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Life as a Jew in Lithuania in 1898 is difficult enough, but Hannah flaunts the traditions of her religion bringing shame on herself and her family
Living in a small town in Lithiania, Hannah has loved Gershon, the Rabbi's son all her life. When their marriage is arranged, instead of happiness she fears becoming the wife of the future Rabbi and refused to cut her beautiful, long, dark curls. The engagement is broken to the shame of her family. Under the oppression of the Russian Czar, Jews live in danger every minute in the face of ever-changing laws, attacks from the Cossacks, and conscription of young boys into the Russian army. Living in shame and fear propels Hannah into agreeing to leave Lithuania to save her two young brother from conscription. On their harrowing journey across the world, Hannah again finds love, but will it endure and will she be acceptable to this charming flutist?
A few minutes later, the family stood in the parlor, as if posing for a portrait: The Levin Family Awaiting The Arrival of The Matchmaker. Hannah stifled a giggle when she heard the knocking. Samuel opened the front door to welcome the most feared and powerful woman in the village, the matchmaker.
Malka Osterman nodded to Samuel, "Good Shabbos, Cantor, Bella, children. So kind of you to invite a poor widow to dinner."
Hannah watched Rifka's face as her sister bit her lip to keep from saying anything. Hannah knew just what she was thinking, "As if we have any choice."
Froy Osterman found a victim who hadn't moved fast enough, reached out and pinched Dov's cheek. "Such a fine boy." Then she turned toward Mordecai but he ducked away and Rifka edged behind Bella.
"Ah, there you are, Hannelah," Malka Osterman said stridently. She descended on her and planted a wet kiss on each cheek. Hannah held her breath. Froy Osterman always reeked of onions. "Shaineh maidel, beautiful girl! Samuel, you have the two most beautiful girls in the whole of Lithuania, like day and like night."
Malka's apple-round figure bounced with enthusiasm. She always wore black since her husband, Chaim passed on. Hannah thought irreverently that is was probably to get away from her voice and her breath.