Category Archives: Mom

A Phoenix From The Ashes

Sassy on her school trip to Auschwitz

I am a classic second generation Holocaust survivor.

My third generation kids are unabashedly Jewish and unabashedly Israeli and I so wish my parents were around to see how I have raised my phoenixes out of the fires and ashes of the camps.

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Two Years Without My Mom

On the 2nd yahrzeit of my mom’s death, just a few remembrances of what I’ve written here before…

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Who Inspires Me?

Rivki, who blogs at Life in the Married Lane, is running an inspirational series of interviews entitled Women Who Inspire Us.  I am both flattered and honored that she asked me if I would take part in the series.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, or know me personally, you don’t have to stretch your imagination very far to know whom I chose to talk about.

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Knit One, “Pearl” Two

Summer.  Yes, it’s hot out there.  Summer in the Middle East, really hot out there.  Summer in Ra’anana, hot, muggy and uncomfortably hot out there.  So what are the two things that relax me the most in the summer?  I like to slave over a hot stove, I like to bake things in the oven, and I like to knit and crochet.  Granted, the AC needs to be working.  Without the AC my favorite thing to do in the summer is to lie supine in bed, in a coma.  Wake me in November.

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I Miss My Mom!

It’s Mother’s Day today, and I miss my mom.  Just thought you should know…

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You Say It’s Your Birthday

Photo by -Sylvie- of Recipezaar.com

 

My mother, of blessed memory, hated the heat.  Born in Lithuania, she spent the first 35 years of her life either there, or freezing her tushy off in Sweden (with a short stop in Bergen Belsen, also not exactly warm, balmy breezes).  My mother loved freezing her tushy off, she hated the heat.  When I first became engaged to The X, with an August date set for the wedding in Israel, my mother kvetched about the trip which would take place during the hottest month of the year.  After the glass was broken and my mother hugged me under the chuppah, she whispered in my ear, “If you ever give birth to any babies in the summer, I am not coming to help!” 

No summer babies, do you hear me? Oh, and mazal tov!

Mommy plans, God giggles… 

Ever hear the phrase lazy days of summer?  Hah!  I have four of the most gorgeous daughters on the planet, each one more beautiful than the next, each one simply exquisite, each one born in the summer. 

Aren’t they beautiful?

Three of my gorgeous girlies have birthdays at the end of July, all within two weeks of each other.  Nomush, my maverick, decided to let me experience pregnancy during a record-breaking swelter, all the way through to the end of August. 

And you know what?  My mom came out each time to help!  In the multiple diaper-induced coma back then I am not sure I fully appreciated her sacrifice.  Back then we had no air-conditioning, and I’ve never seen anyone wait for the chill of the Jerusalem evenings more. 

It’s never to hot for a cuddle — Savta and Didi

Yes, it was hot under there!

Five years ago I got married again, and yes, it was during the summer.  When I called my mom with the good/bad news, she said to me, “Oy!  Miraleh!  Again with the summer?”  And this time, with the wisdom accumulated over  score of years (in between weddings), I absolved my mother from coming out.  She loved the pictures I sent her. 

So July and August can be busy months in the Miriyummy household.  Once upon a time there were birthday parties to plan, Bat Mitzvah celebrations to coordinate, presents to buy, cakes to bake… oh yeah, the cakes!  I once tried to get the girls to have ice-cream cakes for their parties, but all they really have ever wanted was a deep chocolate cake (like their Miri-mummy, can I blame them?). 

Deep Chocolate Birthday Cake with Miriyummy Ganache 

I’ve made bajillions of birthday cakes over the years, but back in 2004 the lovely Molly53 posted a cake on Recipezaar that has become THE birthday cake in our household.  We accept no substitutions.  I usually make a non-dairy version. 

Cake: 

  • 1 cup butter or 1 cup margarine (200 grams)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 cup cold black coffee
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

Ganache: 

  • 300 grams (12 ounces) dark chocolate
  • 1 cup cream or non-dairy substitute (I use Rich Whip)
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 F).
  2. Grease and dust an 33 x 23 cm (13 x 9 inch) cake pan with cocoa. Actually, I just line it with parchment paper.
  3. Cream the butter and add sugar a little at a time.
  4. Add eggs the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  5. Sift the flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa together 3 times.  Sometimes I don’t bother to do this and the cake still bakes beautifully.
  6. Add the coffee to the batter alternatively with the flour mixture.
  7. Mix well after each addition.
  8. Then add vinegar and vanilla.  Mix well again.
  9. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until your cake tester comes out dry. Leave to cool completely.
  10. To make the ganache, simply melt the chocolate and cream together, either on top of the stove over low heat, or nuked in the microwave for about three minutes.
  11. Pour over the cooled cake and let set.
  12. This cake actually tastes great when kept in the fridge.  You can also decorate it with little silver sprinkles or anything that shows up well against the deep, dark chocolate of the ganache.

Using parchment paper enables you to lift the cake easily out of the pan and serve

 

Today is the 12th of Elul — happy 25th birthday Nomush! 

Today is the 22nd of August — happy 21st birthday Chip!

Rapunzel

With my mom on the evening I made aliya — 2 March 1983

As I’ve posted before, last October my mother passed away.  One minute I was worriedly calling her social worker, the next I was an orphan.

My father's picture from his Hungarian identity card, dated 1938

Hanging with my dad in Norway, 1970

I have now lost both my parents.  I really do hate that term, lost.  I didn’t lose them, they are always with me.  I constantly find my father in his sifrei kodesh (holy books), which I inherited, especially in his tikkun, which, as the ba’al koreh of his synagogue, he read from every day.  One Friday night not long ago, Ju-Boy was asking Biblical trivia at the supper table.  I disagreed with a certain interpretation and was able to prove my point by taking out my father’s book of Bereshit (Genesis) and show him the exact Rashi commentary that proved me right.  The father/daughter team was triumphant!

Dvirkeh, Baylkeh and Maishkeh (Dora, Baila and Yakov Moshe), Vilna, circa 1933. My mother, Dora, was the only one of her siblings to survive.

I find my mother in her kitchen utensils which I now proudly use regularly.  I use the same hochmesser and wooden bowl she used to chop onions (and liver).  I even cut my fingers in the same places she did.  I can imagine as I reflexively place my wounded finger in my mouth that my mother is kissing it all better.

The Courtship of Miriyummy's Parents -- Goteborg, Sweden, 1948

My parents' Coolness Moment -- Haifa, Israel, August 1983

In Judaism, when you “lose” a parent, you enter a one year mourning period.  There are many traditions one can adopt as to how to spend this year in both honoring and mourning your parent.  Some of the traditions I have adopted are:

  • I don’t go to the movies or attend concerts or other live performances
  • I keep a yahrzeit candle that lasts for seven days going all year long, lighting a new one each week on Friday as I light the Shabbat candles
  • I don’t attend any kind of celebration (I’m missing some good ones this year, including tonight’s wedding of the daughter of dear friends)
  • I am not cutting my hair for the entire year of mourning

People are usually surprised by that last one.  It’s a rare tradition, although not unheard of.  And it’s driving me crazy.  I feel I need to do this, just one way to honor my mother, who loved my long hair, loved to brush and braid it.  She would spend hours detangling my long, knotted hair after a bath.  While my mother would have thought I was insane to miss out on parties on her behalf, I know she would have appreciated the effort I’m making in not cutting my hair.

Long, glorious hair -- back then it was my mother's problem

I have been blessed with a head full of thick, wavy, unruly, very much a-mind-of-its-own hair.  It grows like a weed, it’s already halfway down my back.  Every day I try to coax it into some kind of order.  When I clean my brush I pull out more hair than most people have on their entire heads.  And it gets everywhere.  I try to clean out the drains before the family gets totally grossed out, but some a lot escapes, only to remind me later by completely clogging up the sink.

A solution my mother used to use for as long as I can remember…

Drain Cleaner and Declogger

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
    1. Pour baking soda into drain.
    2. Follow with vinegar.

    Photo courtesy of Marg (CaymanDesigns) of recipezaar.com

    I Am Not Everybody

    Tuckmans Bunglalow Colony, 1965 -- a great day out with my mom

    When I was two years old my mom and I would sit side by side in ancient beach chairs on top of a mountain in the Catskills and soak up the sun and she would tell me stories of what it was like to be a little girl in the Vilna Ghetto.  I just loved hanging out with my mom. 

    When I was six years old and had a friend over to play my mom would peek her head into the bedroom, disrupting whatever drama was unfolding in the Barbie house, I wished my mom would go back into the kitchen where she belonged. 

    When I was 10 years old and my mom came to my school for Parents Day and she was the only mom dressed there in pants (and polyester pants, noch!) I just wanted to keep on asking for the bathroom pass and leave the room for the whole day. 

    When I was 13 and we were back in the Catskill Mountains and all my cool friends where sneaking off to smoke cigarettes in the woods and my mom insisted I come and sit with her and my grandmother in the shade of our bungalow and work on my knitting. I had such a crush on Leon but so did Debbie and she was out there with him and I was stuck with my mom knitting and my life was over.  “But, Ma, everybody is there!”  “You’re not everybody!”  was her answer, always her answer…. 

    When I was 16 and we were all going to go down to Rockefeller Center to go ice skating, and it’s only $25 dollars for 15 minutes, and it’s just two hours on the subway (that stops every five minutes in the South Bronx and in Harlem) and my mom didn’t let me go.  “But Ma, everybody is going!”  And my mother would reply, as always, “You’re not everybody!” 

    And then I was 20 and leaving home forever and moving to Israel.  My parents came with me to the airport and both cried but I was too excited to get on the plane to notice.  A few months later my parents themselves made the trip when I married The X.  They smiled and hugged and let me have my Bridezilla moments, all the while not liking the person I with whom I had chosen to spend the rest of my life.  But they smiled, because deep down my mom had a secret — I am not everybody. 

    And then I was 28 and the mother of four darling daughters, and I started taking them to New York to visit their grandparents.  “Don’t take them to the zoo,” my mother warned, “it’s dangerous.”  She didn’t let me introduce them to the narishkeit (nonsense) of my life and made sure I fed them healthy food instead of Entenman’s donuts for breakfast.  When I wanted to drag my then 14 and 13 year old daughters down to Fifth Avenue to watch the Thanksgiving Day parade (in the rain), she put a stop to that.  “But, Ma, everybody needs to go down there at least once!”  And her reply, “You are not everybody!” 

    And then I was 41 and my father had just died the year before, and I was going through a divorce, my mom was the most supportive mother in the world.  I discovered many secrets that year that she didn’t want me to know, and through it all, when I wanted to go and yell out my anger and frustration to the world, my mom put a gentle hand on my arm and said, “You are not everybody.” 

    And then I was 42, and getting married to a man that I just know my father would have adored, getting married to a man who would treat my mother with respect (even though she never could get his name right), and my mom was too weak and too scared to make the flight out to Israel for the wedding.  “But, Ma, everybody’s mother comes out for their wedding.”  And you know, by now, what my mother would have said to that. 

    Six months ago I was proudly shlepping my husband out to finally meet my mom.  I don’t know who was more nervous, but this meeting was finally going to happen.  And then, Man plans, God laughs. The night before our flight we got the news that my mom had died quietly in her sleep, a burst aortic aneurism. She went in death as she never would have in life, quietly, no fuss, just a small sigh while she slept. 

    And she is so right — I am not everybody!  So to commemorate my first Mother’s Day without my mom, I offer you her recipe for shmaltz.  This stuff accompanied me throughout my childhood, always there, ready to support whatever meal my mother placed in front of me.  Always there, ready to support, just like my mom. 

    You can see my mom’s recipe for shmaltz as I originally posted it on Recipezaar in 2004.  I wish I made it more often.  I wish I had a picture of the stuff to show you, but I don’t, and thanks to widening family waistlines, I won’t be making this anytime soon.  But if I ever do think of shmaltz, it always brings back wonderful memories of my mother.  

    The last day I saw my mom, August 2008 -- I started to cry, because I didn't know if I was every going to see her again. "Why are you crying, Mamaleh?" she asked. I replied, "Because everybody cries when they say goodbye." And her reply, "You are not everybody!" She gave me a huge hug, an even bigger smile, and sent me back to my family.

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