shilling in London. The
water that he brings he pours into a large earthern jar, which keeps it
cool, and to it is attached over the mouth of the jar a sieve which is
made of thick unbleached calico: if this were not done, hundreds of
little red worms would get into the jar, because the water in Palestine
is full of them. A law was made by the Jews that to drink water that had
not been passed through a sieve was a sin; and, as little children are
taught not to commit any sin, they do not drink any water that has not
been passed through a sieve; owing to this, many illnesses are prevented
among the Jews that are rampant among the Arabs and others.

"The Jews are also very careful about their water for ordinary use, yet
they really employ it more plentifully than we do in London when used in
connection with laws of health as laid down in the Shulchan Aruch (a
book of laws). For example, as soon as you step out of your bed, you
pour water over your hands, wash your face, gargle your throat, and rub
your teeth with a clean finger and rinse your mouth. No one would think
of moving out of the room without doing this. I know among the very
orthodox Jews in London they do the same thing, but the average Jew does
not do it, and here it is done by everyone--even a baby is taught to do
it the same way.

"Later in the day, or when the men go to Synagogue, and we have finished
with our household duties, we have the regular soap-and-water wash. Then
again, everytime we have a meal we have to wash our hands and repeat a
blessing; and, as this is done at various other times in a large family,
it takes a good deal of water, but as it is used for cleaning purposes
we need not stint ourselves. This law is especially valuable here, for
it is very hot, and, if we were not very clean and especially careful
about cleansing our eyes and mouths and throat, we should run the risk
of catching a great many diseases which are quite common in the Holy
Land at present.

"I remarked to some women that it surprised me how much water was used
for personal washing considering how scarce it was, but they told me
that they were as careful with every drop of water as they were with
food; none was wasted. Where the religious laws commanded the use of
water for personal washing and cleansing they did not grudge it; for
was not the body of man the temple where the Holy Spirit of God dwelt?
God's spirit is in each one of us, and, therefore, we must do our best
to keep our bodies clean for the presence of our Heavenly King, just as
carefully as we should keep a house or palace clean in which our earthly
king dwelt--more carefully indeed. What would courtiers around an
earthly king say if they saw us take our food in the presence of the
king, and praise him, with dirty hands?

"They save water in many ways that are rather amusing to a stranger
until he gets to know the reason for it. For instance, they do not, at
meals, use different plates on the Sabbath, when they have a few
courses: they eat the fish on one side of the plate, and then they wipe
it and turn the plate over, and have soup and meat on the deeper
side--thus saving the washing of many plates.

"In my next letter I will write you all my tribulations and struggles in
getting used to the new life when we moved into our own house. My great
comfort is that we have got to know an American family, and they have
been so kind to us and so cheery that it has made us feel a bit
brighter, and Mother says that in time we shall get used to our new
life. But I doubt it after living in London."

When Mr Jacob had finished reading the letter the young folks began
talking, the older ones listening and giving a smile now and then.

One said: "I should not like to be there."

"Neither should I," said another girl; "it must be awful after London."

"The only thing that I like about the life," said the former, "is the
hospitality and the friendliness that they show to one another, and the
jolly good time they give to people who are utter strangers to them. We
don't do that here--we seem cold and unfriendly."


As had now become a custom, the young friends of the Jacobs had all
collected on the next Friday evening in the bright and warm
kitchen-sitting room. After a short friendly chat with them Mr Jacobs

"As Purim will begin in two days, perhaps you would like to hear how our
cousins saw it celebrated when they went to Palestine, so I have chosen
this letter to read to you this evening:

"In Jerusalem a week is none too long to prepare for Purim. As you know,
when we lived in London we always were strict about keeping our holy
days; but while there I never realized the pleasure and excitement
during Purim that one sees in Jerusalem.

"Old and young are equally full of fun and joy, and there is plenty of
rushing about with sleeves tucked up. At other times the women here
gossip a great deal, and the girls naturally copy their elders and
gossip too; but, when preparing for Purim, they are all too busy to talk
or even to ask questions. The boys, too, up to the age of twelve, are
allowed to help. Some break up the big pieces of loaf-sugar, and beat up
the eggs, and take the cakes, when ready, to the public ovens, for here
there are no proper ovens as there are in London houses, so a public
oven is built not far from the Synagogue. It is very large, and each
family sends its cakes in its own tins to be baked in it. Generally
about half a dozen tins are carried by each boy. Nothing I have seen
before can be compared with the many kinds of delicious cakes and
stuffed monkeys that are seen here. My mouth waters even when I think of
the delicious strudels filled with sesames and plenty of raisins and
shiros! These things are very cheap here.

"As there are not many boys free to help, you see quite young children,
as well as young women and even grandmothers, going to and from the
public oven, carrying tins of all the Purim delicacies. As they wait
while the cakes are being baked, or waiting their turn to have their
cakes put in, oh! what a chatter there is, and I imagine nowhere else
can there be anything like it. I called it the 'Female Club' instead of
'An Old Maids Club,' as Mr Zangwill did, for there were no old maids
waiting near the oven.

"Most of them come as early as 5 a.m., and none care to leave till they
have their cakes baked, for, if you do, your tins will be pushed aside
as you are not there to scream at and scold the baker--if someone slips
a copper into his hand he, on the quiet, puts their tins in first,
though they may have come later!

"Besides, if you are not there to watch carefully (for the tins are not
named or numbered), someone might take your tins in exchange for his
own, if the cakes, etc., look more tempting. During Purim this is not
looked upon as stealing, but merely as a joke or a bit of fun. The
youngsters will not move an inch unless they can trust someone to take
their place. So I leave you to try to imagine the noise and the chatter.
There is probably not a thing that has happened in Jerusalem during the
last two months that is not discussed around the public oven while
people are waiting for their cake-tins; and, as everyone wants to talk
rather than to listen, the noise is like the buzz in a factory.

"After all the cooking and so forth was finished, of course we had to
keep the Fast of Esther, and everyone, even babies went to Shule to hear
the Megilla (the _Book of Esther_) read; and, when the Chazan came to
Haman, the Gragers went off with just such a noise as they do in the
London Shules in Old Montague Street or Booth Street. Then we went home;
and after the evening meal the joyfulness began, for they did not wait
till the next day, as we do in England.

"As only one room was lighted up by each family to economize light and
for other reasons--there are no curtains or blinds to draw down--we were
able to go through all Meah Sheorim and stop a minute or two at every
lighted window and watch the goings on. We heard nothing but singing and
clapping of hands, while the children danced. Sometimes one of the
elders looking on could not resist joining in the fun, and tied his
kaftan behind his back so as to leave his legs free, put one of the
youngsters on his shoulders, and danced like a chassid or a jolly

"As we went from house to house peeping in at the windows, sometimes
some of the family would come out and drag us in by force, and make us
drink wine and eat cakes. If we did not wish to join in the dancing, but
wanted to leave, they would just say 'Shalom'--'go in peace but come
again.' I can tell you it was jolly, and nowhere else in all the world
could Yomtov be kept up as it is here.

"We were given wine in so many houses that from the eldest to the
youngest we were beginning to feel rather funny. Next morning, after
being well shaken up by Father, and after we had had a wash with cold
water in the open air, we made up our minds to be firmer at the next

"After going in the morning to hear the Chazan again, and coming home
and enjoying the Hamantaschen and other good things, then begins the
pleasure and excitement of sending Shalach-manoth to friends,
acquaintances, and chiefly to the poor, and even to enemies if you have
any. As you are supposed, if possible, to send back to the sender
something similar to what is sent to you, things cannot be made ready
beforehand. To the poor you always send useful presents as well as
delicacies which are likely to last them for months or longer.

"As to the beggars, I never imagined there could be so many in one
country. We generally get enough beggars coming to us on Fridays and
before holy days, but at Yom Kippur and Purim they come in crowds. Most
of them are Sephardim and Yeminites. It is true you give each of them
only a para, which is about a quarter of a farthing, and they give you a
blessing for it; but, if they come to a rich class of home and are not
given there according to the style of the house, they upbraid the
people, and even curse them, so the children are told to stand at the
doors with paras and cakes, etc. At some houses they are invited in.
Each carries a sack on his shoulder, expecting, I suppose, that it will
be filled with good things by the time Purim is over; and, as they never
pass a door without begging, they are not likely to be disappointed.

"The fun I enjoyed best was the uncovering of our plates and seeing what
Shalach-monus had been sent to us. A cap had been sent to Father, made
of velvet, with tails of sable and other skins round it. Father felt
very downcast, for he did not at all like the idea of giving up wearing
the high hat that he always wore in London on Sabbaths and holidays.
Whether he will wear the velvet schtramel or not I cannot tell, but I
will wait and see who wins--Father or the community--for we have some
idea who sent it.

"Mother received a beautiful, soft silk kerchief to wear on her head,
and it seemed a sign that the community wanted her to put her wig aside
and wear a kerchief instead. I was most thankful they did not send me a
pair of scissors. If they had, I should have thought they wanted me to
cut my plaits off. Well, I should have fought for my hair as I would for

"In the afternoon I went to visit some friends, and I found a house full
of men, young and old, with their schtramel on their heads, and their
kaftans tied back, singing at the very top of their voices (and some
have very fine voices); others were clapping their hands, while eight
men, four on each side, were dancing what looked like a pantomime ballet
that I once went to. It was simply grand to watch them, for some were
old men with long, white beards, while others were serious-looking
young men who are to be seen daily in the street walking to and from
their homes and Shules, always deep in thought and so very
serious-looking that you would imagine that they did not know how to
smile. Here they were, on this Purim afternoon, dancing with all their
might, and with bright, smiling eyes! You could see it was not wine that
had made them bright and cheery: it was the spirit, or fire, of their
religious zeal commemorating with thankfulness the anniversary of the
day when their nation was saved from destruction. Of course I was too
fascinated watching them at the time to think this was the reason for
this unusual sight.

"After a while, they went to pay visits to the Rav and to others who
were scholars or pious men in the community. Often when walking to the
various houses they would catch hold of others and dance with them in
the open streets as you see children doing when an organ-grinder plays.

"I was so attracted by them, and so was everyone who saw them, that we
followed them at a respectful distance. Sometimes someone had had a
little too much wine when visiting and it had gone to his head. Then
some of the party would say: 'Ah well, it is Purim--there is no shame.'

"I told Father this when I returned home, and he explained to me that
their rejoicing during Purim did not mean simply a material
satisfaction--it was a spiritual rejoicing, as on Simhath Torah, when
the Reading of the Law was started again, so that during Purim and
Simhath Torah allowance is made if a little more wine is taken than is
usually the case.

"Then we had Purim Schpielers, who visited every house, dressed up very
funnily and full of jokes; some acted, and some were disguised. In fact,
it was the happiest Purim I have ever spent, and I doubt if there is any
other place where it could be spent so happily. For here in Jerusalem we
are all like one large family: respect is paid to the righteous and to
worthy scholars, whether they are poor or rich. Money has not the same
power here. There is a good deal of quarrelling and mischief going on
among our female neighbours, but the quarrels are not very serious but
more like quarrels in a large family. In another letter I will write
about our 'Female Club.'"


Friday evening came round again, and the friends of the Jacob family
were comfortably seated in the bright cellar-kitchen, eagerly waiting to
hear another letter read, for old and young were equally interested in
hearing details of life in Palestine so many years ago.

On coming in with a letter Mr Jacob said: "As preparation for the
Passover is not far off, I think it will interest you to hear how it was
done in Palestine."

They all agreed, so he began:

"My dear Jacob,--Please forgive my not having written sooner, but I have
really been too busy. We have just had Passover. I think you will be
glad to hear how we prepared for it here. Each family is forced to bake
its own matzos, as none can be bought from abroad. It was no easy
matter, I can tell you, especially the baking, and it is a good thing we
had strong teeth, as the matzos are not rolled out as thin as in London
and are pretty hard to eat. There's a lot of fun attached to making
matzos, but I am thankful the baking comes only once a year.

"As each family in turn gets the use of the public baking-oven, it is
necessary to start soon after Purim to prepare the special flour used
for matzos. In every house a room is set apart and thoroughly cleansed
for the wheat, which is laid out on large trays. Then during the winter
it is examined by the mother and girls to see that no dust be mixed with
it, and sometimes neighbours come in and help. All who enter this room
must have very clean hands; even the finger-nails must be carefully
cleaned, and clean clothes put on, so that there is no chance of any
chometz. When enough of the best grains have been selected, they are
washed, dried, and then ground into flour.

"As each family's turn comes round for the use of the bakehouse, those
who help always wash very carefully and put on clean overalls; also new
cooking-utensils are always used.

"Water is carried by a few of the elder men of the family, as the
youngsters would not be trusted to carry it without spilling it.


"There is great talking among those waiting their turn for the use of
the oven, and great teasing, and sometimes fighting, amongst the boys.
Now and then one of the elder men pulls their ears with a vengeance for
being 'shkotzim', as he calls it. Then they keep quiet till he goes
away. When our turn came, Millie kneaded the flour, while father
poured the water on for her. You remember what a strong girl she is, and
she did the kneading with such a will that I warned her not to get too
hot. No flour-dredgers are used. My duty was to roll out the dough, but
Mother wasn't satisfied with the way I did it, and sent me to put more
wood in the oven. When the oven was hot enough, I had to sweep all the
burnt wood and ashes out to get it nice and clean.

[Illustration: CHADAR (SCHOOL)]

"Then we started to put the matzos in, one by one. Oh, it was hot work!
I hardly knew what to do, it was so hot. Mother came and pushed me
aside, saying to herself I was good for nothing. In fact, my dear Jacob,
one wants training to stand such heat, as one does to be a blacksmith.
Mother said that making matzos teaches us to realize what some of the
hardships were that our forefathers went through in Egypt. I hope it
will become easier in time, for all the others are quite happy making
and baking them, singing at the same time.

"Well, well! to be a true Jew is a hard matter. As I grow older and get
more knowledge and sense I shall find a pleasure in doing these things.


"After a few hours of hard work all the newly baked matzos were put in a
basket, in which had been laid a clean table-cloth; and, when all had
been carefully packed in, they were covered with another white cloth.
What I felt most was not being allowed to taste a bit, for it is
forbidden till Seder to eat any of the matzos. As I was carrying the
basket home, I felt as if the devil was in me, and the temptation was so
strong that I undid the cord and took one out. Hearing someone coming up
behind me, I slipped it hurriedly into my pocket and took up the basket
and started off again.

"I heard the footsteps coming closer until who should come up to me but
my best friend, Jonathan? He glared at me and said: 'Oh you sinner in
Israel!' 'Why, what have I done?' I exclaimed. 'I saw you put a matzo in
your pocket!' he said.

"I felt hot all over, for I did not want him to have a bad opinion of
me, as we had sworn friendship to each other like Jonathan and David.

"So I took the matzo out of my pocket, threw it in the gutter, and
jumped on it.

"'Why have you done that?' he said. 'Because I don't want you to think
badly of me.' 'Yet you did not care for what God thought!' he said.
'Don't you know that our Rabbis say that a bad thought is just as evil
as a bad deed; for, if we check a bad thought or wish, it helps us not
to put the bad thoughts or wish into action. If we were as anxious to
please God as we are to please our friends, and to be as well thought of
by Him, we should check our bad thoughts before they led us to do bad

"He said, too, that he was sorry to see that I cared more for his
approval than I did for God's approval. I promised for the future to try
to overcome any evil thoughts or wishes that came into my mind so that I
should not be so tempted to do wrong--in fact I would try to check a bad
thought in the bud.

"Then he forgave me, and we parted good friends, for I love him. He is
exactly what I think Jonathan must have been to David, and I will write
more about him in another letter.

"When I arrived home, we had to prepare and cleanse the house for
Passover. We had to do all the work ourselves, for we could not hire any
helpers except, by a stroke of luck, the 'white-washers,' as they are


"All the furniture is put out of doors, not even a pin is left in the
house. As everyone does the same, a stranger passing by would think
there must be a 'jumble sale' going on.

"Passover time is usually like lovely English summer weather. As very
little water can be got, guess how everything is scrubbed and rubbed!

"Outside Meah Sheorim there are large holes from which clay has been
taken for building purposes, and during the winter-rains they get filled
with water and they look nearly as large as ponds.

"We carried or pushed all the furniture to one of these ponds, took sand
moistened with a little water, and rubbed the furniture till it was
white and clean. This we have to do three times: such is the rule. If
any of the furniture was polished, you can imagine that not much of the
polish was left after all this scrubbing and rubbing.

"We threw into the pond whatever we could, and as it was not deep, we
pulled up our trousers, and washed those pieces of furniture in the
water. Some threw in boards, and we made see-saws and played on them
till one of us fell in. It was such fun! Sometimes the furniture got
mixed, and it was hard to tell to whom it belonged. Indeed, I never
enjoyed myself so much as on this Erev Passover. Even more than in
London when I went to see _Sindbad the Sailor_. There is plenty of fun
going on when we are left free, but that is not often, you may be sure.
The best fun we had was when someone threw a chair into the pond and sat
on it while other boys pushed it along. Somebody else threw in a barrel
and a few of us got on it, and then over we went into the water.


"We were not anxious to go home, even for meals, when our mothers called
us. When we did get home, we found all the walls looking lovely with
fresh whitewash. For a few days we were not allowed to go into the house
unless we took our outer clothes off to prevent our bringing in some
chometz. The weather was beautifully warm, so that we really enjoyed
eating our meals out of doors and calling out to other boys as they ate

"On the eve before Passover we had the fun of going to the Turkish bath
and then to Mikva and help to have all new things 'tavelt', and then the
greatest enjoyment was on the day for the preparation of the Seder!


"Before I stop writing I must tell you of the bonfire we had on Erev
Passover, when over a hundred of us each threw the wooden spoon and
remnants of chometz on the lighted fire, and then there was such a blaze
for nearly two hours! We caught hold of each other's hands and danced
round the bonfire. Oh! it was a grand sight. Now I'm called to go to a
Bar Mitzvah, but will write you again very soon. How I wish you were
here with me, Jacob!"

"I wish I was, too," exclaimed Benjamin, who had sat listening quietly
whilst the letter was being read. On the faces of several of the elder
people there was a far-away look and sometimes a smile, for the scenes
described in the letter brought back memories of their own childhood
when the holidays and the preparations for them were similar to those in


One of the boy-listeners said: "I see now why some of us in London do
not enjoy the holidays. It is due to our surroundings. Many of us here
have to work or go to business whether it is a holiday or not, and so we
do not enjoy them in the same spirit as the boys and girls in Palestine,
where they are freer to carry out the teaching of our religion."

"Well!" said Benjamin; "there's one thing at least I can do, and that is
to help my mother to prepare for the Passover in my spare time."

"And I, too," and "I, too," exclaimed others.

"Bravo, boys!" said Mr Jacob. "Even if you do not enjoy it so much
physically, you will do so spiritually, for anyone who tries to help his
mother to keep up our fine old customs will be blessed."


It was a week before Lag B'Omer, and the friends of the Jacobs family
continued to attend every Friday evening to hear a letter from Jerusalem
read. There was only one drawback to these Friday re-unions, and that
was that every week the little cellar-kitchen sitting-room got more and
more crowded, for each friend became so interested that he brought
another with him without asking permission. However, as no one
complained, Mr and Mrs Jacobs said nothing, and were indeed thankful
that so many were interested in those old letters; and Mr Jacobs at once
started reading as follows:--

"DEAR MILLIE,--I want to tell you how we spent Lag B'Omer here, for in
London we used not to make much of a holy day of it. Here days are taken
in preparing for it, baking cakes and preparing tasty meals. Both old
and young spend that day in visits to the graves of our great Rabbis and
in picnics on the Mount of Olives or in the cool shade of the many caves
in the neighbourhood. Those who have large families have their hands
full, for the walks in the open air give the children huge appetites;
and, unless you are prepared for such appetites it is difficult to
supply all that is needed, for you cannot buy extra food, as in England,
except perhaps a few nuts and a drink of water.

"Before dawn, our youngsters awakened us and hurried us to get ready to
start, as if we should not have quite enough of their pranks even if we
left a few hours later. As we have to form ourselves into large groups,
we arrange these a day or two beforehand, for there are a great number
of Arabs and Turks about, and many of them are very wild. If you go
alone, or even in pairs, they are often known to attack you, especially
in the case of a girl or a woman. At first I laughed at the girls
fearing to go alone when in the country, but, after having had an
unpleasant adventure myself, I determined to be more careful and obey
those who knew better than I did as to what was safe and what not.

"It happened in this way. One Sabbath afternoon I went out of the suburb
with a few girls, who, like myself, had the spirit of adventure. As we
went along chatting merrily together, we felt ourselves caught from
behind by some Turks. Fortunately we had not got far, so that when we
shrieked out our cries were heard in the town, and to our great relief
we soon heard a horse galloping in our direction. We kept on screaming,
and one Turk put his hand over my friend's mouth; but she bit and
scratched his hand. Then, suddenly, we were let loose, and the Turks
took to their heels, for they saw Europeans galloping up to us. Two of
them jumped off their horses and asked if we were hurt, for we had been
so frightened that we could not quickly leave off crying. They kindly
brought us home, and after that experience I never wanted to go out
without enough men in our party to guard us.

"Now this Lag B'Omer a number of girls wanted to go to see some special
places, so we formed ourselves into a large party and started very
early, for you rarely get such an outing. It was a most glorious spring
morning, and a few of us had donkeys to ride. To do so is not as much
pleasure as you might think, for the donkeys in Palestine stop every few
minutes, and, unless you beat them cruelly, which we did not like doing,
they will not budge an inch. Sometimes they consent to be led, but they
will not be driven, and you have a weary time of it. Now and then a
donkey will suddenly start off on a quick trot, and, being thus taken
unawares, the rider often falls off. You can imagine the laughter of
your friends and how stupid the girl feels, but somehow it is always
taken in good part.

"Our visit first was to David's Tomb, but we were not allowed to go in.
Next we walked round the walls of Jerusalem, climbed up the Mount of
Olives, then rested under the shade of a large olive-tree, where we
spread out our table-cloth and arranged on it all the good things we had
brought with us. The long walk had given us good appetites. After we had
finished our meals, other groups of friends came close to us, and then
some of the men in turns told us tales of our nation's ancient glory,
and each one had something interesting to relate. Then a middle-aged man
with a group of boys came near us. I think he must have been a teacher,
for he started telling the boys about Bar Cochba and his struggle with
the Romans.

"'Fierce struggles for Jewish freedom went on for three years, and the
Jews were proving so successful under the leadership of Bar Cochba that
the Romans thought it necessary to bring their greatest general, Julius
Severus, from Britain to command the Roman Army in Palestine. At last
the Samaritans betrayed our people: our last remaining fortified city,
Bethar, fell, and Bar Cochba died in defending it on 9th of Ab, 135 C.E.

"'The Jews were the last people under Roman rule in those days to fight
for freedom, and over half-a-million of them lost their lives in this
long struggle. Rabbi Akiba, the wise and dearly-loved Jewish scholar,
was taken prisoner and scourged, until he expired under his sufferings.
Jerusalem was turned into a Roman colony called Aelia Capitolina, and no
Jew dared appear in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, under penalty of
death. Jews under the Roman rules were forbidden to practise their
religion, and anyone found teaching or preaching Judaism was horribly

"The Rabbi, continuing, reminded his boys that, in remembrance of the
brave deeds of Bar Cochba and his Jewish soldiers, Jewish boys to this
present time play with bows and arrows on Lag B'Omer.

"I was most interested to hear all the Rabbi had to tell his boys, and
glad to feel I was at last living in the Holy Land where so many of our
noble heroes of past ages lived and fought and suffered martyrdom. I
could not prevent tears coming to my eyes when thinking on our nation's
past glory and praying silently we may come again into our own; but I
believe it will not be so much by the power of the sword, but as the
Prophet Zachariah foretold unto Zerubbabel: 'Not by might, nor by power
(or arms), but by MY SPIRIT, saith the Lord.' Those who have been born
here or lived here for many years cannot understand our feeling thus,
though they love their country and their nation dearly.

"When the Rabbi had ended, we all stood up and received his blessing. We
then went on to the grave of Rabbi Shiman, which was in a beautiful,
cool, and shady spot. There we found numbers of people. Some groups were
having a lively time singing and clapping their hands, while the men
were dancing; but none of the women or girls danced, as it would be
thought immodest of them, but they helped by singing and clapping their
hands. Then other folks came to pray at the saint's grave for the health
of some of their children that were ailing. Others dropped letters or
pieces of paper into the Rabbi's tomb with special requests written on
them. Some put money into the charity-boxes hanging at different parts
around the tomb. There was also no end of beggars there. One
nice-looking man went about with a red handkerchief tied up by the four
corners, asking people to put in as much as they could spare to uphold
the yeshibas and the hospital or the home for the aged, and other
institutions. But as most of the people there around the Rabbi's grave
lived on charity, I could not see what they could spare.

"I happened to mention this to Father and said how I disliked seeing
people living on Chalukha (alms sent them from Europe), and I could not
understand why they were not ashamed to take it, for they did not look
like ordinary beggars, but quite the reverse--independent, studious,
and refined-looking, as I found out later when I spoke to them. They
seemed indeed to think they were conferring a favour by accepting alms.
Father said to a certain degree they were wrong, but from another point
of view it is difficult for a man to progress in business and at the
same time devote many hours to the study of the Torah. Our ancient
Rabbis realized this, and said that those who had not the leisure or the
inclination to devote much time to the study of the Torah should make it
their duty to give of their means towards the up-keep of those who did.
If they did this God would bless them. So it is now a recognized duty
for every Jew in Europe who has any respect for the Torah and other
religious learning or teaching to send his 'bit' towards the yearly
support of the scholars here.

"The latter, who do nothing but study the Torah, think that it is
through their efforts in this direction that Israel is saved. They do
not consider the money given for their support a charity, but believe
they hold a similar position in Palestine to that of professors and
students who hold scholarships in the various universities in Great
Britain and Europe. The Jews in certain countries send more money for
the support of their fellow-countrymen who are teachers and scholars
than the Jews of some of the Eastern European countries, and that is why
some appear to be better off than many of their fellow-teachers and

"This chat with Father helped me to understand other things as well
which had puzzled me before. About this I will write more in another

"Now I must return to Lag B'Omer, and tell you what struck me as very
strange on that day. As I went with a few of my girl-friends from group
to group to see and hear all I could about what was going on, we came to
a group of women, girls, and youngsters, and in the centre of them all a
lovely little child about three years of age sitting dressed in silk,
and a plate near by with some lovely black curls lying on it. I, of
course, asked what it all meant, and was told that those people who had
only one boy, or who had lost some by death, never cut the hair of their
children till they were between three and four years of age. Then, when
it was cut, they put all they had cut off upon a scale, and upon the
other side of the scale copper, silver, or gold money, according to
their means. If poor, they put copper coins upon the scales to test the
weight of the hair, and then distributed these copper coins among the
poor. In fact, it just looks as if those who receive charity take it
in one hand and distribute it with the other.


"Nowhere have I ever seen so much almsgiving as here. Alms-boxes are
hung up in various places, where in Europe you would see only ornaments.
For every joy or blessing and for those who have relatives or friends
ill or in danger, money is freely dropped into the box. This money is
given towards the up-keep of the hospital for the very poor, and so on.
Really, it must be very hard for those people who have little to spare,
but Father says this is one of the means by which every Jew in Palestine
is trained to love his neighbour as himself. I feel he is right, for I
never saw so much kindness and thoughtfulness for others as I have seen
since we arrived here. Everyone naturally does what the others do, and
it has proved to me how true it is that example is far more powerful
than preaching or teaching.

"As we appeared so interested in what they told us, they kindly invited
us to sit down and offered us wine, cake, delicious pasties, and jams,
and later on baked nuts, though we were quite strangers to them. It is
this kindliness that surprised me so much. Altogether we spent a very
joyful day, returning home by moonlight, when we girls and women
thoroughly enjoyed listening to the groups of men and boys who sang and
danced on the way home.

"I don't think I could ever make you realize all the drawbacks to the
life here; but yet it has a very pleasant and happy side too, and you
really see far more pleasure than you ever do in London. In my next
letter I'll tell you about the engagement and marriage of my friend who
is only fifteen years old. Now I must stop, hoping that we may see you
here some day soon."

The older folks started discussing the life in Palestine. Directly Mr
Jacobs had finished reading the letter, they agreed that it could only
be in Palestine that a truly Jewish life could be lived, for everything
depends so much on environment. "In London the surroundings are against
a consistently Jewish religious life," said one; "if you try, it is just
like swimming against a strong current." "But here comes our chance,"
replied another, "for if we fight or swim against the current, we
gradually become stronger, and at last we are able to swim well in spite
of it, and so win the race and prize. If we just swim with the current,
or just suit our life to our environment, which of course at first is
much easier and pleasanter, the current at last carries us along so
rapidly that we are unable to avoid rocks or crags in the river, and
then we 'go under,' or make shipwreck of our lives."

"That's true indeed," said all the elders, shaking their heads solemnly.
"Then," replied Mr Jacobs, "our greatest duty is to have one thought and
one aim constantly in our minds, no matter what our environment may be,
and that thought is that God's Holy Spirit is in and around all who try
to obey Him, no matter where they are; and it is only by the guidance
and help of His Holy Spirit that we can lead true, consistent, Jewish
lives, live up to the old familiar words of the Shema, and love our
neighbours as ourselves."


When Mr Jacobs' family and friends assembled again on Friday evening, he
said: "You know what discussions there have been lately in England about
the proper way to keep the Sabbath, so it may interest you to hear a
letter from my cousin, giving an account how Sabbath was kept in

"My dear Millie,--I will explain as well as I can what it means to
prepare for Sabbath here, and how it is spent. About four o'clock on
Friday mornings Mother and I get up and prepare the Sabbath loaves. I
can tell you it is no easy matter, for, even when the weather is not
frosty, the exertion of kneading the dough makes you perspire. If you
finish kneading early enough, you get back to bed while the dough is

"Early on Friday mornings beggars start going from house to house
(especially the Sephardim and Yemenites or Arabian Jews). At each house
they are given small, fresh-baked chola, bun, or beigel. No one refuses
to give this. Later on, two respectable men or women go from house to
house collecting in a large bag whatever anyone gives them, such as
cholas, meat, cereals, oil, wine, or money. The Community know that
these things are not for themselves, but are to be distributed amongst
the sick and the most needy, who cannot beg for themselves. Sometimes we
have as many as six or seven people who come collecting, and no one ever
thinks of refusing them. In fact, everyone prepares for this, and gives
most willingly, knowing that the Sabbath must be celebrated by rich and
poor alike with the best one has.

"In a future letter I will tell you more about certain people who give
up a part of their time to works of charity, and how they do it; for
there is no Board of Guardians here, as there is in London.

"Then when Father and the boys go to synagogue, we start to prepare for
the day's work. First we take all the furniture we can out of the house,
so as to leave the rooms free for the lower part of the walls to be
whitewashed and the marble floors cleaned. Of course, we try to use as
little water as possible, as it is scarce, but even so the floors must
be clean and look well polished, and the wooden furniture washed and
rubbed well with sand.

"Then the tea-urn and all the saucepans and trays, which are either
brass or copper, have to be cleaned and brightened; and, as we cannot
get brass-polish here, we rub them with fine sand. It needs plenty of
'elbow grease' to make them look bright, but the rubbing well repays us.
Since we came here I quite understand how brass or copper
looking-glasses were used by our ancestors, for, after rubbing very hard
with fine sand and a piece of lemon peel, you can see your face clearly
reflected in the trays. Some who had no mirror used the trays for

"Mother prepares our Sabbath meals, whilst we girls are doing the hard
work--hanging up our best curtains or putting our best covers on the
beds and cushions, and spreading the Sabbath table-cloth. These are put
away again on Saturday evenings. Those who have them also use special
Sabbath china, glass, and silver for their meals.

"This work keeps us busy nearly all day. About three hours before sunset
Father and the boys go to the public baths, and by the time they return
we are all dressed in our best clothes, the samovar (the urn) is placed
on a table in the porch, and we all sit there to rest and drink tea,
awaiting the coming in of 'Princess Sabbath.' A matter of an hour before
Sabbath a voice is heard calling out:

'Sabbath is in, friends! Sabbath is in!'

"The first time I heard the call I could not understand the reason until
Father told me that, as there are no bells in the suburb and very few
people have clocks, one of the highly-respected members of the
community undertakes the job of going right round Meah Sheorim every
Friday, so that the women may know when to light their Sabbath
lamps--for directly the Sabbath call is heard all the women stop
whatever work they are at and go to light the Sabbath lamp, which has
seven wicks, in a basin of oil hanging from the ceiling, for there are
no candles here. When this is done the men and children go to synagogue,
and some of the women too. As they all love bright colours, when you see
them from a distance walking to synagogue, the suburb looks like a

"After Sabbath dinner, which consists of the _cholent_ baked on the
previous day, Father gathers the boys round the table to hear what
lessons they have learnt during the week. He discusses and explains part
of the Torah to them, while mother and we girls read the Zeene ureene (a
commentary on the Bible for women), the Ethics of the Fathers, and the
like. This goes on for some time, and then we are free to go and visit
our friends. We and several of our friends often go to an old lady's
house, where we spend pleasant Sabbath afternoons.

"Years ago this dear old lady came from Russia to end her days in the
Holy Land. She is well provided for by her children, so she has the
time and means to lead a happy and useful life here, and does a lot of
good quietly, by the cheery, sensible way she often gives a "helping
hand" to those who need it.

"She so understands all our fun that we sometimes forget she is old. We
just talk things over with her as we would with our young friends. Not
only we girls, but young married women, just love spending part of the
Sabbath afternoons with her. The room is often so full that we have to
sit cross-legged, like the Turks, on the marble floor, which in summer
time is quite the coolest seat.

"We then play 'Nuts.' Each one puts a certain number into a cap, but to
win the game one has to be very quick and sharp: it is really quite
exciting. What we like best is when the old lady sits amongst us and
reads us a tale from a book, or some of the papers sent her from abroad.
The stories are very tantalizing, for they always leave off at the most
interesting part, and then we may have to wait a week or two before we
get the next number! During the week we try to imagine what the next
chapter will be like.

"Sometimes she reads from the Ethics of the Fathers--those wise sayings
of the ancient Rabbis. I remember last week she told us of one of the
Rabbis who wrote that 'those who control or overcome their hasty
tempers are greater than those who take a city from an enemy,' She, as
usual, asks us to give our views on what she has read, and an excited
discussion follows. Those of us who naturally have a calm, good temper
said that they did not agree with the Rabbi, because they did not think
it at all hard to keep their temper when provoked. Others, who had hasty
passionate tempers, said the Rabbi was quite right: it would be far
easier, they felt sure, to take a city than to control their tempers,
for the whole nation would help them to take a city, as it was
considered a grand thing to do, but very few people would help them to
control their tempers. In fact, even their relatives and friends
provoked them to be hasty and passionate. When provoked or irritated the
blood rushes so quickly to the head that it makes it very, very hard to
remain calm, and then we often say or do things we are really sorry for

"As we could not agree, we turned to the old lady, for she is full of
wisdom and understanding. She tried to pacify us, for we were nearly on
the verge of quarreling. She said that if, when young, we tried, with
the Almighty's help, to keep our hasty tempers under control, it would
be easier to do so every time we were provoked, but the older we were
before beginning, the more difficult it would be to be successful.
Even then we had always to keep a watch over ourselves, for one of our
wise sages wrote: 'One is never sure of himself till the day of his
death.' We all saw the wisdom of her advice, and made up our minds that
we must all help each other, for very often the calm quiet natures are
those who love teasing and provoking the hasty-tempered ones, for the
fun of seeing them get into a temper; and this, we realized after her
talk with us, was not pleasing to God.

[Illustration: THE OLD LADY]

"After we leave her we take a walk outside the suburb. At sunset, when
we return home, until the time to go to bed, we are kept very busy
washing up all the things used at meals, as no washing up is done during
the Sabbath. Then, too, all the Sabbath curtains, coverlets, glass,
china, and silver have to be carefully put away.

"In my next letter I will write you more about our old lady."

When Mr Jacobs had finished the letter, the usual talk started. One said
that "Such a Sabbath might be all very well in Palestine!"

An elderly friend said: "Well! in Palestine they at least _know_ what
the Sabbath is, whilst here in London, unless one keeps it strictly and
remains indoors all day, except to go to synagogue, one never sees any
difference between the Sabbath and any other day of the week."

Mr Jacobs said: "I think what you both say is true, and the only way is
to try to keep our Sabbath in the spirit, as well as in the letter as
much as possible. If each of us tried to do this in his own home, even
in London, gradually a difference would be seen in the neighbourhood in
which we live. A wise man wrote: 'All reforms begin with _man_ and not
with _men_.' The first important step is to think good thoughts; for
'thoughts have wings,' and, when expressed, they are readily impressed
upon the minds of those in sympathy with the thinker."

"True, very true!" exclaimed the others. "Let us each, with God's help,
strive to remember more often those thoughts of our Prophet Isaiah
(chap. 58): 'If thou call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy of the
Lord honourable, and shalt honour it, not doing thy wonted ways, nor
pursuing thy business, nor speaking thereof, then shalt thou delight
thyself in the Lord, and I will make thee to ride upon the high places
of the earth, and I will feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy
father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.'"

By this the Prophet meant that we were to drive all thoughts of business
from our minds on the Sabbath. No thoughts of scandal, evil, or
uncharitableness were to be harboured, but our minds and hearts were to
delight in words of prayer, in the study of the Holy Law. It was to be
truly a day of peace, a day of rest.


Mr Jacob told his friends the next Friday evening, when they arrived as
usual, that he thought they would be interested in the letter describing
the Succah.

"My dear Millie,--After the Day of Atonement, everyone was very busy
preparing for the Feast of Tabernacles, which is still celebrated here
as it must have been in Bible times.

"With great merriment all the young people decorate their Succahs, while
their mothers with the baby in their arms watch the young folks at work.

"The Succahs in Palestine are not made as they are in Europe. The
saplings are covered with palm-leaves woven together, the roof with
branches of trees, as there is no chance of rain at this time of the
year in Palestine. Everything that is beautiful in the home is brought
out to decorate the interior of the Succah. The poor make their Succahs
of doors or wooden boxes.

"As this was the first Succah since our arrival, we were invited by
our neighbours to join them. The father, a patriarchal looking old
man with a saintly face, sat at the head of the table, and we were
fascinated by his looks. His eldest son came in soon after, followed
by his other grown-up sons and his daughters. He greeted his aged
father with a smile, and wished him good 'Yom Tov' and bowed his
head for his father's blessing. Then one by one all the children
came to greet him and receive his blessing, with quite a number of
grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and last but not least the
little great-great-grandchild.

"When my parents looked astonished at the number, one of the daughters
quietly said: 'You see that here we marry our children while very young,
so that the Psalmist's words are very often fulfilled in Palestine, and
nearly everyone has his quiver full.' When all were quiet, our aged
friend repeated a prayer over the wine, and the large silver cup was
passed from one to the other. This was very solemnly and reverently

"After this, our aged neighbour's children who had large families went
to their own homes, while those of his children who had small families
remained to celebrate the Feast with him. When he had washed his hands
before eating and repeated the blessing upon the meal, he took his
youngest great-grandchild on his knee.

"The only thing that saddened the scene was the empty chair beside our
aged friend--his wife had died during the course of the year. The
family all looked at the empty chair and sighed, and the
great-great-grandfather, with tears glistening in his eyes, also gave a
sigh, and then turned with a smile to his large family and said: 'Let us
begin. My little Samuel will start a Brocha,' and the rest listened to
hear how the little one lisped the words after his great-grandfather.

"The following day our aged friend sat like a king in his Succah, while
relatives and friends came to pay their respects to him, and all was joy
and merriment.

"Some of the younger grandchildren wanted to show their grandfather what
they had lately learned, and there was quite a scramble around his knees
to try and be first heard. With a wave of his hand he said: 'I will hear
you all in turn, my children.' This quietened the eager little souls,
and they waited patiently for their turns to come.

"While the children were thus busy with their grandfather, the elder
sons and sons-in-law and their wives sat around, discussing quietly
various topics of interest, till the time for Mincha came round.

"Then the great grandfather went to Shule, followed by all his children.

"Visiting other neighbours during the Succah weeks, we found that they
preserved this beautiful and ancient way of keeping the Festival.

"I never realized till then what a great influence for good the
surroundings and teaching in childhood can be, and how a father and
mother can leave the impress of their teaching in early life upon both
sons and daughters. It is the mother specially who forms the child's
soul, quite as clearly on the boys as on the girls from their
cradle-days, and the father and the teacher only builds on the
foundation laid by the mother: this is seen here more than elsewhere."

"Very true," exclaimed the others; "a great deal is done by the mother;
but the environment has a great influence on the character."

This caused a good deal of discussion and the meeting did not close till
one o'clock in the morning.


On the following Friday evening, the next letter that Mr Jacob chose for
reading to his family and friends was on the way almsgiving, or
charity, was managed in Palestine. Before starting to read, he advised
his hearers not to forget that the Jewish community in Palestine was
very small when this letter was written, and the majority of the people
were very poor. Many had spent most of their money and worldly goods in
the expenses of travelling there, with the object of ending their days
in their beloved land, and being buried with their forefathers.

Mr Jacob then began the letter.

"My dear Millie,--You seem so interested in all I have so far told you
about our life in Palestine, that I think you will like to hear of some
of the ways that our poorer brethren are helped in Palestine.

"Many of the ways will appear strange to you; yet I think some of them
are really better than those adopted by our community in England.

"Here, there is no Board of Guardians, so that the giving of charity, or
a 'helping hand' to the sick or needy, is more of a direct personal
matter. The givers strive to be wise and tactful, so that our people
may not lose their self-respect; for, as a rule, they are naturally very
sensitive, and if self-respect is lost some are encouraged to become
beggars proper.

"Mother tells us that our Jewish ethics teaches 'that true charity, or
almsgiving, is to make personal sacrifices when helping others. There is
no self-sacrifice in giving what you cannot make use of yourself.'
Indeed, one Jewish ethical teacher wrote: 'If one who has lived a
luxurious life becomes sick and in need, we should try to deny
ourselves, in order to give the sick one dainties such as chicken and

"Really some of our neighbours here seem to rejoice in giving away not
only all they can spare, but also in making personal sacrifices in
helping to relieve a needy neighbour.

"From early childhood they were trained to give. In every Jewish home in
Palestine we see from two to perhaps more than a dozen boxes placed in
various parts of the house, and written on each is the special charity
to which the box is devoted. Into these boxes even tiny children are
trained to drop a coin at special times, and it is considered a happy
privilege to do so at times of Thanksgiving to God. The coins thus
collected are from time to time distributed amongst the sick and the

"There is one hospital near us; and, though it is known to be well
managed, very few Jews whom we know go there for treatment, for it is a
Missionary Hospital, and we strongly object to the methods of Christian
missionaries. Instead of many of them as formerly, persecuting us for
clinging to our dearly beloved religion, they now try, by acts of
kindness in times of sickness and poverty, to influence our people in
favour of accepting their religion.

"Indeed, I have heard some of our people say that they would rather go
to the Arabs for treatment than enter the Missionary Hospital! Therefore
those who cannot nurse the sick ones at home take them to the
Bikkur-Holim, which a doctor visits once every few days. A mother, wife,
or father goes with the patients to give them the necessary food and
medicine, for in the Bikkur-Cholem there are no trained nurses. The
relatives also keep the patients clean and tidy; but little cooking is
done there, as the food is generally brought cooked from the patients'

"I once went to visit the Bikkur-Cholem. One patient I saw had a jug of
cold water brought to her, and, though her own lips were very parched,
she would not take even one sip, but had the water given to those near
her, who, in a very high state of fever, were clamouring for water.
Other patients I saw were cheerfully and willingly sharing their food
with those who had none. Until I had visited that Bikkur-Cholem I had
never realized what real charity meant. For these sufferers, in their
love and thoughtfulness and genuine self-sacrifice towards
fellow-sufferers less fortunate than themselves, were obeying in spirit
as well as in the letter the time-honoured commandment given us 'to love
one's neighbour as oneself.'

"The arrangements in the Bikkur-Cholem are most insanitary;
disinfectants are unheard of; and I greatly pitied the poor unfortunates
that have to go there."

Mr. Jacob was too overcome by his feelings to continue--so for a few
minutes there was a deep silence. Then one of the listeners said: "One
is thankful to remember that this letter was written fifty years ago,
and conditions must have improved since our writer first went to

"Yes, thank God!" replied kind-hearted Mr Jacob; and then he continued
reading the letter.

"Most of the patients die; but a few get cured and leave. If they do, it
is certainly more through faith in God's love and mercy than through the
remedies they receive while there.

"Now, I want to tell you of a voluntary service which respectable,
well-to-do men and women, and even scholars, do, for the poor who die.
These kind folk are called 'the Chevra Kadisha.' No doubt because of the
heat, there is a strict law that no one who dies in Palestine is allowed
to remain unburied long; and it is believed here that the dead continue
to suffer until they are entombed. So the custom is to bury within
twelve hours every one who dies. The Chevra Kadisha look upon such a
deed as a Mitzvoth. If a poor woman dies, one of these kind women at
once goes to wash the corpse and lay it out ready to be put on the
bier--then when all the relatives and friends of the deceased have given
vent to their sorrow by weeping, some men and some scholars belonging to
the Chevra Kadisha voluntarily carry the bier on their shoulders to the
place of burial (which I think is the Mount of Olives), while others dig
the grave and a scholar or two read the Prayers over the Dead.

"By the Chevra Kadisha beggars and tramps are thus washed and buried
when dead, free of expense, by these good, self-sacrificing people, at
all times and in all weathers, as a sign that in death all are equal.
The people who can afford it leave enough money to pay all their own
burial expenses or these are paid for by their relatives.

"Acts of charity towards very poor girls who have no dowry or suitable
wedding-clothes are very touching and generous. It is considered a
disgrace to the community if a poor girl is not given the opportunity to
marry, and a community not only provides a dower, but also seeks for a
bridegroom for her. The housewives willingly and generously prepare the
wedding-feast, for everyone is willing to give something from their
store-room. No shame is attached to poor girls accepting such help; for
it is considered a duty by all our brethren to provide what is necessary
for a bride who has not the means to get things for herself.

"I am sorry that I cannot write more by this mail."

One listener interrupted, saying: "Most of what you have read Mr Jacob
happens in Russia and in other parts of the world where Jews live in

"Quite true," said Mr Jacob, "for wherever Jews live together they keep
up old customs, and all old customs are more or less alike in all
ghettos. It is only when we Jews live outside the ghettos, under
different surroundings, that we are tempted to throw over many religious
customs. The unfortunate thing is, that we are too often inclined to
throw off the really good customs rather than the useless ones, and more
inclined to adopt the bad traits and customs of our neighbours rather
than the good ones amongst whom we live, be it in England, France,
Germany, India, or elsewhere. This is a bad habit, and we must do our
utmost in the future to guard against it; for, if we all made an effort
to retain our own ancient customs that are really good and beneficial to
ourselves and others and adopt only the good and healthy customs of our
neighbours, then, indeed, we might feel we had a right to call ourselves
and be recognized by those we live amongst as 'God's Chosen People.'"


The next Friday evening Mr Jacob read the following letter.

"My Dear Cousin Mill,--I have not yet written to tell you how we manage
during cold weather. Before we arrived, we were under the impression
that it was always warm in Palestine. Certainly the sun does shine more
in winter here than in England, and while it shines the weather is very
pleasant; but we get very cold weather, too, especially in Jerusalem. We
get very little snow, but a good deal of frost, which no one enjoys. No
doubt you wonder why, because we all enjoyed the cold and frost in
England, and loved the skating and the snowballing.

"The reason is very clear, for here we have no cheery open fireplaces,
which give out so much heat in England; in fact there are not even any
steel or iron ovens, and the result is, the Palestinian houses are
intensely cold in frosty weather. The ceilings are all lofty and in the
shape of a dome, which, with the very thick stone walls is very pleasant
in summer but very cold in the winter. Then there is very little
firewood to be had here, as the Turks try to prevent much
tree-planting, so fire wood is a luxury which very few can afford.
Instead, we have all copper buckets pierced with holes standing on a
tripod and filled with burning charcoal, which is placed in the middle
of the room.

"How we all eagerly cluster round it and watch the red hot charcoal,
hoping that by _looking at it_ the warmth will go into our bodies! Such
a small amount of charcoal as we can afford does not warm a room very
much, so all the windows are closed tightly to prevent any cold air
coming in. This also prevents the fumes of the burning charcoal from
escaping, so naturally the air gets very stuffy, and many suffer from
headaches or fall into a heavy sleep.

"You will wonder why it is many people do not get frozen. Well, the old
proverb holds good here, that 'Necessity is the mother of invention,' so
even in the coldest weather we have a remedy; for we heat also our brass
samovar, which holds about thirty glasses of tea, and we drink a glass
of hot tea every now and then.

"As the samovar boils all day the steam also sends out some warmth into
the room.

"Then, again, the younger children are during the very cold weather kept
warm in bed with feather coverlets and pillows, which the elder people
try to keep warm in doing the necessary household duties. Very few go
out in the streets, except the men when they go to Shule, and the elder
boys when they go to the Yeshiba or Cheder, and even they are very often
kept at home.

"One comfort is that 'Father Frost' does not stay long, so we can manage
to bear his icy breath: the greatest hardship is when he visits us on a
Sabbath, for of course on that day we cannot heat the samovar and so we
have to do with less tea.

"We prepare our Sabbath meals in a small scullery, or porch, in which a
small brick oven is built to keep the food hot for the Sabbath. A few
pieces of wood are put in, and, when well lighted, the oven is
half-filled with charcoal-dust--this again is covered by pieces of tin
or lime, and, on top of all, the saucepans are put containing food for
the Sabbath meals: also bottles or jars of water are thus kept hot for
tea or coffee. Neighbours who are not lucky enough to have such an oven
bring in their food, and we let them put it in our ovens. In this way we
have enough for every one to drink who may come in. Sometimes twenty
poor people come in on a Sabbath day and say: 'Spare me, please, a
little hot water?' No one would think of refusing to give them some,
even if they had to share their last glass with them.

"Generally on cold Sabbath afternoons our parents have a nap after
eating the nice hot cholent, and we girls and the young married women
go and spend a few hours with our old lady friend, who always entertains
us with stories and discussions on various interesting subjects. So the
time passes very quickly and so pleasantly that we forget how cold it
is. About twenty or thirty of us all sit close together on her divan
covered up with rugs, and this with the excitement over the tales she
tells us, helps to keep us warm.

"Last Sabbath our old lady was not very well, and we were feeling very
miserable without her entertaining tales. Suddenly, one of my
girl-friends asked me to tell them about our life in London.

"As they had never read or heard about life outside Jerusalem, it was
most amusing to hear their exclamations of wonder; for they could hardly
believe what I told them was true, till our old lady confirmed our

"First, they wanted to know how young men and women behaved toward each

"I told them that every man and every woman, whether young or old,
either in the street or in-doors, always shook hands with friends--at
this they looked very surprised and some seemed even horrified,
exclaiming: 'What a sin to commit.' I asked them where it was written
that this was a sin? 'Well,' some replied, 'our parents or husbands say
it is a sin,' 'I don't think it is a sin, but only a custom,' said I.
'But it _is_ a sin,' insisted one little wife of fifteen 'to touch one
another's hands.' I tried to explain to her, but she would not listen to
me and we were on the verge of quarreling but as usual, when there was a
difference of opinion between any of us, we always appealed to our old
lady and she agreed with me that there was no sin in shaking hands.
'Sin,' she said, 'comes from thoughts--if while talking or laughing or
even shaking hands, evil thoughts pass through the minds of men or women
then, and then only, is the act likely to be a sin. In Europe,' she went
on to say, 'it is quite a natural thing for men and women to shake hands
and talk to each other naturally.'

"Then I asked my new friend Huldah (a young wife of fifteen years of
age) to tell us all about her own love-affair and marriage. She was
greatly shocked to hear me speaking of love _before_ marriage--'Such a
thing could never happen to a modest Jewish maiden in those days,' she

"I told her that it did happen in Europe. 'May be,' she replied; 'it may
happen in lands where Jews mix with non-Jews and copy their ways!'

"As I rather liked to tease her, I said she was mistaken, for here in
Jerusalem did the great Rabbi Akiba fall in love with his wife before
marriage. 'Oh, that was quite different!' she replied. 'Not at all,'
said I, for were not feasts and rejoicing held so that youths and
maidens could meet one another in the vineyards and dance in the
meadows?--Look in the Bible,' I continued, 'and you will see it is
mentioned there.' Then all looked abashed. The only one who smiled was
our old lady.

"'Don't unsettle their minds, dear,' she whispered softly to me. 'I
don't want to,' I said; 'I only want to show them that, though such
things are done in other countries, there is no sin in it as they have
been brought up to believe.' 'Well, well!' she said, 'let us hope God
will restore our beloved land to us in his own good time, and then we
shall again, as in days of old, celebrate such Festivals!'

"We all said 'AMEN,' most heartily, to this wish.

"In my next letter I will tell you of our friend's engagement and
marriage. Your loving cousin, Millie."


The hearers waited with eagerness for the next Friday evening, as they
enjoyed so much hearing those interesting letters.

The next Mr Jacobs read was this:

"Hulda is only fifteen years of age, and has already been married six
months. If she were dressed as girls are dressed in England, she would
really look beautiful; but her beauty is, I think, marred by the silk
handkerchief she wears on her head, which covers half her forehead and
her ears, so that none of her hair can be seen, I mean that part of it
that was shaved off. Over the silk handkerchief she wears a black velvet
band, to which gold coins are attached and these are put on so
coquettishly that it makes the head-gear look quite artistic. Sometimes
she wears ornaments with pearls in them. These special trinkets are, of
course, worn only on Sabbaths and Festivals or some other special

"The shaving of part of the young wife's head the day after her marriage
is a custom to prevent young married women from being tempted by vanity
to show off their hair, which is generally in Palestine very beautiful.
The poor things cover up the part so well that there is no fear of any
of it being seen.

"Hulda is tall and well-developed for her age, and lively as a cricket,
always ready to play and laugh and joke with us. She started by telling
me: 'I was invited to visit my betrothed's family during the holidays,
and my future mother-in-law let me help her with the baking and cooking,
and was specially pleased with the way I stretched out the dough for the
lockshen--I made it look so thin, like a paper wrapper. She told me that
I would make a good housewife. Then I showed all the family some of the
linen garments I had made and had with me, and the crochet I had trimmed
them with.'

"Here Hulda turned to me and said: 'our mothers encourage us at eight
years of age to begin to make garments for our trousseaux, and at the
age of ten we start to crochet lace and embroider, so by the time we get
married we have all our things ready, for they cannot be bought
ready-made in Palestine. When we become betrothed we work our future
initials on our things and make our dresses.'

"'While I was staying at my betrothed's home, we never spoke to each
other, except to say Good-morning and Good-night. Sometimes when no one
saw us we looked at one another, for already I liked my young man,
though he was not handsome. A wise girl does not want good looks in a
husband so much as that he should be a good Talmudist and be a good
character; this he is, and I could listen to him for ever,' she said,
blushing like a rose; 'when he sings Zmires, his voice is like a
nightingale, and even in the mornings, when he thinks I am asleep, it is
just lovely to hear his sing-song as he studies--it is to me the
sweetest of all music,' she said.

"'So it should be, my child,' said our old lady, 'and it is a privilege
for us women to help them to study.'

"'So my mother says,' said Hulda, naturally.

"At the same time I thought to myself: 'A nice thing it would be if only
our men were to study and our women to work, as they mostly do here and
in Russian ghetto towns. No,' I thought, 'I would rather that the men
did some manual labour as well as study, and the women have some time
for study as well as for household work.'

"But I kept these thoughts to myself, while Hulda continued to tell me
what a longing she had to see more of her betrothed; but she did not see
him again till after the marriage ceremony.

"I will try to describe the ceremonies to you in detail, as I have now
been to several weddings here, and I think you would like to know.

"A week before the wedding, all the relations and friends come to help
bake and prepare the wedding-feast; for, as these proceedings last about
eight days, it is no easy matter to celebrate them.

"The bride's trousseau is shown to the guests who come, and everything
is examined and counted by all, especially the relations of the
bridegrooms. When there happens to be less than expected, woe betide the
bride, for she is always reproached about it by her mother-in-law or his
other relatives.

"On the Sabbath before the marriage the bridegroom is called up to read
the Law, and friends pay him visits.--First they send him nicely baked
cakes or puddings and a bottle of wine. (It is a good thing that this is
the custom, or else a poor man would be ruined by the cost of all the
feasting that he is expected to provide).

"During the week the bride's friends come every evening and dance and
sing in her home, coffee and cakes and baked nuts being handed round.

"The morning of the wedding, both bride and bridegroom fast, and each
goes with his or her parents to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, to pray
for a blessing on their married life, and then they go to be blessed by
the Rav.

"When the bride returns home, she is dressed in her bridal dress. Then
she is led up to a chair that has been raised off the floor; her hair is
unloosed and allowed to hang over her shoulders; and this is the last
time, for the next day most of it is shaved off.

"Her young friends stand near her and each sings a song, bidding
good-bye to her maiden days; and the bride weeps, fearing what the
future may hold in store for her. Then the bridegroom comes in, led by
his friends, who carry candles. He is given a veil, which he throws over
his bride's head, and then leaves with his friends for the Synagogue.

"Though some parts of the ceremony look ridiculous, yet all is carried
out so solemnly that one feels very much impressed.

"The bride is then led by two of her relatives or friends, who carry
candles, and all the other friends follow them through the streets, some
also carrying candles. As there are no carriages to be had in Jerusalem,
they have sometimes to walk some distance to the Synagogue.

"The usual bridal canopy is in the Synagogue, and they walk round it
seven times; then prayers are said, and the glass is broken; Mazzeltov
is said, and with songs and clapping of hands the bridal pair is led
home again. Near the home a large Bagel is held by a friend, and as the
couple cross the threshold it is broken over their heads, and the pieces
are distributed among the guests. The bride and bridegroom are then led
into a room, and the door is closed for five minutes--I suppose to be
sure that they are the right persons, anyhow the bridegroom lifts the
bride's veil and gives her the first kiss he has ever given her. (I do
not know if she kisses him, for she may be too shy: they will not tell
when I ask).

"After the five minutes have passed, the bride is led out of the room to
a room where the women-guests are assembled, while the bridegroom goes
to a room where the men-guests are. The feasting lasts for a few hours
in each room. Then the bride is led by some of her women friends to the
room where the men are, and the bridegroom takes her by the hand and
starts dancing; the other guests follow suit. It is amusing to see the
old grey-bearded scholars, who, one would think, could not move their
legs, dance and rejoice while the lookers-on clap and sing. It is far
more exciting than a wedding in London, for it is considered a 'Mitzvah'
to rejoice with a young bridal couple.

"The dancing goes on for some time, the only miserable pair, I expect,
are the bride and bridegroom, who generally become very weary of it
all, for they started their wedding pilgrimage very early in the morning
and had fasted till the feasting began late in the afternoon--I often
wonder that they have any energy left in them, poor things, for they
cannot retire till late at night.

"The next day comes the ceremony of cutting off the bride's hair. The
bridegroom's mother hands her a few silk handkerchiefs to be worn on her
head on special occasions. Sometimes the poor little bride is so young
that she cries while her beautiful plaits are being cut off.

"At times a quarrel begins between the two mothers: the bride's mother
sometimes insisting that her child's hair shall only be cut short and
not shaved, and she generally gets her way.

"Some brides do not mind being shaved, for they like the idea of wearing
the pretty coloured silk handkerchiefs.

"At nearly every wedding a table is spread for the poor, and I was
present at a wedding when more than a hundred poor men came regularly
for eight days, and the table was spread as bountifully for them as for
the other guests. Here in Palestine the poor share in the joys of their
richer brethren.

"When the eight days of Festival are over, the young couple usually
settle down close by or in one of their parents' homes, who give them a
room. A great deal of the happiness of young couples depends on the
character of the mother-in-law, for they have the power of making or
marring their happiness more than anyone else.

"Huldah told me that she would have been quite happy in her
mother-in-law (for she really was a good kind woman) if only she would
more often allow her to talk to her husband, 'and I do so like a talk
with him,' she said to me with a sigh, 'for he is so wise. When my
mother-in-law sleeps after the Sabbath dinner, we go into the next room
and we sit talking, and he tells me tales from the Talmud, and sometimes
reads aloud from it. I do so enjoy those Sabbath hours,' she continued,
'for I have only my bedroom which I can call my own, but I am not
allowed to be much in it,--the little time I have with my husband each
day makes me very happy, for I know he loves me dearly (although he does
not say so), for when he comes home his first word is for me,'

"'Sometimes, when my mother-in-law is in a good temper, she lets us eat
out of the same dish, and then he jokingly puts the daintiest bits on my
side; often when I wake in the mornings I find pinned to my pillow a few
words he has copied from the _Song of Songs_, put there before leaving
for the Synagogue.' Then Huldah added 'After returning himself from the
Synagogue on Sabbath Eve, my dear husband always looks at me with a
loving smile when he reads that part where it says: ''The price of a
virtuous woman is far above rubies, the heart of her husband trusteth in
her.' 'Yes indeed,' she said, 'thanks be to God--I am a very happy wife,
and when God blesses us with children, my cup of joy will be very full.'

"And this child-wife of fifteen did indeed look very happy as she
spoke--and I, deep down in my heart, thought, 'What would they say to
such match-making in England and Western Europe,' and yet in Palestine
such marriages arranged by the parents are nearly always happy.

"I must close now, Your loving Millie."

When Mr Jacob had finished reading, some of his young listeners said
they thought it was a very foolish way to arrange marriages. One of them
remarked: "How could there be any love, if a couple rarely met each
other before marriage."

Another said: "For my part, I would never marry unless I felt sure that
I was in love with my husband to-be and that he also was in love with
me. Love is everything in life, _I_ think."

Then said a middle-aged lady, much loved and respected by all the
listeners: "How often has many a marriage not turned out well, even when
as young people a husband and wife had a passionate love for each
other. The seed of love may be sown before or after marriage; but,
unless carefully cultivated during married life by both husband and
wife, through deeds of kindness and thoughtfulness and forbearance and
mutual sympathy and understanding, the tender plant may soon wither and
die. The old customs of our race, which this letter shows are still kept
up in Palestine and I believe in other parts where ghetto life still
obtains, if they are not carried to extremes, are, I think, very wise;
but, unfortunately, our people are very tempted to go to extremes, and a
good custom can thus be distorted and brought to ridicule."

"True, true," murmured some of the older people.

"In all things moderation and balance are safe guides to follow," said
Mr. Jacobs.

The next book will be all about Millie's love affairs and marriage and
her life, impressions, and tribulations in Palestine.



(Translated from the _Palestine Daily Mail_ of Friday, December 2nd,

Those who felt stirred to celebrate the jubilee of this illustrious old
pioneer did very well indeed. For a young man who leaves all his
business enterprises far behind him in London and who migrates to
Eretz-Israel over fifty years ago--at a time when Jaffe did not posses
even a Minyan foreign Jews; and at a time when the way from Jaffe to
Jerusalem was a very long and tedious one--aye, a way fraught with all
possible dangers, and moreover, teeming with robbers, a journey which
lasted three whole days, such a Jew is indeed entitled to some mark of
appreciation and respect.

A Jew who has worked for the re-building of our land for over fifty
consecutive years in which period he visited the lands of the Diaspora
fifteen times and all that he did and profited there was afterwards
invested in the re-building of Eretz-Israel such a Jew has indeed
merited to be praised even during his life-time.

A Jew who was one of the first to found the colony of Petah-Tikvah and
therefore merited that people in Jerusalem should mark him out as an
object of derision and scorn because he was a dreamer--a man who built
the first house in this Petah-Tikvah--who was one of the founders of the
"Me'ah Shearim in Jerusalem--who constructed perfect roads in Jaffe--who
founded Zionist Societies in the lands of the Diaspora at a time when
Zion did not occupy such a foremost part in the heart of the Jew--such a
Jew is indeed worthy that a monument of his splendid achievement be
erected for him even during his life-time!"

It must, moreover, be mentioned that Z. Barnett and his wife are one of
the remnant of those noble men who participated in that famous assembly
of Kattovitz--that noble gathering of illustrious men which can be
verily described as the Aurora as the Dawn of the conception of the
Restoration of the land of Israel.

The celebration took place on Sunday, November 27th, in the private
house of Mr. Barnett. Those who had assembled were many, in fact, there
were present representatives of every shade and section of Jewish
communal life in Palestine. Thus there came along Rabbis of all the
various congregations, various Jewish communal workers, heads of
colonies, teachers, business men and workpeople and even beggars who
came to enjoy the material blessings of this great national festivity.

Mr. Joseph Lipshitz opened the proceedings by explaining the importance
of this great red letter day for Mr. Barnett and then called upon Rabbi
Auerbach of Jerusalem who had come specially to take part in this
celebration. Rabbi Auerbach delivered a long Talmudical dissertation in
which he recited the great merits of the jubilant. He compared Z.
Barnett to a king, because he based himself on a Talmudic statement
concerning Omri which asserts that he who builds a little town or
village is worthy to be called a king. The learned Rabbi also emphasised
the importance of acquiring land in Palestine by many pithy remarks.
Then spoke the Rabbis: Joseph Ha-levi, Shneiur Lenskin, Joseph Arwatz
and Joseph Rabbi. All these testified to the great qualities of their
host, who besides being a great idealist was also a very practical man

After the Rabbis, Mr. S. Nissim, chief of the colony of Petah-Tikvah
spoke. He narrated in a very realistic and eloquent way how that pioneer
Zorach Barnett came fifty years ago to build up the ruins of the land
and how he bought up the land of Petah-Tikvah, which was now a
flourishing colony, but which was then a howling desert wilderness, such
as only insane men could ever think of converting this into an
habitation of men. At the present day, thousands of pioneers are
flocking to the land, but they are only a continuation of the pioneering
of Z. Barnett and his stalwart companions. The speaker concluded by
blessing the jubilant that he should survive to see thousands of Jewish
Colonies in Palestine and tens of thousands of pioneers flocking here
from every part of the world.

Mr. I. Adler, chief representative of the Council at Jaffe, also spoke
on this great member of the Jewish community at Jaffe. Such men are
really a blessing to the whole of Israel; they are not only Banim (sons)
of the Jewish people, but also Bonim (builders).

Many were the letters and telegrams of congratulation received on this
occasion from various ranks of Jewish representatives in Palestine. The
private secretary of Sir Herbert Samuel wrote: "I am commanded by His
Excellency, the High Commissioner, to acknowledge your invitation to
partake in your celebration of the 27th inst. His Excellency, is,
however, restrained from accepting this invitation owing to the various
duties which occupy him at present. He sends you his blessing and hopes
that all your ambitions will be realised with, the greatest success."

The Chief Rabbi of Eretz-Israel, Rabbi A.I. Kook, wrote: "I should very
much have wished to be present at the occasion of the jubilee of my dear
and respected friend, who first trod upon this Holy soil over fifty
years ago and who has since then been building up the ruins of our land,
but, unfortunately, to my great pain, I am not able to realise this my
wish, owing to the present troubled state of the Jewish community.
Please accept my heartiest blessings for a happy old age, in which you
may verily see the re-birth of our People and of our land."

Rabbi Rabbinowitz wrote: "I bless our jubilant from the depths of my
heart. This occasion is not only a happy one for him, it is also for us.
This shows that though the enemies of re-building Palestine were, and
are still, many, Palestine is, nevertheless, steadily but surely being

Mr. Diznoff, in the name of the Colony of Tel-Avis wrote: "On this great
occasion, we should like to say, that as you have merited to see that
the "howling desert" you have found, you have succeeded in creating into
a "Garden of Eden," thus may you merit to see the flourishing state of
the whole of Palestine."

Mr. Ephraim Blumenfeld wrote: "Though I should have very much have
liked to be present, yet my present bad state of health does not enable
me to do so. This is a happy moment for all lovers of Zion. May you
merit to see with your own eyes the restoration of Israel on its own

Messages and telegrams were also received from the Yeshivah Me'ah
Shearim, Mr. D. Slutskin, from the scholars of the Yeshivah "Or Zoraiah"
of Jaffa and many synagogues. Also from Mr. Friedenberg of Jerusalem,
Mr. S. Tolkovsky, Dr. Eliash, from the Chief Rabbi of Alexandria, from
the "Old Aged" Home in Jaffe, from the Mizrachi, from Rabbi S.L. Shapiro
of Jerusalem, etc., etc.

At the request of the host, who is a British subject, a special prayer
was offered up for the Divine protection of King George the Fifth, and
also prayers in the name of R. Barnett for the health of the High
Commissioner, the Secretary, the leaders of the Zionist
Movement--Weitzman, Sokolov and Usishkin, for the Chief Rabbis of
Palestine and for the Rabbi Sonnenfeld, Rabbis Diskin, Epstein, etc.,

Mr. Barnett offered a certain sum in the name of each, and among the
numerous institutions to which he contributed were the following: Hebrew
Archaeological Society at Jerusalem, the building of a synagogue on the
site of the Old Temple Wall, the school for the blind, the poor of
Jaffe, the Home for Aged Jews, etc., etc.

Mr. Barnett was then enrolled in the Golden Book by those present. Great
indeed was the honour which R. Zorach Barnett and his wife received on
that day, but they were really worthy of it.

May theirs be an example to others!


BAR COCHBA. The heroic Jewish leader who led the
final revolt against the Romans in the year
A.D. 123.

BAR MITZVAH. Confirmation of a boy at the age of

BEZEL. A cake made in the shape of a ring.

BIKKUR-HOLIM. Used to denote a Hospital.

BROCHA. A blessing or a thanksgiving used on various

CHALLAH. White bread shaped as a twist used for the
Sabbath sanctification.

CHASSID. Pietist; a name assumed by a sect of Jews
mainly in Galicia established by "Baal Shemtob."

CHAZAH. A cantor, or Synagogue reader.

CHEVRA-KADISHA. A burial society.

CHOLENT. A dish of various vegetables and meat,
eaten on the Sabbath.

CHOMETZ. Leavened bread.

EREV. Evening.

HAMANTASCHEN. A triangular cake eaten on Purim,
shaped according to the hat Haman was supposed
to have worn.

KAFTAN. A long coat, worn by Jews in eastern

KIDDUSH. A blessing of sanctification over wine,
said at the ushering in of Sabbath and of Festivals.

LAG B'OMER. The 33rd day of the seven weeks
between Passover and Pentecost: a students'

MAZZELTOV. A greeting signifying Good Luck.

MEAH SHEORIM. A Hundred Gates: the name of a
suburb of Jerusalem.

MINCHA. The afternoon service.

MITZVOTH. Acts of piety.

PARA. A Turkish coin of small value.

PESACH. Passover.

PRINCESS SABBATH. A poetical expression, used for
welcoming the Sabbath.

PURIM. The Festival referred to in _The Book of Esther_.

RAV. One learned in rabbinical lore.

SAMOVAR. A tea-urn.

SCHPIELERS. Strolling-players.

SCHTRAMEL. Head-gear worn by Chassidim.

SEDER. The Service on the first two nights of Passover.

SEPHARDIM. Jews of Spanish or of Portuguese origin.

SHALACH MANOTH. Gifts--especially used with reference
to distributions on Purim (vide _The Book of

SHALOM. Peace.

SHIROS. Oil made from the sesame seed.

SHULCHAN ARUCH. The Jewish religious Code; compiled
in the middle of the 16th century and
regarded as of high authority.

SHULE. Synagogue, derived from the German _Schule_

SIMHATH TORAH. The festival of the Law, following
the Tabernacle festival when the reading of the
_Pentateuch_ is completed and recommenced amid
great rejoicing.

STRUDEL. A sweet pudding or cake.

SUCCAH. The tabernacle used as a dwelling on the
Feast of Tabernacles.

TAVELT. Immersed; used in reference to the Ritual

TORAH. The Law; specially referring to the Mosaic
code and its derivatives.

TSENNAH URENNAH. A Jewish German translation
of the _Pentateuch_, embellished with legends for
the use of women.

TSITSITH. Knotted fringes worn by men according to
Mosaic injunction on Tallith or praying-scarf, and
also used for a small four-cornered fringed garment
worn on the chest, under the coat.

YEMENITES. South-Arabian Jews.

YESHIBAH. A Jewish theological Academy.

YOM KIPPUR. The Day of Atonement.

YOMTOV. Holy-day

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