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Hope from America: A  letter  to  Papa  in  the  old  country

By Michael Sitzman

Section: Arts

April 28, 2006

New Haven: 18 April, 1943

Dear Papa,

Sholem alechem! I miss you much and hope this letter should find you safe and well. Please pardon my Yiddish;

it has grown a bit rusty in America. We finally got our orders this morning, so I am writing to you aboard a troop train bound for New London;

we ship out tomorrow to the European front.

Oh, Papa, how I wish I had written sooner to plead that you should return to America. We only get our news in bits and pieces, but reports tell that conditions are worsening there, and I fear for you. Mama is well, thanks be to God. She still calls you a fool for returning to Poland after the First War, but she sends her good wishes. I think she still loves you, Papa

Oy, how hard America can be for newcomers. Though its been years since Ive seen you, I remember from when I was young of how youd talk of the yankee way and of becoming a new man. But sometimes thats more than we can achieve;

even as a kid, it was tough for me too. Forgive Mama if she blamed your leaving for the troubles I had. Perhaps she told you about the gangs, reform school, and all;

and the years between the wars when I tried running gin. It caught up with me early

He seemed a wise judge as I looked at him that day. It wasnt a hard choice to join the Army so that I should not go to jail, as it was what I had always wanted anyhow. Remember, Papa? Remember how I wanted to serve in the First War but was too young? Maybe Im a bit too old this time, but here I am And look, Papa! Im a yankee now. I am an American soldier, going off to fight for my country and for our people. Its hard to be an immigrant in America, yes, but its truly a wonderful country after all. And you should see these men;

would you ever see such a sight in Europe? Jews, Irishmen, Italians;

we are from everywhere;

yet all are wearing the same uniform, all riding on the same train

Oy, the train Papa, I wonder should I tell you: I had a dream about a dark train. I saw you riding aboard with so many other Jews and nobody was happy. I dont know where you were going. But I woke up so afraid, and I fear things will get worse there in Warsaw, if that is even possible.

But take courage, Papa, for we are on our way, bringing hope. Tell everyone the Americans are coming soon, and we will fight until we have won and freed Europe from this horror. I will pray that God should keep you safe. When I find you, Papa, I will take you away from that place, as there is nothing left for you there. I dont know where we will go. Mama has her new husband to care for her in New York. Im so proud to be an American, but a part of me wishes we could go to live in Palestine

Maybe it would be a better place for us;

there would be no war there

The train is approaching New Haven for a stop;

I must get off now with the men. Be well, Papa. It has been too many years, but I will look for you whenever I should manage to reach Warsaw. I wish that you should get this letter before Passover, but I know it is already too late. Oy, what times;

such things should not happen to anyone! We are coming soon, Papa. Hang on

Your son,
Yosele (Joey)

—–
The New York Times: (AP newswire):
STOCKHOLM, 22 April, 1943–The secret Polish radio appealed for help tonight in a broadcast from Poland and then suddenly the station went dead.
—–

Note: The above letter is fictitious;

the news bulletin is real. May they both stand in tribute to the Warsaw ghetto uprising on this anniversary, that we might remember the heroes who chose to die with dignity on the eve of its liquidation.

My friends, Horseradish now signs off for another summer. It has been an honor writing for you. Until we next meet, in this world or in timeless Hereafter, God bless you all and keep you well.

With Love,
Michael Reade Sitzman 07

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