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Grandpa’s Menorah

As told to Judith Goldstein

Mom came from a completely secular background and thought Grandpa was charming. For her, life was a tea party; she was the gracious hostess and everyone else her guests. But with Dad, it was different. Though he’d hotly deny it, he was ashamed of Gramps.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

menorahMy dad was hard-working and ambitious — a social climber. He knew what he wanted, and expected his immediate family to cooperate with the plans he’d painstakingly laid for the next 50 years. It did not occur to him that just as he did not walk in the ways of his fathers, his children might not follow in his footsteps.

Grandpa was sensitive and spiritual, and I take after him. Aside from bequeathing me his tendency to be overweight (thanks, Gramps), our personalities are similar. We were unusually close. When I was 16, I got my driver’s license. When I returned home, triumphant, Dad handed me the keys to an old but working Chevrolet. And I began to visit Grandpa more often.

We talked of everything — including my relationship with Dad and our conflicts. We both knew that although I was strongly drawn to religion, Dad would oppose any steps toward observance. Grandpa cautioned me to tread carefully until I was financially independent. The truth was, we were both more than a little intimidated by Dad. I lived inChicagoand although there was an Orthodox Jewish community in the city, I did not have any contact with any of its members. And so, I decided to look for a college inNew York. 


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