By: Isaac Vineburg, Digital Media Associate –
In the summer of 2020, in the thrall of a pandemic, I got married in a small, socially-distant ceremony held in the front yard of my parents’ home. It was not the wedding my fiancée, Lexie, and I had in mind when we were first engaged, but was important that we didn’t let coronavirus hold back our commitment to one another. Knowing it was a unique situation for a wedding, we surprised each other that day with “silly” gifts—she got us bride and groom facemasks, and I decorated our apartment with inflatable beach balls and palm trees—our at-home, tropical honeymoon. However, I had a much more meaningful gift on the way.
My bride is the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, a third-generation or “3G.” As we spent more time together, I began to learn her family’s stories. Their survival, their pain, their hope. I learned about her mother’s father, “Ace,” who escaped Belgium with his family before the Nazi invasion. I learned about her father’s father, Jack, from Mielec, Poland, who survived six concentration camps. I learned about their lives before the war, and the loved ones they lost. These stories became our stories as Lexie and I began our new life together.
How will the world remember the Holocaust in the coming years, as we continue to lose more and more survivors? How will my future children, G-d willing, remember the Holocaust?
My family has an heirloom, a small silver box inscribed with the name of my great-great-great-great grandfather. It has been passed down in my family for 180 years. I wanted to create something that could honor her family’s sacrifice during the Holocaust, something that keeps those names alive for another 180 years and beyond.
I commissioned an artist to create a besamim spice tower, used in the Jewish ceremony to end the Jewish Sabbath and other Holidays. On the base, an inscription memorializes her family. It reads “Out of the darkness of the Shoah, the Sittsamer and Stripounsky families will live on through us, our children, and our children’s children.”
I hope that it becomes an heirloom of our new family, and that future generations find ways to remember the Holocaust long after our survivors have left us.
“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness. For not only are we responsible for the memories of the dead, we are also responsible for what we are doing with those memories.” – Elie Wiesel