READY!! đź’–

This section will feature YOUR stories. Stories of roots, family, identity, culture, searching, finding, funny memories and anecdotes; it all goes! Your choice. 

Please keep stories to 600 words or less. Also, if you only want to share one or two sentences , that’s  welcome too! 

You can write your stories in the comments section at the bottom of this  post.  I posted a story of mine to get us started. 

Thank you. I can’t wait to read and share your stories! 

TAG – You’re it! 💖  ©

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T@socialcut


7 thoughts on “YOUR STORIES

  1. Dawni'el ben Leib HaLevi says:


    Growing up, there were only two ritual observances in an otherwise atheist family. We had Seders, and I lit the candles at Chanuka. We never went to shul. As in, never — not even for the high holidays. We were absolutely Jews, MOT and all, but devoid of spiritualism or observance.

    My mom insisted I train for a bar mitzva. I had no clue why. Nice party at the end. After years of being expected to attend Shabbat about once a month (no family, just other students), I went to shul the week after, and affirmed that there was absolutely nothing there for me.

    Fast forward 33 years. My daughter (step daughter) is pregnant. OK, yeah, that’s nice. Then my granddaughter is born, and I hold her. And HaShem slams me upside the head with a 4×6, saying, “I dare ya, tell me again that Life is just a physico-chemical reaction!” Holding a miracle, I agreed there was more to Life 🙂 … I later realized it was a 4×6 because after the epiphany, I could see the times He had been hitting me with 2x4s to no avail.

    For months I didn’t know what to do with my new-found revelation. Later in the year, I was visiting family in NY, including a cousin. In that visit, my Cos asks if I would join her the coming Friday eve at shul for her dad’s yahrzeit. No-brainer, another evening with a favorite cousin, “Sure,” I say.

    Pleasant Kabbalat Shabbat (didn’t know the name at the time). Start Maariv, get to the Shema. Every cell in my body vibrated. That shul’s minhag was to stand for the Shema, and I immediately had to sit down, and consider what had just happened. I found my place. And understood, and was able to thank my mom for sending me to Talmud Torah. The seed was planted. It finally flowered.

    I became an addict 🙂 … I had to go to Friday services. The following Friday in NY, and then after getting back to Minnesota. I cut out the Yellow Pages listings for synagogues in both Minneapolis and St. Paul (1990s, folks) and worked my way through the lists. I travelled around every Friday to a different shul, and then braved a Shabbat Shacharit here and there. I found a home at a Conservative shul, not far from the tree at all: ‘Twas a Conservative shul at which I studied and celebrated my bar mitzva.

    Some years later, feeling unease with the Conservative stream, I decided to “re-taste” other shuln and other streams again. I became a member at a Reform, a Renewal minyan, and Reconstructionist, as well as a mainline OU Orthodox. At one point all of them during the same couple of years. I settled at the Orthodox shul. Though never fully observant, I was welcomed, and found the learning superb. I remain ever grateful, though, for the learning at each shul I attended in the past nearly 30 years.

    l’shalom u’vracha, in peace and blessing

    • Vivi says:

      Dawni’el ben Leib HaLevim, This is wonderful. I am so appreciative that you would share your story here.
      I relate to much of your experience. I love the “train” for the Bar Mitzva – and still, even though you did not connect at the time, it planted a seed. How funny and wonderful to be “lit up” in such a surprising and initially not sought after way. I am very happy you chose to share your story. Thank you. 🙂

  2. Zack Silverman says:

    I can’t remember exactly when my grandfather Ira died, but I don’t think I was older than 14 or 15, and since he lived far away, I knew him well but I didn’t know him super well, if that makes sense. If I remember two things about him, it’s that he loved to fish and play golf. I was never very interested in golf, but he taught me how to fish on the lake behind his home in Florida when I was very young. When we would take trips to Florida to visit, I always remember specifically looking forward to getting up on the banks of the lake and casting out a line, and I still enjoy fishing to this day. Something about being out in nature, sitting by the water, and cracking open a beer (nowadays, not then obviously) makes for a great way to unwind after a long work week. I don’t fish nearly as often as I’d like to now, but in a world that’s constantly moving faster and faster, we need to take a lesson from my grandfather and bait a hook every now and then.

    • Vivi says:

      Love this. Thank you Zack for sharing this precious memory. Going backwards in time with your Grandpa, and forward as you bring this back into your life. I think some fishing rods are in your future.

  3. Vivi says:

    The “Halloween” story below was sent in anonymously. It is beautiful. Read it; you will be glad you did. It is longer than 600 words, but the reader sent the story in before I set a parameter. I am so glad she beat me to it.

    It was the holiest day of the year – Halloween. Anticipation ran high. Everywhere, preparations for the great holiday were underway. Bright orange pumpkins had been carved into jack o lanterns ready to be displayed on lawns and door stoops. Bags, boxes, and bars of candy lay stockpiled in cabinets, waiting for that first magical ring of the doorbell. Goblins, ghosts, and ghouls hung in windows and on doors. Some enterprising families even stung witches in trees and monsters in the bushes just to get into the spirit of the festivities. Even school promised to be a day of fun. Through the inscrutable workings of government, Halloween was not a Federal holiday. Sacrilegious really, but no matter. Teachers would pay tribute to the occasion by assigning light work in the morning and a party in the afternoon complete with cupcakes, punch, and candy, just to get the sugar spike rolling.
    Most wondrous of all were the costumes. For one magical evening children could become anyone or anything we wished, constrained only by imagination or parental prerogative, in the case of some of the older girls in the neighborhood. My own glorious creation had been draped over the chair in my bedroom for the past two weeks. It was the first thing I saw in the morning, the last before I shut my eyes at night. What could be said about my costume? What couldn’t be said. It was poetry on a hanger, loveliness in a 50% polyester blend, a marvel of the latest assembly line technology out of China.
    And I had chosen wisely. At 10 years old, I was too mature for Disney princesses or cartoon characters. According to the costume package, I was a showgirl with enough crinoline, taffeta and rosettes to outfit a Rockette chorus line. In my petticoat, dress, hat, and gloves, I was as elegant and sophisticated as it was possible to be, even if my grandmothers had refused to let me borrow their make-up and jewelry.
    My Grandmothers did not really get Halloween, no matter how patiently and repeatedly I explained it to them. As Russian immigrants, they had no history with the holiday. In their eyes it was trivial, frivolous, with frightening roots in anti Semitism.
    Not all adults were so intractable. My mother had understood. Despite her own mother’s approbation, she had been a fan of the holiday and everything that went along with it, decorations, candy, and even dressing up. But my mother was not around to celebrate this Halloween. God had taken her from us. That was my grandmother’s way of saying she had died. No matter how we phrased it, the fact of the matter was, in her absence, my grandmothers had been called upon to keep our home fires burning. Normally, they tagged teamed, placing themselves on a rotating schedule so one or the other was always at our house, but never at the same time. My father worked to make sure their visits didn’t overlap because the grandmas didn’t really get along these days. No one in my family did. Since my mother died, the grandma’s argued with each other and my father. My father argued with my grandmas and they all fought with me. My family had shattered like the glass door after my brother accidentally put his head through it. What had once been a smooth, solid, dependable unit lay in shards and splinters. I didn’t think we would ever be whole again.
    Even before my mother’s death, my grandmothers hadn’t been the best of friends. In their eyes, just because their children liked each other enough to marry didn’t mean the two of them needed to be chums. Given their diametrically opposing personalities and temperaments, it wasn’t really surprising they could find a way to argue about anything, even subjects on which they agreed perfectly.
    Nowhere was this more obvious then in their approach to meal time. Grandma Fanny had her grandchildren’s preference memorized with the accuracy of a computer. Onions were removed from my brother’s food with the precision of a surgeon. His tender palette would never come into contact with tomatoes or peppers. My sisters plate had the various foods separated as cleanly and concisely as the clean and dirty laundry, to avoid any possible cross contamination. As for me, I could count on Grandma Fanny to cook my egg to perfection. No revolting runny yoke on my plate. Grandma Fanny understood the delicate sensibilities of her grandchildren
    Grandma Sadie, on the other hand, never met a childish inclination worth taking into consideration. She lived by a few simple rules, none of which involved pleasing me. My cousin said if she weren’t Jewish, she would run the Gulag. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant except it translated into me not getting my own way most of the time. She was under 5 feet tall but my brother, sister and I crossed her at our peril. If I suggested my egg could use another minute in the pan she reared up to her full 4 ft 10m inches, waving whatever kitchen utensil she had in her hand, stood over me and my runny yoke and asked if I knew what the children in Russia ate.
    “I’ll tell you what they eat,” she thundered. “They eat cabbage and potatoes, sometimes just potatoes. Did you know that?”
    Yes, I most certainly did. I had been hearing about Russian children and their potatoes since I was young enough to be eating pureed peas. I had it up to here with the Russian children.

    When the Grandma’s were in the house at the same time, the tension was high. So, it was in everyone’s interest to keep them as far apart as my sister’s carrots and pot roast. But today, of all days, a wire had been tripped and they were both with us. My father had been too busy to drive Grandma Fanny back to her apartment in Manhattan but had neglected to notify Grandma Sadie her services would not be needed. She had been driven to our house by my aunt.
    The reason my father was preoccupied was because my sister was taking up so much of his time and attention. Fate had dealt her a very cruel blow. Of all times to get a virus, she had been struck down two days before Halloween. We had hoped for a speedy recovery, but this morning she still had a fever. My father and grandmothers weren’t the only ones to be inconvenienced by her illness. Her absence on the trick or treating circuit would reduce the candy haul in our house by one third. And less for me if I was forced to share my takings with her. Luckily, she was only 4 so could be palmed off with lollipops and good n plenty if Grandma Sadie didn’t get involved in the trade negotiations. Unlikely, but one could hope.
    The only silver lining was my sister would have not one, but two devoted servants to nurse her back to health and mitigate the pain of missing trick or treating. My grandmothers got very fired up when one of us was sick. This morning my father, brother and I had left home to a loud debate over whether to call the doctor again or not to call the doctor again, whether my sister should have juice and toast or milk and rice, whether she should watch cartoons in bed or have story time on the couch. At this point, my sister and her fever were irrelevant. The grandmas were locked in a battle of wills as powerful and unyielding as the Cold War. The spelling tests and geography lesson awaiting me in school were looking pretty good.
    The school day passed swiftly in a haze of fun and excitement. Finally, the fleet of yellow school buses rolled out of the school parking lot to deliver the children of my town home to begin preparations for the night ahead. As soon as my feet hit the cement of my street, I raced to my house. With only 3 hours before my friends and I began the serious work of candy collection, I had work to do.
    Flinging open the door to my house, I rushed inside. Yelling to my grandmothers not to bother with a snack, not with the sugar still circulating in my system from the school party, I dashed upstairs to my room, flung open the door and stopped…
    Where was my costume. Maybe one of the grandmas had hung it in my closet. They were known for that sort of antic. But it wasn’t there. Panicking, I raced downstairs.
    “Grandma, Grandma, where’s my Halloween costume?”
    Grandma Fanny looked up from the book she was reading to my sister.
    “I don’t know, darling. Isn’t it in your room…”
    Without waiting to hear more, I zoomed into the den, where Grandma Sadie was knitting a sweater.
    “Grandma, Grandma, my costume’s gone. Where is it?”
    If anyone could hunt down a missing Halloween costume, it was Grandma Sadie.
    “It’s in your room,” she said, still counting her stitches. “Where you left it this morning.”
    “NO, ITS NOT,” I shouted.
    At that moment, Grandma Fanny called from upstairs. “Darling, here it is.”
    Weak with relief, I raced towards her voice which was coming from of all places, my sister’s room.

    Even now, more than 50 years later, the pain and shock of those next few moments is fresh in my mind.
    Grandma Fanny was standing in my sister’s room, happily pointing to my costume on my sister’s bed. I looked at the costume, I looked at my grandmother, I looked at my other grandmother who had just joined us to see what was going on, and I let out a howl of such force is most likely still traveling, like a sonic boom, through space.
    The costume laying on the bed this afternoon, was not the costume I had left on my chair this morning. In its place was a relic, an imposter, a shadow of its former self. My costume, my brilliant, beautiful, perfect costume had been reduced to tatters by a play date with my sister when my grandmothers had been busy cooking or cleaning or arguing with each other.
    “We’ll fix it,” Grandma Fanny said doubtfully.
    “It’s fine,” Grandma Sadie said,
    But we all knew the truth. It couldn’t be fixed, and it wasn’t fine. The great technological advances which have revolutionized so many workplaces and transformed so many fields have largely bypassed the Halloween costume industry. What you see in the stores today is largely what was to be found in the stores in the 1960’s. The costumes are cheap and tawdry, a tribute to planned obsolescence. Good for one night and then ready for the trash. My magnificent costume lay limp and pitiful on my sister’s bed. I lay down next to it. We would be buried together.
    My grandmothers looked at me. They looked at each other. We all looked at my costume. They stood for a moment taking in my tear stained face, my crumpled spirit, my utter misery. Now, my grandmothers may not have understood Halloween, but they were no strangers to loss and suffering. They recognized pain when it was sniveling in front of them. While I wailed and moaned, they came to a decision. Putting aside their differences, they consulted with each other like the board of a failing company. And then, like a well oiled machine, they swung into action. Grandma Fanny drew and cut out the pattern, Grandma Sadie got the sewing machine up and running. G Fanny found her sewing box, G Sadie located the scrap bag full of fabric. Together they cut and measured, pinned, and stitched. For two hours they blitzed through cotton and corduroy, lace and ribbons My brother and sister played. I was on stand by as a consultant. By dinner time, my costume was ready. Rumpelstiltskin may have spun straw into gold, but he was a beginner compared to the grandmas.
    Gossamer and gauze, glitter, and glamour. My old costume, even before my sister mauled it, was a rag compared to the magnificent gown waiting for me now. I pulled it over my head and stared at my reflection in the mirror. Starring back at me was a woman of refinement and beauty. At least in my own eyes.
    After dinner, my brother and I got ready to join our friends. Before we left, my father insisted on taking pictures. My brother was in his fireman’s uniform. My sister joined in the spirit of the evening by wearing her Cinderella costume purchased before her illness. And I was the bell of the ball in my, well, it didn’t have a name, but it was gorgeous.
    My father got out his camera and tripod.
    “Wait,” Grandma Fanny called. She ran to her room and came back with a lipstick. In a minute, she had outlined my lips and rouged my cheeks. Grandma Sadie, not to be outdone, went to her room and came back with a costume brooch and a bracelet for my assemble. Then we all stood together while my father set the camera and ran to join us. We stood shoulder to shoulder, arms around each other as the camera clicked. For that one moment, our differences put aside, our animosity forgotten, we were united, the way we used to be. And maybe, it now seemed possible, would be again someday.
    Taking my cue from my grandmothers generosity, I even promised my sister she could share my candy. And then my brother and I ran out into the night, knowing we would come back at the end of the evening to people who loved us and each other. That we would come back to our family.

  4. Vivi says:

    I remember my bubbe Yeta made amazing chicken fricassee. It was my favorite meal. I don’t know how she made it, but I think (and readers can correct me if I am wrong) it had chicken’s feet, chicken necks, meatballs, and pippicks. I never knew what the pippicks were. The sauce was thick and red. Kind of a cross between thick gravy and marinara sauce. We always dipped bread in the sauce to make sure we got it all. Delicious! I’d sit with the “tv dinner” tray she’d set up in her little Bronx apartment and be in heaven.

    Somewhere, someplace, I have a quasi recipe. I will dig it up and share when I find it. But beware. It’s grandma’s recipe so it goes something like, “cut up lots of carrots, lots of onions, add ketchup”. No measurements. Just bubbe’s love.  

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