I know I promised a year in reflection of marriage but sometimes life happens and that takes precedence.
This morning I, along with 300 members of my community, attended the funeral of yet another survivor who made a great impact on his Jewish community after the war, and next Sunday is the stone-setting for another such man. These two men are but two in a long line of amazingly inspiring individuals who were able to find meaning in their lives after the Shoah (Holocaust) and who passed that along to others. Their funerals were both filled with people whom the family never knew, but who knew these great men as our lives had been touched by their stories, smiles, and lessons. While every time a survivor dies, we lose a part of the living legacy of the Shoah, it gives us one last chance to hear their story and cherish their memory, so I would like to take a moment to do that now.
Mr. K had a unique outlook on his story; he didn’t view his time in the Shoah as the most important part to tell, but rather as one part of the bigger picture of his life. He grew up in Poland, attending Jewish schools and surrounded by a Jewish community, as such he was quickly and drastically affected by the war. His whole family perished in the camps, like so many other survivors. What made Mr. K stand out was that he sought to immediately build a new life cherishing his family even more because of it. He was married for 64 years to a fellow survivor whom he knew just ten days before the wedding. They spent their first years of marriage in a displaced persons camp in Berlin, as Poland was still too unsafe after the war, and had their first child there. As soon as they were able, they came to some cousins in America and Mr. K worked very hard to build a new life here where he would always be able to provide for his family. He had three children and three grandchildren, who were the light of his life.
Today, I sat in the sanctuary of our synagogue, our home away from home, our cherished place, and cried. I was amazed by the outpouring of love and support from everyone who was present, and everyone who spoke. Everyone spoke of his dedication to his family and synagogue, his love of gardening, and his amazing pickles. No one spoke of his time in the Shoah, but for what it did to his love of family and how that guided his adult life. It provided a different outlook on how we think of and remember our beloved survivors as so much more than that.
Zichron livracha, may his memory always be for a blessing.