My Parents’ Chuppah
Oil on Canvas 16x20
Original Image Taken: 1956
I was lucky to grow up in a home with parents who were completely in love with each other. Their romance was the stuff of fairy tales...sort of. Two young survivors of the Holocaust, my parents met in Montreal.
When my father was accepted to law school, they decided to get married and the plan was simple – they’d move to Toronto and my mother would work as a legal secretary to support my father as he completed his education. My mother’s side of the family saw this as a hopeful and wonderful new chapter – the Holocaust and all the obstacles of adjusting to a new life in Canada were firmly behind them and they could look forward to a bright future.
My father’s side of the family saw this marriage as the ‘end of hope’. They were furious – so much so that Zeidi and Usher refused to attend their wedding. Zeidi and Usher put all their hopes on my father’s achievements. All the suffering during the Holocaust and the financial troubles they had in Canada would be worth it ONLY if my dad became a ‘success’ and graduated law school. They were certain my mother would get pregnant immediately and my dad would drop out of school and shatter their dreams for his future. Added to this anger was the audacity of their son getting married before his older sister, my aunt Sylvia. Such was the mindset of my grandfather and his brother. Somewhere in that stubbornness were good intentions.
My father was undeterred. He enlisted one of the seamstresses at the garment factory where he worked to copy a Dior gown for my mom; he rented a tuxedo and my parents had a humble wedding in my great Aunt Cecilia’s living room. Five days later they were hunting for apartments in Toronto just as classes were starting at Osgoode Hall Law School. My parents made peace with Zeidi and Usher. Their first priority was to find a husband for Sylvia (which they did – my mom introduced her to a cousin). My mom was able to support my dad throughout his education. He graduated 4 years later without missing a beat. Both Usher and Zeidi loved my mother. She cared for each of them in their final months when they came to live with us before they passed away.