Letter to a Grandchild

One thing above all motivated us -- that you should not have to endure what we endured. 

Jack Engelhard,

Jack Engelhard
Jack Engelhard
צילום: מתוך האתר האישי

For you it would be different and we would see to that with all our might. Your big trusting eyes, your rosy cheeks, your giving heart, your high spirits, your rollicking laughter that knows no defeat or pain, this was our task, to keep it that way, up to 120 years, when one day you will have grandchildren of your own to bless.

One thing above all motivated us -- that you should not have to endure what we endured. 

Once upon a time we had our own Pharaoh and our own Passover…and you behaved beautifully during the Seder.

To bring you to where the streets are paved with gold, we offered the sweat of our brow. No burden was too demeaning so long as we kept one thought in mind, that for our children and for our grandchildren, yes you, you in the playpen, it would be better.

Maybe it would even be near perfect. So we thought, and so we persisted against every obstacle.

When we arrived the streets were not paved with gold as promised. They were filled with rocks, but on shoes without heels or soles we kept walking from one job to the next so that your father and mother should never miss a meal. The new world would begin with them, and they would hand it over to you even brighter.

We worked as janitors, as dishwashers, as sanitation workers, day shift, night shift and each day we put a dollar aside for the future. That’s you. 

Superiors – people we worked for did us no favors and sometimes insulted us and fired us but we kept moving forward. The lickings stopped us neither at work, where we had to punch a clock, nor at school where we had to keep fighting the bullies. 

In the schoolyards where we played and in stockyards where we worked we were often heckled but we overcame them, too.

Nothing stopped us with you in mind.

We fought the Nazis for you. You will read about them in your History books. They were not History to us. They were Real.

We walked mountains for you and we always stood in the wrong lines and we always carried the wrong papers in the Relocation Centers but somehow…

Somehow we prevailed. 

You must know who you are and stand proud. You must know everything – but not too soon.
Some of us arrived with death camp tattoos still visible on our arms. 

They tried to stop us from coming in. “None is too many,” they said.

They tried to stop us from going to college. We were subject to quotas.

Still, we surmounted. We worked all day and at night we started all over again taking night classes.

We educated ourselves as best we could so that our sons and daughters would be even better educated. Then it would be your turn to outsmart all of us. You already know the alphabet faster than any of us ever did and now Grandpa -- Grandpa is in a hurry to teach you the Hebrew alphabet. You must know who you are and stand proud. You must know everything – but not too soon.

Soon, too soon, it will be your turn to face the world, a world that has once again gone dark.

That is not for you to know. Not yet. There’s no rush. Now it’s time to cuddle up with your Teddy Bear. 

Let Grandpa and Grandma give you one extra hug before you fall soundly to sleep.

New York-based bestselling American novelist Jack Engelhard writes regularly for Arutz Sheva. His books, including “The Bathsheba Deadline,” are available from Amazon and other retailers. Engelhard wrote the international bestseller “Indecent Proposal” and the award-winning Montreal memoir “Escape from Mount Moriah.” His latest is “News Anchor Sweetheart.” He is the recipient of the Ben Hecht Award for Literary Excellence. Website: www.jackengelhard.com