July 11th, 2007

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

As it's now past midnight, yesterday, my father was buried, and a few hours ago was our first night of sitting shiva, a Jewish custom in which the community comforts the bereaved. My sisters and I are caring for my mother, and everyone is caring for all four of us. I was awed by the response to my father's death amongst his friends and acquaintances, and I was humbled by those of my friends who stood nearby as we paid our respects to my father. I know it's not an easy thing to be there when a life ends, and those who could be there are treasures both to me and to the memory of the man who made me what I am. Thank you also to those who have expressed themselves in response to my recent posts; each one has been a true comfort to me at this time.
Dead Dog Cat

Being that the family is all together, and we're telling stories about our dear departeds, I think I

I promised my sisters that I'd write down some stuff that I remembered that my father's father told me about his life. See, while we've been comforting each other, we've been ruminating on Dad's family.

Grandpa Jack was born in Russia; Dad told me that the town was called Slutsk. Grandpa told me that he'd come from a family with a long line of Rabbis. Mom told me today that Grandpa's relations were well to do.

He also told me that during the early 1920s, the Russian Civil War was waged across the country, including his town on several occasions. The opposing armies would commandeer young men living in the lands they occupied and force them to enter into military service with them, no matter which side these poor men would have chosen to support.

At the time, the townsfolk had raised a large amount of money, and they sent my Grandpa away with it, as well as a Torah. He told me that he walked from Slutsk in Belarus, through Russia, the Balkans, and Turkey, to Palestine. He brought the Torah and the money to them there (where, as I found out this last week, he helped purchase heavy equipment, but we don't know if the money went to heavy construction equipment, or to gear for the port of Haifa).

From Palestine, he then made his way to New York, speaking no English. He learned, (he already spoke and read well in Hebrew, Yiddish, French, Russian, German, Ukrainian and maybe Polish) and then entered Columbia University School of Pharmacy.