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09/08/2023 09:46:08 AM


Aileen Grossberg

Family lore has it that Grandpa Julius, my father’s father, was the only man in the shtetl of Skidel with a gun and that he was spirited out of town in a coffin because ”they” were after him. It’s hard to believe that this man of few words, whom I never heard raise his voice, might have had violence in his past.

Or Did Grandpa Sam, a small, quiet, white-haired man with impeccable handwriting, really know the Talmud so well that if you stuck a pin through a word, he would know the word on the other side of the page?

What do these family stories have to do with the High Holidays coming up?

At the heart of Judaism, I think, is family. Much of the Torah is the story of a family, its generations and their interactions.

We Jews have been conscious of family:  we traditionally name our children after loved ones from past generations -- at least Ashkenazi Jews do. Some families such as mine have seen the same name appearing several times in one generation.

Sunday, September 10 is Grandparents’ Day. I often think about my grandparents and what they left behind -- thus the stories which unfortunately are few and far between and may or may not be true.

I’ll never know the “truth,” but those stories do keep these men -- and other family members -- alive, as do the grandchildren and great grandchildren who bear their names.

As you sit around the dining room table on Rosh Hashanah, share some family stories. There’s never a better time than now.

In celebration of Grandparents’ Day, here are some books available in the library. The picture books are perfect for sharing with a child; the longer ones may make you think of your own grandparents and what they contributed to your early life.


Books for adults:

Various authors:  Bubbe Meisehs by Sheyneh Maidelehs: an anthology of poetry by Jewish granddaughteers about our grandmothers,  Includes A Blessing On Your Head, Hand, And Foot by Nancy Berg; Elegy by Andrea Hollander Budy; Aunt Iris' Wedding by Sauci S. Churchill; Anyuta by Anne Corey; The Grandmothers by Marylyn Croman; and many more.

Gessen, Masha:  Ester and Ruzya: How My Grandmother Survived Hitler’s War and Stalin’s Peace.

Isay, Jane: Unconditional Love. Contains practical suggestions for creating a good relationship between grandparent and grandchild.

Kalb, Bess: Nobody Will Tell You This But Me. A tribute to Kalb’s grandmother who gave the author love and loyalty.

Shalev, Meir: My Russian Grandmother and her American Vacuum Cleaner. The author tries to discover the secret behind his cleanliness obsessed grandmother’s vacuum cleaner.

Remen, Rachel:  My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging. 


Books for kids:

Heller, Linda:  The Castle on Hester Street. Julie’s grandparents have different stories and realities about America.

Karkowsky, Nancy:  Grandma’s Soup. Grandma’s growing confusion from Alzheimer’s shows up in her chicken soup.

Larsen, Andrew: The Bagel King. Who will deliver bagels after Zaida has a fall?

Oberman, Sheldon:  The Always Prayer Shawl. A tallit is handed down from generation to generation.

Pinson, Isabel:  Bubbe’s Belated Bat Mitzvah. Her great-granddaughter encourages Bubbe to have a bat mitzvah.

Polacco, Patricia: Thunder Cake. When a thunderstorm terrifies her granddaughter, Grandma provides a delicious way to allay her fears..

Rosenberg, Madelyn:  This is Just a Test. His bar mitzvah is coming up, but that’s the least of David Da-Wei Horowitz’s problems as he juggles friend problems and his always arguing grandmothers .

Saltzberg, Barney:  Tea with Zayde/Tea with Grandpa. A little girl and her grandfather share tea everyday in a unique way.

Sasso, Sandy:  Abuelita’s Secret Matzahs. His grandmothers’ stories reveal a young boy’s unique Jewish heritage.

Steifel, Chana:  The Tower of Life. The story of the permanent photo exhibit at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington

Fri, June 14 2024 8 Sivan 5784