Golden Lucy's Spiral Journal

Going on 87...Savoring and Surviving the Senior Years

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Lucy's Big Secret

No, I'm not pregnant and thus will not be getting married but something very exciting is in the works. I'll be able tell you all about it in two or three weeks but until then, Kain ein horah! Or in plain English, "Don't tempt the evil eye!" And of course I have a story behind this.
I'm not superstitious but my dear MIL Sarah was. Ben and I lived with Sarah and Moishe (Morris) when I was pregnant with Jack. Sarah would not permit any baby items to be brought into the house. (Sears didn't understand the logic of holding his crib until after his birth, and Sarah never found the supplies I squirreled away!) Sarah also would not permit us to discuss the new baby---especially when it came to possible names. Should they discover the existence of a new baby, evil forces (the yetzer horah and minions) were waiting to take and/or curse the child. That Sarah firmly believed in the yetzer is no surprise.

Sarah and her son, my husband Ben came by steerage from Russia to America when Ben was 13 years old. Morris, like many impoverished Eastern European Jews, had come alone to this country, with the intention of earning enough money to bring his family over later. Unfortunately, WWI and the the Russian Revolution intervened, stranding a constantly fleeing Sarah and Ben in Poland, Lithuania and finally Russia.

How they survived at all is still a mystery to me. But Sarah, though tiny was a pillar of strength and ingenuity. She jumped on moving trains to collect garbage in the cities. She hid her child in woods and cellars during the constant pogroms. (All these problems, after all, were no doubt the fault of the Jews..) She prevailed on Gypsies and other less-objectionable-undesirables to give them shelter. One way or another she kept Ben alive...whatever it took.

At last Sarah and Ben were able to come to America. Ben had been a baby when Morris left Vilna. He was nearly 14 when he finally met his father again. It was not a happy reunion. Morris was a hard, demanding man and despised his shy, small and worst of all, Yiddish-speaking son. The fact Ben also spoke Polish and Russian didn't impress his father. Morris announced he would have nothing to do with his son until Ben spoke "good" English. Yet another heartbreak for the brave Sarah. For even after Ben learned to speak English Morris despised him and had as little to do with him as possible. This greenhorn son was a bother and embarrassment---a fact that following such a traumatic childhood virtually destroyed Ben.

The point I'm getting at is that the power and truth of "Kain ein horah!" was completely understandable in the context of Sarah's life. In Ben's case, I'm not sure it helped very much but she was more determined than ever to try to protect her grandchild. When Jack was born healthy and beautiful---and after his bris, Sarah just didn't stop talking about him!

As I said before, I'm not superstitious. However to this day I won't talk about anything I need or want to happen before it becomes reality---though of course I never stop thinking about it. So kain ein horah. More will be revealed.

I want to wish all my blog friends who celebrate Rosh ha shana a very happy and prosperous New Year. Shana Tova to all of you.