We have been to four weddings in the past two weeks. Each wedding was special and unique. The grooms seemed to be shocked and excited to see their brides dressed up to the nines and looking like angels. Last night, the brides maternal grandparents were in attendance. Both had been in Auschwitz-Birkena. Thank God, they are in their 90's and doing great! Seeing them at the wedding was particularly meaningful to me. Here were two people who survived an attempt to wipe out their families, communities and religion. What could be a more fitting statement than a family wedding to re-affirm their life. To prove that Nazi Germany failed.
The grandfather grew up in the same town as my paternal grandmother. They spoke Yiddish and Russian. Hebrew was not yet a conversational language. The survivors were productive citizens of their countries. In the 1920's and 30's, many Jews tried to be exemplars of the best that Europe and Germany had to offer. They forsook their own traditions and learning to better integrate with the local culture. Even though (or perhaps because) they were better Germans than the Germans, the Nazis were dedicated to wiping them out.
How special then to be at these weddings, where everyone spoke our own language (Hebrew). Where the bridge and groom were married according to our traditions. Where we danced and sung songs that had nothing to do with Europe and everything to do with Israel and the Jewish people. The survivors were blessed to see their personal redemption with their own eyes. We were blessed to see the Hand of God and to participate in this re-affirmation of our religion, culture and community.