The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 22 May 2004 / 2 Sivan 5764

"Give Me Back My Son!"

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

This outcry from Leah Aks came as she saw a woman approaching her on the deck of the ship "Carpathian" carrying an infant. Both of these women were among the 750 survivors of the "Titanic" shipwreck in April 1912, which claimed the lives of 1500 people. They had been picked up from lifeboats to which women and children had been given first access.

One male passenger on that ill-fated ship had become so incensed by the crew refusing him entry to the lifeboats that he seized Leahs baby and threw it overboard, yelling "Women and children first, eh?"

A despondent Leah had to be forced into a lifeboat when her turn came. She had virtually given up on ever seeing her Efraim Fishel again and now that she finally saw him she encountered resistance from the woman holding him and insisting that it was her child. The commotion arising from their argument brought the captain of the ship aboard. He summoned them to his quarters and listened to the impassioned stories of two women who had been separated from their babies.

Then came an inspiration to Leah. "I can prove that Im right," she cried. "Since Im Jewish, if the baby is mine it would be circumcised."

Leah got the baby back and came to the United States with him. A Jewish baby was thus saved both in body and soul and went on to be blessed with many children and grandchildren.

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