web analytics
July 4, 2015 / 17 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Every Bar Mitzvah A Testament To Jewish Survival

By:
Bar mitzvah boy Ed Lion, flanked by his parents.

Bar mitzvah boy Ed Lion, flanked by his parents.

Rummaging through a trunk of our late parents’ memorabilia, my sister rediscovered one of their proudest treasures – a collection of photographs documenting my bar mitzvah celebration 44 years ago.

For more than three decades my parents had given pride of place in their living room to a bound album of enlarged photographs from my bar mitzvah. With my sister’s discovery, we suddenly remembered that those selected enlargements had been culled from this larger collection.

Misty-eyed with nostalgia, we thumbed through the stack, glimpsing faces that were so familiar from our childhood but are now long departed. We were taken aback at how impossibly young and vibrant our parents, Kurt and Giselle Lion, of blessed memory, looked back then – my father all of 44 and my mother 39.They were both German Jews who had escaped the Holocaust, come to America penniless after the war, met, married and built new lives and a Jewish family for themselves.

In one photo they are posing proudly beside my two sisters and me, their bar mitzvah boy who had been to the bimah just the day before. How happy, even jubilant, they looked. From my perspective as an adult I can understand their jubilance, for at that time the hardships and terror of their youth must still have been writ large in their minds.

My mother had lived in poverty with her parents before fleeing Germany, making her way across France before that fear-filled night when, only 10, she was carried piggyback across the Alpine foothills into Switzerland. There her parents were interned as illegal aliens and she spent nearly three years in foster care before they immigrated to America.

Kurt Lion and cousin Walter Bloch, two former French Resistance fighters, share a laugh.

Kurt Lion and cousin Walter Bloch, two former French Resistance fighters, share a laugh.

My father, just a year after his own bar mitzvah, had been deported to internment camps in southern France and had lost both his parents. He managed to escape, adopted a gentile identity, and fought with the French Underground. Later he served on a “Free French” Air Force bomber and after the war reunited with his two older sisters who had fled to New York in the 1930s.

What anguish my family had endured! Again reflecting as an adult, I now understand some of the incongruities that puzzled me as a child. Arriving as penniless refugees, my parents had always lived modestly, forgoing luxuries to provide their children with comforts they had never known themselves. But when planning my bar mitzvah celebration, they uncharacteristically chose only the most deluxe. “For this we want nothing but the best,” my mother declared.

They held the reception in a swanky Manhattan hotel, listened to dozens of demo tapes to pick the right band and spent weeks searching for the perfect photographer. Most important, they carefully deliberated over the mountain of food that would be served.

Seeing the photos awakened my memories of the bar mitzvah planning. I clearly recalled my parents mulling the menu choices, my mother commenting, “We could never have imagined it!” An impatient 12 year old with little understanding, I had responded, “Why the fuss?”

With a faraway look in her eyes, my mother clasped my arm, explaining: “Many of those who will be at the reception were trapped in Europe during the war, scared and hungry.” Then, with a bittersweet smile, she remembered that during the war her father, my “Opa,” had often dreamed of eating meat.

Her smile widened as she returned to the menu. “But now we’ll be having those foods we only dreamed about. Opa will be so proud, eating like this with our mishpachah around him at his grandson’s bar mitzvah!”

Remembering those words, we continued perusing the photos.

Staring up at me was the beaming face of my grandfather, Sam Weisman of blessed memory, who had long ago shepherded my mother and grandmother Elsa to safety. They had fled to France where he valiantly tried to keep his family alive, waiting in long lines attempting to get visas from America and even China, to no avail.

About the Author: Ed Lion is a former reporter for United Press International now living in the Poconos.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Every Bar Mitzvah A Testament To Jewish Survival”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
UN Human Rights Council
UN HRC Condemns Israel (But Not Hamas) for War Crimes
Latest Indepth Stories
Jelgava Synagogue, Latvia

Latvia, July 4, 1941 they forced many Jews in the shul putting it on fire; everyone was burned alive

United Nations Building, New York City

There’s blood on the reporters’ hands AND New Israel Fund for funding groups feeding lies to the UN

Zuckerman-070315

Respect & appreciation for our country is not only a civic value but an essential Jewish one as well

wedding cake

When words lose meaning, the world becomes an Orwellian dystopia; a veritable Tower of Babel

Israel, like the non-radical Islamic world. will be happy see the ISIS beheaded for once.

Kids shouldn’t have “uninstructed” Internet access, better to train them how to use it responsibly

What if years from now, IS were to control substantial territory? What world havoc would that wreak?

Rambam writes the verse’s double term refers to 2 messiahs: first King David; 2nd the final Mashiach

The Gaza flotilla has been rightfully and legally blocked by Israel’s Navy, with greetings from Bibi

The president described the attack as “an act that drew on a long history of bombs and arson and shots fired at churches, not random, but as a means of control, a way to terrorize and oppress…”

“The only [candidate] that’s going to give real support to Israel is me,” said the 69-year-old Trump.

And whereas at the outset the plan was that Iran would have to surrender most of its centrifuges, it will now be able to retain several thousand.

Now oil independent, US no longer needs its former strategic alliances with Gulf States-or Israel

In addition to the palace’s tremendous size it was home to the “hanging gardens,” which were counted among the seven wonders of the ancient world.

More Articles from Ed Lion
Eli Cohen

PM Netanyahu has pledged the nation won’t rest until the hero Eli Cohen is returned home to Israel

Lion-052215

Many Black protesters compared Baltimore’s unrest to the Palestinian penchant of terrorism & rioting

Each craved more out life and within a few months they’d mastered English, received their high school equivalencies, and begun climbing the rungs of the ladder of the American Dream.

Anti-Semitism today focuses on Israel and the quest to delegitimize it.

“These are good matzah balls,” my aunt Robertine would say, but her sister Irma would counter “No, not compared to Mama’s. They were always so light yet they never fell apart.”

Warsaw Ghetto: At its height, the Nazis walled in some 500,000 Jews within the1.3 square mile area.

The world wars caused unimaginable anguish for the Jews but God also scripted a great glory for our people.

The risks were great, but certain death awaited them if they remained. The gamble paid off, though the family was separated for the next four years of the war.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/every-bar-mitzvah-a-testament-to-jewish-survival/2014/06/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: