Yohrzeit For Mother


The Ginzburgs' first child died of inflammation of the lungs when it was

two years and three months old.

The young couple were in the depths of grief and despair--they even

thought seriously of committing suicide.

But people do not do everything they think of doing. Neither Ginzburg

nor his wife had the courage to throw themselves into the cold and

grizzly arms of death. They only despaired,
until, some time after, a

newborn child bound them once more to life.

It was a little girl, and they named her Dvoreh, after Ginzburg's dead


The Ginzburgs were both free-thinkers in the full sense of the word, and

their naming the child after the dead had no superstitious significance


It came about quite simply.

"Dobinyu," Ginzburg had asked his wife, "how shall we call our


"I don't know," replied the young mother.

"No more do I," said Ginzburg.

"Let us call her Dvorehle," suggested Dobe, automatically, gazing at her

pretty baby, and very little concerned about its name.

Had Ginzburg any objection to make? None at all, and the child's name

was Dvorehle henceforward. When the first child had lived to be a year

old, the parents had made a feast-day, and invited guests to celebrate

their first-born's first birthday with them.

With the second child it was not so.

The Ginzburgs loved their Dvorehle, loved her painfully, infinitely, but

when it came to the anniversary of her birth they made no rejoicings.

I do not think I shall be going too far if I say they did not dare to do


Dvorehle was an uncommon child: a bright girlie, sweet-tempered, pretty,

and clever, the light of the house, shining into its every corner. She

could be a whole world of delight to her parents, this wee Dvorehle. But

it was not the delight, not the happiness they had known with the first

child, not the same. That had been so free, so careless. Now it was

different: terrible pictures of death, of a child's death, would rise up

in the midst of their joy, and their gladness suddenly ended in a heavy

sigh. They would be at the height of enchantment, kissing and hugging

the child and laughing aloud, they would be singing to it and romping

with it, everything else would be forgotten. Then, without wishing to do

so, they would suddenly remember that not so long ago it was another

child, also a girl, that went off into just the same silvery little

bursts of laughter--and now, where is it?--dead! O how it goes through

the heart! The parents turn pale in the midst of their merrymaking, the

mother's eyes fill with tears, and the father's head droops.

"Who knows?" sighs Dobe, looking at their little laughing Dvorehle. "Who


Ginzburg understands the meaning of her question and is silent, because

he is afraid to say anything in reply.

It seems to me that parents who have buried their first-born can never

be really happy again.

So Dvorehle's first birthday was allowed to pass as it were unnoticed.

When it came to her second, it was nearly the same thing, only Dobe

said, "Ginzburg, when our daughter is three years old, then we will have

great rejoicings!"

They waited for the day with trembling hearts. Their child's third year

was full of terror for them, because their eldest-born had died in her

third year, and they felt as though it must be the most dangerous one

for their second child.

A dreadful conviction began to haunt them both, only they were afraid to

confess it one to the other. This conviction, this fixed idea of theirs,

was that when Dvorehle reached the age of their eldest child when it

died, Death would once more call their household to mind.

Dvorehle grew to be two years and eight months old. O it was a terrible

time! And--and the child fell ill, with inflammation of the lungs, just

like the other one.

O pictures that arose and stood before the parents! O terror, O

calamity! They were free-thinkers, the Ginzburgs, and if any one had

told them that they were not free from what they called superstition,

that the belief in a Higher Power beyond our understanding still had a

root in their being, if you had spoken thus to Ginzburg or to his wife,

they would have laughed at you, both of them, out of the depths of a

full heart and with laughter more serious than many another's words. But

what happened now is wonderful to tell.

Dobe, sitting by the sick child's cot, began to speak, gravely, and as

in a dream:

"Who knows? Who knows? Perhaps? Perhaps?" She did not conclude.

"Perhaps what?" asked Ginzburg, impatiently.

"Why should it come like this?" Dobe went on. "The same time, the same


"A simple blind coincidence of circumstances," replied her husband.

"But so exactly--one like the other, as if somebody had made it happen

on purpose."

Ginzburg understood his wife's meaning, and answered short and sharp:

"Dobe, don't talk nonsense."

Meanwhile Dvorehle's illness developed, and the day came on which the

doctor said that a crisis would occur within twenty-four hours. What

this meant to the Ginzburgs would be difficult to describe, but each of

them determined privately not to survive the loss of their second child.

They sat beside it, not lifting their eyes from its face. They were pale

and dazed with grief and sleepless nights, their hearts half-dead within

them, they shed no tears, they were so much more dead than alive

themselves, and the child's flame of life flickered and dwindled,

flickered and dwindled.

A tangle of memories was stirring in Ginzburg's head, all relating to

deaths and graves. He lived through the death of their first child with

all details--his father's death, his mother's--early in a summer

morning--that was--that was--he recalls it--as though it were to-day.

"What is to-day?" he wonders. "What day of the month is it?" And then he

remembers, it is the first of May.

"The same day," he murmurs, as if he were talking in his sleep.

"What the same day?" asks Dobe.

"Nothing," says Ginzburg. "I was thinking of something."

He went on thinking, and fell into a doze where he sat.

He saw his mother enter the room with a soft step, take a chair, and sit

down by the sick child.

"Mother, save it!" he begs her, his heart is full to bursting, and he

begins to cry.

"Isrolik," says his mother, "I have brought a remedy for the child that

bears my name."


He is about to throw himself upon her neck and kiss her, but she motions

him lightly aside.

"Why do you never light a candle for my Yohrzeit?" she inquires, and

looks at him reproachfully.

"Mame, have pity on us, save the child!"

"The child will live, only you must light me a candle."

"Mame" (he sobs louder), "have pity!"

"Light my candle--make haste, make haste--"

"Ginzburg!" a shriek from his wife, and he awoke with a start.

"Ginzburg, the child is dying! Fly for the doctor."

Ginzburg cast a look at the child, a chill went through him, he ran to

the door.

The doctor came in person.

"Our child is dying! Help save it!" wailed the unhappy mother, and he,

Ginzburg, stood and shivered as with cold.

The doctor scrutinized the child, and said:

"The crisis is coming on." There was something dreadful in the quiet of

his tone.

"What can be done?" and the Ginzburgs wrung their hands.

"Hush! Nothing! Bring some hot water, bottles of hot

water!--Champagne!--Where is the medicine? Quick!" commanded the doctor.

Everything was to hand and ready in an instant.

The doctor began to busy himself with the child, the parents stood by

pale as death.

"Well," asked Dobe, "what?"

"We shall soon know," said the doctor.

Ginzburg looked round, glided like a shadow into a corner of the room,

and lit the little lamp that stood there.

"What is that for?" asked Dobe, in a fright.

"Nothing, Yohrzeit--my mother's," he answered in a strange voice, and

his hands never ceased trembling.

"Your child will live," said the doctor, and father and mother fell upon

the child's bed with their faces, and wept.

The flame in the lamp burnt brighter and brighter.