I don’t know who came to my grandparents’ wedding. I know that their parents, and most of their siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends were not there.

My grandfather, Meir, married my grandmother, Sprintza, in 1945. The wedding was held at Landsberg, a DP camp in the American-occupied zone of Germany, around 60 km west of Munich.

Before Hitler’s Final Solution, they lived in Zdunska Wola, a town of nearly 10,000 Jews, in the Lodz province of Poland. They were barely out of their teens when the Nazi boots stamped out their youth. Sprintza had been engaged to Meir’s older brother. He was killed.

My grandmother was one of 13 siblings; my grandfather, one of ten. When the ashes settled, my grandmother was left with one brother, Mottel, and one sister, Raizel. Mottel had been married with two young daughters before the war. He survived. They didn’t. My grandfather was the only one of his family left alive.

They met, two orphans tumbling through the devastation. Their answer to Hitler was to rebuild — right then, right there.

Bubby and Zeidy waited among thousands, fragments of families, for permission to emigrate to the United States. They were still in Landsberg, still looking toward the promise of the country that was to become home, when their first two children were born: their daughter, Sarah (my mother), and their only son.

“What was his name?” I asked my Aunt Miriam.

“I think his name was Daniel. I’m not sure. Bubby and Zeidy didn’t like to talk about him.”

There wasn’t enough food. There wasn’t enough medicine. When their son was a toddler he caught pneumonia. My grandparents couldn’t get the antibiotics that he needed. They couldn’t save his life.

The Nazis killed six million Jews, and the Nazis killed a small boy who may have been named Daniel.

Did my grandparents turn on Hashem? After so much loss, after a valiant new start, after another loss, did they want to know why?

If they asked the question, I never knew about it. If they were angry or bitter, I never saw it. My grandfather davened with his eyes closed. His body swayed with the words and the niggunim. He loved Hashem and he loved His People. He handed out treats, donations, and encouragement, and he smiled often. Even his eyes smiled.

Our family grew. My mother has 11 children. Her two sisters were born in America. One has 16 children, and the other, six.

“You have to eat,” my grandmother said every time I visited. I was a picky eater. Mostly I ate pickles and chocolate. I was named after her sister, Devorah, who died in the ghetto. My grandmother told me, more than once, that Devorah died of starvation and that the last thing she asked for was a plum.

My grandmother made meatballs that were bigger than baseballs and cookies that had to be sliced. She stocked the shelves of the “cold room” in her finished basement in Boro Park with rows of jars — homemade applesauce, borsht, sweet whitefish in even sweeter sauce. We knew from when we were very young that we could not waste food. We became creative: If we didn’t want to finish what we were served, we would wrap it or ball it up and sneak it out of the house. Otherwise it would be served to us again and again and again. In my grandparents’ house, food was never thrown away. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 576)