Thanks to Gary Rosenblatt for another beautiful, personal piece, this one related to the Pidyon HaBen of his newest grandchild (“New Grandchild, Ancient Ritual,” March 2).
I was actually married with children of my own before I attended my first Pidyon HaBen and it was replete with the silver tray and jewelry around the baby. I recall being amazed with the entire process.
I was then blessed to have a Pidyon HaBen for two grandsons, and the silver tray that we used belonged to my late husband’s father’s family in Poland. My father-in-law, Dr. Meyer Bieler, had hidden the tray in the wall of his home in Czortkov during the Holocaust. As a physician and high-ranking officer in the Russian army, he returned to that house towards the end of the war — which was then occupied by others — smashed through the wall, retrieved his possessions and walked out.
Whenever I would hear the story, I always imagined my father-in-law, in taking this action, to be possessed of a controlled fury; he and his wife had lost everyone, and no one was going to take away from him those last vestiges of a lost world.