Sixty Years Ago

On Friday morning, January 22, 1960, Rahel and I walked over to the Tel-Aviv Rabbinical marriage office to sign the formal documents of marriage and to give the required photos to be attached to them.

On the next day, Saturday morning, I was called up to the Torah for my traditional aufruf preceding the marriage in a tiny shtiebel on Shderot Yehudit in the Montefiore district of Tel-Aviv.

It was followed by a delicious Sabbath meal at Rahel’s home on rehov Beit Hillel surrounded by her mother and brother and many aunts, uncles and cousins.
The rabbi who was to perform the wedding ceremony the next day was there to give us his personal blessing.

He had been the family’s rabbi since 1935 and had officiated at all the family weddings in Israel. Additionally he served as the President of the Rabbinical Supreme Court at the time of our marriage.

Early Sunday morning, Rahel and I walked to the jeweler’s to buy our wedding rings and from there to the florist to purchase her bridal bouquet.

Later in the afternoon her uncle Yerachmiel drove us in the only car which anyone in the family had to the wedding hall, Oolamei Gil on rehov Gordon, now housing the Embassy of Nigeria.

Once inside we signed more marriage documents and received the ketuba, the official Hebrew marriage license folded and encased in its container.

I don’t remember the exact time of the ceremony but it was still late daylight. The rabbi brought us out onto the balcony and then returned us into the hall where we were escorted to the chuppah, the wedding canopy bedecked all in white flowers.

I was escorted to the chuppah by my beloved cousin Mordechai Kravetzky and by Rahel’s beloved uncle Chaim Yaakov Katz.

Rahel was escorted by Mordechai’s wife Sarah and by Chaim’s wife Frieda.

After Rabbi Ravitz had read aloud the ketuba and my foot had smashed the glass underneath it recalling the smashing and destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE, all assembled guests shouted out their warm and loud congratulations.

From there, all made their way to long tables where food was served although I have absolutely no recollection of seeing the food nor eating it.

It was our marriage after knowing one another only six (6) days prior to our wedding. It was love at first sight, a love which never diminished over 56 years but grew stronger every day.

Unlike the many modern and lavish weddings of today, ours was very simple. There was no music and no dancing. Only much singing, kissing, embracing and handshakes.

My beautiful new bride and I spent our first night at the luxurious Accadia hotel in Herzliya and we ate our first breakfast on the balcony of our room. Later that morning, we made our way to the airport for our flight to Eilat on the Red Sea, our honeymoon destination.

All that I can remember is the love that Rahel and I had. More than that of our wedding sixty years ago I cannot remember. Almost all the guests at our 1960 wedding are now deceased. Less than ten are still alive.

Binyamin, beloved son of my beloved cousin Mordechai lives in Ramat Hasharon. He was present at our wedding so I will have to ask him for any details he may remember.

All that I do remember every day and cannot nor will not ever forget while I still breathe are the fifty-six magnificent years that my very beloved and sainted wife Rahel and I shared together with our three children Sharona, Eytan and Liora, joined later by our three grandchildren Eliana, Ariel and Michaela.

Rahel adored them and they returned her love abundantly. Her death from pancreatic cancer in 2016 was a tragedy for all of us, one from which I have not recovered and never will.

Had she lived to see the marriage of our grandson Ariel to his beautiful bride Rivka on 5 January 2020 she would have been thrilled, recalling our own 24 January 1960 wedding.

Sixty years ago! A January 24th never to be forgotten!

A day for me to visit the cemetery. Flowers on her grave.

P.S. In a very recent news item, it was revealed that Lithuania, like Poland, is proposing a law in its parliament denying Lithuanian conspiracy with the Nazis during their respective occupations in their respective murder of their Jewish neighbors. My wife’s family was born in Poland. Mine were born in neighboring Lithuania .In both countries our families were either killed by the local anti-Semitic population or were betrayed in their hiding places to the Nazis.

Figures do not lie. Yad Vashem in Jerusalem has honored 6,700 Christian Poles for their brave efforts to hide Jews and to save Jewish lives,( a population of six million Jewish citizens), whereas in Lithuania with a population of 250,000 Jewish citizens, only 915 Christian Lithuanians have received such an honor.

Lithuanians collaborated with the German Nazis. Poland was the only occupied land in Europe which did not collaborate.

My late beloved wife had tried, with limited success, in her life, to record the history of her Katz family.

Happily I have been successful in recording much of the 293 years of my Weissman family.

Like me, my Rahel paid tribute each year to the memory of lost family members…. lost at the hands of Nazi murderers and Polish and Lithuanian conspirators.

It was our solemn promise to remember as long as we were alive.

Rahel often asked me if I could clear the shelves of my more than 4,000 books, many if not most of them either unread or no longer read. Still, it was always difficult for me to part with any of them. But today I have removed two historic volumes from their shelves.

The first is a rare volume published in London in 1636 entitled “A Treatise of The Foure Degenerate Sonnes”. an anti-Jewish volume published by John Weemese of Lathocker in Scotland in 1636.

The second is the complete first Hebrew prayerbook ever published in the former Soviet Union in 1956. It was a gift to me in 1959 from Rabbi Yehudah Leib Levin, Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Religious Community of Moscow, USSR and was printed as Siddur HaShalom with all Hebrew explanations and comments written and arranged by Rabbi Shlomo ben haRav haGadol Rav Yechiel Michal Shlieffer.

So now I have kept my promise to Rahel. I have cleared the shelves of two historic and valuable volumes and have given them as a gift to my beloved son, Dr. Eytan Shmuel ben Rahel. Only 3.998 more volumes from which to part.

When I visit Rahel’s grave today I will be pleased to tell her that I have remembered.

Sixty years ago seem like only yesterday!

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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