On a chilly spring morning, I faced my grandmother’s grave for a second time, there to mark the ritual unveiling of her tombstone. My grandmother, a woman of good cheer and many years, seemed to hover about the small gathering, lending the day a bittersweet spirit.
But what I remember distinctly about that morning of mourning, is not just the moment when my 8-year-old daughter Talia and I huddled together and blinked back tears as we stared at the gravestone. What I also recall is the other goodbye.
I am savoring an unusual moment of calm amid the morning rush, when my daughter Talia startles me: “Next year I want to go to a Hebrew school where I can keep up my Hebrew.”
I roll my eyes toward my husband. Her pronouncement comes a few hours before the end-of-year party at her afterschool Jewish program — a program I consider to be one of the best-kept secrets of the Hebrew school world.
The ‘dead’ New York Sun lives on, fighting for dead Jews.
In the mystical heights, news is surely different than it is on earth. In the earthly realm it is of no media interest that 11-year-old Taliah Gilmore will soon be bat mitzvah. In the other realm, it is surely known that she was only 18 months old in October 2000 when, on a Jerusalem day, the Martyrs of the Al-Aksa Intifada pumped bullets into her dad’s head, the 25-year-old Esh-Kadosh (whose name means the Holy Fire).
‘It’s not my thing,” my daughter Talia, who just turned 8, politely informed me on more than one Saturday this winter, when I tried to lure her to synagogue with promises of alone time with me, and the opportunity to wear party clothes.
If you live with a vegetarian on Passover and you also happen to be allergic to nuts, the week’s meals quickly become oppressively similar. And so, when I learned that several respected kosher authorities have declared quinoa to be not only the ancient “wonder grain” of the Andes, but also fit for consumption on the holiday of Passover, I thought it time to celebrate.
On Saturdays, I often wake up in a grumpy mood. I know it is Shabbat, a day for synagogue and siestas, for refraining from the frenzy of the workaday world, for building what Abraham Joshua Heschel famously called “a palace in time.” But in my apartment, the only castles under construction are the kind we tend to trip over, those erected from blocks by my 5-year-old son and my 7-year-old daughter. In my home, Saturday has long been simply the day before Sunday. And that makes me grouchy.