So much of who I am today stems from time spent with my Jewish grandmother. My household organization, my sense of fulfillment when feeding my children nutritious meals, and even my inclination to speak my mind has been shaped by the large role my grandmother played during my childhood. She was ever-present, especially when my parents were away, and attended every music recital and awards ceremony no matter where or when they fell. Simply put, my Jewish grandmother was my second mother.
I remember waking to the smell of cinnamon on Saturday mornings after sleepovers at my grandparents’ home. The most perfectly baked, homemade French toast waited for me on the kitchen table, always with an array of juice to choose from. Most of all, I remember going to sleep anticipating my favorite breakfast in the morning and leaving the table with a full, nourished belly. Time spent with my grandmother came with the enjoyment of delectable treats and special meals. She even managed to make gefilte fish taste absolutely delicious.
When I was sick and my parents had to work, I stayed with my grandmother. She was attentive and caring, making sure I had enough blankets and the perfect meal to aid in my recovery. While science hasn’t proven the effects of a Jewish grandmother’s chicken soup, I know we can all attest to the healing powers of these pots full of magic. Jewish grandmothers also have a built-in thermometer in the palm of their hand. With a gentle touch to the keppy, they can distinguish between a feverish body and one that is perfectly fine.
Speaking of perfect, my grandmother’s home was always superbly clean and organized. I can’t say my drawers and closets are equivalent to my grandmother’s standards, but her ability to do it all taught me the importance of having a warm, clean household. And when spills and accidents created messes, she showed me that household items come second to the wellbeing of those we love. She never raised her voice or got angry. Her ability to remain calm is something I am still striving for as I find my way through this parenting journey.
It is no secret that Jewish grandmothers love to spoil their grandchildren. No gift, big or small, is too much when it comes to giving to your grandchild. When my parents were away, my grandmother took me to the store to pick out new bedding for my, not one, but two, beds. I picked my favorite print and within hours, the sheets were cleaned, and my room had been given a bright, grandmother-approved, makeover. There is no doubt that Jewish grandmothers love to see their grandchildren smile.
When grandchildren grow to be adults, the role of a Jewish grandmother doesn’t waver. At 38 years old, I am lucky to still have my 90-year-old grandmother in my world. Her one-of-a-kind advice is backed by years of wisdom and learning. The way she lights up when she sees her great-grandchildren proves just how strong a Jewish grandmother’s love spans across a life and through generations.
Now I watch my own mother as she fills the role of grandmother to my children. There is no distance she won’t go to help me ensure their safety and well-being. As I watch another generation receive unwavering love, acceptance and endless meals and treats, I see the magic of the Jewish grandmother coming to life, once again.
I know not everyone can say they had a devoted and loving Jewish grandmother. Each day I count my blessings and remember how fortunate I was, and still am, to have had the support and love that I received from mine. My Jewish grandmother, without a doubt, has impacted the person that I have become, and I will never take that for granted.
But for those of us lucky enough to have Jewish grandmothers like mine, we need to thank them. Not only do they love us unconditionally and want nothing more than to see us happy, but they also connect us to our past, providing a reminder of how far we have come as Jewish women in a world that once silenced us. We are strong, capable, interesting women with stories to tell and an impact to impart on our world. We owe thanks to our Jewish grandmothers who paved the way to a world that now seeks out our thoughts and ideas with open minds. Their struggles and efforts to make change have brought equality to the women of the 21st century.
One day, I hope to be a Jewish grandmother myself. My grandchildren will awaken to the smell of cinnamon after sleepovers. My doors will remain open whether they’re feeling sick, if they want advice, or when they simply need a grandmother’s hug. The power of a Jewish grandmother is immense, and nothing will ever change that.
To all the Jewish grandmothers around the world, we appreciate you and your endless love. Your efforts will last forever.
To my Jewish grandmother, known to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren as Gammy, you are simply the best.