Thursday, December 14, 2006

Just Because Bubbie & Zadie Asked So Nicely...

dear bubbie/zadie,

i wrote all about you in my article, but neglected to tell you of my own fond family memories of chanukah in my family's home.

being that i'm the only piano player amidst the family, every year, during the singing of "Maoz Tsur," i was called upon to sit at the piano and accompany the singing voices.

although we had several menorahs, my favorite one is my parents' that was in my mother's home while growing up. she also has a card with the words to "Maoz Tsur" printed on it, and it, too, comes from her home. it traveled across the ocean, along with the menorah, to a new country, a new language, a new life...but with old and familiar traditions in tow.

after lighting the menorah, singing the blessings and songs, we'd always go and eat latkes that my father would prepare on the electric fryer, when i was a kid. my brothers and i would eat, then play a bit of dreidel and eat the chocolate coins we got. we'd usually get a silver dollar too, on the first night of Chanukah. gifts and large gatherings were not our style; family and a warm, intimate setting superceded all that.

every year, we go to my parents at least on one of the nights to light together and enjoy each other's company. we take pictures of my parents with my children...and we hope to be able to do that for many years to come! and yes, i'm still asked to sit down and play "Maoz Tsur" on the piano.


Toronto, Canada


dan said...

Dear Pearl,

When we opened up our computer this morning to read our Gmail, -- that's ''G'' for gefilte fish, did you know? -- we were so happy to see your letter!

It made our day, thanks so much.

Your newspaper article was five stars par excellence, such a good writer you are! You really understand what we are all about, and that made us happy.

And your letter of your memories is so beautiful. Did you know, Zadie also plays the piano, but strictly amateur! Still, he's got an ear for music, while me, I got a tin ear, if you know what I mean. So we admire you playing the piano and the story about Maoz Tsur is so sweet and lovely. Warms our hearts.

We know your mom came from Switzerland, and those items came across the sea with her, what nice memories... a new life, a new country, a new language, ....don't we know! Yes!

And yes, to enjoy Chanukah Hannukah Hanukkah -- just HOW do you spell it these days? -- with family and friends, together, in good company, this is the reason for and why our traditions to live in. You got it right, dear.

And hey, por favor, can you play Maoz Tsur for us too, maybe in our dreams tonight? We will be thinking of you on this, the first night of Hannukah.

Thanks for writing, and keep in touch, Pearl! We will NEVER forget you. Pearl, the Canadian writer. Newspaper writer! Poet! Blogger!

We will be looking for more articles by you in the future, and believe it or not, we read your blog regularly. It's a.....pearl! You're a gem!

Shalom aleichem from,

Bubbie and Zadie

(Zadie's taking a nap right now, so I am hunt and pecking on the keyboard. -- Bubbie)

cruisin-mom said...

both great letters...the one to bubbie and zadie, and the one back!

kasamba said...

You have the sweetest grandparents!
May you all enjoy each other until 120.
Have a great chanukah!

(Did you get my e-mail?)

Anonymous said...

being the only jewish family on our block in windsor, i don't really have great channukah memories...pessach, now that is another wonderful to read about channukah in your house...sounds like what i do every year here for my kids and the babies...the smells and tastes and memories...they last forever...thanks for sharing yours...chag sameach

justgraham said...

Hello! How are you? Have a wonderful festive season!

dan said...

A Christian friend of mine wrote me today:

The anthem "Maoz Tzur" is sung during Hanukkah celebrations as a
declaration of God's faithfulness and His ability to deliver His
people. I would like to quote the first verse of this song as a
conclusion to today's study. Another name for the anthem is "Rock of

Rock of Ages let our song

Praise Thy saving power;

Thou amidst the raging foes

Wast our sheltering tower.

Furious they assailed us,

But Thine arm availed us,

And Thy word broke their sword

When our own strength failed us.

And Thy word broke their sword

When our own strength failed us.

dan said...

Another beautiful letter:

"Dear Bubbie and Zaida," an adult reader wrote in after reading the story in the newspaper.

"It's Hanukkah time, and I can't stop thinking about you. Bubbie, I never got to meet you. You died before I was born. Zaida, I got to meet you only once, when I was 4 years old, but I barely remember it, although Mom tells me you thought I was charming. The only thing I remember about you, Zaida, is that you offered me a piece of Chiclets gum, which I thought was very exotic and special. You also gave me a silver dollar because I had learned how to brush my teeth properly. I know your name here in America was Morris, but Mom says you were called Moishe back in Russia. I know you worked as a carpenter, and then opened your own little candy shop in Bayonne, New Jersey, but what you might not know is that the wooden jewelry you made for Mom - the bracelet, the beaded necklace - are in my keepsake box right now. I can't believe you could make such beautiful jewelry out of wood!

Bubbie, you never got to know this, but I am named after you. Back in Latvia, you were called Shularifka, and when I was born, my parents named me Lara - they took the "lar" from your name and made my name. Since you were called Shula for short, they made my middle name Susan. The only things I know about you are what Mom tells me, and those memories are fading fast. (Can you believe Mom, your youngest daughter, turned 74 this year? Who knew?) Mom tells me you were quite the head of the household - koshering everything for the Sabbath, keeping an eye on Zaida, brushing Mom's long curly hair (which I have, too) and yelling at Uncle Jesse to stop teasing Mom. We only have a few photos of you, but you would be amazed to see how much I look like you. Remember the amber bead necklace you brought with you from Latvia when you were 14 years old? It's mine now, and I will cherish it always. How I wish I had gotten to meet you! I always wonder if the things I find funny about life would make you laugh, too. Do you know that every time I light candles for Hanukkah or Pesach, I think of you and wonder if you'd think I was doing it properly? I like knowing that I'm saying the same prayers you said, and your mother said, and her mother said. I'm keeping tradition alive.

Bubbie and Zaida, I wish you were here to see that by leaving your homes in Latvia and Russia and coming to America, not knowing the language and having only a distant family member to sponsor you, you not only created a new American family, but you have given me opportunities and happiness beyond what you could ever imagine. Bubbie, I think of you getting on that ship when you were 14 years old, all alone, your parents and family all gone, hoping you could just make it to America alive, and I am grateful to you, because you made my rich and happy life possible. I wish you could see what life is like now. Did you know that I can talk to people all over the world whenever I want, for free? It's called email, and it's fantastic!

I hope this letter gets to both of you, wherever you are. I never got to know you, but I love you anyway."