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[Bedtime Stories]

Missing the Boat

It was the year 1910 when Abraham Bank, my great-
grandfather, was impressed into the Russian army. At the
time, he was twenty-one years old and had lived near Vilna
in Lithuania for his entire life. He was a qualified rabbi,
shochet, and mohel.

The prospect of twenty-five years of mandatory
military service was unthinkable to Abraham. So he decided
to pack a few clothes and personal belongings and leave his
hometown during the night. He promised his girlfriend,
Rebecca, that he would write.

Abraham traveled via Finland to Stockholm, Sweden,
where he worked for a while as a stevedore. He earned his
passage to London where he continued to work. His goal was
to earn enough money to follow in the footsteps of his
uncle, who had already immigrated to America.

Two years after leaving his home in Lithuania, Abraham
was finally able to buy a ticket on a ship leaving from
Southampton that would take him from England to America.

Abraham ran into two difficulties. The first was the
knowledge that he would not be able to get kosher food in
the steerage class of the ship. The second was the trouble
he would have in getting from London to Southampton over
Passover, as the holiday ended on the night before the ship
would be boarding.


Finally, Abraham decided not to use his ticket. He
remained in London for a few months and then immigrated to
South Africa, where eight years later Rebecca joined him.
It was not until 1987 that Abraham's descendants - his
grandson (my father) and his family - made the move to
America that Abraham had come so close to making seventy-
five years earlier.

I have good cause to be grateful to Zeida for deciding
not to use that ticket all those years ago. In fact, it
might well have been the best decision he ever made. The
name of the ship that steamed into the Atlantic that day
was the Titanic.

[The Titanic]

By Tanya Bank Copyright
From: Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul by
Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen
and Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins.



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