About a year ago, Rabbi Lenore Bohm of Temple Solel in Encinitas began noticing the number of congregants asking for her blessing on their 50th wedding anniversary.
So she began counting. She realized that, in her congregation, which reflects a North County population with significant numbers of seniors, there were 20 couples whose marriages had endured 50 years or longer.
They were marriages begun at a time when the world was rocked by some of the same issues it confronts today--in the Persian Gulf and at home.
The stories of the couples' lives include accounts of the Depression, World War II, the baby boom, revolutions in Europe, establishing careers, community involvement and, eventually, migrating to North County for what one described as "the easier years."
Tomorrow night, the 20 husbands and 20 wives who together have been married for more than 1,000 years will be honored at the temple. The Shabbat, or Sabbath, service will be embellished with music and melodies to celebrate this occasion, according to cantorial soloist Kathy Robbins.
In talking to the couples as she arranged for the special service, Bohm said, she sensed a feeling of simplicity in their love and loyalty to one another. "There was also a strong sense of perspective, a sense of humor and flexibility," she said. "Some are yet deeply in love and others appear to be good friends."
Among the couples to be honored tomorrow are Michael and Gladys Goldin, Joseph and Annette Goodman, Benjamin and Evelyn Leff, Hal and Dee Sackett, Alex and Muriel Sladkus, Tibor and Claire Vayda, Michael and Helen Vissell and Mort and Agatha Winski.
For most, the moment of their initial encounter is still recalled in vivid, youthful detail. They marvel at the swiftness of time and have theories as to why their marriages succeeded, but, as one wife said, "no pearls of wisdom."
*Michael and Gladys Goldin
Married June 29, 1941 Brooklyn, N.Y. World War II broke out less than five months after they were married, remembers Michael Goldin. "Marriage was so wonderful that I didn't want to go at all, but I enlisted in the Air Force, and Gladys joined the WAVEs."
The uncertainty of that period creeps into conversation. "I worried that I would be sent overseas, and we would never see one another again. I encouraged Gladys to join the WAVEs to give her a steady anchor and provide her with food and clothing."
"We were apart for a long period of time. But I was to get another chance in life," Goldin said. "I could not believe I was alive when the war was over. I was going back and getting to finally start my married life with Gladys."
After the war, the Goldins moved several times and eventually settled in Las Cruces, N. M., where Michael worked for the government.
"I went into the service with one form of education and exited with another kind of skills. I had to look around for employment. At times, it was discouraging."
He quit work at age 57 and the couple moved to Carlsbad.
They are reflective as to why their married life has been successful.
"We were big-city people, having come from Brooklyn. We were living in a small farming community far from our families in Las Cruces. We had to depend on one another," Michael said. "My parents had set a good example. My mother and father had very hard times, and they just stuck together. They never thought of finding another."
The Goldins agree that sharing the same religion may have been helpful in their relationship, especially in raising their three children. "It removes some of the problems on which people can disagree if they are the same religion. Whose religion will be followed? What will the children do?" Michael said.
"My wife has been trying to change me for 50 years," he laughed. "But you need to take one another, flaws and all. Those first years are rosy, but that glow soon disappears. It has to be more than just a physical attraction. There has to be an understanding as well."
*Agatha and Mort Winski
Married April 27, 1941 Jackson, Mich.
"I was engaged to someone else at the time I met my husband," recalled Agatha Winski. "I was working in Chicago and took a vacation to Florida." She paused, as though remembering the excitement of the meeting. "We were married seven weeks to the day after we met!"
"I really don't know why our marriage has been successful," she said. "We wanted to make it work, and, when there were differences, we talked them out."
The Winskis raised four children in Michigan City, Ind., where Mort worked in the steel business with his three brothers. "We started in the scrap business and then grew to include steel fabricating and manufacturing," he said.
They speak of the early years of married life, of starting in business and having young children. "We couldn't afford baby-sitters so we took them everywhere. On Saturday nights, we'd bundle them up and get together with other young families, putting the babies in play pens, beds and even drawers when they fell asleep," Agatha said.