Recap: Dr. Laurent and Bayla go out and Dr. Laurent asks Bayla to marry him.
We didn’t formally announce our engagement, but when I strolled in the door at one a.m., Gloria was waiting for me. “Did you have a good time? You don’t have to answer. Your eyes are shining.”
“It was a good time, Gloria. It was the best time I ever had.”
“Whoa, this sounds serious.”
I was bursting with joy, and it was hard to hold in, like a soda bottle with bubbles fizzing to the top. Normally, I would be confiding in Mama and Mimi, but I couldn’t call Mimi long distance, and of course there was no way to tell Mama right now.
“Gloria, I’m engaged.”
“What? After one date? Mazal tov!”
“It’s not like we didn’t know each other from before. I mean in a different way but…”
Gloria threw her arms around me and we danced together. “I am so happy for you.”
“Im yirtzeh Hashem by you,” I said.
Margie was soon informed. I couldn’t keep it a secret; I was too bursting with happiness.
Not long after that wonderful date with Dr. Laurent, he had to return to Missouri. We would correspond and hope that my parents would be here soon, so we could plan a wedding.
Many historic events occurred that summer that I was in Washington. President Truman made the fateful decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That officially ended World War II. There was dancing and singing and parades in the street. The war was finally over.
I prayed that my parents, Tante Aimee, and our families would be able come to America soon.
It was one of my last days working as an intern correspondent when something out of the ordinary happened. Gloria told me that her father had been going to these meetings and learning about Eretz Yisrael. He told her that so many Jews have been murdered in Europe. Our people need a safe place. We need a State of Israel.
I recalled that Gloria had told me that she always called President Truman Uncle Harry. Her father was good friends with him since before World War I. He was even in the same platoon serving under Truman and, after the war, they’d opened a store together.
“Daddy is coming to Washington tomorrow to meet with Uncle Harry.”
It still felt strange the way Gloria called President Truman Uncle Harry.
“Why is he coming to meet with him?” I asked.
“Daddy told me that the president of Israel flew to New York to speak with Uncle Harry and Uncle Harry won’t speak to him.”
“Wow, all the way from Israel. Why won’t he speak to him?”
“Daddy doesn’t know, but he’s going to the White House to convince him. Uncle Harry has to do it. It’s so important that America vote for Israel to become a country.”
I was in the outer office working on an article with my mentor when Gloria’s father appeared. He was a medium-height man with dark hair and a friendly smile. Gloria resembled him. They both had intelligent, kind, dark eyes. He smiled at me. Then he headed towards the Oval office.
We heard the secretary say, “You can meet with the President, Mr. Jacobson, but don’t mention Palestine. That’s his orders.”
I wondered what he would do now.
“We have to go downstairs now to the kitchen,” my mentor said. “There’s an event being planned, and I want to get some of the details about what will be served.”
I reluctantly followed her to the White House kitchen. Though I thought this was unfair and I would have no way of finding out what was said in this meeting, Hashem had a different plan. There was an intercom in the kitchen that was left on in case the President needed something from the kitchen.
While I listened to my mentor explain what I was going to outline for the article, I heard the whole conversation between President Truman and Gloria’s father, Eddie Jacobson.
“Eddie, good to see you. You look so serious. What is it?”
“Look, I never asked you for any favors but there’s something I have to ask.”
“It’s about Eretz Yisrael and the Jewish people.”
Truman’s voice rose. “I don’t want to discuss it. I’ve had enough of that talk. There were some Jews who were mean to me. I don’t want to hear about it.”
I felt my stomach clench. Oh, no. The president had to meet with Chaim Weitzmann. Gloria’s father had to convince him to meet with him. Hashem, please help, I davened.
There was a silence and then Mr. Jacobson’s voice. “Harry, look at that statue you have of Andrew Jackson. He’s your lifetime hero. Well, I have a hero, too, Harry. It’s Chaim Weitzmann. He’s an old man and he’s traveled across the world to see you, and you won’t see him. You know he has nothing to do with those people who weren’t nice to you. Harry, I’m talking to you on behalf of my people. My people have been through so much and lost so much. We need a Jewish homeland. Won’t you meet with Mr. Weitzman?”
My mentor had stopped talking and was listening intently, too.
There was a long silence. Then suddenly, we heard President Truman yell. “Okay, you bald-headed, impossible friend. I’ll meet with him.”
“Baruch Hashem,” I whispered.
To be continued…
Susie Garber is the author of Secrets in Disguise (Menucha Publishers 2020), Denver Dreams (a novel, Jerusalem Publications, 2009), Memorable Characters…Magnificent Stories (Scholastic, 2002), Befriend (Menucha Publishers, 2013), The Road Less Traveled (Feldheim, 2015), fiction serials, and features in various magazines, including A Bridge in Time, historical fiction serial (Binyan Magazine, 2017). Fiction serial in The Jewish Press – Falling Star (2019), article in the Winter 2019 Jewish Action Magazine. She contributes to the community column for the Queens Jewish Link and writes freelance for Hamodia. She works as a writing consultant in many yeshivos and teaches creative writing to students of all ages.