Monday, October 21, 2019

One night last week, I went to three close family weddings. They all took place in the same Brooklyn neighborhood so at least I did not have to spend any time on the highway. Usually, when a close cousin is marrying off a child, I try to participate fully. Even if I do not get there in time for the Chuppah, I stay for the meal and the dancing. I enjoy socializing with my siblings and my cousins and meeting friends and acquaintances. I happen to be close to all three cousins who were celebrating grandchildren’s weddings, but I did have to divide my night.

I got to my first “stop” while they were still serving the meal. I sat down near my cousin and schmoozed a bit with her, apologizing for my short stay. After wishing mazel tov to the family and looking for and finding my granddaughter, I left. The same scenario repeated itself twice more. At one wedding I happened to meet my sister, who was talking to my cousin, the grandmother. On the way in to one of the halls, I met a dear friend who I had not seen in a while, and whom I recently had tried to reach. So the night passed: socializing, yet not really socializing.

As I got into the car, I remarked to my husband that although I did not really enjoy myself at any one wedding, the night still meant a lot to me. In our family alone, three couples are building Jewish homes. Isn’t this the best revenge against Hitler?

Think about it. Most of these chatanim and kallahs are descendants of people who survived the Holocaust in one way or another. One spent the war years in a concentration camp, returning with a souvenir number etched onto his arm, another suffered deep in Siberia, a third was hidden in an attic or cellar. Each survivor has his own tale of how he outlived the enemy. Now, look at how with each Jewish wedding the golden chain is being fortified.

My mother, z”l, once told me that in the early years in America (the early 1950s) she once called an aunt on Motzei Simchat Torah to wish her a good year. Her aunt asked her hopefully, “Hust du epes a chasuna dem vinter? Do you have any weddings to attend this winter? Contrast that to today’s proliferation of Jewish simchas.”

So when the mailman brings wedding invitations, open them with joy and anticipation.  And if for some reason, you can’t attend, pick up a pen and paper (what’s that?), or a phone, and wish the family a hearty mazel tov.

At my son’s aufruf I was sitting next to my mother, z”l. The children, as children are wont to do, were running around and making a bit of noise. It annoyed one of the guests, and she expressed her dissatisfaction as to how today’s children are raised. My mother, in her inimitable way, told this woman that during the war when she was working in the gold mines in Siberia she did not dream that she would ever get out of there, that she would get married and raise a family, and that one day she would be sitting at her own grandson’s aufruf. In those days, one dreamt of a piece of bread to still the gnawing hunger, a warm coat to protect against the bitter cold, and a bit of rest from the backbreaking work. To her, every smile, every laughter of a child is extremely heartwarming.

May Hashem bless us all with many simchas, and may the only reason for not attending someone’s simcha be another conflicting simcha.

By P. Samuels

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