My name Fradella is pronounced with a short U sound, Frudella. There is this boy that I see and think that perhaps we will marry someday. I want a big wedding in B’nei Brak. The reason I want a wedding in B’nei Brak is because we can have musical instruments, a band playing songs during the wedding meal. In Jerusalem, since the destruction of the Temple, many Jews do not play musical instruments at their weddings. They only have wedding singers.
My brother wants to be a wedding singer and play in a band when he gets older. The principal of his Cheder (school) doesn’t think that he should study an instrument until he reads better. My Bubie says that maybe learning to play an instrument will help him to read better. Who knows who is right? For now, my parents are listening to the principal.
Girls my age talk about getting married some day and having many children. I also do but my Bubie has written some stories which make me think that maybe there might be other things that I want to do too. Here is one of those stories….
One morning Sura woke up and she was a grown girl ready to go out and decide what she wanted to do with her life. There were so many choices that she didn’t know where to begin. What should she be? What did she want in her life? She knew that she could be many things, among them she wanted to get married and have children, but she also wanted more.
So she got dressed, put on a pretty dress with flowers and blue and white shoes and left the house. She walked up the street and there stood an old woman who appeared to be waiting for her. “Hello Sura”, she said, when Sura reached her. “I have some things to show you today, come and walk with me”.
Sura thought it was a little strange that this woman was waiting for her and even stranger that she knew her name and wanted her to walk with her. She wasn’t afraid but she knew that her parents didn’t like for her to talk to strangers so, she thought that she would walk with her outside but not go inside to any place with her, unless there were a lot of people there.
So Sura and the old woman began to walk. “How do you know my name?” asked Sura. “I have known you for many years”, responded the old woman. “I have watched you grow and learn and now it is time for me to help you in the next stage of your life”. “What do you mean?” asked Sura. “You will see”, said the old woman.
They came to the end of a block, near a park where children were playing. “Look over there”, said the old woman. As Sura began to look she saw herself, helping a little boy who had fallen off of the slide. He was crying and holding his arm. Sura had some bandages in her hands and was wrapping the little boy’s arm. His mother asked her, “Will my son’s arm heal? Is it badly broken, doctor?” Sura responded, “Your son’s arm will heal but it will take a few weeks. This cast will help him to keep from moving it and the bone should be even stronger than it is now when we take the cast off.” “Thank you Doctor Sura”, the mommy said.
Sura turned to the older woman and asked, “Is that me, doctor Sura?” “If that is who you want to be you can go to school and learn to become a doctor to help heal people”, said the old woman. “Come, let’s walk some more”.
So Sura and the old woman continued to walk until they came to the place where the train stop was and then the old woman told Sura to sit and rest and look down the street where the train was. Sura began to look and she saw herself talking to someone who was fixing the track of the train. “You need to connect all of these tracks carefully”, said Sura, “so that there will be no accidents and no one will get hurt”. “You are right”, said the worker. “Thank you Sura for coming from your office, where you help to make all the plans for how to build our city, to help us with the trains today.”
“What am I doing there?” asked Sura of the old woman. “You are a city planner and you are helping the people who fix the train to make sure that it is safe. You are in charge of making sure that all the places where they build in the city are safe for people so that no one will get hurt.” “Can I do this job?” asked Sura. “Of course you can. It means that you will have to learn in school about building and safety and even the law; but you are very smart Sura and you could learn all of those things and prevent many people from getting hurt. Let’s start walking again”.
Next Sura and the old woman stopped at a building that said on it, “Museum”. The old woman told Sura that she wanted to take her into the museum to see many beautiful art pieces and lots of coins and paintings. They went in with many other people who were visiting the museum that day and walked around and saw beautiful things that people from many generations had made. In one room they sat down on a bench and once again the old woman told Sura to look ahead.
There Sura saw herself painting a beautiful picture and there were many people watching her as she painted. One person approached her and said, “Sura, you are such an amazing artist! I wish that you would paint a picture for my house.” Sura looked at the man and said, “I would love to paint a picture for your house. I love to paint nature and the entire beautiful world that Hashem (God) created. I also love to teach students about art and the history of painting and pictures in our world. There are many talented people now and in the past who painted a story with pictures.” “I am an artist, a painter?” Sura asked the old woman. “Sura, you can be an artist if you want. Let’s keep walking”.
They ate some lunch in the museum and then the old woman said to Sura, “We have two more places to go to today. The first is the National Library which has thousands and thousands of books. Come let’s take the bus and go.” So off they went to the National Library. When they entered and began to walk around, Sura could not believe how many books she saw in some of the rooms; rows and rows, stacks and stacks, wall to wall, floor to ceiling with only books. “Where did all of these books come from?” she asked. “These are books that over many hundreds of years people wrote. Some are story books; some are books about history, or about how to make things, or about the lives of people from different places and their beliefs, cultures and holidays”, said the old woman. “Look over there”, she said to Sura.
Sura looked ahead and she saw herself reading a book out loud to a group of young people. One of the young people said, “Sura, tell us more. We love your stories. When will you write more stories that we can read?” Sura answered them, “I try to write a story every week, but it is a lot of work to write a new story. You can read my old stories again until I write some new stories. There is always something new you can learn from reading a story more than once!”
“That is me, reading my book of stories to young people? I am an author who writes books?” Sura asked the old woman. “Sura” she said, “You are very smart and you can be whatever and whoever you want to be now that you are a grown girl. You have to go to school and decide what you want to study and then you can be any one of the things that you saw yourself doing today”. “Wow”, said Sura. “Is there anymore?” “Yes, for today there is one more place I want to show you.”
Sura and the old woman left the library and walked back to Sura’s neighborhood. There they saw many people walking in the streets and buying things in the store. The old woman looked at Sura and said, “Sura, you are very smart and you can be anything that you want to be, even more than I showed you today. But, in addition to any of the things you saw yourself being today, you can also be- Look ahead.”
Sura looked ahead and saw herself in the street with a stroller and three little kids following her. She was shopping for Shabbat with her children. After her work, as a doctor or a city planner or an artist or a writer, she would come home to be with her children and husband and tell them stories at dinner time about her workday.
She saw herself with her family at the kitchen table talking about the little boy who broke his arm that she fixed, or the train worker whom she helped put the track down correctly so no one would get hurt, or the latest painting that she painted for someone’s house or the museum or the latest story that she was writing. Her family loved her stories and asked her all kinds of questions about what she did that day.
Then her husband told about his day and each of the children, if they were old enough to talk would tell about their day. Every night the family would sit down for dinner and tell each other about what they did during the day and what they learned. It is important to learn something new every day of your life and it is important to share what you learn with the people whom you love, every day of your life.
By the time Sura saw this last scene with herself and her family, it was nighttime and she had to go back home. In the morning she would have to think about what school she wanted to go to and learn to become one of the “Suras” that the old woman had shown her that day. When she turned around to thank the old woman for spending a wonderful day with her, the woman was gone. She had disappeared! “Where could she have gone?” thought Sura. “She is an old woman and can’t walk that fast!”
Then Sura realized that this was not a regular old woman. This was someone very special. She had told her that she had been watching Sura since she was a little girl. Sura remembered hearing a story about how Hashem has an angel for everything and everyone, even a blade of grass that grows on the ground. The angel whispers to each blade of grass, every day, “grow, grow, grow”. So if Hashem creates an angel for every blade of grass, of course for every person there must also be an angel who whispers into their ear, every day of their lives, “grow, grow, grow”. “Perhaps the old woman was my angel”, thought Sura and she came to me to tell me, “Sura, grow, grow, grow; you can be whatever you want if you work hard and don’t give up. Keep reading; keep learning languages, keep being a good person and you will grow to make the world a better place than it is now.”
So that is what Sura decided to do, to grow, to learn, to work hard in school and to try her best to be a good and kind person. She was already smart, but she knew that to make the world a better place it wasn’t enough to be smart, you had to work hard every day and to learn something new every day and to try to do a good deed (chesed) every day and that was the message the old woman, Sura’s angel, had brought to her, “Grow Sura, Grow”.