Strength of Our Elders

light in a restaurant

Last night we celebrated my father’s 80th birthday. My cousin (who is really my cousin’s husband, but I have known him since I was born, so I call him my cousin), related to us how a person has two kinds of strengths:

koach (כֹּחַ) and gevurah(גְּבוּרָה)

One has physical strength or koach at a younger age; one when gets older and the physical strength declines, one then has gevurah. My cousin then proceeded to tell my daughter the story of my father’s life, decade by decade (some of it was made up, since he really only met my father in the early 1960’s when he married my cousin).

After he finished with my tales of my father, I asked him to tell about his mother, z”l. I used to play Scrabble with his mother when I visited; she was like a friend to me, even though she was so much older than me. He started by saying she was born in Germany in 1911. Then he told my daughter: “One day she went to the swimming pool, and the sign said: ‘No Jews or dogs.’ She knew on that day this was not a country for her, and she should leave.” My daughter asked, what if it was a Nazi’s dog, and my cousin just repeated, no Jews or dogs. We soon had to leave ourselves, so the next time we visit with our cousins we will ask for more of her story and more tales of our elders.

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On a separate topic, my husband needs to find more short Jewish stories to tell our daughter. Perhaps someone has some links to some good Jewish stories? She claims she has heard every parsha story there is. Thanks.

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11 thoughts on “Strength of Our Elders

    • I would like to hear more of her story. I’ll have to ask my cousin more.

      Many Jews did leave Germany in the 1930’s. They had warning. My mother-in-law left, as did the family of one of my uncles. It was in Poland that it was totally unexpected (as it was in other countries). Some Polish Jews remembered World War I and thought the Germans would be preferable to the Russians.

      • Apparently half the German Jews were killed during WWII. I suppose the figures include those who fled Germany in the 1930s but settled in countries where they were deported later such as France, Belgium or Holland.

    • I will have to ask my cousin more questions. I’ll write it down.

      I like your new avatar, Robin. Cheering and representative of your new venture!

  • It always breaks my heart, hearing of those who fled Germany, only to settle in another country soon to be occupied by the Nazis. I have a friend in shul who escaped to the UK on the Kindertransport from Germany with his sister. He left aged 11 and reached the UK just after his bar mitzvah. He never saw his parents again.

  • So your father’s birthday close to my father’s yahrzeit – and Holocaust was also huge part of my father’s life. In classes I am taking with David Solomon he says it is a mitzvah for us to know our history – but we Jews also know how to hope or the future – and best, how to live NOW. May every moment you spend with your father be full of living in the now.

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