F rankfurt, Germany 1754 A beautiful carriage rolled down the overcrowded, littered streets of the Frankfurt Jewish ghetto. The contrast between the luxurious carriage and the dilapidated, vandalized Jewish homes was very strong.

“I want to leave!” complained a young boy sitting atop the carriage as he flicked dirt off of his expensive silk shirt. “This place smells and it hasn’t been renovated for hundreds of years!”

“Patience, Prince Wilhelm!” an old man wheezed, resting a bony hand on the boy’s shoulder. “As your teacher, it is important that I educate you thoroughly.”

“This trip is making me depressed!” the young prince protested. “And I have learned nothing!”

“There is much to learn from the Jews,” the elderly teacher croaked. “Look, even though fortune frowns upon them, they still seem to thrive.…” He pointed a crooked finger at a group of school children that had burst out of the doors of a school they were passing. The children seemed happy and content as they chattered to each other in Yiddish.

“Hmmm…” Wilhelm perked up, looking intrigued. “May I speak to one of them?”

“Ja [yes],” the teacher replied, signaling to the coachman to stop the horses.

“Komm her, kleiner Junge! [come here, little boy!]” Wilhelm called, leaning over the side of the carriage. He beckoned to a bright-eyed boy with a stack of black books tucked underneath his little arm.

“Das ist eine schöne Kutsche [that‘s a beautiful carriage],” the little Jewish boy said shyly.

“Danke [thanks]!” Wilhelm chuckled. “Perhaps one day you will have your own carriage!”

Wilhelm’s teacher scoffed loudly, but the boy didn’t seem to mind.

“If G-d wants it, it will happen!” the boy said resolutely.

“Solche Stärke!” Wilhelm said with a smile. “Tell me, how do you stay so positive in these dismal surroundings?”

The boy followed Wilhelm’s gaze as he looked around at the black, towering ghetto walls that surrounded them, blotting out the sunlight.

“He wants to know how you Jews stay so hopeful even when you all live in the Judengasse [Jews Alley]” the teacher explained. “Every night you Jews are locked inside this area behind heavy gated doors. On all of the Christian holidays, you are not allowed outside. You are only permitted to hold 12 weddings a year, and when a German says the words ‘Jud mach mores [Jew pay your due]!’ you must take your hat off, move to the side and bow.”

“Yes, and even the sun doesn’t seem to shine in the Judengasse!” Wilhem exclaimed, pointing toward the imposing walls.

“Du siehst nicht hart genug aus [you’re not looking hard enough],” the Jewish boy replied, his expression calm. He pointed toward several cracks in the wall where rays of sunlight were streaming through. “Da ist Sonnenlicht in the Judengasse [there is sunlight in the Jewish ghetto].”

“Hmmm...” Wilhelm was visibly impressed by the boy’s answer. “Maybe you want to show me around the place?”

“Ahem! I was already doing that!” Wilhelm’s teacher huffed.

“Please wait here!” Wilhem replied, hopping off the carriage. “I’m going to take a little walk with my new friend here.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 707)