Life Doesn't Fit in a File Folder Summer Writing Life

Rivki’s Old Fashioned Letter

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 11.45.22 AM

Y’all, I’ve forwarded another stunning letter to my son in summer camp in the Write My Kid an Old-Fashioned Letter” Contest!

This one comes from Rivki Silver of Life in the Married Lane.

Rivki blogs about being a mother, a wife, a woman, a musician, a friend, a writer. An observant Jew, Rivki combines the big stuff (religion, ethics, personal development) and the little stuff (laundry, dishes, meal planning). Because that’s the challenge, right? Making meaning amidst the mundanity.

In addition to being a wife and mother, Rivki is also a musician. She plays the piano and the clarinet — maybe other instruments, too.

I’m telling you, that Rivki is so clever!

She integrated her love for music into her letter.


One side of her letter features the Yiddish folk song “Tumbalaika”; the other side, her handwritten letter to my boychik! Here’s an excerpt:

The song I included here is one of my favorite Yiddish songs. The gist of it is that there’s a boy who asks a girl a number of riddles:

  1. What can grow without rain?
  2. What can burn & never end?
  3. What can yearn, cry without tears?

The girl responds:

“Silly boy! Why do you have to ask?”

  1. A stone can grow without rain
  2. Love can burn and never end
  3. A heart can yearn, cry without tears.

Now I don’t know about the whole “growing stone” thing. If you have insight into that, I’d welcome your input. Also, I don’t know why the girl was so sassy in her response; they seem like reasonable riddles to me. My suspicion is that the girl has a crush on the boy & that’s why she was being a little rude. I don’t know if you’ve discovered that yet. Girls don’t always make the most sense (even to ourselves, sometimes) buit we’re great anyways! Keeps life interesting, right?

In her letter, Rivki not only teaches my son about the balalaika (a traditional Russian instrument with 13 strings), she also gives him some cool lyrics to think about and she aplies them to his life as a teenager!

And just when you think it can’t get any better, it does. Rivki included artwork from her children! Oh yes, this letter is a treat for anyone who loves the arts! Check out piece #1.

I call this “Ladybug, Stars, Scribble Scrabble People”

Somehow Rivki remembered Tech will be celebrating his birthday in August, while he is away at camp, and she got her little guy to make my son a birthday card in advance! Look how hard her little guy worked to make all those 14’s! That’s a labor of love.

I call this one “Fantastic 14 & Falling Bananas.”

So you’re probably thinking, that has to be everything, right?

But it’s not.

Rivki included another letter.

This one was written to me.

I won’t share her words here, but I will say that I pressed the pretty lavender card against my cheek before I ever read it. And I sighed aloud — several times — alone, to myself, in the room as I read her words, and I promise I felt a bit of Rivki’s spirit being transmitted right through the ink.

Because that’s the way it’s been.

Reading everyone’s handwritten words has been a profoundly personal experience for me. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this eventually.

For now, I’ll just express my gratitude to Rivki by adding these few sentences. If you’re trying to get organized, trying to figure out what to feed your children, if you’re a lover of music, or if if you’ve someone interested in reading one woman’s views about Orthodox Judaism, consider subscribing to Rivki’s blog. Her posts are so beautifully crafted.

Just like her letter to my son.

• • •

To see other posts in this series read letters from:


Stuart Sheldon

Misty’s Law’s

tweet me @rasjacobson

16 thoughts on “Rivki’s Old Fashioned Letter

  1. i hope Tech is enjoying the letters as much as we are……and as much as we did when we wrote them! Take care and the days of summer are flying away! Yikes

    1. Hi Clay! Oh, I KNOW he’s loving them! He told me so on Visitor’s Day! I told him there are more coming! I forwarded yours right before we came down to Florida: I’m guessing he went bonkers o we it! Stay tuned: a post on your letter is coming up soon!

  2. This was the best thing to see this morning, since I’m feeling pretty crummy. I love the names you gave to my kids’ artwork. Ha! And thank you for the sweet, sweet words. I am so happy that we’re connected! Yay!

    1. Rivki! First, I hoped you were feeling better by now. I know how miserable it is to have all 4 wisdom teeth removed. I hope you are getting done help. Ask! I know people will help you!

      Second, thank you. Your letter to Tech? Amazing. Duh. But your letter to me? Le sigh. I so enjoyed reason your words to me. For a moment I felt like I was back in summer camp, connecting with an old friend.

      Wishing you a hasty recovery!
      xo RASJ

      1. My teeth areas are feeling pretty okay, but I was just feeling queasy this morning, which is NO FUN. But, thank God, my Dad is here to help, and my amazing friends and neighbors have been supplying us with dinner.

        I really enjoyed writing that letter to you. I am so glad that I participated in that Chanukah Hoopla way back when, and that we kept up with each other. We are totally the adult version of summer camp friends.

        Thanks for the kind wishes! Amen! I hope I’ll be more mobile by tomorrow!

        1. You’re so right! We ARE the adult version if summer camp friends. Maybe one day we can “cross over” and meet for reals. (Isn’t that what the kids say? Okay, we don’t have to say that.)

          Queasy you say? What’s that now? Could you be preggers? Is it possible? LOL. Queasy on top of wisdom teeth (on top of mustache references)? This is shaping up to be a character building week. Feel better soon. Glad to know people are taking care of you!

          1. Haha, I am definitely not pregnant! The queasiness could maybe be coming from my fear of developing dry socket, or my allergies, or the whole moving-into-a-house-where-is-anything scenario playing out at home. Or maybe it’s just the mustache reference. Kids!

            I would love to cross over (or whatever it’s called). But I’m not coming to Rochester in the winter. Uh-huh no way. I don’t have a sleeping bag coat. 😉

  3. Cool! I don’t know the song, but it seems she made a great life lesson out of it: girls don’t always make sense, not even to ourselves!!! Haha, classic and true 🙂

    1. Great right? And your letter should be in the boy’s hands by now. Assuming the ponies and the snails are sill working. Because those are the creatures that deliver the mail to and from camp. Or so it seems. Seriously. So slow. Gah!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop