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Marriage of a Youngest Son

Marriage of a Youngest Son


I am at the LAX airport waiting for my plane to an unknown area called Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  It’s a time for joy and happiness for my family.  My youngest son, Yosef Yitzchok, called Yossi, is getting married.  I ponder with emotion, having mixed feelings.  On one hand the blessing of seeing your youngest married is a testimony of bringing up successful children.  Nowadays this is no small feat.  On the other hand you lose your last child. 


My having six children was a statement for me.  My family was to symbolically replace, in a small way, the monumental loss of 6 million Jewish brothers and sisters who were cruelly killed and methodically destroyed by the Nazis during World War II.


The loss of so many Jewish children left a large vacuum in the heart of the Jewish nation.  I know that each remaining family had the responsibility, or rather the obligation, to have as many children as possible.


So at the birth of each child I felt the feelings of victory over tyranny, the rebuilding of the Jewish nation.  In spite of all odds we have been able to prosper and revive a decimated nation. 


What legacy can I impart to my son on his marriage?  For that matter are there ideas that can be expressed in a few words?  What do I say to my Yossi on his transition to a big world full of opportunity and challenges?


Yossi, I remember your birth and choosing your name.  In Jewish tradition there is a fine custom to name a child after a saintly person.  If a child is born in the week of a saintly man’s birthday or happy event then we take this as an opportune time to name the child after that saintly person.


Yossi, my son, you are named after the great Lubavitcher Chassidic leader, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn (1880-1950).  This Rabbi kept the spiritual lives of millions of European Russian Jews alive.  He single-handedly fought for religious tolerance and freedom of religion in what was once the U.S.S.R.  For 30 years he was known as the great hero of rabbinical Jewish leadership.  He kept Jewish schools alive, physically, and financially stable during impossible, turbulent times.


During World War II he came to America and revitalized American Jewry.  This he did for the last ten years of his life.  His legacy was carried forth by his son-in-law, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the leader of the largest Chassidic movement world wide.  The Rebbe created thousands of Chabad schools, synagogues and Jewish communities all over the world.  Some of the centers are called Chabad House.  I continue to work and carry out this mission of revitalizing American Jewry. You were born as my Chabad community was created in Southern California.


Usually a Jewish name is given at the Bris – circumcision – ceremony.  But you were a very small infant and we had to wait an extra few days for the ceremony.  During that time you were called baby Hecht as, in keeping with tradition, we would only name you after the Bris ceremony.


Oh how we prayed for your growth.  Imagine having a baby with no name.  Your brothers and sister did not know what to call you. Finally the day came and the doctor said; “Yes, baby Hecht is ready.”  And boy did we celebrate.  You were circumcised with a great party and the highlight was when we gave you the name Yossi after the saintly Lubavitcher Rabbi. 


Later attending your wedding in Mequon, I thought of so many proud Jewish people there. Your grandfather, grandmother, uncles, aunts, your brothers and sister with their families and friends, all gathered to celebrate your marriage. They came from world over. I say to you, remember this, you are a 5th generation Jewish-American born son that carries the name Yossi. With that honor comes the responsibility of keeping the Jewish nation alive and well.


Soon you will be joining my staff at the Chabad center and will be establishing a Torrance branch.  You have studied well and received your Rabbinical training and certification.  During your teenage years you volunteered and organized visits for the elderly and those in retirement homes.  You are a hospital chaplain for Chabad.  Yehudis, your bride, is a preschool teacher.  She is an experienced instructor of little children.  Together you will be a great asset to the South Bay.


Yes my boy, this is your time in the sunshine.  Live up to your namesake; take in the enjoyment, love and happiness.  Keep those links of family strong and true.


Last but not least I too need to remember that at this venture I am getting a new daughter and not losing a son.  Mazel Tov-good luck for a long and happy journey.