I had a special relationship with my paternal grandmother, and her loving and nurturing nature stays with me today. I still have fond memories of watching her make teiglach every Rosh Hashanah – which my family then devoured. I also remember my nana making gefilte fish by hand, using a fish grinder.
In my book “Pathfinding,” I wrote, “One of my most memorable moments as a child was listening to my grandmother tell Russian folk tales as we sat nestled on the bed. I vividly remember her story about a poor, hungry woman who knocked on the door of a stranger’s home to ask for a piece of bread and some water. When she was turned away, the person who refused to offer her food was plagued with frogs or snakes which jumped out of his mouth whenever he tried to speak. However, if the poor woman had been welcomed by the host when she knocked on his door, gold and pearls would come out of the host’s mouth whenever he spoke.
“My grandmother’s message was clear: Perform kind deeds whenever you can. Be loving and kindhearted. Treat people kindly so you will be treated kindly. Speak pearls of wisdom. Respect people. Be compassionate because the pattern of the human race goes from individual to family to group to community to city to state to nation to the world. What is passed from one is passed to all. What is done to one affects everyone. I cherish the times I spent at her side soaking up the stories and heritage she passed on to me.”
In the article “Jewish Mother’s Day,” at Chabad.org, Yitzchak Ginsburgh writes:
“The mother defines and guards the uniqueness of the Jewish people, both physically and spiritually: physically, because one’s nationality as a Jew passes through one’s mother; and, spiritually, because the culture, atmosphere, and nature of being Jewish are nurtured by the Jewish mother.”
Here’s to all the mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers, right back to our roots with our matriarch Rachel, who paved the way for all of us.
PATRICIA RASKIN, president of Raskin Resources Productions Inc., is an award-winning radio producer and Rhode Island business owner. She is the host of “The Patricia Raskin” show, a radio and podcast coach, and a board member of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence.