My father kept a dark brown leather wallet in the breast pocket of his suit jacket at all times.
This Etui took on the shape of his upper body, slightly curved at the edges.
After he died I found the two photos that were carefully stored in this wallet. Here was my mother as a beautiful, young woman. And the second photo-, a blurry, black and white depiction of the Satmar Rebbe bowing and holding out his arm to King Carol, ruler of Romania before the war.
Whenever my father shared this photo with me, he conveyed a message which would stay with me forever.
I might say that inadvertently, this picture and the reverence my father displayed for the image depicted, guided me on a path through different stages in my life.
It impressed upon me the importance of making the effort and taking the initiative to help the Klal by interceding with the ruling powers.
(My dear brother interprets the photo and our father’s regard for this photo differently. He believes our father was impressed with the respect the King was displaying for the Satmar Rav.)
While I was busy raising our children, it was our local school which demanded my focus and attention. The school became my second home. Planning and running luncheons, banquets and events provided my training in community service.
As our children grew up, thank G-d married and left home, we added political events to our schedule.
We became involved globally in a way that required of us not just financial support, but demanded that we become personally involved.
Recently my husband and I were part of a group of two hundred American Jews on a trip to the Emirates representing AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Their stated mission “…to encourage and persuade the US government to enact specific policies that create a strong, enduring and mutually beneficial relationship with our ally Israel.”
The glittering stage of that part of the world made me feel as if I was costarring in a movie version of Arabian Nights, one of my favorite childhood stories.
We were welcomed to a royal banquet in the kings palace, where superbly trained butlers and staff served us a kosher meal on silver plates. Before the meal I found myself amongst the privileged of the state, who wore their traditional native garb, and my AIPAC friends, who were dressed elegantly for the occasion.
I plucked a black olive from the tiny cracker topped with smoked salmon. The scent of joy and the taste of salmon still lingered on my tongue, when in my mind I saw my father’s precious picture.
My husband and I were soon seated at our assigned table. The king then spoke of his country’s relationship with the United States. Listening to him praise Israel and the Jewish people, I imagined that this was all a dream and any second I would wake up.
But the evening continued. My fine linen napkin felt like silk and I held on to it tightly, throughout the speech of the king.
The halva and Turkish delights melted in my mouth as I inhaled the bouquet of the exotic fruit display in front of me.
The only sound audible was the rustling of fabric on chairs when all present moved forward, towards where the King stood, for a better view.
My thoughts were with Hashem at this moment, begging him to let this peace last forever.
I gazed at the expression of my friends trying to determine if they were as moved as I was at this scene.
And yes, they were.
They too were teary eyed.
I felt a similar sentiment a few weeks later when we were invited to the White House for a Chanukah party.
Picture, cream colored branches carrying flickering lights and hundreds of silver bauble ornaments covering the ceiling of the long hallway leading to the rooms of the White House. Almost like the S’chach in a sukkah.
I reached for a glass of Champagne which was served on a silver plated by an elegant, formally dressed butler.
The buffet was lavish and plentiful, constantly refilled by dozens of servers.
Shushi, chicken cutlets, Sufganiot, latkes and a variety of salads were placed on the buffet.
It was not our first time in the White House for Chanukah dinner, but the awesomeness of the moment struck me exactly the same way as when I had entered these premises for the first time.
I know that my parents of blessed memory figuratively hold my hand when we advocate together with numerous professional organizations on behalf of our Jewish people.
Recently I read I Navi, in the chapter of Divrei Hayamim, what the prophet Nathan revealed to David haMelech. He talked about David’s kingdom which would last forever. He spoke about his son Shlomo who would build the Beth haMigdash which would display splendor upon splendor.
We are at a stage of our lives when we have the honor and privilege of being welcomed into the world of Malchut, of kingdoms and kingship, presidents and their glittering homes, but as a religious Jew await the rebuilding of our Beth haMigdash, speedily in our day!
Till then, I carry my father’s photo in my mind and do what ever I can to help our Jewish nation, knowing that we are lobbing in precarious times.
We Jews were there years ago when Kings received Jewish leaders with respect and honor. Several years later, Hitler came to power and my grandparents and six million Jews were murdered.
With many thanks to the Almighty, we now have the State of Israel. We are no longer dependent on the benevolence of our host country. We have our own country, our own government, our own army. With G-D’s help, Am Israel Chai!
This should instill within us courage and great pride.
And this is why we participate actively in various organizations to stabilize the relationship between our Jewish homeland, America and as many countries as possible. We are doing our ‘Hishtadlut’, lobbying for the safety and security of our beloved Erez Israel.