By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn
The Fine Family came to the United States via Russia in the late 19th century. They settled in New York.
My grandmother was the youngest of the family, and I would revel in some of the stories that she told me of her siblings — Aunt Jenny was the oldest, there were several other sisters, and several brothers, but I have memories of Ike and Jack. Many of the siblings passed away prior to my birth. However, I do remember visiting Aunt Jenny in New York.
My grandmother had a host of nieces and nephews — who came to visit her in Texas over the years. The stories continued, and my grandmother was exceptionally proud of all of them — and she was known as their favorite aunt.
I remember the visits of cousins, although they were closer to my parents’ age. Some might have been a bit younger. I was thrilled to have more cousins — and their stories were rich with laughter and camaraderie.
Last year I was thrilled to meet cousins from Pompano Beach, Florida, Judy Fine Dobin and her husband, Danny. We are close in age and both have an interest in connecting the dots of the family history. Judy is the granddaughter of my grandmother’s late brother, Ike.
Judy and Danny are active in multiple causes of good will — they are enormous supporters of American Friends of Magen David Adom. Danny serves as its national vice chair and the couple makes multiple trips to Israel to visit cousins that I remember my grandmother talking about in her stories. Judy and Danny are remarkable and “just fine.”
Last week I sent Judy an email, to inquire about our cousins’ safety. The following is a response from Sara Fine Meltzer, the daughter-in-law of my late cousin, Saul Fine and his late son, Peter’s widow.
What follows is the unedited email from Sara Fine:
Subject: The latest war
“Dearest Family and Friends,
“First of all, thank you to everyone who has written or called to express your concern. It means a lot.
“…And now for a recap from my perspective only.
“I have to back up to the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teenaged boys and one Arab teenaged boy. Sandy, you used the word “abhorrent.” Not only do I agree, but if there were something stronger, I would agree with that as well. They were horrendous crimes and no amount of political spin will ever change that reality.
“Having said that, we now have to look at what happened as a result of the horror. The perpetrators of the kidnapping have not yet been found. The perps of the Arab atrocity were picked up within two days during which time, the Palestinians staged major riots, rock-throwing and shootings (thank G-d, mostly in the air) throughout the country, culminating in the daily rocket barrages from Gaza. While the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, give proof through the night (and morning and afternoon) that Hamas is still there, the newest aspect is, of course, the tunnels through which have passed thousands of rockets, missiles and heavy artillery and ending near or underneath the houses of all the areas bordering Gaza. This, the world has discovered, is what the Gazans have been doing for the last nine years since Israel left the area. All of the money that was supposed to have gone for education, economic development, and infrastructure has indeed gone into infrastructure, but hardly the kind that most of the investors, save the Iranians and the Qataris, envisaged.
“My heart goes out to the people of Gaza who have been terrorized by their own leaders. An example: when Israel pulled out of Gaza and forced all the Israelis living in Gush Katif to leave their homes, they also left the most modern and up-to-date greenhouses which provided a lot of the income for those residents. Instead of using them, Hamas saw to it that they were destroyed.
“It has also been reported in the news — at long last — that Hamas has been using its Mosques, hospitals, and schools to warehouse their rockets. Prior to Israel’s retaliation in Gaza, the place was blanketed with flyers (literally) telling the inhabitants to leave their homes and to get out of harm’s way. Hamas told them to stay put. You have to wonder what goes through their heads.
“After about 12 days of the sirens and my grandchildren being locked up in their houses (we have between 15 seconds and a minute to find shelter), Jonny called and begged us to get them out of the neighborhood as the children were going nuts. Same for Batie’s children. (sic) Since Jonny has six children and a little car, Aviv and I had to be part of the plan. So we found a place up north and took them away for four days, enough time to calm them down and get some uninterrupted sleep. A real favorite for air-raid sirens is two in the morning, or thereabouts.
“Two days after the rockets started down here, the Hezbollar party (sic)up north and Asher was called up for reserve duty.Because the army didn’t have time to process his papers, he did not go in as a doctor but was told to report to his combat unit. Now, all of this uniforms, boots, etc. were down here in Beer Sheva, but they told him they’d find stuff for him. So he takes off in sandals, shorts and a tee-shirt. “Stuff” turned out to be a gun. When he called and I expressed worry that he didn’t even have a helmet and that could prove dangerous, my ever-funny son said that the only danger he faced was getting a sunburn!
“He has now been released to go back to the hospital where he is interning.
“How can I answer the question about ‘life going on as usual’? Life does go on, but surely not as usual. Batie and I have been ushered to safe areas in the mall; we’ve been caught at stop lights when one is required to get out of the car, lock it and make for the nearest building. On one occasion, Aviv, Batie and I couldn’t get to a building, so we did as instructed: lie down on your stomach with hands over your head. And, of course, getting to my computer and being able to sit long enough to write to everyone has been far beyond possible.
“As of the last news, Israel is committed to blowing up all of the tunnels and working on some kind of political solution guaranteeing that Hamas will not show up in someone’s living room with a plan to massacre the family. Good luck on that one to all involved.
“The true tragedy is of how little consequence Gaza is to all of its Arab brethren. The Egyptians never wanted anything to do with them; the non-Hamas Palestinians would be delighted to have them disappear. Their supporters are the fanatics in the Arab world and, of course, the always delightful, Vladimir Putin who can be counted on to support all the ‘good’ guys in the world.
“So here we are, again, trying to protect this tiny piece of land we call Israel and the people who live in it. I know of no Israeli who does not want the Gazans to have a life, but by the same token, we do not want it to be only at our expense.
“There’s something weird with my computer, I notice, so I can’t correct the sentence above in situ, so here goes: Two days after the rockets started down here, the Hezbollah joined the party…The rest is OK.
“I’m sure that most of you heard about the American boy who came to live here on his own and was killed last week. Thirty-thousand people, probably 99 percent of whom didn’t know him, came to his funeral only to show respect and to demonstrate that no soldier who dies for this country was really ‘on his own.’ This, too, is our nation despite all the bad press.
“I will hope for some quiet for all of us in this region and hope, too that the leaders of Hamas, all of whom have been far, far away and out of the country almost since this thing started, will finally begin to care about their people and not annihilating ours.
‘With love to all.
We have all watched the news coverage on many stations. In my mind, I am proud of Israel and the strength and fortitude of our people. Enemies have fought unfairly to rid the planet of our people since biblical times. It is my wish that the flame of hope and the sounds of our prayers — that our enemies will cease and desist and although it may sound like a fairytale that everything with our support and additional prayers will someday be “just fine.”