L’Dor V’Dor: A Legacy of Love
My grandfather means something different to each and every person he’s met. To some, he’s kindness, always putting others before himself no matter the circumstances. To others, he’s community, building a network so wide that everyone he runs into is an old friend. To his parents, he was a miracle, not predicted to survive long past birth, or live to create all that he has in his lifetime. To me, he’s all of these things stitched together into one simple phrase: L’dor v’dor (from generation to generation).
This phrase has been familiar to me for as long as I can remember, but as I’ve grown, it’s come to mean many different things. Growing up attending a Reform Jewish synagogue, I vividly remember the catchy melody of Sol Zim’s song, “L’dor V’dor,” being sung as a part of every service. It wasn’t until studying for my bat mitzvah and analyzing my assigned Torah portion, Terumah, that I realized these words meant “from generation to generation,” and began to understand how they relate to my own life.
Three generations of my family have worshipped in the sanctuary in which I became a bat mitzvah. As I received the Torah from my father and held it in my arms during my bat mitzvah service, I established a deeper connection with “L’dor v’dor.” As it says in the song, “the tree of my family is such a part of me, the reason I am here today.” I would be nowhere without my close-knit, compassionate, and philanthropic nuclear family, and we as a family would be nowhere without the guidance and wisdom of my grandfather.
My grandfather never stops giving to others, so when one of our family’s race horses gave birth to a colt, we decided to give back to him. We named the horse after his signature catch-phrase to honor both my grandpa and the transition in our family from one generation of race horses to the next. L’dor V’dor’s racing career was short-lived, but the legacy behind his name brought joy to everyone who understood its meaning.
“L’dor v’dor” acquired new significance when I trained to become a junior cantor at my Temple and led Rosh Hashanah family services for the first time in 2016. As I called out the words I knew so well and hundreds of people responded with excitement, I watched my grandfather beam with pride and cheerfully clap along to the rhythm. His commitment to our family’s Jewishness inspired a new generation of Jewish leaders like myself.
In our family, “L’dor v’dor” has always been known as my grandpa’s catch-phrase, but once I began carrying on the legacy, it became a nickname of mine. One day I will be “passing down what’s been passed down to me,” and hopefully leaving a legacy as generous and large as my grandpa’s.
I wouldn’t be who I am today without my grandfather. He is a real life sanctuary who is mobile and flexible like the tabernacle. He creates community wherever he goes, takes those who do not have as much as he does under his wing, preserves memories of the past, and paves the way for a better future for his children and grandchildren. Papa, “your miracles give us reason to live.” L’dor v’dor.
This piece was written as part of JWA’s Rising Voices Fellowship.
How to cite this page
Corwin, Dorrit. "L’Dor V’Dor: A Legacy of Love." 11 January 2018. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on June 8, 2023) <https://jwa.org/blog/risingvoices/l-dor-v-dor-legacy-of-love>.
Beautiful story! So moving and well written.
This is beautiful, Dorrit!
Beautiful words and such a great tribute to your remarkable Grandfather. You are a wonderful legacy.
Beautiful description of your PaPa!
As always, I am blown away by Dorrit Corwin. I am proud to call her a member of my family. Like her grandfather (my uncle through marriage), she is an inspiration.
this is the best definition of family I’ve ever read...congratulations to all of u