"H e’s not dead.”

Her voice was flat, measured, absolutely empty.

She’d read the telegram, handed it to her father. Then, picking up her little boy who’d been impatiently pulling at her skirt, she made the announcement.

“I know he’s not dead,” she said again.

Papa’s eyes, she noted, were full of tears, and he gently pulled her and Mutty toward him in an embrace. Strange, that she should be so much in control of herself, while Papa seemed overwhelmed with emotion.

Her father collected himself. “You’re right, Chanaleh. Hashem is good and we mustn’t give up hope. We must believe he will come back to us, safe and sound.”

Again, her voice was calm. “You don’t understand, Papa. It’s not a matter of believing. I know it. I would know if Abe was dead, I would feel it. I know he is alive.”

The days passed, busy, empty, tearless. She would not cry. She knew they spoke about her, pitied her, encouraged her to talk about it. To weep and wail and sob for her lost husband. But she would not betray her Abe, would not betray her strongest beliefs.

She would not cry.

Not even when she received his CO’s letter, lauding Abe’s heroism and leadership. Not even when she held the Indian-head hood ornament that he’d included with the letter, which she insisted Harry put back on the Pontiac “for when Abie comes home.” Not even when she read the journal that she found in the barracks bag that the Army brought to the hotel.

But if I don’t make it back, I leave this to your wonderful Mamma to give to my little boy, so he will know what his Daddy did, and why his Daddy was not there with him when he learned to walk, to read, to throw a ball, to become a bar mitzvah.

She prayed. Taking care of three children and a boarding house left her little spare time, but every free moment found her reciting the words of Tehillim. With Reb Leibush’s encouragement she took upon herself to fast every Monday and Thursday for the merit of Abe’s safe and speedy return. She comforted her father-in-law, wiped away her mother-in-law’s tears, hugged Abe’s Bubbe.

But she did not cry.



Mail call! Best moment of the day.

With the failure of Hitler’s final, mad gamble, with entire platoons surrendering en masse, Lieutenant Moe Freed had been working 18-hour days interrogating captured Germans, from jittery 16-year-old conscripts to SS officers. His head was bursting with data about troop movements and weaponry. Like all the soldiers, he looked forward to reading about a world that had nothing to do with killing and suffering, a world that seemed very far away from the front lines.

Excellent: He’d received two letters, one from Papa, one from the Brauns. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 541)