In First Person: An English tea entices Jewish GI

My husband, Josh, and I were married at the West London Synagogue in London on Oct. 8, 1945. My great-grandfather was one of the founders and my parents had been married there 25 years before. We spent our wedding night at the Ritz Hotel.

In 1970 one of the celebrations of our silver wedding [anniversary] was a stay at the Ritz Hotel in the same room in which we had spent our wedding night.

In 1995 one of the celebrations of our golden wedding [anniversary] was a stay at the Ritz Hotel — this time in a suite because "our" room was not available.

Josh and I met in a small village in England's West Country. Josh was with the 341st Engineers, U.S. Army, in Britain as part of the invasion force. I was working for my father, who had moved his family and his munitions factory out of wartime London to get away from the bombing.

My parents, to be hospitable, invited some American soldiers to afternoon tea at our house. Two of them were Jewish and they returned the next day with another Jewish soldier — Josh.

When Josh asked my father for my hand in marriage, my father gave permission provided Josh promised to live in Britain after the war, because my father would not allow the family to be broken up. Josh agreed and we lived in England from 1946-1948.

In 1948 we returned to America and to keep the family together, my family followed — my parents, three brothers and a sister, my grandmother and other relatives.

Josh and I are lucky (and we know it). Strong family ties have kept us all together. All my family settled on the Peninsula and our four children, Allan, Roger, Victoria and Martin have grown up here; three have married and live in San Mateo and Belmont and one son lives in Sacramento.

Both Josh and I are past presidents of Peninsula Temple Beth El (in 1972 I was one of the first 15 women temple presidents), our oldest son, Allan, is a past president of Peninsula Sinai Congregation in Foster City, and my brother, Roy Lee, is a past president of Temple Beth Jacob in Redwood City.

When Carl Hiller and Zeke Ziner, the two Jewish GIs, came to tea, they didn't know what a mitzvah they performed when they brought Josh Jaffe to afternoon tea with a family of English Jews.