Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Second-Generation

Growing up in Wichita, Kansas there were just a handful of Jews who’d been in the Nazi death camps. Therefore my father would be called upon from time-to-time to speak about his life in Hitler’s Germany. His stories seared my soul. So much so that at one point a close friend in Shilo asked me to speak on a local panel of second-generation Holocaust survivors. I had to refuse. Thankfully my father had escaped Europe in 1937. Technically I am not a second-generation Holocaust survivor and many of my neighbors are.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Cost of Dying


When my father died ten years ago my neighbor, a rabbi, advised me on the wording of his headstone. Make sure to inscribe that your father was not just buried in The Land of Israel but he lived here also. This friend agreed with many of our Sages that to be buried in the Holy Land is a positive action but to live here is a basic commandment. My father deserved praise for having done so.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

My Uncle Aaron’s Story


Every family has its stories. Some are documented and one hundred percent accurate. Others grow and change to the point that they are little more than legends. I’m not sure into which category this story falls. I never met the protagonist as he died over sixty years ago, before I was born. The source of the tale for me was my father and I don't know if he heard it from his father or directly from his Uncle Aaron, my grandfather’s sibling.

At the time World War One broke out my grandfather had three brothers. Two had left their home in Germany and settled in America years earlier. My grandfather had been in a horrible accident as a young man. While driving his wagon his horse spooked and galloped out-of-control. My grandfather fell to the ground tangled in the reins and was dragged a long distance. He suffered the rest of his life from a lame hand and therefore was not drafted into the army. Uncle Aaron was the only of the brothers who had that dubious honor.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Rock of Ages

“What’s a nice Chanukah song?’

Wanting to give fair time to our holiday in December the teacher had called me along with the few other Jewish students in her class to the side.

“Rock of Ages,” we announced without hesitation.

“Ah,” she smiled and began singing.

Rock of ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee

We looked at her puzzled and one girl spoke up.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Place of Birth

Twenty-eight years ago our first sabra, native–born Israeli, was born. His brit took place on Chanukah and after the holiday my husband made his way to the American Consulate to register our little boy’s birth. Once there he had an unpleasant surprise. The clerk informed him that he had to scratch out the word Israel on the application form. It was written right after Jerusalem and a comma in the space designated for place of birth.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Sirens

It was Shabbat night, a little before nine in the evening when the sirens sounded. First they came from the village two kilometers to the east of us. Seconds later the Shilo sirens joined the wailing.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Choosing a Grandmother Tongue


My oldest grandchild was just a little more than a toddler when she gave me a puzzled look and announced in Hebrew that I didn’t speak her language very well. I had to agree but didn’t hesitate to remind her that my English was very good. She nodded at that.

“And I’m a good seamstress,” I added.

Her response was an enthusiastic nod. “The dress you made for me was wonderful.”

“What else do I do well?” Speaking in Hebrew I wanted help building my self-confidence.