dancing bride 298.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
With the precarious state of marriage today, reaching any classic anniversary is an accomplishment.
London based Leslie and Josi Hardman, who are marking their 70th wedding anniversary on Saturday during a special trip to Jerusalem, are particularly accomplished. They have been married since October 14, 1936, when they were respectively 25 and 23.
With five grandchildren who live in Israel and two in England, and a grand total of 25 great grandchildren, the Hardmans decided to celebrate their special day during Succot.
"We decided to come for Succot this year and it [the anniversary] worked out at the same time. It's convenient because otherwise the family couldn't get together. The grandchildren will be making something, but they've kept it from us," Josi said.
Jerusalem also seemed a natural destination for the celebration as the two have visited Israel every year since the state was born. Josi Hardman spoke about seeing the country grow, as she sat in cushioned chair in her daughter's apartment in Pisgat Ze'ev.
"I've seen everything here," she said. "The trouble is I don't remember it all.
"We saw Haifa when it was mountains and we came back to see flats. From Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was a one-way road, and now it's a proper highway."
The Hardmans met after Leslie, already a rabbi, helped his future wife's great uncle when he was ill, near Blackpool in northern England. After her great uncle learned the rabbi was unattached, he wanted the young man to travel to Glasgow to see his niece.
"My sister, two brothers and father spent a holiday there, and they took a fancy to him," Josi said. "They came home and said they met a nice young man they wanted me to meet."
Hardman eventually traveled to Glasgow and the couple became engaged. They eventually married and were living in Leeds when Britain declared war against Germany in September 1939.
Hardman enlisted to be a chaplain for the army, underwent training and was stationed in Hertfordshire with the East Central District of the Eastern Command.
While serving in the military, he remained observant, eating with Jewish families instead of in the mess hall with other officers, praying with other recruits, and arranging not to travel anywhere on Shabbat.
In the fall of 1944, Hardman was sent overseas and made his way to Holland. There, he said, he saw "the horrors" perpetrated against Jews. He spent time with members of the remaining Jewish community there, and lit candles with them that Chanukah.
He then went to Germany and was present when the British liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. He described how all the Allied forces helped amass food, cigarettes, medicine and other small items for the survivors.
"I remember saying to a BBC correspondent, 'If all the trees in the world turned into pens, all the waters in the oceans turned into ink and the heaven turned into paper, it would still be insufficient material to describe the horrors these people suffered under the SS,'" Leslie said.
The couple went on to have three daughters and moved to London where Hardman served as a rabbi. Their oldest daughter, Hilarie, made aliya in 1969.
The couple doesn't have any secrets to long-lasting marriage. Josi explained that they "just get on with each other and time just flew."
"It doesn't seem like 70 years, it seems like 100," said Leslie, laughing.