Our wonderful son had finally decided to get married at the not so tender age of 37. We had already fallen madly in love with Neta, his future wife, who is a warm, intelligent, kind and beautiful woman. Of course, we eagerly looked forward to meeting the parents, since there was no doubt such a girl could only have the finest family.
We were right! But surprisingly, our getting-to-know one another conversations led to much reflection and perhaps even some awe and wonderment at the workings of our world.
There were the usual conversations as we each sang the praises of our offspring. We talked about our families and our careers. We talked about our interests and our backgrounds. And then we talked about our roots.
Walking along a Tel Aviv street, Diti, my future in-law, asked me where my family was from. Though my mother was born in Brooklyn, NY, I knew that her parents had come from Poland. Her father had lived in Augustow before emigrating to the US in the early 20th century. Diti then turned to her husband who was talking to my husband and asked him where his family had come from. Augustow!
There were no more than 3000 Jews living in Augustow at the time. Today all that remains is a monument to the Jews of Augustow who were annihilated by the Nazis. But, I try to imagine pre-WWI life in this beautiful town in the northeastern part of Poland, when both our families lived in Augustow.
Perhaps our families knew one another. Were they neighbors, for surely the Jews lived near one another? Were they friends? Did their children go to school together? Did they meet socially? Did they meet at shul or at the neighborhood grocery? Could there have been an unfulfilled love between members of the two families? Both families eventually left Augustow. My family went to the US while Neta’s family moved to another town in Poland before coming to Israel.
More than 100 years elapsed and then here in Israel, these two families came together, maybe for the first time, but maybe not. Maybe our children are living the love that their ancestors couldn’t have. Then again, maybe not. We will never know. But as I spend time with Neta and Ilan, here in Herzliya, I can only be thankful that that century old romance never came to fruition. For today we are blessed with the beautiful love of Ilan and Neta and the family that they have built here in Herzliya, so far away from Augustow, Poland.