Wedding With a Difference

by Reverend Michael Plaskow MBE

A young man with a heavy European accent appeared at Rabbi Riskin's doorstep on a summer Friday afternoon and asked him to convert him to Judaism.

 

The Rabbi invited him to stay for Shabbat and he introduced himself as the great grandson of Rabbi Israel Zolli, who had been appointed Chief Rabbi of Rome in 1939.

 

The Nazis took over the city in September 1943. Rabbi Zolli hid out in the Vatican and for reasons clouded in mystery, he, together with his wife and daughter Miriam converted to Christianity on February 14, 1945.

 

One of Rabbi Riskin's students prepared him for conversion and he moved to a religious kibbutz in Northern Israel. Two years later, he approached Rabbi Riskin with his bride-to-be and asked him to perform their marriage ceremony.

 

He stipulated that it must be in his great grandfather's synagogue in Rome. Rabbi Riskin states that the matrimonial service was the most moving of his career and it took place only a few days before Yom Kippur.

 

As he intoned the words of the final of the seven wedding blessings, "There shall yet be heard in the streets of Judea and the great places of Jerusalem; the sounds of joy and the sounds of happiness, the sounds of a bridegroom and the sounds of a bride" - the groom shouted out:

 

"Great grandfather, do you hear these words? I wanted to come here to get married because I wanted to be a 'repair', a tikkun for your soul. You did not believe that these words would ever come to pass. You thought that Judaism had been destroyed by the Nazi hordes. But you were wrong. I am the proof that you are wrong. I have come back and since a great part of my returning is because of you, I have brought you back with me. Grandfather, the Eternal One of Israel does not speak falsehood, Grandfather, the nation of Israel lives.

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