Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Two Years Since My Father Died...

Sidney Spiegelman, Z"L, 1920- 2016
It's now two years since my father, Sidney Spiegelman, passed away.

His generation was larger than life.

All of my grandparents made their ways from Eastern Europe to New York when they were young. Both of my parents were born in Brooklyn, New York. So was I, but we moved to Bell Park Gardens, Bayside, NY when I was an infant.

My father's father came from Nesielsk, Poland. His family had a business there, and within a few years, most of them started businesses in New York, also. My father's mother was born in Rogotshov, Belarus, the second of six daughters. Even though my great-grandfather Brynien had little money, he hired a teacher so his daughters would have an education. All of my father's grandparents eventually moved to New York, so he grew up within two large clans of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

My father was the second son born, a year and a half after his older brother. They spoke Yiddish until they began school. Around then their younger sister was born. All of them were expected to succeed and get good educations. They all went to college, which was rare for that generation.

My father studied Accounting  in City College and did it as quickly as he could. He wanted to have an academic degree before enlisting in the United States Navy. World War Two had already begun, and he didn't want to be an ordinary soldier.

In order to get the position he wanted, my father also had to hide the weakness in his left eye, which he did. He was trained to use and repair radar on the enormous Navy ships, which was a new technology. They discovered that the radar needed care and repairs to what had been predicted, but his problem solving talents were perfect for the challenges.

After the war, he married my mother, Shirley Shankman, whom he first met before going overseas. No, they hadn't kept in touch while he was serving in the Navy. They took advantage of the Veterans Benefits and moved to Bell Park Gardens when I was a baby. We were living there when my brother and sister were born. My father worked for the New York State Insurance Fund, studied for his CPA certification and began a private practice as an accountant. In 1962, we moved to Great Neck, NY.

My father didn't have hobbies and never watched sports. He was not a spectator. When he had the opportunity he liked to swim. My father liked watching the news and read the New York Times everyday.

Although my father was a proud Jew and called "The Jew" when in the Navy, religious practice didn't appeal to him. He was secular by nature. It was incomprehensible to him that I, his daughter, had become religious. Once he got to see Israel, he was attracted to the dynamic growth and could understand our living here.

A few years before his death, my father lived here in Shiloh with us. At that point my mother was in early stages of dementia and couldn't care for him. We had hoped that she, too, would come to Israel to live. But when she insisted on living near my sister in Arizona, that was set up for both of them. My older son and I took him to join her in Arizona, where they both died. They are buried in New York.

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