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gious school) student, I was angry
because my Hebrew education
would not culminate in a Bar Mitzvah.
Finally I quit. That year I said that I
did not want to go to services and
that they could get along without me.
What difference did one more or less
make, I asked.
Uncle Victor said he would buy me
a ticket anyway, which got me even
angrier. I felt guilty having a ticket and
not using it. It does make a difference
whether one comes or not, he said,
because-each of us is unique and
cannot be replaced, a lesson I
remembered in later years. Is there
anything you like about it? he asked.
Only the choir, I said. Then come for
just that, he said. And I could not
refuse him. The choir that year was
superb, and when I told him that I
enjoyed it, he beamed. I have gone
every year since.
My memories of that house are
rich with Jewish tradition, with sounds
of zmiros (holiday songs) and grace
after meals, with tastes of knaidlach
with griven (cracklings) centers,
Passover birthday cakes made of
sponge cake with strawberries, stru-
del and hamentashen. In that house,
I spent many holidays with nothing
to do and amused myself reading the
Wonderland of Knowledge and an
enormous two-volume dictionary, the
only English books in the house.
I remember tashlich (a ceremony
to symbolically cast sins away) on the
Williamsburg Bridge and "Uncle
Money-Bags" who came to the seder
directly from his candy store, his
nickels and dimes in the two canvas
sacks — the size of small supermar-
ket bags — he carried. Usually he
would go straight to the bank with his
sacks (no one gave him dollar bills
he sold penny candy!) But on holi-
days he came immediately home.
I remember the annual Chanukah
party attended by more than 50
members of the family. Great num-
bers of latkes were consumed and
the children stood on lines to collect
their silver dollar Chanukah gelt. One
distant relative always asked for a kiss
in return because he loved all the
children so much — a reason for
much shy giggling — and none ever