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The Immigrants

Short Story

The story was previously published in the 6th print issue of Funicular Magazine.

Time was, we all stood on a lot of lines. Perhaps we should have known things were bad when we stood on line to vote. After voting didn't work, it seemed that lines were everywhere. At the banks, who didn't have any money any more. Then the lines at the grocery stores, where there was less and less. The lines at the hospital, where Grandpa almost died, but he died out front instead, because they wouldn't bring him in, cursing this country that he'd thought was his. The lines for visas were endless and vast. Finally, the lines at the airport, through security and onto the plane. And off we went!

We are here now. It is a strange place, but it has plenty to eat, and when it comes time to vote, we simply do as we're told. We've been having a little trouble lately, but not like the old trouble. You see, the Jews here-not us, we are Jews from there, but the Jews who have always been here-are not like us Jews from there, and we cannot seem to get along. We say one thing, and they say another, and round and round it goes. Just the other day, one of us was talking to one of them, and said, "It's a lovely day." Do you know what one of them said? They said, "Well, it shouldn't be. It didn't used to be this hot." Can you imagine?


Anyway, our cousin who is lovely came finally from over there, and we were introducing her around to all the other Jews from over there, when who should show up but one of them, a Jew from here? Very well, said we, we'll introduce them to our cousin, what's the harm? After all, it's just one little introduction. 

"How do you do?" said our cousin who is lovely.

"My my! You're lovely! Enchanté!" said the Jew from here.

Our cousin who is lovely giggled. 

One thing, it has been observed, can very well lead to another here. Soon our cousin who is lovely had gone to her father, our cousin, and asked about the synagogue we don't step foot in. Our cousin, her father, said that we don't step foot in that synagogue. She asked why. Our cousin, her father, proceeded to list many, many reasons, from the theological to the aesthetic, from the social to the personal. Our cousin, her father, got very red in the face as he explained this. Our cousin, her father, is a dear friend of Our Rabbi, May His Good Days Be Lengthened Amen. Perhaps this is why he got so red. 

It is true though, that certain things know no obstacles, or triumph over them. So it was that our cousin who is lovely once again approached our cousin, her father, in the distant wake of this conversation, when his mood was quite else-wise, and it was Shabbos, and asked him to consider something from her perspective. As we have mentioned, his mood was quite good at this time. "For you, my darling girl, I will consider anything from any perspective!" He cheerfully burbled, so replete was our cousin, her father with his Shabbos meal and his torah learning. 

"Promise to see things from my perspective?" Asked our cousin who is lovely.

"You need a promise? Well well! Why shouldn't I promise?" He said, so happy was he. So he promised. So she asked him to consider love.  

"Love?"

"Love between Jews, papa."

"Love between Jews . . . Ahavas Yisroel?" Asked our cousin, her father.

"And between two Jews, when there is love, couldn't there be a family?" proposed our cousin who is lovely.

"Well well!" Beamed our cousin, her father. 

"Papa, it's just . . . he's from over here." Our cousin, her father, stopped beaming.

Oh what an uproar! Oh what a struggle in a man! But he had promised, you see, to see things from her perspective. He's a good father, our cousin, her father. He got there in the end. 

So next he went to Our Rabbi, May His Good Days Be Lengthened Amen, and told him the whole story, just like we are telling you, only perhaps there are details we are not privy to. Our Rabbi, May His Good Days Be Lengthened Amen, gave thought. 

"It is a strange place, here," he mused. 

"And it would have been best if she'd met one of our boys?" Suggested our cousin, her father. Our Rabbi, May His Good Days Be Lengthened Amen, looked for a long time at the ceiling. Who knows, maybe he was looking at Hashem. Finally he looked at our cousin, her father. 

"No." He said, with finality. "Let's have a wedding!"

That's when the trouble started. 

The truth is, in this day and age, what guarantee can we have against ill fate? Why beat around the bush? While our cousin who is lovely was endeavoring with her father to see her perspective, to consider love, One of them from over here who was her paramour and love was endeavoring the same with his mother. Just as his mother was considering love, he coughed. While she was visiting Their Rabbi, May His Good Days Be Lengthened Amen, he coughed some more. When his mother came back with the good news that Their Rabbi, May His Good Days Be Lengthened Amen approved of the wedding, he was curled on the floor, coughing up blood. Why beat around the bush? The poor boy died.


The dying was bad, and the wailing and gnashing of teeth and tearing of clothes, well, what's to say? It went on. And so did life. Our cousin who is lovely was paler than before, ashen even. But still lovely. She moved about her life in a series of dry routine movements. She moved and spoke, but who was there? Sometimes, even here, just as there, people are very far away when they're right in front of you.

One day, around Sukkos, we saw our cousin who is lovely. "Good moed!" We said. "Moadim l'simcha!" Responded our cousin who is lovely, in a deep and echoing voice. This is when our suspicions were raised. What's to keep secret? In short, the girl had a dybbuk inside her. 

Oh you never saw such an uproar in your life. Half of us didn't even believe such things could happen, but there was no way around it. Our cousin who is lovely was filled with a spirit of unknown origin. Fortunately, the Jews from here have measures in place for such things. They called up a woman, and she came down from two cities over. She was a wonder worker, and a Master of the Good Name, and she sat in front of our cousin who is lovely for a long time, just looking.

Eventually the wonder worker got up and walked around our cousin seven times, all while saying prayers in that accent they have here. Finally she stuck her thumb out, pushed on the lips of our cousin who is lovely, and said, "Who are you?"

Wouldn't you know it! It was the old fiance of our cousin who is lovely, one of them from here! The wonder worker asked what he wanted and he said his bride. Oh, we shivered and gasped! That's when, in her normal voice, our cousin who is lovely spoke up and said, "Why not?"

Our cousin, her father, started to kick up a fuss and say that this was crazy, that she could be killed, that marrying a ghost was no way for a young lady to behave. There was a tumult and a turbulence. But then his eyes met his daughter's, which were also his son-in-law's. And he saw just how lovely our cousin who is lovely could be.

The rabbis, may their good days be lengthened amen, were called, and consulted, and they conferenced and conversed. And wouldn't you know? In all the Talmud, there's very little argument against a ghost marrying a living Jew. Who knew? So we had the strangest wedding we've ever seen, with our cousin who is lovely swaying with herself on the dance floor. We danced our dances, and they danced theirs. Now we are here, and it is strange, but it is home.