Love is… the ‘no-itch’ 77-year marriage

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Love is… the ‘no-itch’ 77-year marriage

There are at least 17 Jewish couples in the UK who have been married for longer than 70 years

Louisa Walters is Features Editor at the Jewish News and specialises in food and travel writing

Sid and Anne Schlesinger
Sid and Anne Schlesinger

“Give and take – he gives and I take!” laughs Anne Schlesinger when I ask her how she and her husband Sidney have managed almost 77 years of marriage. On a more serious note, though: “He’s terrific bless him. It’s been a wonderful marriage – a true partnership”.

They met during the war when she was just 15 and he was 16. Anne’s sister was hosting a what we might call an evening-in at the family’s home in Whitechapel and Sidney was one of the crowd who came. They were married on 14 October 1945, a month before Anne (maiden name Emden) turned 18. Tragically her mother had died in 1941 when the last V2 bomb dropped on their flat. She left behind four children, two of whom had been evacuated to safety but Anne, her sister and her father were in the flat when it happened. They all survived.

The wedding took place at Great Garden Street Synagogue in Stamford Hill with a reception afterwards in a hall. Sidney was away fighting for the early years of their marriage, only returning home for a couple of weeks. After the war they rented a few rooms in a house in Stamford Hill, had two children and Anne did part-time work as a shorthand typist and bookkeeper to save for a deposit to buy their own home. Sidney became a sewing machine mechanic after the war and eventually they moved to Tottenham, and then to Gants Hill where they still live. The couple have four grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and two great-great- grandchildren.

Ruth Clements and Ronald Lee both grew up in Stamford Hill but, despite being just a year apart in age, never met. Fast forward to 1943 when 16-year-old Ruth lived in Hampstead Garden and 17-year-old Ronald lived in Hendon. They met at a Jewish club in Hendon Club and married three years later, on 27 June 1946. A chuppah at Kinloss was followed by a party at Porchester Hall in Bayswater, for which they had to obtain a special licence as wartime rationing was still in force. The young couple lived with Ruthe’s parents for the first six years of their marriage and then they bought a house together with them in Finchley and all lived there together. When Ruth’ s mum passed away they moved with her father to Woodside Park until he died aged 95.

Ruth and Ronald Lee

Ruth and Ronald have three daughters, eight grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren! Theirs was a traditional marriage with Ruth doing the domestic chores, especially as Ronald used to travel to Hong Kong for weeks at a time for work in fashion. Ruth wasn’t a slave to the kitchen though – at just 5ft 2 she was a model for petite clothing ranges. In later life as her health has declined Ronald has taken over and now cooks all the meals.

What’s the secret to such a long and happy marriage? “Oh, that’s simple,” says Ronald. ”We are both still totally in love with each other. “Daughter Gay corroborates this. “Mum has Alzheimer’s and is confused but she never forgets to tell Dad she loves him and she is always asking for a kiss and cuddle. My parents are absolutely devoted to each other.”

Wally Gallick, 98, was conscripted to the RAF during the war and was stationed in Sunderland. He met Hazel Mersky, now 96, who was a local girl, at the Maccabi centre They got married on 17 June 1947 and live together in a flat in Pinner. When they were younger they were very involved in the shul community and still attend events when they can.

Their wedding ceremony was at Sunderland Beis Hamidrash and then there was a party for 150 people at a hotel in Seaburn, which is the Sunderland seafront. As it was summer people walked along the seafront before the dinner. They were the first couple in the northeast after the war to be allowed to have a chicken dinner for their wedding due to rationing.

Hazel and Wally Gallick
Hazel, Wally and great-grandson Nadav

When they first got married they lived above Wally’s family’s furniture shop in Fulham. They had two children, and now have five grandchildren, who live in London, Israel and New York, and one great-grandchild, Nadav, with another one on the way.

Wally was an accountant and Hazel worked for 27 years as a model for women’s clothing at Harrods. What is the secret to their long and happy marriage? “Give and take,” says Hazel! “And being tolerant of one another,” adds Wally. They celebrated their milestone anniversary with a barbeque for their extended family.




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