Out of the Mouths of Babes: Lessons from My Granddaughter Stella

Stella Savetsky is the first born of our five grandkids. Each is equally precious, but for several reasons our 10-year-old granddaughter Stella is truly a special soul. Laurie and I are grateful for having recently spent lots of quality time over the summer with Stella, during which time she taught us many important life lessons.

Let me roll the clock back to the significance of Stella’s birth. In the family tree that starts with my mother’s parents, Meyer and Pauline Oberstein, I fall in generation three (G-3), along with 17 others. Our daughter Lizzy is one of 62 descendants in G-4, a number that will surely grow much larger as the 12 G-3 kids of my uncle Rabbi Leonard Oberstein continue to have a lot more babies. G-5 will one day likely be filled with hundreds of cousins, but the fact will always remain that the very first member of G-5 was Stella.

To appreciate the significance of a G-5 with hundreds of Jewish cousins, you have to realize that it’s a miracle there’s a G-1 with Meyer and Pauline at all. They both barely escaped Hitler when they came to America in some of the final waves of Jewish immigration before World War II. Hitler’s plan was to wipe out the world’s Jews, and indeed he killed one-third of us, including some of our relatives who weren’t as fortunate as my grandparents. In the words of my son-in-law’s “Unkie” (a Holocaust survivor) upon seeing Stella, her birth proves that “We beat Hitler.”

Last week in New York, I attended a profound Sabbath class by Rabbi Shlomo Farhi of the Safra Synagogue. Amplifying the significance of Stella’s birth, Rabbi Farhi taught that, while marching to their death, Jewish Holocaust victims sang in Yiddish: “mir veln zey iberlebn,” which translates to “we will outlive them.” Nazis stole those marchers’ lives but not their spirit. Five generations later, Stella is living proof that indeed “we DID outlive them.”

As the leader of her generation, Stella bears a heavy responsibility. I’m proud to say she’s setting quite an example. Each week on Instagram she posts “Stella’s Torah Corner.” In that short video, Stella teaches that week’s Torah portion, in her own creative way with her own dramatic flair. She reaches thousands each week who would otherwise miss out on important Torah teachings. If you haven’t seen it, check out Lizzy Savetsky on Instagram and learn along with me from “Stella’s Torah Corner” every Friday. I had to substitute teach for her once, and let me tell you, it’s a lot harder than it looks!

Stella makes it a point to open her heart to everyone she meets. She once told me that at school she pays special attention to those who are alone, seeking out the kid who has no one with whom to talk. She is a very loving and devoted friend.

On the final day of her last visit to Fort Worth, she said to us “Let’s make it count.” I asked what she wanted to do, expecting some kid entertainment activity. Her answer: “I want to go see Bobbie,” the name we call my mother Elsie, her 92-year-old great grandmother. Visiting her great grandmother was Stella’s idea of making the day count.

Stella is growing up way too fast for us. She recently reminded us that her childhood is mostly in the rearview mirror when she no longer needed her lovey “Ray Ray,” from whom she used to be inseparable. Her words “I don’t need Ray Ray anymore” still sting in my heart and bring tears to my eyes.

In Jewish tradition, a girl takes on adult Jewish responsibilities at age 12 at her Bat Mitzvah. Boys do the same at age 13 at a Bar Mitzvah. Stella’s Bat Mitzvah is only about a year away. The date is already set—November 10, 2024. No doubt her Bat Mitzvah year will be filled with meaningful moments and lessons. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted.

Yes, Stella is growing up fast, but what a caring and beautiful young lady she’s becoming. Laurie and I are a very proud and grateful Mimi and Zaidy. We look forward to continuing to learn from Stella’s gigantic heart as we watch her future unfold. Little ones can teach us very big life lessons.

Marvin E. Blum

Marvin and Laurie Blum’s granddaughter Stella teaches important life lessons through her words and actions, such as her weekly “Stella’s Torah Corner.” This episode received 56,500 views.