I am doing some work on the Judah L. Magnes papers as part of the process of making them accessible in the Bancroft Library. I thought I would share this lovely New Year’s letter that 14-year-old Judah Leon Magnes wrote to his parents.
My Dear Parents,
This letter I post in the letter-box of my conscience, stamped so that it cannot be removed.
I have been, dear parents, as a tree, springing from the ground, having all the grandness with which nature could adorn it, gaining strength and beauty day by day, now dropping a twig, now gaining one, and now in the 14th year of its growth, stronger in sap and bark, but weaker in Godly and Parential beauties, and gradually dropping its beautiful leaves.
At the beginning of the next spring, the tree feels within itself a sudden change: its branches do not begin to droop, but keep on with renewed strength and vigor, the work which its Maker asks it. So do I class myself, dear parents. Reared as I have been, with all worldly goods and pleasures before me, watched and cared for during any moments of grievances with which the Almighty may have showered upon me, and, I have been loving, dear parents, in my own peculiar way, and now is the time that I can realize, what cares and what sufferings you have undergone for your children. The sap of my tree is my tears, with which my eyes overflow, for past ungratefulness, and in the beginning of the New Year. I will try, as my tree has done, to gain new twigs and do the work for which its Maker made it.
I wish you a happy New Year with all my heart, soul, and might and I grant that the Almighty God will give to you and to your children, long life and prosperity.
Your Loving Son,