Golde came running from the dining room toward me. Don’t tell me she heard my singing from the kitchen. I don’t think I’ve seen her move this fast since she found a snake in the kitchen.
“Tevye! Wonderful news!”
“Is it so wonderful, my wife that the whole kibbutz has to know?”
“All right. Take it easy. Take some deep breaths before you plotz.”
She bent over and began to breathe heavily. I was afraid she was going to have a heart attack.
“Come, sit over here on the bench.”
As we sat on the bench Simcha had built for the elders of the kibbutz to rest in the garden, she pulled a sheet of paper from her skirt and held it over her head and shook it at the sky.
“Thank you Lord for Your blessings. Thank you.”
“What is it that you’re shaking your fist at God?”
“Who’s shaking a fist? Bite your tongue. I am so grateful for God’s mercy on our house.”
Before I could begin to cite the litany of miseries that had befallen us in the past, she pushed the paper in my face.
“Read it. Go ahead. Such wonderful news.”
She was so busy shaking the fist that held the letter I couldn’t take it from her. Finally, I grabbed her wrist and pulled the sheet from her hand.
“If you’ll be quiet for two seconds, I will.”
“It’s a miracle. Thank you Lord. Our family is going to be reunited.”
I couldn’t concentrate with her muttering in the background.
“Tzeitl and Motel have decided it is no longer safe to be in Poland. They have saved their money and they are coming here to live with us in Palestine.”
She tore the letter from my hand before I could get past, “Dear Mama and Papa.”
“Coming here?” I asked.
“Yes! Yes! It’s a miracle, I tell you. My children are coming home.”
The way she clasped her hands together and whispered heavenward, I thought maybe God had decided to speak to her instead of me. He’d have to be God to get a word in edgewise.
“And what about Hodel? What will she do?”
“She is coming also. That’s why it took so long for them to save enough money to leave Poland. They needed to save enough for an extra ticket.”
“Oh Lord, You work in mysterious ways,” I said.
“It must be His plan.” Golde put her arm around me. “But we will still not all be together.”
“What do you mean?”
“Tzeitl said she got a letter from Chava and —”
“I told you never to mention that name,” I shouted, jumping up.
“But she’s our daughter,” Golde cried as she tried to grab my hand. “And after Shoshana died you said —”
“Our daughter is dead.”
“She’s not dead, and she and Fyedka are going to America.”
“I don’t want to hear any more,” I screamed, putting my hands over my ears like a child having a tantrum. As I stomped away, I could see Golde out of the corner of my eye reaching for the sky and sobbing.
This excerpt is from Mitchell Bard’s novel, After Anatevka – Tevya Goes to Palestine, available now in paperback and on Kindle.