My maternal grandmother, Ann, was born in 1918 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and my paternal grandmother, Anna was born in Russia in 1904 before moving to the small town of Gardner, MA at the…tender age of two. They lived in an alternative universe from the one we, our daughters, nieces, and granddaughters live in today. And as much as I cherish their memories, that’s a good thing. My grandmothers lived in a male-dominated world. They played the roles passed down from their mothers and grandmothers in traditionally Jewish… >> Read More
When I was in high school and college, I chose to read and see anything having to do with the Holocaust. Being the daughter of a survivor, it seemed the logical thing to do.
The very last book I…picked up on the subject was at least 10 years ago, “The Painted Bird” by the late Jerzy Kosinski. It wasn’t even a Holocaust passage that made me stop reading, but at some point I slammed the book shut and that was that. My saturation, my immersion in the subject overall, had reached its threshold. Also a… >> Read More
Every once in a while, it hits me like a soft pillow. I am a matriarch!
This year, for the first time, we are going to my daughter’s house for the first days of Passover. She is exactly the same…age I was when my parents first began coming to me and my sister who lived around the corner. Nearly a quarter century has passed since the day we told our parents that it was time to give up the seder in their home, where bodies slept all over the Upper West Side apartment in… >> Read More
When my mom was pregnant with me, my parents made a conscious commitment to raise me in a home steeped in Jewish culture. And so, they decided that Friday night would be our special family time when…we would welcome the Shabbat together. Arguments would be forgotten. Stresses and strains left behind. The candles would cast a warm glow on us as my parents did the blessing for the children, and we said the prayers over the wine and bread. While our family was not particularly religious, we had our own custom,… >> Read More
In the last days of my mom's life, when breathing took sheer force of will and epic determination, she she told me how sorry she was that she wouldn't be around to see me have children.
"I would…have loved to pick them up from school for you," she told me. "I would have made banana shakes and tuna salad with carrots and onions." I was 23 years old when she died on an incongruously sunny day in mid-January. I remember dry heaving into the toilet. I remember rummaging through her nightstand and… >> Read More