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SisterSchmooze: Nursery Schmoozes

Marcia Stark Meth / Emmy Stark Zitter / Miriam Stark Zakon

They’re called nursery rhymes. Nursery rhymes? Nursery nightmares might describe them better. Yet for hundreds, even thousands of years, mothers have been lulling their children to sleep with these little tales of horror. But not the Sisters. When our parents put us to sleep, they didn’t tell us frightening stories of blind mice with their tails cut off. The beautiful words of Krias Shema and Hamalach Hagoel were the last things we heard every night. Maybe that’s why, when we decided to base our Schmooze

Wednesday, July 06, 2016


Photo: Shutterstock

Emmy starts worrying when… 


“Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean; and so between them both, you see, they licked the platter clean.” 

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m a worrier. When my kids offered to make me a “Worry, Be Happy” sweatshirt, I wondered if they could afford it — and was the sweatshirt store in a safe neighborhood? 

Some years ago, when my daughter, expecting her third child, went with her young family on shlichus to London, my worries were actually based in reality. Yes, there were the not-quite-rational fears — omigosh, Heathrow Airport, make sure the kids’ shoelaces don’t get caught in any moving sidewalks! — but I had two more serious concerns. 

The first was the Mother of All Worries — and the worry of all mothers — food! My daughter Malka had recently been diagnosed as celiac. My son-in-law Dovi, a vegetarian, was on a strict low-fat diet. Almost anything that she could eat, he couldn’t; and if it was on her menu — it was off his. Like Jack Sprat and his wife, what one ate, the other didn’t. About the only food that worked for both of them was rice. Maybe they should have looked into shlichus in Japan? 

Now they were off to England, a country known for families who “keep themselves to themselves,” where people are proper and formal and reserved. Would their new British neighbors be friendly? And when the Brits discovered that my daughter couldn’t eat the breaded fish and my son-in-law had to refuse the fried chips, would they ever be invited to a London meal? 

My second worry was greater. My idealistic children were going to teach in a Jewish school for two years — but what then? So many Israelis leave the country for a year or two, and end up not returning. All parents want their children to live (reasonably) close by. The reasons for living out of Israel may be valid — parnassah, educational issues, a tafkid to be completed — but especially for olim who have baruch Hashem fulfilled a dream of bringing a family to Israel, there’s a particular pain at the thought of our children leaving the Promised Land. 

At the airport, I waved goodbye, cried a little — and worried.

Photo: Shutterstock

Three months later, Malka called to tell us that we had a new grandson. Now I could stop worrying about whether National Health hospitals would give her good care (they did) and whether they’d find kosher gluten-free food for her (they didn’t). 

My husband and I flew in for our new baby Brit’s bris. When we walked into our children’s home, we discovered three things we didn’t know about England: the kitchens are small, the refrigerators are tiny, and the Jewish hearts are as large and giving in rainy England as they are in sunny Israel.

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