A cold call led us to Mrs. Bernstein, who lives in a seniors' residence. As we walked into the ornately furnished lobby, a familiar hospital odor washed over us. A stooped old woman greeted us and led us, albeit very slowly, to her apartment.

"Sit down boys," she almost commanded us.

There is something awesome about old people. Sitting in the presence of someone more than three times your age commands deference. They talk and reminisce of a world bygone, of a yesteryear not so distant in time, yet so foreign in concept. Listening to their stories is history coming to life.

"What brings two good Jewish boys like you to Mississippi?" she inquired.

"We're part of the Chabad Lubavitch movement - "

"You're Lubavitchers?” she interjected, “My grandparents were Lubavitch!"

"I'm 94 years old," began her fascinating narrative, "I was born in Milwaukee to Russian immigrants. My father immigrated as a youngster; his mother sent him off alone, seeing no future for him as a Jew in Russia. His family never made it out of Russia. They were all killed.

My mother came to Ellis Island as a very little girl with her parents. Their name was Dachevsky. Upon arrival, they changed it to Cohen. They moved to Milwaukee. My grandfather never really adapted to the American culture, and his English, although better than my grandmother's, was never really impressive. Like many Jews back then, my grandfather would peddle wares to make a living. I remember every Shabbat he would walk to the Lubavitch synagogue. I didn't know Lubavitch still exists!"

She spoke of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, inviting us to browse through the pictures and cards they had sent her.

"I am now ready to pass away, knowing that I've done all I can to ensure that my children and their descendants will grow up as proud Jews.”

Walking out of her apartment felt like leaving the cobblestone streets of the shtetl and landing in the modern world. Her life story, a testimonial to Jewish determination and continuity, left us deeply inspired.