It was like another world – away from everything we did or knew in our everyday lives. This holiday was special. All my relatives had their own take on what this holiday meant as well as what was allowed or forbidden on the Sabbath.
My Mother, Rose, had her own religion that suited her lifestyle, and no one could tell her that going to the race track on Saturday was a shanda as well as the Friday night Pinochle games she hosted for my Father with sliced fruit and hot tea. But for her, keeping kosher was the ultimate religious sacrifice. She cooked and cleaned, and when my Pop mixed up the dairy with the meat silverware she made him bury it under the only tree we had on our block. Rose was a Jewish wife and proud of it.
Our neighborhood was mainly Jewish. We belonged to a temple some eight blocks from our home, and on the holidays you could see families of nicely dressed people walking to temple. It was really nice to have this time together, but mostly I liked being excused from school for religious reasons. Rose made her famous honey cake with hundreds of walnuts decorating the top. It was up to me and my cousins to snag as many nuts as we could before Rose could catch us. Her homemade hooch was fermenting behind the kitchen door, and the chicken soup boiled in the pot her Mother brought from the old country. There were dishes to savor that passed away with her -never to be resurrected -with recipes she created and some she brought from Romania that were never written down.
It was always the same scenario and that gave us comfort knowing what was expected and what we could count on. All day in temple was expected from the older children and a few hours for the younger kids kicking their feet against the pew backdrop, squirming in their seats and asking the time over and over.
Those days are gone for me as I didn’t keep the tradition and sometimes I’m sorry. But now in Rosarito, I found a niche of folks recreating some of my past. Thank you all for being here and reminding me how lucky I was to be in the Bronx so many years ago. The High Holy Days are once again something to enjoy with my new family.