It began on an Israeli ship in Italian waters nearing the port of Naples. A lovely young lady had just returned on deck from her short visit to the famous Italian city. I met her as she took a comfortable seat on deck and we began a pleasant conversation. I invited her to join me in the dining room for the evening meal. The first course was chopped liver on a bed of green lettuce.
Neither she nor I ate the liver as a reminder that our mothers both taught us to avoid chopped liver outside of the home as it can spoil easily. At once we both smiled and knew that we had something in common to share.
We came from different backgrounds and had different educations but in spite of our differences we seemed to have much in common, especially our relationship to our parents.
A day later our ship arrived at the French port of Marseilles and from there we took the boat train to Paris. Having studied for my doctorate in the French city of Poitiers I had some familiarity with central Paris and I invited her to join me in a brief tour of the highlights of the magnificent city of lights.
We found a charming kosher restaurant in the center of the city and we enjoyed a tasty lunch while sharing our thoughts about touring together.
Walking through the streets of Malmaison we both popped in and out of charming shops enjoying the products but buying little. I saved my shopping for Aux Printemps, a very popular and famous department store. She preferred the glorious merchandise at Galleries Lafayette. Together we enjoyed the delights of Paris.
On the next day she informed me that tomorrow she would be leaving France on a boat train to London. I bought her a large box of chocolates tied with a long blue ribbon which I gave her the next day and she was delighted with my thoughtfulness. We talked for several hours and she spoke about her plans for London. She shared her travel plans with me and she was excited about them.
I met her at the Gare du Nord early the next day and we spent a few hours together before she boarded the London-bound train. After she left, I went to the cafe in the terminal and ordered a cup of strong hot espresso coffee.
But I found it difficult to drink and as I sipped I felt tears falling from my eyes. At that moment I knew that I had fallen in love with her. It was a case of love at first sight and it overwhelmed me. I left the terminal and hastened back to my hotel. There I threw myself upon my bed and cried. The separation from her caused me much pain and I wondered if we would ever meet again.
Fortunately I remembered her travel plans and the name of the ship which would carry her to her destination. At my hotel I wrote 14 postal cards addressed to her and I mailed all of them at the same time. Later she told me that when she arrived in her cabin on the ship she found all 14 cards posted up on the mirror in her cabin. She later told me how much she had been overwhelmed and impressed.
The separation from her caused me deep sorrow and I longed to see her again. But when and how?
A week later I began my return travel to the USA and when I finally arrived I informed her in a new series of letters. Not postal cards but long letters sealed with my love. In one letter I told her how much I loved her and I asked her if she would consider honoring me by becoming my wife.
A few weeks later I received her reply. She too had the same feelings for me and she agreed to become my wife. The question was: where and when will our marriage take place. Days later her reply came and she suggested that our marriage should be in Israel, her birthplace and her family home.
At the time I was a professor of a large major university and the dean gave me a two-week leave for me to fly to Israel for our marriage.
She and her mother had made the required arrangements and we were married by one of Israel’s most renowned rabbis. Our honeymoon was in the delightful southern city of Eilat and we spent several glorious days enjoying the environs.
After two weeks I had to return to the USA while she had to wait for an American visa from the Embassy in Tel Aviv.
One long month later, a frustrating month, her visa was stamped into her Israeli passport and shortly thereafter I met her at the New York airport with many hugs and kisses.
A day or two of sight-seeing later we took the train to Boston where my father waited for us at the train-station carrying a large bouquet of red and white roses as a welcome gift to his new daughter-in-law.
After a light supper which my mother had prepared she and I moved into our new apartment which had two beds but no other furniture. That waited for us to do the shopping for our new furnishings.
We had discussed family plans and she was anxious to become the mother of our first child, a beautiful baby girl born one year after our marriage. Our first baby was followed by a second one and then by a third and we rejoiced with our growing young family.
I was very busy with my position as university professor of Hebrew language and literature and Rahel was fully occupied with our household and young children.
Several years later we moved from Boston into a glorious community on New York’s Long Island, a community which brought both of us and our three children immense pleasure and happiness
Rahel and I lived together in great love and respect until her tragic death 56 years later. I have never adjusted to her death and each day for me is a day of mourning for the greatest light of my life.
My three children, three grandchildren and young great-grandchild bring me immense pleasure and hearts filled with love. One cannot ask for anything better and my daily prayers include long blessings for every one of them.
There is nothing more precious than a loving family. And the one I have is God’s greatest gift and blessing to me.
Approaching my 90th birthday I bless God for each day of life which He has given to me. And I add special prayers for the health, long life, happiness and success for all my family and those dearest to me. May God hear my prayers and may He answer them with love and devotion. Amen. So may it be!