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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

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            Their three children – an 8-year old girl and two boys aged six and two – were placed in the Children’s Home since their father worked full time as a tinsmith. Leah extolled Yosef’s virtues and added that she thought the two of them would make a good shidduch.

            Henya-Bluma listened politely, then confided in Leah about her agunah status. Yosef sounded like a very nice person indeed, but her own husband had refused to give her a get and she didn’t even know where he was.

            An emotional Leah hugged Henya-Bluma and expressed her hope that things would work out for the younger woman and that the two of them could become good friends.

            What happened next was pure hashgacha pratis. A few minutes after Leah left, there was another knock on Henya-Bluma’s door. This time it was her recalcitrant husband standing before her, with a smile on his face. He had come to tell her that this was her lucky day… she was going to become a rich woman.

            He then let her know that he had a buyer for his house but that the realtor reviewing the documents had learned that the house purchased after his marriage belonged to them both. As co-owner, Henya-Bluma was entitled to half the profit of the sale of the house. All she had to do was sign some papers he had with him.

            Henya-Bluma kept her apartment door open all the while that he was there. She looked him straight in the eye and told him that she did not want one penny for the house and would sign the papers accordingly — after he would give her a get.

            Give her a get? The man was delirious with joy. Here he thought he would have to give her half the profits of the house, and now he would get to keep all the money for himself! Of course he would give her a get!

            Henya-Bluma told him that her uncle Chaim Nuchem Winarsky, a rav and sofer, lived within walking distance and that she wanted him to accompany her there straightaway. The uncle was quite taken aback at the sight of the two of them but wasted no time in making the necessary arrangements for the bais din.

            On the appointed day, the rov told Henya-Bluma’s soon-to-be-ex-husband to hand her the get. As he did so, he produced a document with his other hand for Henya-Bluma’s signature, by which she would relinquish any profit from the sale of the house. The man walked out the door with the signed document and was never seen or heard from again.

            This time it was Henya-Bluma knocking on Leah’s door, to relate the news of her good fortune. As Henya-Bluma would have to wait a halachically-mandated period of time before remarrying, Leah suggested that she and Yosef meet at her place for tea and get to know one another. If things went well, they could put up a chuppah at the appropriate time, G-d willing.

            After several dates, Yosef took Henya-Bluma to meet his children. They bonded immediately and the children could hardly wait to finally come home to a real home again. They married in 1916 and had three children together: my mother, Eedis (1917-2006) and my uncles Yonah-Dovid (1920-2011) and Avrohom-Meir (1924-1986).

            Yosef’s three children from his first wife were Faiga (1907-2000), Yehudah Laib (1909-2001) and Yitzchok Yisroel, born in 1913. My Uncle Yitzchok Yisroel is a ben meah, ad meah v’esrim.

            My grandfather Yosef Pearlman (1881-1971) and grandmother Henya-Bluma (1887-1972) lie next to each other at Mount Sinai Memorial Park in Los Angeles.

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