Once upon a time in the little town of Valley Stream on Long Island, New York, a love story began. Rebecca was a seventeen year old high school girl and while she and her friends played ball in the park a “gang” of high school boys watched. When Jack saw Rebecca doing a headstand and falling on her fanny, he said, “That’s the girl for me!”
Both were first generation children of Orthodox Jewish immigrants. After high school Jack went on to college and Rebecca did not. They courted for six years and were married June 11, 1938. Their first child was born on Pearl Harbor Day… “a day that will live in infamy” for our country, and for Jack and Rebecca, as well. This first child was still-born. Four more children, 13 grandchildren and thirteen great-grand-children were to follow.
Jack went off to fight the good fight in World War II, leaving Rebecca with a one year old child and her optimism. Humor, hope and love kept them connected through this difficult time. The war ended and Jack returned to resume his life. He had studied law and passed the Bar but upon his return found work as a CPA and broker. At a youthful 95 years old, Jack still has three clients whose accounts he handles. One of his clients is closing his business soon and Jack bemoans that he will lose a third of his business when this happens!
It is this daily cocktail of Jack’s humor and Rebecca’s optimism that has kept the spark alive for them both. After 73 years they are like two sides of the same coin. They flirt with each other through a series of looks and gestures in a language known only to them. They share interests yet, they remain individuals. She is the philosopher and he is the humorist. They speak with pride and affection about there expansive family. Their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren reflect the diversity of modern society. Both Rebecca and Jack left their orthodox roots behind to embrace a family tapestry threaded with African-American, Irish and Chinese blood. It is the “American Dream” in full technicolor.
The obvious question to ask the two who have proven that fairy tales are not just works of fiction is, “What is the secret of your success?” Both answer in the same breath, “Family.” Rebecca takes on the job of spokesperson/philosopher as she recounts that both she and Jack were raised in the bosom of loving and devoted families. They modeled their life together sharing responsibilities; she helped with his business, he helped with the kids. Family has always come first, something often said, but not always realized.
The next question is, “When you look at each other today, what do you see?” And Jack answers, “I see someone who is a part of me.” And Rebecca answers, “I see Jack, who makes me laugh. We are one.”
Now that the children and the grand-children are grown, Jack & Rebecca stay active with creative pursuits in ceramics and painting. They love colors and people and are physically active, although slower than in the old days. After 73 years they continue to surprise and delight each other and reach out for the comforting touch of the other’s hand.
Hands clasped and smiling… they continue to live “happily ever after”.