Inga wiped the beads of sweat from her brow as she stood to face the morning sun, whose rays she was just beginning to feel as it rose higher in the sky. Certainly she had never pictured herself as a farmer before, yet here she was, working in the fields of the kibbutz with all the others.
"Are you all right, honey?" Inga's husband Rudy looked at her with concern.
"I'm fine," Inga assured him. Despite the heat of the sun and the tired ache in her muscles at the end of each day, she felt that she had never been happier in her life than she was here, working amongst her husband's people. The horrors of the Nazi concentration camps finally behind them, a new day had dawned for these courageous and determined souls. Inga's children, Josef and Anna, would grow to call this land home.
Seven-year-old Josef was the son of Inga's first husband, Karl, who had been Rudy's older brother. Karl, who had never had a strong constitution, had fallen ill and died in Auschwitz. Inga remembered her gentle, mild-mannered first husband with a bittersweet mixture of warmth and sadness. Sometimes she wondered what life might have held for herself and Karl if the Holocaust had never happened, although she knew that there was no point in dwelling on the past, that there was now a future to concentrate on.
Josef was creative and imaginative, just as his artist father had been. At seven he already showed definite talent. Two-year-old Anna, named for the aunt whom she would never know, was Rudy's daughter. She showed definite traces of her father's bold and adventurous personality, tempered somewhat by Inga's sensitive nature.
With the busy work and the comeradie of her fellow workers, time passed swiftly for Inga, and soon it was time to pick Josef and Anna up from the child care center and go home. Inga felt Rudy's arm encircle her waist and turned to kiss him. Then they left for the child care center hand in hand.
"Hey, Mama, look what I did!" Josef said proudly, showing his latest art project to his mother. It was a painting of the family on vacation at the seashore. He had used a brilliant blue color for the waves and a bright yellow for the sun.
"That's wonderful, honey," Inga told him.
"Daddy!" shouted Anna, running toward Rudy as fast as her little legs could carry her.
"Hi, sweetheart!" Rudy laughed as he picked her up and hugged her. In response, she threw her arms around his neck and cuddled up to him. There was a special place in his heart for this little girl who so reminded him of the younger sister he had so tragically lost.
After the children had gone to bed, Rudy and Inga sat looking up at the stars in the clear night sky.
"Hashem promised Abraham that his descendants would number as many as the stars in the sky and the grains of sand on the beach," Rudy said.
"Sometimes when I look up at the sky at night, I think that I could spend the rest of my life counting stars and still not reach the end," Inga replied. She was lying on her back with her head in Rudy's lap.
"We are building a mighty nation, Inga. One that our children and grandchildren will be proud to belong to. It's a long, hard struggle, but in the end it will all be worth it."
"I'm just so happy to be a part of it, and to be here with you, Rudy. Even though my blood is German, my heart is here with you and your people. I truly feel as if I am one of you."
"I love you so much, Inga," Rudy said softly.
"I love you too," Inga said. Although he couldn't see it in the dark, she was smiling.