It was impossible to tell which thought gave Tevye more happiness. The thought of stepping foot in Jerusalem, or the thought of seeing his Hodel again. True, Hodel was his own flesh and blood. She was like a little piece of his Golda.
When Tevye’s entourage reached the port of Jaffa, hoping to discover something about their fellow travelers who had set sail to Palestine ahead of them, the first thing he saw gave him the shivers. Hadn't he just asked Rabbi Kook for a blessing to find husbands for his daughters? Who was sitting at a dockside cafe but Nachman's two friends, Shmuelik and Hillel!
"No Jew is an atheist," Rabbi Kook answered. "No matter how confused our young people are with foreign ideas and creeds, the Jewish soul is always pure. Sometimes our eyes are blind and our ears are deaf, but our inner souls long for our God and our Torah. We carry the flame of our heritage eternally within our hearts. Nothing can extinguish it, not even two-thousand years of darkness and exile.
"Didn't I tell you that everything God does works out for the best?" Tevye said to Nachman as everyone gathered excitedly around the coffin on the beach. "If the Turks had let us disembark in Jaffa, I would never have seen my Golda wash up on shore."
Who knew what new disasters would arise on the way to Alexandria, Tevye thought? Eretz Yisrael was so close, they could almost reach out and touch it. Jews were already pushing and shoving to climb down the ladder of the ship. They jumped into the small rowboats as if the chance might never come again.
"Oy Golda, Oy Golda," Tevya moaned. "Is this to be your reward? To be thrown to the fish? To have your bones scattered to the ends of the seas? Without any dry earth to warm you, or a flower to grow over your head? Is this to be your reward for being Tevye's wife for twenty-eight years and for raising his seven daughters?"
"If you want to read a truly important book, you should read ‘The Jewish State,’ by Theodor Herzl. He was a prophet who spoke to the Jews of today," said Ben Zion. "The Lord has many messengers," Nachman answered. "In our time, God chose Herzl to bring the message of Zion to our exiled people. But it wasn't Herzl who invented the Zionist movement. It comes from our holy Torah and the Jews who have been following its call for thousands of years."
When Tevye walked back to his wagon, Ruchel was missing. Tzeitl reported that a young man from the village had unharnessed Tevye's horse and taken it to the barn for a feeding. Apparently, he had taken Ruchel with him. Tevye's eyebrows rose in surprise. Of all of his daughters, Ruchel most resembled his Golda.
The Zionists were happy to have Tevye and his family join them. Feeling no pain from the vodka, Tevye invited their young leader to sit alongside him in the wagon. In a feeling of brotherhood, he even offered him a drink. Ben Zion refused. Alcohol, he said, was a drug which the wealthy class used to keep the peasants content in their religious stupor. He and his friends were drunk with the spirit of freedom, so who needed vodka?
Tevye saw him when they reached the outskirts of the village. At first he wasn't sure, but when he saw Hava keep turning her head, his suspicions proved true. It was Hevedke Galagan, the Russian who had stolen his daughter, the gentile she was supposed to have left – he was following the procession of Jews as they made their way down the bumpy dirt road.
Tevye took the shovel and started to dig. The earth was hard, but after breaking through the frozen topsoil, the ground became looser below. Whoever would have dreamed of Tevye digging up his Golda?
Nemerov, the district Police Commissioner, reared his horse in the air. "Three days," he warned. "The Jews of Anatevka have three days to clear out of the area." It didn't matter that the Jews had lived in Anatevka long before the Russians. The Police Commissioner didn't care that Tevye's great-grandfather, may his memory be a blessing, had cleared the forest by the lake and built the first house in the region. It didn't matter to the Czar and his soldiers that for as long as anyone could remember, the Jews had dutifully paid the taxes which had laden the Czar's table with food, while the pantries of the Jews remained bare.