The Story of Menachem

A beautiful friendship, with Hebrew lessons and exciting stories about Mitchell Raff’s life.

By Liora

Around July 2015, a guy named Mitchell called me and said he wanted to learn Hebrew.

He asked how much I paid for the lesson, and I said $100 an hour. He wondered how much it was for two hours, and I said $200. Later, he will say that it made him laugh.

He arrived on August 6, 2015. He's a nice guy in his mid-fifties. We started chatting, and suddenly, the guy spoke in Hebrew! I was surprised and asked why I wanted to learn Hebrew. He said that even though he was in Israel in the army, it was difficult for him to read and even more challenging to write.

So began a beautiful friendship, with Hebrew lessons and exciting stories about his life. Over time, we also went out for friendly meals, and the lovely relationship deepened.

I don't remember exactly when I told him he should write a book because he has a fascinating life story. He grinned and said he didn't remember how often he had heard this sentence. I told him that his story was unique, and if he didn't want to write it for himself, he should write it and dedicate it to his son, who was in prison at the time.

This sentence must have awakened some emotion in him. I told him I was ready to record him from a video recorder. Menachem decided it was a good idea to write his life story for his son and began the project.

Menachem's memory is terrific. He remembered things from the age of 4. He threw himself into this project with all his might and sought editors and consultants to help him.

In November of 2023, I was invited to dinner with him and Marie at a favorite restaurant of mine.

I was surprised. I thought he probably wanted to invite me to his wedding with Marie or that he was already married.

I arrived first at the restaurant, and when I was asked the guest's name, I said Raff (his last name), and the waiter said, Marie Raff? I told him. Oh. They got married. Beautiful.

Once they arrived, Menachem said, “Liora, you must have questions." After answering several of my questions, I asked what about the book?

Menachem pulled out his printed book from under the table like a magician. Wow! A comforting congratulations! After six years, the book was published.

Mitchell Raff reading his memoir to Liora at her house.

Comforting, I said. You know I have no patience for reading in English. There is no way I will read your book; if I do, it will take me a lot of time. I'm sorry. If you want me to read it, you must come and read it to me.

Menachem answered that he would gladly come!

For the past few weeks, Menachem has come to read his fascinating book to me once a week. I enjoyed seeing his investment perfected in such a beautiful, sound, and immersive way.

The book is excellently written. It is not dull, engaging, and full of events in Menachem's exciting life.

Last Thursday, Menachem read the final chapter at my home. I told Menachem that I was telling my friends about his book and the progression of my acquaintance with him to this day. Everyone was amazed by the story, especially by the fact that the writer himself was reading it to me. Then, I decided to write this little story that sums up this exciting adventure.

In conclusion, I forgot to mention that Menachem wrote a dedication to me in the book he gave me. Initially, he writes that this book would not have been written if it weren't for Liora.

"If not Liora, then who?"

He wrote this saying by Rabbi Hillel. Which I taught Menachem, who said, If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? “Menachem was very attached to this sentence and uses it today.

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