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“Tell us another story about Abraham,” Hannie demanded.

With a groan, Tevye stood up and stretched his tired back. “When you are both in bed,” he said. “Now we have to go home.”

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As they rode silently back to the kibbutz on the horse, Hannie suddenly asked her grandfather a question.

“Why did God take our Ema away?”

Tevye had taken enough Hebrew classes to know that Ema meant mother.

“So that she could be with Abba,” her brother answered.

“Will God  take us to Heaven too?” the girl asked.

“One day, but not for a very long time,” Tevye answered.

“I want to be with Ema and Abba,” Hannie said.

Tevye hugged her and gave her a kiss. “One day we all will be back together,” he comforted. “But right now, God wants us down here on earth. We have to settle this Land, just like Abraham did, so that when you two grow up, your children will have a country of their own.”

Back in their small cottage, Tevye listened as his grandchildren recited the words of the bedtime Shema, the time-honored affirmation of faith, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Then he kissed them goodnight, blew out the candle, and sat quietly in the darkness with them until they had fallen asleep.

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