Friday, September 12, 2014

Blessings - Day 7

Today's blessing is my father-in-law and mother-in-law. They died almost 20 years ago, a year before Davidi was born. Despite their deaths, they remain a blessing in my life and the lives of my children. My oldest two remember them. I have to check with Shmulik to see if he remembers. He was only 3 when we came to Israel; only 4 the last time he saw them.

They were both Holocaust survivors. They lost their parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and siblings to Hitler's Nazis, to the evil that Germany brought to this world. They taught me so much, make me regret so much that they aren't here to see my children grow, my grandchildren born into a country where they are free and will grow into proud, strong Jews.

My father-in-law was a man of wisdom and logic and balance. He was a man of humor - but a subtle humor that showed that what was important in life. He once told me of the hunger during World War II. They were once so hungry, they traded a horse for some chickens.

My husband knew his father enough to ask whose horse it was. Before the question had even registered, his father answered, "I don't know." I love that story and so many others. These and others, we give to our children - each is a blessing.

My mother-in-law was a modest woman, the most amazing cook. Her house was spotless, her children well behaved. She never made me feel utterly incompetent, but I felt that way - until one day she told me how she watched that first time when Amira was an infant and I was bathing her for the first time in my in-laws house. She was so amazed at how I knew what I was doing when she remembered her own first experiences at washing an infant and feeling so unsure. I was astounded - I felt so incompetent, so intimidated.

The other story I remember and think of almost weekly. She told me how during the war, they were so hungry, they would go to places that peeled their potatoes with a knife and go through the garbage to find the peels. A peeler takes less "meat" of the potato off, but a knife would take more. I can never peel a potato without thinking of my mother-in-law.

My in-laws adored my children, marveled at them at every turn. My husband grew up without the love of grandparents; he is, in many ways, only now realizing what he missed. I know that my in-laws were blessed to have lived to see three grandchildren and since they passed away, three more have been born. Davidi and his cousin in America carry my father-in-law's name; Aliza carries my mother-in-law's name.

Today's blessing - the 7th of 100 - is that I was honored to have two very special people come into my life and, like my parents and grandparents, help set a model for how I am with my grandchildren and my own children.

May God bless the memory of David Levi and Cyril who fought all odds and triumphed over great evil and through it all, set an almost-impossible-to-match example of love, modesty, and devotion to family.

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