“It’s a desert! Why would we move to the desert?” Baruch asked, his words tangled in worries.
“Because that is the land of our people, it’s our home,” his wife, Chaya, replied.
“No, New York is our home. I was born here, my parents were born here. They live down the street. My sister lives two doors down. You were born here. Your parents live less than a mile away. This is home.”
“I understand, Baruch, I know you want to stay in New York,” she said gently, putting her hand on his leg. “But please think about us moving. I want to, I have wanted to for years now. If we don’t like living there, we can move back.”
“And my job, what will happen?”
“Baruch, you’re one of the best journalists in New York, maybe even in the country. You’ll have no problem finding work if we have to return. And maybe in Palestine, you’ll be able to start a newspaper.”
Chaya always made sense. She had an instinct for the right argument at the right time. Baruch deeply admired and loved her dearly. They met as kids in sixth grade. She was firm in her beliefs then too. That year a teacher made a snide, anti-Semitic remark in class. Chaya gathered the students and told the administration no one would attend class until the teacher apologized. The students made signs and for two days protested in front of the school. The teacher apologized. Her Jewish immigrant parents were too proud to be furious.
Jewish in identity, Zionist in spirit, tough yet gentle, and intellectual in personality, she was intolerant to racism. She punched the last man who made an anti-Semitic remark towards her. The one before fared worse, as she kicked him where no man wants to be kicked. But most battles were verbal. Well read, she understood the history, understood the present, and had a gift for being right about events in the future. She had a mathematician’s mind for logic, a writer’s eloquence with a comedian’s wit.
Baruch knew before their marriage of her desire to move. Zionism was her calling, had been since her mid-teens. She read all the books, attended every talk in New York, donated any extra funds they had. This was going to be her life’s work. Baruch was different. He loved New York, loved the opera, the ballet, even the skyscrapers starting to dot the city. With family and friends and libraries all around, he was at peace. New York was home. And he was proud of being an American, proud that this country had opened her doors to his family. His grandparents had come in the 1880s looking for a tolerant place to settle. Life wasn’t perfect in the U.S., but much better than what they experienced living in Russia.
“Where will we live?”
“On a Kibbutz outside of Tel Aviv. Just imagine, out in the countryside working the land, growing crops to feed the people, being part of building the community.”
His ability to keep Chaya settled in New York had withered over the years. He wasn’t surprised nor upset. But the thought of a move still frightened him. The war had just ended, life was beginning to look normal again. The city was thriving, coming to life, and being in their early twenties, Baruch wanted to experience the time. Yet as he looked at the matters of life, he understood that being caring to Chaya was to at least make the move. Maybe they wouldn’t stay for the rest of life, but they needed to try. He knew this in his heart and his mind.
Doing his best to muster his courage, a positive outlook, he said to Chaya, “Let’s do it.”
- “A historical fiction story: Baruch and Chaya” is a work of fiction. The story, characters, and incidents are fictitious.
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