Before dawn, in a Ukrainian village on a day in May 100 years ago, an 18-year-old Jewish woman and a 20-year-old Jewish man had a hurried marriage ceremony. Then they fled. A gentile neighbor had warned them that there would be great trouble for the Jews of Obodovka that day.
The bride’s name was Ettl. The groom was Itzik. The neighbor was right. Four of Ettl’s brothers and a young nephew were among the Jews murdered in the next hours in the village. Their wedding anniversary also became the yahrzeit, the annual day of mourning in Jewish tradition, for most of her family.
I write about this for two reasons. One reason is that Ettl and Itzik became my grandparents and May 2019 marks a century since they began the journey that would bring them to safety in the United States.