My wife Chanie’s family has a great tradition. Her parents live in Indianapolis, running Lubavitch of Indiana, and aside for us—we live two-and-a-half hours away—nobody else is nearby. So each summer all five sisters spend a few weeks in their parents’ house with all their kids (their two brothers are not yet married). It’s a great opportunity for the cousins to get to know each other and for the grandparents to spoil their grandkids. We’ve been doing this for the last 5-6 years, and it is impressive how every year my in-laws find another nook of the house they can transform into a bedroom.
One of the highlights of the summer is when all the grandchildren pose for an annual photo. What began as a cute photo op has now become a full blown production. Getting nearly 20 children ages 11 and down cleaned and dressed, and have them smile patiently while their picture is being taken is no small task; but the results are always worthwhile.
Without a single Photoshop touch up, we somehow manage to pull off a group of photo of happy, even semi-smiling children.
Looking at the amount of kids in this year’s picture, two more than in last year’s—baruch Hashem—a thought struck me.
Every single Jewish child is our nation’s greatest response to those that wish us harm. The Hitlers and Stalins of previous generations did everything they could to wipe us out, yet here we are, posing for a picture with all these precious Jewish souls, and more to come, G-d willing.
My father-in-law is a child of survivors, and I and my brother’s-in-law are children of first generations American Jews; our grandparents also all emigrated from Europe after WWII. And some 70 years later we all found ourselves in a backyard in Indianapolis proclaiming to the world that we are here to stay.
And then another thought occurred to me. This picture is unique in that is not really unique at all (even if for the Indiana Jewish community it is quite out of the ordinary). Jewish families around the world are flourishing and growing just like ours. Despite the harsh realities of the past, and even in the face of an uncertain future, the Jewish people will never stand down.
Our children are our future, and we are doing our part to ensure that it will be bright.
(A version of this article also appeared in The Times of Israel.)