grandfather sits with pillows
around him and begins the
service. He blesses the wine and
invites all who are hungry to come
and eat. Are the Russian Jews
hungry for matzah this year? I can
hardly keep my mind on anything
else. Benjy asks the Four
Questions and we take turns
reading the parts that answer him.
We make the verses of dayenu
last as long as we can. The
grownups don't hurry us. Before
the meal, Grandfather reads the
prayer for the Russian Jews.
Deborah and I look at each other.
Now it is time for the meal.
Grandfather breaks the middle
matzah and wraps it in a napkin. I
stare at him. He gives us a wink
and takes it with him when he
goes to wash his hands.
The food comes. Grandmother
urges us all to eat, especially us
kids. For once, I have trouble_ I
`We are one people all
over the world and we
are commanded to help
can't explain when she and my
parents ask "Don't you feel well?"
- Of course, we children are all
determined to find the hidden
matzah. We look in the expected
places with no luck and in places
we don't really think we'll find it
and with no luck either.
Grandfather sits in his chair eating
and talking to everyone as if he
hasn't a secret in the world!
I help serve and remove the
dishes. Once, on my way back
from the kitchen, I think of the
piano bench. Has anyone else? I
lift the top and there it is! I am so
excited I want to shout. But I know
better and return quietly to the
dining room. Will I really skip
asking for the skates? I do want
them! But if I back out — I'll be
even more stirred up inside.
It seems forever until the meal
ends. I'm afraid I'll burst. Tonight
is different from all other nights in
more than one way.
Finally, Grandfather says the
service will go on. I watch him
without a blink while he fills
Elijah's cup. Then he looks for
something. He can't seem to find
it. He looks in his pillows and
under his plate, very worried. We
Then he asks, "Where is the
afikomen? I can't continue the
service without it."
It is all so familiar!
Nobody else says anything. I
stand up slowly.
"What is it worth to you?" I
ask. Dare I do it?
I see the other kids watching
me. But Deborah's face is
different. Her eyes say to go
"Name your price,"
Grandfather says seriously.
My knees shake. It is on the
tip of my tongue to say, "A pair of
new skates." I take a deep breath
and say instead, "The Russian
Jews. So they can have matzah for
There is a murmur in the
room. The other children gasp and
look shocked, even angry, as if
I've let them down. I feel
uncomfortable but hold up my
head and my eyes flash back.
Only Deborah looks at me with
love and I love her more than
The other kids make
comments to each other.
"What good is that?"
"Darned if I'd pass up
"Think of a telescope!"
I don't know where to look.
But Grandfather says,
"Bargain accepted! I will contribute
the amount a pair of skates would
cost and, in your honor. And why
do you others look so
disappointed? Rebecca knows
what she is doing. We are proud
When I walk over to hand the
matzah to him, I want to throw my
arms around him. To call me by
my real name says he looks on me
as a grownup right now. I see
tears in Mom's eyes. Daddy pats
her hand. Grandmother, sitting
next to Grandfather, touches my
cheek gently and says a Yiddish
expression. I don't understand but
I know she says it with love. The
hurt inside grows less. I come
back to my seat and sit down
happy that it's over. Grandfather is
breaking the afikomen in little
pieces and giving one to each of
Soon it will be time for Elijah.
He will understand. Doesn't he
care for us all? We say the
blessings and drink the wine.
Then Grandfather nods to me
and I walk proudly to the door.
Reprinted with permission of
I Names Reflect
Ancient, Modern Roots
By BETTY PROVIZER STARKMAN
The villages they lived in
became a source of names for the
Bene-lsrael Jews of India. They
added "kar" to the village name to
formulate a surname. The residents
of Pen became PENKAR. Those
from Rajpuri became RAJPURKAR.
MALAHKAR was taken by the
residents of Malah.
Hebrew biblical names were
popular given names among the
Bene-lsrael. By the turn of the
century, they began to "Indianize"
or modify these names to conform
to the style of the great Indian
community. Benjamin became
Banaji; Aaron became Haronji;
Solomon became Sulimanji.
"Bai" (meaning Miss or Mrs.)
was added to the scriptural female
first names. Ruth became Ruthbai,
Hannah became Hannahbai and
Miriam became Miriambai.
In 1980 there were still 140
families in China who were the
descendants of Kaifeng Jews. They
all use one of the following six
ancestral surnames: LI, ZHAO, Al,
GAO, JIN and SHI.
We have had an inquiry about
the family name PEVSNER.
According to Benzion Kaganoff,
many people bearing this name can
trace their origins to Posen,
Germany. There is no proven
relationship, however, between
POSEN, POSNER, PEVSNER.
CHAIT is a name derived from
the Hebrew Hayyat, meaning
BRUHL is a family name
derived from a geographic location
— Bruhl, Germany, near Cologne.
In 1645, we find Abraham of Bruhl
in Frankfort, Germany, where he
wed Gutheil, daughter of Salomon
Friedburg. They lived in the house
bearing the sign of the Goldener
Hirsch (golden heart).
KUKLA is an interesting
surname of Russian root. A kukla
either made puppets or was a
The surname ISSERLES is of
Yiddish/German origin, meaning
"descendant of little Israel" or
"champion of God."
From the German we find the
name, WACHS. This name was
taken by an ancestor who was
either a dealer in wax or a wax
The family name SZAFRAN or
SZAFRANSKI was adopted by an
ancestor who was either a grower or
dealer of saffron: It is of Polish
Betty Provizer Starkman is the past
president and founder of the
genealogical branch of the Jewish
Historical Society of Michigan.
What You Can Do
To Help Soviet Newcomers
1. Get Involved With Family
This program sponsored by National
Council of Jewish Women and the
Women's Division of the Jewish
Welfare Federation is a way to
provide a warm friendship to a new
family. American families are asked
to reach out to a newly arrived
family and become their friends. Get
to know them. For further
information contact National Council
of Jewish Women, 258-6000.
2. Get Involved with Shalom
This program meets every Sunday
from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Jimmy
Prentis Morris branch of the Jewish
Community Center and is designed
to help newcomer families learn
about and become involved in the
Jewish community. Jewish
information and informal education,
entertainment, crafts, and athletics
are offered to adults and children. It
is a place to meet newcomers.
3. Donate Furniture and
If you have furniture that is in good
condition, newcomers can use it.
The Resettlement Service has set
up a furniture warehouse at the
Jewish Vocational Service, 29699
Southfield Road. Drop off hours are
1-3 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday
and Thursday. Furniture can be
picked up by calling Louise Hacker
4. Provide Camp Clothing and
Many newcomer children will be
going to camp this summer. They
will be attending Camp Tamarack,
Camp Maas (The Fresh Air Society
camps), as well as day camp.
These children will need camp
clothing, sleeping bags, flashlights,
etc. If you are interested in providing
such items call the Fresh Air
Society office at 661-0600.
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS