Family Music

I remember.

I was a child, later an adult. Every holiday we gathered at my aunt’s house, taking in the scent of all the delicious Gramma food in the kitchen: chicken or turkey, kugel, chopped stringbeans, matzoh ball soup, all a beautiful blend of tradition that made me remember the Old Country that I never knew.

My Old Country is the Bronx. That’s all I have. No shtetls, no pogroms, no Holocaust. I only heard of those from my Gramma, and thank goodness I never had to live through them.

And we had music.

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The First Tattoo

I don’t usually write poetry. I’m a prose guy at heart. But this one has been bouncing around my head for a while. In light of the bomb threats to Jewish daycare centers and the desecration of graveyards, it had to come out.

The first tattoo I ever saw,
Was my aunt’s, a pretty songbird.
On her leg.
But first the one I remember

Was late september
And I was four.
On Rosh Hashanna,
On my friend’s father’s lap

Trying not to nap,
I looked to the side.
An old man, or old to me
White beard, yarmulke on head.

And he read
From the prayer book
His white shirt sleeve
Slipped.

And I crept
Closer to see
Green numbers
Six, maybe five

And I tried to ignore
To look away
I didn’t understand
But I knew

I knew I knew I knew
That it was something
Terrible
And I should never speak of it

Never think of it

Forget it

Again.

doge-in-space-card-redux

Chanukah

menorah

This menorah has been in my family since before I was born. It was the one my father and mother lit, and now I keep that tradition alive.

I remember staring into the tiny flames, my head barely above the kitchen counter. I’m staring at them again, but from above.

And I wonder: who will light them when I am gone? Who will keep the tradition alive? Or does it end with me?

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Hannukah

Also I am not particularly religious, I identify very strongly with my Jewish heritage.  I am very proud of our accomplishments and simply the fact that I can say “I belong to a People that have existed for 3500 years.”  Not many ethnicities can say that.

Of course, those of you who have read my writing (hopefully all of you) can see the influence there.  I recently wrote a short story (still unpublished) called “The Kid and the Casserole” about a jewish man and his shiksa goddess.  He is put in a position where he has to defend his ethnicity against the onslaught of “Whiteness” into his kitchen.  Looking at it now, it might need some revision, but still . . . casseroles and hot shiksas.

I do not have a menorah, and it is Hanukah.  I was hoping to go out and get one today, but I got bogged down with napping (I stayed over at Valerie’s last night and didn’t get much sleep . . . giggity).  I know that most of my family doesn’t care, but I care, and I am disappointed in myself.

Oh well, maybe tomorrow before the Jets’ game.

This is my first blog entry.  Let’s see how it goes . . .