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.
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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).
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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!