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Jewish Connections

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Yom Yerushalayim, a national day of thanksgiving to Hashem for the liberation and reunification of the Holy City of Yerushalayim, is celebrated in Israel with many different meaningful programs. One of them is the annual bike ride from Hebron to Yerushalayim, celebrating the former’s liberation.

As we looked out from our mirpeset (porch) across the fields, we saw many of the bike riders. Among them were our daughter-in-law and two of our grandchildren, but despite looking through our binoculars we couldn’t find them among the throng, as there were just too many riders going from the City of our Fathers to the Holy City. However, we heard the sounds of joyful music accompanying the bikers, which traveled into our home and enhanced our happiness.

It was also a personal day of remembrance, as it was the yahrzeitof the heroine of this story, Malka Metzger, my husband’s grandmother.

* * *

The time: the beginning of World War I; the place: Baligrod, Poland.

Malka Metzger, married with five children, stands at the doorway of her home, saying goodbye to her husband Alter Ben Zion. He has been drafted into the army. He dies in Trieste and his wife is left alone, without any source of income to care for her three sons and two daughters (one of the daughters was my mother-in-law, a”h). Malka was an intelligent woman whose strength, courage and faith in Hashem helped her whenever she faced difficulties.

She had a reputation in her town for baking delicious challot, breads and rolls. She decided to use her skills to make a living for her family. Malka approached one of the town’s wealthier Jews, Mr. Rubin, for a loan to buy flour and other ingredients for her baking. She promised to repay him and began doing so when she made some money. Malka fed her children with the baked goods left unsold. But when things began to deteriorate in Baligrod, Malka left for the U.S. (with tickets sent to her by Alter Ben Zion’s sister).

* * *

The time: the early 1920s; the place: New York City’s Lower East Side.

Malka’s children find jobs and through hard work and siyata d’shemaya, they are able to help their mother with living expenses. Her sons are able to save enough to open their own businesses, selling retail poultry. All the children get married and the family begins to grow. One of Malka’s sons, Yitzchak (Itcha), locates the two daughters of Mr. Rubin (the aforementioned generous lender) who also relocated to the Lower East Side. Itcha collects money from the family to help these women with their expenses. Malka lives to see the marriage of her children, and the birth of grandchildren and great- grandchildren.

She inspired all who knew her, and everyone respected the Metzger name.

* * *

The time: 2012; the place: Yerushalayim.

Malka’s granddaughter, Judy, and her husband are visiting Judy’s brother Gershon and his family in Yerushalayim. Judy is introduced to Gershon’s grandchild. The young man’s name is Yitsy Beri Rubin. As soon as Judy hears this, she wonders if there is a connection; Rubin is, after all, a common name. After much discussion, they conclude that indeed Yitsy is the great-great-grandchild of Mr. Rubin, the tzaddik who supported Malka Metzger when she was a poor almanah.

In 2012, Yitsy Rubin marries Malka Metzger.

If it wasn’t for Mr. Rubin’s tzedakah, who knows what would have happened to Malka and her family? Her faith that one Jew could, and would, help saved her and her entire family. And the Metzger family, Malka’s descendants, is well known in Jewish communities both in Israel and throughout the United States.

Baruch Hashem, today’s Metzger family members carry on the family tradition by living lives of Torah u’mitzvot – showing hakarat hatov, giving tzedakah, and performing acts of chesed.

Imagine the joy in heaven when this union between the Rubins and Metzgers came to be!

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Yom Yerushalayim, a national day of thanksgiving to Hashem for the liberation and reunification of the Holy City of Yerushalayim, is celebrated in Israel with many different meaningful programs. One of them is the annual bike ride from Hebron to Yerushalayim, celebrating the former’s liberation.

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What would you do if you were confronted with a seemingly insoluble problem? Would you give up? Would you say, “Let someone else solve it; it’s beyond me?”

It was late afternoon on Yom Yerushalayim. We were enjoying a clear, cool, beautiful Yerushalayim day as we walked into Ir Dovid, the historic City of David. We passed the newest excavations and walked down the stone steps leading to the ruins and the older excavations of the City of David. We sat in the amphitheater near the base of the hill.

Erev Shabbat, Parashat Shemot was a beautiful, clear day. The sun had warmed up the brisk winter air, and off came the jackets as everyone was enjoying the milder weather. My husband and I were excited at the prospect of spending Shabbat in Hebron. The last time we were in Hebron was in June of 2007 when we had the nachas of being present at the completion of Sefer B’reshit by our grandson’s class. This Shabbat was the fulfillment of our desire to spend Shabbat in the heart of Hebron.

According to the American College Dictionary to retire means: ” To withdraw, or go away, to a place of abode or seclusion; to withdraw from office, business or active life.” That is not what we envisioned our retirement to be. Sure, it’s great to sit on the beach and bask in the sun, to golf, play tennis, etc. But how much of that can one do without feeling that something is lacking?

My husband and I had the distinct pleasure and privilege to join a group of English speaking Israelis on a visit to Gush Katif. The trip was organized for the World Mizrachi and Tehilla movements. Both organizations are involved in aliya and living in Israel. Our goal was to become reacquainted with Gush Katif, while for some, it was their first time there.

I had envisioned Gush Katif with images of a sea of turquoise blue, pristine white beaches, boats bobbing along the horizon, and me sitting in the sun.

There we stood, my husband and I, on the darkened mirpeset (balcony) of our home. It was 8:00 p.m. Our mirpeset overlooks the valley which marks the boundary of Efrat. In the distance is the road leading south to Kiryat Arba and Hevron, and north to the holy city of Yerushalayim.

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