Tuesday, September 15, 1942
On the 14th,* my grandfather sat down and wrote to his new son-in-law. I will quote the letter here in its entirety. My grandparents, raised Orthodox Jews in Eastern Europe, came to America as newlyweds in the early 1900s. They learned English quickly and established a business. Never wealthy, they were still prosperous enough to buy a house, raise two children, and send them both to college.
These American children baffled and sometimes infuriated them, as when my mother protested her mother reading her letters. But more often they recognized the cultural and generational gulf between themselves and their American-born children who swam in the ocean, played tennis, and moved easily in diverse gatherings. And so my grandfather responded with a touching combination of dignity and resignation to the fait accompli, noting how it coincided with the High Holy Days:
The passing events between you and my daughter, for the last few years, as it was passed on to me, whatever portion of it, did not prepare me for what happened in reality. The announcement of your marriage over the phone almost made me exclaim, ‘Why, it’s so sudden!’ I’m not making a point of short intervals between the consent and marriage. That I like very much, for its originality. My father’s acquaintance and marriage to my mother took place in the same day. I rather appreciate seeing one of my father’s traits passed on to his descendants.
It is the very decision to [ask] consent which came to my awareness very sudden. [My daughter’s] letter via airmail, telling us of her consent, brought me up short. The following phone call, telling us of your marriage, was only a consequence.
It did add quite a bit of happiness to our little family. It would not be appropriate to consent to your marriage now. But it will be very well to open our arms and accept you into our family when you come to see us and we are figuratively doing it right now.
I found my prophecies enough times wrong to refrain from casting any more publically. But I am well satisfied to quote Mother and my daughter herself. Both expect you to be very happy and they are chock full of intuitive power.
The days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are good wishing days. I wish that this Rosh Hashana should have heralded not only a one good year but a whole happy life for you two, consisting of the proverbial 120 years and perhaps tenfold if our conscientious MDs can get together and dope out the right solution and I am not jealous of you to start a new model clan of generations
L’shana tovah tikatevu
And we should live in happiness to wish the same next year.
* I don’t know how long it took for mail to travel so I’ll assume a day between the date on the letter and its arrival.