11 September 2011


     I am late with my posting this week. Besides moving to Canada last week, we had to attend the funeral of my father in law. The rabbi at the service related a story about family ties that I would like to share, because the tale made me think of the work that we do as family historians.
     A man was dying in his bed with his family surrounding him. He told his son to retrieve the bundle of sticks, bound by a sting, by the hearth. The son brought the bundle into the room.
     "Now, break the wood in half," the dying father instructed.
     The son attempted to break the thick bundle over his knee, without success. The father told his daughter to try. No success. Then, each of the family members tried to snap the thick bundle of sticks, but no one could break them.
     "Bring the bundle here," the father said.
     The son did as he was told, and placed the bundle on the old man's bed. The father untied the string. One by one, he snapped each stick in half.
     "The sticks are the family members," the man said. "Individually, they can be broken. But when tied together with family love and loyalty, they are unbreakable. Never untie that string."
     The story speaks to us as family historians. We work hard to collect our twigs and branches. We place them in a bundle, and our work is the string that binds the family history together. We also strengthen the bundle when we bind our living relatives together by maintaining contact and holding family reunions. Be the string!