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July 18, 1986 - Image 24

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-07-18

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Jewish Parent
and Child


Special to The Jewish News

Oftentimes, the essential
truths of life bare themselves
to us in the most unlikely
Several years ago, at a
monthly meeting of AMIT
Women, a guest speaker ad-
dressed the topic of asser-
tiveness training. As intro-
duction to her talk, Belda L.
asked a series of probing
questions, including this one:
"If your house caught fire,
and all the humans and pets
were safely out, and you had
time to save but one thing,
what would it be?"
By instinct, I had my an-
swer before Belda finished
her sentence: the family pho-
tograph albums. While fire
might destroy my possessions,
it could not destroy my
memories. Photographs sus-
tain memories; these albums
represented a period of in-
tense joy and satisfaction to
me. I must rescue them.
In the few moments of
quiet, while waiting for the
others to complete the ques-
tionnaire, I began to feel a
growing sense of awkward-
ness, for it dawned on me
that I alone would offer so

Blu Greenberg is the author of

On Women and Judaism

(Jewish Publication Society,
1981) and How to Run a Tradi-

tional Jewish Household

(Simon and Schuster, 1983).
This article is reprinted with
permission from The Joys of
Parenting published by The
American Jewish Committee.


Friday, July 18, 1986

naive an answer. True, I
owned no furs or jewels to
speak of, but we did possess
several fine prints, a respect-
able collection of silver ritual
objects . . . I knew that F.
would write, "diamond brace-
let, a gift from her in-laws
for the new ,baby. E. would
probably grab the Agam
from her entrance hall. The
hostess would surely have
the presence of mind to roll
up and run with the $10,000
silk Kashan that lay luxu-
riously beneath our feet. As
I looked about the room, I
felt increasingly foolish.
Photo albums! Surely I could
have chosen something else,
an item of bartering value
that would help the family
get back on its feet.
To my surprise, not only
was I not alone but half the
60 women had chosen similar-
ly. Several were women of
means, women who could
round up in 60 seconds enough
movables to make a down pay-
ment on another house. Even
my friend, the hostess, had
nonchalantly passed over the
most expensive item in her
"The carpet's insured," she
explained matter-of-factly,
when I queried her later,
"and so is my silver."
"But what if they weren't?"
I pressed her.
Long pause. "I still think
I'd go for the photos. The
carpet? My grandchildren
wouldn't miss it."
Were we all foolish roman-
tics, flighty sentimentalists?


For the modern mother, there are no correct
answers and no neat decisions, but what
matters most are the experiences that make up
her life; the pictures in the family album.

Hardly. In the long and short

of things, what we were all
saying was that what mat-
tered most in our lives and
was most precious to us were
the families we had con-
structed, the men we loved,
the children we bore and
nutured, the thousand-and-
one special experiences that
made up the albums of our
I have often wondered:
would a man answer — the
family photographs?

Decision Making
and Community

Jeremy Moshe Greenberg,
our first child, was born
shortly after our fourth anni-
versary — exceedingly late in
marriage by Orthodox com-
munity standards of the ear-
ly 1960s.
How did we arrive at such
a mature decision? Truth is,
we didn't, for the matter was
a non-issue for two people
grounded in the traditional

community. Couples who
didn't have children were
couples, as everyone knew,
who couldn't have children.
And how did we know this?
Simple! They would other-
wise have had children!
To raise children, then, was
the business and beauty of a
marriage, fulfillment of the
very first commandment. The
only issue was when to begin
and how many. Yitz and I
planned to have a large fami-
ly. So why, I ask myself to-

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