Esor Ben-Sorek

A Memory of Joy and Sorrow

Today is the 59th year since I was led to the chuppah for my marriage at Olamei Gil on Gordon Street in Tel-Aviv. (It now houses the Nigerian Embassy).  The officiant, Rabbi Ravitz, president of the supreme religious court, embraced me warmly with a “mazal tov” greeting of congratulations.

At four o’clock in the afternoon of that January 24, 1960, my gorgeous bride stood next to me under the chuppah. I placed a ring on her finger and recited the “harai at” blessing… by this ring you are sanctified to me as my wife according to the law of Moses and Israel.

My foot smashed heavily on a glass recalling the destruction of our holy Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE and it was at that moment I was permitted to give my new bride the first kiss.

Prior to our wedding, Rahel had been employed at the HAARETZ daily newspaper. Many of the staff and an editor were guests at our wedding together with professors and two foreign diplomats.  HAARETZ wrote the story of our first meeting on board an Israeli ship in Naples, Italy and followed the events which led to our marriage after only a 6 day courtship.

It was, for me, the happiest day of my life. A 26 year old groom and a 24 year old bride were joined in holy matrimony which lasted for 56 years until her tragic death in 2016.

Last night I took her wedding photo in a frame to my bed and kissed her photo dressed in a lovely white wedding gown. And I cried.  I cried for the memory of our joyful wedding and I cried for the bitter memory of her death.

At four o’clock in the morning unable to sleep, with her photo still in my hands, I got up from the bed and went in search of our wedding album with the many dozens of photos of us and our many wedding guests. I read again the many telegrams we received and I read again the newspaper story of the wedding.

Every picture, every piece of paper brought back treasured memories of the long-ago past… a past which I am not able to forget, a past which has been my present and will be my future until I am joined by her side.

We honey-mooned in Eilat which in 1960 had no hotels, only a few guest houses which rented rooms. We walked along the sandy shore, threw pebbles into the Red Sea, laughed, held hands and sang as we walked.  When we heard birds chirping I said to Rahel “the birds are singing to us” and she replied with a laugh “well, if they are singing, they are off tune”.  Still today I miss her humor.

January 24, 1960….a day of joy and immense gladness.   January 24, 2019…. A day of tears and sorrow.

Before my daughter left for her office this morning I asked her what I should make for supper for us.

“Reservations”, she replied. “I’m taking you out to dinner. It’s a special occasion… a very special day”.

I did not want to go out for dinner. It was not for me a day of celebration. Rather, it is a day of commemoration, of bringing so many memories back to my mind.

Without the love and support of my three wonderful children I would not have been able to survive the past three years since Rahel’s death.

They have been a blessing to me and they chastise me whenever they see me or hear me sinking into despair. They keep me alive.  For what, I do not know. At my age I cannot be of much use.

Nevertheless since they really do want me to “hang around” for more years, I have no alternative.

Joys come and go. Sorrow lingers and remains forever.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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