Wednesday, July 13, 2016

On My Mother's Yartzeit

As per Jewish custom, I have a 24 hour light burning in her memory.
I have no set custom as to what to do on these memorial days for her. When my husband has them for his parents, he brings herring and maybe schnapps to synagogue in the morning to make a "Lechaim," in their memory. But even though I do pray the morning (and also afternoon) prayers, I do it all quietly alone at home or wherever I happen to be.

I don't really do anything special to commemorate my mother, and I'm still in the first year of mourning for my father, who passed away just a few days before Passover.

In a sense my whole life is a reflection on my parents, for good and for bad. We all are the results of how we are raised and what we make of it.

Even though both of my parents ended up extremely dependent in the period before they died, I still think of them as a generation of giants. There's nothing I can do or accomplish that can compete with the powers they had. We were taught to treat them with awe and respect. And from what I understand, their parent, too treated them that way. They were the "American generation," the first in their families to be born and raised in America. They paved the way. They were also very strong and influential grandparents, in a way I can never be. And in a sense I wouldn't want to be, since I had to stand aside when my parents (and in-laws, too) visited and were with my children.

My mother always encouraged my love for dance, and there was a summer, when I was twenty, when we actually worked together teaching an exercise class for women. Other women in a nearby community had requested that she give a summer class. I had just taken two years of "Dance Movement" lessons with an excellent, innovative instructor, Allan Wayne, in Manhattan, so she told them that she needed me to demonstrate the movements.

Basically, the truth is that I was the teacher. My mother would point to me and tell the women in the class to "follow" what I was doing.

And in many ways, after the original shock of hearing that I was going to live a Torah aka Orthodox Jewish Life and then move to Israel, she became quite supportive. And as the Great Neck Synagogue became more of an Orthodox community, she enthusiastically joined in the various chesed activities like comforting and bringing food to mourners besides running the Sisterhood Gift Shop and more.

My mother loved and participated in all of the arts, was a paid member of lots of museums, a docent in the nearby Nassau County Museum, performed and was stage manager in the Fresh Meadows and later the Great Neck Community Theater, loved dance and shows etc. She also tried her hand at painting. And she absolutely adored her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

לעילוי נשמתה
שפרה בת אברהם וחיה ריזיה


Unknown said...

I talk about my mom to my grandkids.... I tell them funny stories of long long ago living in the foreign country called New York. Once I celebrated my mom's birthday with my sister by going to a play... something my mom would have loved to do with her daughters (if only she understood Hebrew). Our parents never leave us. They are there 24/7

Batya said...

how nice. thanks for the ideas.