My Uncle’s vocation was as a Shochet in New York. Most of my memories of him stem from my childhood. He would often visit us in Toledo where my own father was a Shochet and the Chazan of his Shul. Sadly my great uncle died of stomach cancer before I graduated high school in 1964. The picture was taken shortly before that.
A lot can be learned from a photograph. I took it in the pre-digital age with a cheap little Kodak instamatic the last time I visited him before his death. One can see that he was a Chasdishe man with a long beard. But notice how his arm is intertwined with his wife’s arm as he stands close to her.
I did not pose him for this picture. This is how he wanted to be photographed… holding on to his beloved wife. The picture tells the story of this man’s love for his wife.
Although he was a Chasid with a long beard and great Yichus he did not value any of the nonsense that passes for Frumkeit today. He was not afraid of being in a picture with his wife, or that it would be shown to other people. He was not afraid to be photographed arm in arm with her.
The uncle did not insist that his children follow in any narrow Hashkafic path. He raised them in ways similar to the way I raised my own children. And they each mostly followed the path of Yiddishkeit best suited to them. From modern Orthodoxy on the left to the very right wing Charedism on the right. And what a legacy he left. A successful life indeed.