Don't think that the really great stories are the one's that are written by
greatest writers. The really great stories are the stories that really
happened to real people
and they are really and absolutely true. The following is one of the many
stories. Great because it's really true!
America had finally entered World War I. Troops poured into Europe to put
an end to the
war. The war was in it's final stages. American troops were dispatched
Germany. The year was 1917.
A lone Jewish soldier from Duluth, Minnesota, Alex Lurye, found himself in
German town called Seldes. It was Friday night. Being far away from home
The young Jewish soldier had some time on his hands. Feeling out of place,
he decided to
see what the local Jewish population was like. Entering the local village
have created a stir. An American soldier in uniform!. The Americans fought
in bitter combat. The lone soldier felt out of place. He was greeted by a
kind German Jew
by the name of Herr Rosenau who made him feel at home in the synagogue.
After the services, Herr Rosenau invited the serviceman to his house for
kiddush and the
traditional Friday night meal.
Seeing the beauty of a traditional Shabbat together with the warmth and
kindness of this
German-Jewish family made a deep impression on this young soldier. He was a
a foreigner, even an enemy Yet because he was Jewish he was invited to
home, given a delicious warm kosher home cooked meal, complete with wine
traditional Shabbat songs. Herr Rosenau's family, together with his teenage
the soldier the feeling that he was not alone, certainly not an enemy, even
in such a far
and distant land.
The soldier was never able to come back again to see this kind family
again. However, the
warm impression that he had received, the experience of the Shabbat in a
caring Jewish home did not leave him. It meant so much to this young
soldier that when
he finally returned to Duluth, Minnesota, his home town, he took time out
to sit down and
write a letter to the German Jew who had touched his life with such
kindness. This was is
1917. For some unknown reason, although Herr Rosenau received the letter it
answered. It was placed in a desk drawer and there it rested for twenty one
Time moves on. Ruth, the teenage daughter of the German Jew, has grown up
married a German Jew by the name of Eugen Wienberg. She now has three small
children. The oldest is a boy of eleven. The time is a bad time for the
German Jews. The
year is 1938. The dreaded Adolf Hitler has taken hold upon Germany and anti
proclamations are being contrived and enforced on a continually regular
Rosenau is now a grandfather. He is bothered about the dark and dismal
himself and his fellow Jews in Germany. He doesn't pay attention to his
eleven year old
grandson, Sigbert, as he is rummaging through his desk looking for
something of interest.
Suddenly a foreign postage stamp catches his eye. He pulls out the envelope
postage stamp from America. "Grandfather, can I have this?"
Twenty one years have past since he received the letter. "Yes, take it,"
replies. After years of giving, an old forgotten envelope makes his
grandson happy. He
takes it home to his mother. "Look, look what grandfather has given me!"
The mother and her husband, Herr Wienberg eye the envelope with curiosity.
The letter is
still inside. They remove the letter and read it. It is the thank you
letter from the American
service man, from twenty-one years ago.
The mother remembers the young man. "Let's write to him! Maybe he will
and sponsor us, enabling us to immigrate to America" (It must be remembered
U.S.A. did not let refugees come to it's shores freely. However if some one
sponsor you, then there was a chance.)
Looking on the envelope, they saw that there was no return address only the
Lurye, and the city and state, Duluth, Minnesota. "We have no future in
must get out before this mad man, Hitler, begins to do worse things to the
So they wrote a letter addressed only as follows:
What can you do? Can you send a letter to a person in a large city with out
address and expect it to be delivered? Of course not. You would have to be
think that it would get to it's destination. But some times it works out.
In this case, Alex
Luyre had become a wealthy businessman who was well known in Duluth, a town
a hundred thousand people. The postmaster delivered the letter.
When Alex received it, after a lapse of twenty one years, he quickly sent a
acknowledging his receipt of their letter and pledging to help bring the
Wienberg family to
Duluth. Alex kept his promise. The entire Wienberg family was brought over
in that year
and arrived in May of 1938. Shortly there after, the Rosenau family came
In Duluth, the Wienberg family began working hard to make life bearable
depression era. Sometimes two jobs were necessary for both the father and
order to make it through the week. Yet in Duluth as in Seldes, Germany, the
sure that the Shabbat would be joyously honored.
The rest of the family was quickly brought over to the states.
Unfortunately, the horrible
World War II swiftly came. The rest of German Jewry was destroyed.
Yet the kindness that Herr Rosenau had given to a stranger twenty one years
come full circle. Because of their kindness, with out any thought of
personal gain, Herr
Rosenau and his family were spared from the horrible fate of their fellow
The chessed that they had so warmly given to others with out desiring a
payment in return
had come back to them with dividends. The entire family was saved.
Today that family has sprouted and grown. A family blessed with many
grandchildren and great-grand-children (Bli Iyin Hara). All have taken upon
always to honor the Shabbat.
Doing chessed (an act of loving kindness done without any
expectation of remuneration) is the Jewish way.
Helping another Jew, with out trying to receive a thing in return. Pure and
unadulterated kindness. It's for you and for me.