On my desk sit the pictures and the invitation — so different yet very much the same. The pictures are of a past generation that never really was, and the invitation represents the future generation that may never be.

I look at these pictures again and again. Some are already discolored, some withered with age. The victims are mainly in their early 20's. They are laughing at the beach, sitting in a boat, posed in front of the house, celebrating at a wedding. They are beautifully dressed. Style must have been important to them. The men are wearing ties, vests and jackets. The women are in fancy dresses and beautiful hats. They all wrote messages on the back of their pictures. They all wrote, "Remember me forever."

My grandfather can't really recall the majority of their names. It is not his fault. It's been many years. As we sit on his sofa in his Tel Aviv apartment we go through the pictures one by one. Who is this? What is this name written on the back? "Yes, yes, I do remember him — we grew up together and went to the same university. He also did not survive." He thinks he has found a picture of his house. It is a huge red-brick home with beautiful large windows. He changes his mind. It was not his, as the house in the pictures has two stories and his had only one. He must not have brought any pictures of his house with him. Why would he have? He never thought he would not be back.

My grandfather, Yosef Matz, was an ardent Zionist like the rest of his friends. It was everyone's dream to move to the Holy Land and build a Jewish State. Many of the messages on the backs of the pictures told of this dream. "Moshe Golshifsky, 1937 — Remember me forever. We will meet soon in our land, Eretz Yisroel." Unfortunately, my grandfather could only be left with his memory, as Moshe and the others never made it. My grandfather was one of the fortunate few. In 1937, he obtained a visa to study in British Palestine. Eagerly, he packed his bags, grabbed a few photo albums, and left Utena, Lithuania, to fulfill his dream. His hope was that he would be able to secure visas for his younger brother and sister. He was never able to.

He remained in contact with his family through letters. Then the war broke out. The letters became more and more scarce. Then he stopped receiving them altogether. That is what happens during a war. He would have to wait patiently until it ended and then he would bring them to the Land of Israel. He had no way of knowing what had happened. How could he have?

In August of 1941 all the Jews of the town of Utena were rounded up. They were marched to a forest. They were beaten, stripped of their clothes, and shot, one by one, their bodies falling into the shallow pit behind them. Men, women, children, young and old. This was their end. This was the end of the Jewry of Utena. This was the end of all of his family and friends. He was a Matz. There were 70 other Matz families. He was the only survivor. All he is left with are their pictures and their desperate wish — "Remember me forever."

He didn't find out what happened until after the war. He had just married. I look at his wedding invitation. Tzvi and Masha Matz (Litva) invite you to celebrate in the wedding of their son, Yosef. The chuppah will be December 21, 1941. Though Tzvi and Masha wouldn't be there. He didn't know. He couldn't have known. He shouldn't have.

My eyes glance from one invitation to the next. From the simple, tattered invitation of my grandfather's, my father's father, to the traditional, white, elegant invitation of my dear cousin.

Her family was more fortunate. They left Europe for America years before the War. They never needed to deal with such hatred, horror, and loss. They were not tortured and murdered for being Jews. This side of the family lived and flourished and had children and their children had children. And now, her family eagerly awaits her special day. And it is this invitation that sits on my desk.

We invite you to share the beginning of our new life together... Saturday, September 25, Trinity Episcopal Church. The 25th of September is Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, our day of atonement as a Jewish people and as individuals.

The extended family will attend. Her father will walk her down the aisle. The priest will marry them. This bothers no one. Her mother raves about how beautiful the church is. My cousin has decided that she will raise her children Catholic. She's not religious but her fiancée is. Quite religious actually, and he is insistent that any children he has be raised Catholic. She doesn't care. She wasn't raised with any religion, except an X-mas Tree. What is important is that they are happy. Having her raise her Jewish children Catholic will make him happy.

My cousin's mother married a non-Jew. Her uncle married a non-Jew. His two children are not Jewish. She and her brother are, but only "biologically," I'm told. Will her children ever realize they are Jewish? Not according to their father. Not according to his church.

She has no way of knowing what she will be denying her children. She has never been exposed to the beauty of her heritage, of her Judaism, of her soul. Because she has no knowledge, she has no knowledge to pass down.

Will her children ever taste fresh, home-baked challah on Shabbat night? Will they ever dance with the Torah until their little feet float in the air on Simchat Torah? Will they be given the opportunity to delve into the depths of the Torah and drink of it's life-giving waters as their minds and hearts explode with its Infinite wisdom? Will their precious neshamas, their Jewish souls, ever experience the love of their Creator?

My grandfather's family went to their deaths praying and praising their Creator. Will my cousin and her children ever recognize their ability to pray and praise Him? The answer must be "yes." For her children will have a neshama, a Jewish soul, that will always be yearning to reunite with its Source. The tragedy is that they will have to come from so far to recognize what is so near — what is hidden right inside them.

Tzvi and Masha Matz unfortunately were unable to attend their eldest son's chuppah. My grandfather was married without any family to help him celebrate. He had his first child, my father, with no family to share in the joy. When my father was born in 1945, my grandfather still didn't know what had happened. Little did he know how alone he was. No more mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin. "Remember me forever," they all wrote. He tried. I am trying.

I hope to make copies of all of my grandfather's pictures. Perhaps one of the Holocaust museums will help me restore them. Perhaps they will want to display some of the only historical artifacts of Jewish life in Utena. Maybe he will remember some more of the names. Maybe someone will be able to decipher the inscriptions on the back of the pictures. Maybe one day when my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren visit a memorial they will be able to find out about their ancestors. I can help ensure that their memories stay alive — that they don't remain old pictures in an old box tucked away in the closet. My grandfather couldn't do anything with them. It hurt too much. But I can. I can try.

And so their pictures sit on my desk. They are turned over and I stare at the inscriptions they all wrote on the back. "Remember me forever..." Directly next to it sits my grandfather's wedding invitation, and to its right, my cousin's. "Please respond at your earliest convenience" it reads. And so I write, "Rabbi and Mrs. Crispe will unfortunately not be able to attend."