At the end of Pesach I received an e-mail unsigned. There was no readable e-mail address of the sender and I don’t know if it was from a male or a female. And it is a mystery how the writer could have found my personal e-mail address.
It was a very beautiful message. The writer indicated that he/she has been a long-time reader of the TIMES OF ISRAEL and singled out my articles which he/she enjoyed. At the end of the message, the writer wrote “you have a gift with words; you should aspire to a Nobel Prize in literature”.
I thought it was a joke. Never could I be a Nobel winner for writing which is mostly read by Jews. It is totally impossible. However, while I am not a Nobel, I always try to be a noble man. I hope I can succeed.
The writer asked for some background history in my life. He/she wrote of being aware of my age…86, and wanted to know some of the most interesting things in my long life.
As I gave thought to it, there were so many interesting things in my life, too many to recall them all.
First of all, I had no return address of the writer. Therefore, how could I reply? If he/she reads our newspaper regularly, let this serve as a reply to his/her question.
The most beautiful event in my life was meeting my wife aboard the Zim lines SS/Theodore Herzl when we docked in the port of Naples, Italy. It was love at first sight for both of us. Something that religious Jews would call “hashgacha pratit ” … Divine intervention. I believe that with all my heart. We knew one another for only six days prior to our marriage in 1960 in Tel-Aviv.
After receiving my doctorate from the Universite de Poitiers in France, I was invited to an American university to create a Hebrew-language program in its Department of four Foreign Languages. They were happy and creative years.
My first and only book, “Poems and Poets of Israel” was published in 1969. I also had the unique privilege of being in correspondence with His Highness Prince Mikasa, brother of Japan’s Emperor Hirohito. He was a professor of Middle Eastern studies and Semitic languages with an emphasis on Hebrew. His few letters to me were amazing, many of them written in Hebrew (with a Japanese accent !!). My daughter has kept the envelope with the Japanese postage stamps.
Some years later, my wife and I bought an apartment in the center of Rishon Lezion and it became our most beloved home. We are surrounded by friends of a lifetime… 62 treasured years of brotherly friendship.
After 50 years of teaching (and preaching) Hebrew language and Biblical literature, I was awarded a Certificate of Honor from the government for contributions to culture.. It hangs on two walls with 31 other citations and proclamations, opposite an adjoining wall where 17 certificates and diplomas hang. I don’t envy my children following my death. I’m sure they will politely dispose of them. Even my beloved late wife used to say “I cannot wipe down the walls from dust because of all your awards”.
During the course of my life I have had a personal audience with Her Majesty Queen Juliana of the Netherlands at the royal palace in Soestdijk near Utrecht in the late 1950’s.. I have had personal meetings with Israeli president Zalman Shazar, and with two Israeli prime ministers, Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres. My wife was deeply impressed by the courtesy we received from President Shazar.
In 1969 I was invited by the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Polish government to visit in Warsaw. The invitation was due to a series of articles I had written about Jewish history in Poland.
I met with several government officials, members of the Jewish communities in Warsaw and Krakow, and the President of Poland’s oldest and most historic university, the Jagellionian, founded in 1364 by Casimir III the Great. It is one of the oldest universities in the world and has a strong department of Semitic languages.
As a gift to me, he pinned on my lapel the Amicus Poloniae medal and as a Jew I was honored to receive it. I wondered how many other Jews received this tribute. The visit in Poland was warm, friendly with every courtesy offered. It was a memorable visit.
One evening in Warsaw I attended a performance in the Ester Kaminska Yiddish Theatre. Astonishingly, the entire cast of actors and actresses were non-Jews…. Poles who were fluent in Yiddish. The play was one written by Sholom Aleichem, called in Polish “Skarb Cesara”, The Emperor’s Treasure.
From Poland to Czechoslovakia and from there to the Soviet Union. I was happily able to meet with Jews in all of the Iron Curtain countries, mostly in local synagogues..
In 1982 my wife and I traveled to Washington, DC where I was invited to deliver remarks in the Congress of the United States of America.
Dear anonymous writer-reader, I could go on with interesting events in my life but I would not wish to bore you. It has been a rich and happy life.
As for your comment regarding the Nobel Prize, don’t even dream it. . Sheer nonsense. Naarishkeit !! The Nobel Committee in Norway grants awards only to prize authors of popular books, not to bloggers..
When I retired in 2006, I had no hobbies. I did not know what to do with the rest of my life. My wife suggested that I continue with my passion for writing and thus was born my blogging for the TIMES OF ISRAEL
. The staff has always been kind to me, most especially my dedicated editor, Miriam Herschlag. She deserves a Nobel prize for putting up with me !
I hope I may have sufficient strength to continue. I thank you for your anonymous e-mail and I am replying via the TIMES OF ISRAEL as I have no address to send it to you, I hope that you will receive it and that it will answer some of your questions.
My mother taught me always to be noble, to be courteous and polite. My father always reminded me to be a mentsh. And my beloved wife of 56 years constantly would tell me, “just be yourself. You don’t have to copy anyone. Just be you”.
And I really hope that I am being me. Only me and no other.
Dear Editor… if possible please publish this article first and keep the other “A Conflict With Logic” in draft for tomorrow. Many thanks. Esor