A chance to marvel about love

It's a 50th anniversary unlike any other.

Yes, there will be champagne toasts, cake, good wishes from friends and family. Yes, for Herman and Marianne Shine and Max and Herta Drimmer, it will be a day to remember, a half-century of friendship and love.

But this Feb. 17 is more than just a day for a private celebration.

It's an occasion for all of us to let our too-prevalent cynicism dissipate. It's a chance to marvel at the almost magical survival of two couples during the Holocaust, through courage, undying loyalty, strength of character and love.

It's a chance, in fact, to celebrate the very survival of the Jewish people.

When we hear the story of the Shines and the Drimmers, we say "never again" but we also hope "again and again" — hoping the real family values that kept those couples entwined for 50 years can continue to flourish.

Max Drimmer and Herman Shine were just on the cusp of adulthood when they were snatched from their families, forced into a concentration camp and robbed of their innocence.

They became each other's family for five years. They risked their lives together in a prisoner mutiny at Sachsenhausen. They escaped Auschwitz.

They also shared the dreams that kept them company through the unspeakable terror that was the Holocaust. In the midst of incomprehensible hate, Drimmer and Shine clung to their humanity through dreams of love.

For Drimmer, it was the beautiful girl he had met at a dance; for Shine, the teenager he spotted from his work detail on the roof of an Auschwitz satellite camp.

Like all other miracles in Jewish lore, the story of the four couples surviving the war and staying married for 50 years may not appear as colossal as seas parting or bushes burning. But it is nonetheless a powerful testament to what we are capable of when we let ourselves believe in love.

Like other miraculous Jewish stories, theirs gives us hope. It is a tale that offers a series of small miracles that deliver Jews from great evil.

And for a second we can see ourselves, too, as capable of loving others with almost divine power, no matter what.