Sunrise, Sunset

My daughter was married last week to a fine young man. She is our eldest and she is the first of our children to be married. It is a firm Jewish belief that deceased anscestors are in some way present at a wedding. So, in contemplating the extraordinary course of events through which G-d led us to arrive at this joyous day, I recalled to myself some of our family history.

I never met either set of my grandparents. And, as far as I know, my two sets of grandparents never met each other. They were all born in Lodz in the 1880s and 1890s and lived in Germany between WWI and WWII. All four of them were slaughtered by the Germans. We know the general location where the slaughters took place, but there is of course no specific grave or marker at the place of the crimes.

My father’s brother lived in London. He died about twelve years ago and is buried at the Enfield cemetery in London. I was very fond of my uncle (my son born shortly after his death is named after him) and I always hoped for an opportunity to visit his gravesite. The opportunity came about two years ago. My mother’s brother (he’s also British) had had a son who died in the 1950s at a young age, and now it was the 50th anniversary of the boy’s death. I took off to London to join my cousins as they organized a family weekend to commemorate the occasion. The focal point of the weekend was a Sunday morning visit to the cemetery to unveil a new headstone for the young boy as well as a new, free-standing stone containing the names of my maternal grandparents. When I heard that the cemetery we would be going to was called Enfield I was particularly intrigued and prepared myself for my long-awaited visit to my uncle’s gravesite. After the ceremony for the young boy and seeing my maternal grandparent’s names on a new headstone I walked about 100 yards to my father’s brother’s gravesite. Although I had seen pictures of the headstone I had forgotten that at the end of the inscription the names of his parents, my paternal grandparents, were noted.

So, 60 years after the slaughter, the two sets of grandparents finally had their names properly commemorated in stone, 100 yards from each other, close enough to be ‘seen’ together, and in London of all places. And last week they were again present together as their grandson walked their great-granddaughter down the aisle in Monsey. May their memory be a blessing for all of Israel.

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9 Responses

  1. Gil Student says:

    That’s where I know the name “Gedalia Litke” from! Cross Currents

    I was at your son-in-law’s aufruf because I happened to daven in that shul. And when people said the name of the kallah’s father I just couldn’t figure out why it sounded so familiar. Now I know.

    Mazel tov!

  2. Baruch Kelman says:

    Mazel tov!!

    regards from Yerushalyim

    Baruch Kelman

  3. Steve Brizel says:

    Mazel tov!

  4. ks says:

    “It is a firm Jewish belief that deceased anscestors are in some way present at a wedding.”

    It IS?

    This is announced at weddings a lot “az shtayt in sefarim,” and apparently it’s becoming a common Jewish belief, but firmness requires sources in chazal or at least rishonim.

  5. Saul Lieberman says:

    Mazal Tov Gedalia!

    A source (that deceased anscestors are in some way present at a wedding) is the Zohar to Parshat Pinchas, daf 219 amud bet (available at, beginning on the last line of page 43 of the pdf).

    My translation:

    “And even though the father and mother have left this world, the simchah [lit. chedvah] is attended by all of its “partners” (shutafim). Because we have learned, when a person joins Hakadosh Baruch Hu to his simchah, Hakadosh Baruch Hu comes to Gan Eden and takes from there the father and mother – for they are partners in the simcha – and brings them with Him to the simchah; and all are in attendance, and the people are unaware.”

    Saul Lieberman

  6. Michoel says:

    Gevaldig!! Few things are more geshmack than a difficult-to-find makor for a yiddishe minhag, or belief.

    You made my morning. Thank you.


  7. Earl Goldberger says:

    Gedalia – Jill and I are so happy for you and Ahuva. May you have only simchas in your family and nachas from your kids. I’ll just ask my parents to add a few more bedrooms at the farm to accommodate our growing families at the “Farm Weekend’s” 25th anniversary celebration (2007).

    The Spirit of Scannessee Lives!


  8. Yentl bas Raful says:

    Of course, congratulations to the Litkes, but I should also like to thank Saul Lieberman for a translation that moved me almost to tears. What a beautiful thought to take to the Chupah.

  9. Aaron says:

    Mazal tov! Very touching. (though I have to admit I did like the one on actual touching)

    Love and wishes of hatzlacha to the family !


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