Exactly a year ago, I told you about Ralph Goodman, who, as a G.I in liberated Belgium happened upon my grandfather and ended up spending Purim 1945 with our family. If you recall, by some kind of miracle, through the angel that is Jane Ulman, we have now re-established contact, a mere 63 years after Ralph last saw my mother as a little girl in my grandparents villa in Spa, which is virtually a hair breath away from the German border.
To our delight, Ralph and his charming daughter, Myla came to England last weekend and spent a wonderful Shabbat at our home regaling us with memories of that very special event, so many, many years ago. It was one of the most fascinating Shabbatot I can remember in a long while.
On Sunday, we (the family members and some guests) were treated to a fascinating talk by Ralph, who recalled with extraordinary clarity the events of Purim 1945, as well as the previous Rosh Hashanah. I discovered that my grandfather possessed an Australian accent (something that no-one had bothered to tell me, assuming I knew!), walked around in a Australian cork hat and kept his holy books buried in the cellar - lest they were discovered by the Nazis. If that weren't enough, Ralph was introduced by my Uncle Romeo, whose extraordinary memories of 1940's Belgium are unbelievable. Between the two of them, occupied Belgium became so much more than just a story from the past. We were literally living the occupation, sitting in my cousin's beautiful house.
I fortunately videoed the entire talk (by both gentlemen) and it is indeed hair raising, irrespective of the number of times I've already seen it.
The star of the event though, at all times, was Ralph, an incredible gentleman, who at 88, has the clarity of mind that many of us can only aspire to.
It was an unforgettable weekend.
If you would like to remind yourself of the whole story, please click here.