By Y. Samuels
One night last week, I went to three close family members’ weddings. They all took place in the same Brooklyn neighborhood, so at least I did not have to spend any time on the highway. Usually, when a close cousin is marrying off a child, I try to participate. Even though I do not always get there in time for the chuppah, I do stay for the meal and the dancing. I enjoy socializing with my siblings and my cousins and meeting friends and acquaintances. I happen to be close to all three cousins who were celebrating grandchildren’s weddings, but I did have to divide my night. Here’s how I did it.
I got to my first “stop” while they were still serving the meal. I sat down near my cousin and schmoozed a bit with her, apologizing for my short stay. After wishing mazal tov to all the mechuteinastas, and finding my granddaughter who as she’s a friend of the kallah was staying for the whole wedding, I left. The same scenario repeated itself twice more. At one wedding I happened to meet my sister, who was talking to my cousin, the grandmother. On the way into one of the halls, I met a dear friend whom I have not seen in a while, and whom I recently tried to reach. So the night passed — socializing, yet not really socializing.
As I got into the car, I remarked to my husband that although I did not really enjoy myself at any one wedding, the night still means a lot to me. In our family alone, three couples are building Jewish homes, and all other halls in every Jewish neighborhood are booked, too, baruch Hashem. Isn’t this the best revenge against Hitler, ym’s?
Most of these chassanim and kallahs are descendants of people who survived the Holocaust in one way or another. One spent the war years in a concentration camp, returning with a souvenir number etched onto his arm, another suffered deep in Siberia, a third was hidden in an attic or cellar. Each survivor has his own tale of how he outlived the enemy. They picked themselves up and rebuilt their families. Now look at how, with each Jewish wedding, the golden chain is being fortified.
My mother, a’h, once told me that in her early years in America (the early 1950s) she once called an aunt on motzaei Simchas Torah to wish her a good year. Her aunt asked her, “Hust du epes a chasunah dem vinter? Do you have any wedding to attend this winter?” Contrast that to today’s proliferation, bli ayin ha’ra, of Yiddishe simchas.
So when the mailman brings some wedding invitations, open them with joy and anticipation. Think about how little girls, all dolled up in their finest clothing, revel at chasunos. They are genuinely thrilled that they were invited, and make the most of the chance to dance, run around, and really enjoy themselves with their siblings and cousins. Learn from them how to accept an invitation. And if, for some reason, you can’t attend, pick up a pen and paper (what’s that?) or a phone, and wish the family a hearty mazal tov.
At my son’s aufruf, I was sitting next to my mother, a’h. The children were running around and making a bit of noise, as children are wont to do. It annoyed one of the guests, and she expressed her dissatisfaction as to how today’s children are raised. My mother, in her inimitable way, told this woman that during the war when she was working in the gold mines in Siberia, she did not dream that she would ever get out of there, that she would get married and raise a family, and that one day she would be sitting at her own grandson’s aufruf. In those days, one dreamed of a piece of bread to still the gnawing hunger, a warm coat to protect against the bitter cold, and a bit of rest from the backbreaking work. To her, every smile, every laugh, of a child, is extremely heartwarming.
May Hashem bless us all with many simchas, and may the only reason for not attending someone’s simcha be another conflicting simcha! May we all merit joining the ultimate simcha with Mashiach Tzidkainu, speedily, in our days.