In a few moments we will leave for our grandson Benji’s “l’chaim”, known in English as an engagement party. We are thrilled and excited that this beautiful young couple has found each other and is ready to build a bayit n’aman b’Yisrael, a pleasant home in Israel……or Massachusetts as it turns out! Whatever the location, the home will be seriously Jewish, for which we are seriously happy, knowing full well the statistics we Jews in America confront.
Benji and Erica are supposedly young, at least in today’s frame of mind. At 22 can they be ready for the giant step called marriage? I say, “indeed” or, “yes they are”…….after all, my longstanding date has been my husband since 1960 when I was 20 and he 22. In those ancient days no one at all thought we were too young. We were just at the right age as it turned out since, now, at our current less than tender ages, we are great-grandparents. Had we followed the typical course of many of today’s brides and grooms we might be now attending the first of the Bar Mitzvahs of our grandchildren, despairing of ever seeing the greats. Not to have known Noam and Itai and, hopefully, many more, would have been very sad.
But, Benji and Erica have so much in common besides their ages and Yiddishkeit. To me they look like a matched pair, a set of gloves, that fit together seamlessly. They’re both beautiful, strikingly tall and slender. They’re also peaceful people, unlike the more challenging me! In all the years I’ve known Benji, 22 to be exact, I don’t recall his ever losing his cool and having a meltdown, something his maternal grandmother does with regularity! He’s very smart, of course, but he’s also very very nice. And Erica, again, she’s the perfect woman, calm, unassuming, friendly, also very smart, and warm warm warm. We felt at home with her immediately. She’s just totally lovely. I can’t fathom how I was involved in the production of such nice people! Maybe I’ll learn from them.
I remember the party where we celebrated our own engagement. My mother, the talented Ida, was the caterer. No spread of delicious food I have ever seen surpassed Mom’s efforts. Nothing was just plopped down. Everything was professional looking and delicious, and, of course, there was way more than enough. We have home movies of that event which seems to have been filmed yesterday! I wore a beautiful dress, a few sizes smaller than anything I could wear today. And all of the ghosts of my childhood were there, alive, well and happy. I only hope that they can still rejoice with us from “olam ha ba” at Benji and Erica’s special day. How strange it would be to show that 8mm home movie to my children. All those who came before them would have to be identified. Aside from my sister and the two of us, I can think of no one they would recognize. Life is a river I guess, always running away from us, and taking our relationships along with it.
All those who came before us would surely celebrate with Benji and Erica who are creating a home in the same spirit in which they created their own homes so many years ago. Aunts and uncles, grandparents, family friends, great-aunts and great-uncles, a collection of the people who were part of our lives and who we remember now, on this auspicious day.
What I wish for Benji and Erica is a life filled with blessings and Yiddishkeit, a home filled with healthy children and a lifelong connection to their siblings on both sides, and to their parents, the wonderful and amazing Amy and Mark, and the wonderful and amazing Carolyn and Robert. May seders overflow and Thanksgiving pack the house. May family always be on speed-dial. No matter where life takes them, may they always know their roots and their routes.
And I say L’chaim!