Forty-six years after her family saved his family in the Holocaust, Steni and Leszek finally stood together under the chuppa and married according to the Laws of Moses and Israel
Published in Israel Hayom – July 2, 2018
It has been a long time since the Jewish community in Lodz, Poland, witnessed the kind of happiness they experienced last week as the Śniadkiewicz couple – Steni (Chaya), 76, and her husband Leszek (Leib Leonard), 70 – two of the community’s veteran members who were married 46 years ago in a civil ceremony, married last week in a Jewish wedding, according to the laws of Moses and Israel.
The family story begins an entire generation earlier, as Leszek’s father David, a survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp, and his mother Taube, who endured the experiments of Dr. Mengele at Auschwitz, managed to escape the Nazis, and were hidden by Steni’s parents. Leszek was only born after the war; he and Steni met years later by chance, through their professional careers, at which point they discovered the special bond between their families.
12 years ago, the couple first met Rabbi Boaz Pash, one of the first graduates of the Ohr Torah Stone network’s Straus-Amiel emissarial training program, and OTS’s very first emissary in Poland. Steni and Leszek’s special relationship with Pash thrived, and continued long after Pash returned to Israel to head up a new ordination track for rabbis from the Diaspora, Kollel Torat Yosef, at his alma mater. “They are very good friends,” said Pash. “If I didn’t know their real ages, I would guess they were 30, judging solely by the love and connection they exhibit.”
Steni, whose mother is Polish, maintained a Jewish way of life throughout the years though at first she did not formally convert. But last week, at the conclusion of a long and arduous journey, Steni officially became a member of the Jewish people. The entire community galvanized the organization of a festive Jewish wedding for the beloved couple; special clothing was custom sewn for them and even the community’s youth was enlisted to decorate the venue.
The emotional ceremony was conducted by the current OTS emissary in Lodz, Rabbi David Shikovsky – a disciple of Rabbi Pash whose ordination from Torat Yosef was complimented by the same practical training his mentor had received at the Straus-Amiel institute nearly two decades ago. “This was the most special and exciting wedding that I have ever merited to be a part of,” Shikovsky said. “These types of events highlight in the deepest possible manner the impact and importance of Jewish emissaries in the Diaspora, and the responsibility we have as Israelis for fostering their connection with the State of Israel and ensuring the fate of the Jewish people.”
The Jewish community of Lodz, which numbered approximately 230,000 prior to the Holocaust, is today comprised of just about 300 members who maintain Jewish traditions, celebrate the Jewish holidays and enjoy a range of Jewish activities in a community building that includes a synagogue, a kindergarten, and a small event hall, where the Śniadkiewicz’s wedding took place. Steni and Leszek have one daughter, Anna, who lives in Israel.
Photo credits: Aleksandra Holubkow; Natalia Soral