Marking an important moment

 The combined forces of poverty and forced migration meant that we had very few actual heirlooms in our family. My father had inherited his grandfather's small sliver kiddush cup.  My mother's parents gave my mother both my grandmother's silver candlesticks and  my grandfather's silver kiddush cup before my grandfather died and my grandmother moved in with us.

My parents collected fine Judaica, some by contemporary artists, some antiques. My parents loved the things that they had collected. After my father died and my mother moved into an apartment she used to call me and ask me( through the miracle of the internet) to price some of the pieces that she and my father had collected. During some of those calls she would tell me about specific pieces that she wanted me to have.

My mother wanted me to have a small silver filigree Bezalel pin stamped "made in Palestine". She wanted me to have a 1930's pin I had purchased for her, with a mama bird feeding three nestlings. My mother's Hebrew name Zipporah means bird, and my mother had three daughters. My mother loved the pin. I loved that I had found it for her.

During one of those conversations, my mother told me that she wanted me to have my grandmother's candlesticks. She told me that I deserved to have them. After my grandfather died, my grandmother, known to us as Mama, became my roommate.

Mama and I spent lots of time alone together.  My mother had errands to do. She had to drive every afternoon to pick up my sister at her bus stop (a 20 mile round trip). Neither one of us was exactly competent to be left on her own, my grandmother had already had a series of small strokes and I was four.  Neither one of us spoke English particularly well. My grandmother's hold on English was fading and she basically spoke Yiddish. My parents spoke to us only in Hebrew. My own grasp of English was not great. I am not exactly sure what language we spoke together, but I am guessing that it was some sort of a word salad of Yiddish and English and Hebrew. Together, Mama and I mostly stayed out of trouble and out of danger.

Mama had me answer the phone when it rang. I could not understand what any of the callers were saying. When my mother would come home, she would ask me if any one had called. I would always tell her that Thelma Goldman had called. It was a good a guess as any, but I assumed that any adult who called and got me on the phone was smart enough to realize that they were speaking to an idiot and try again later when a responsible adult was home.

Mama told me some stories about her childhood. I particularly remember her telling me about a younger sister who was killed by either a pack of wolves or a rabid dog.  The language gap means that I don't know any other details about the death of Mama's sister.

My aunt was a librarian and had sent Mama and me a 1940's English primer ( Alice and Jerry).  Either my grandmother's  failing eyes had made reading too difficult or she had forgotten how to read English, but she got angry at me when I pointed out that the protagonists of the primer were not Hymie and Shirley and stopped reading for the day.

Just before I turned five, my grandmother had a big stroke while I was in the room with her. She was taken to the hospital that morning and then liven in various institutions until her death three years later.

Last Friday night, the night before Chanukah my daughter and her boyfriend announced that they had decided to get married.

My sister was so delighted by the news she sent us a beautiful bouquet to mark this moment in our lives.
It was time for me to step up to the plate as well. I needed to come up with an appropriate gift to mark this moment in my daughter's life and in the life of her beloved. I wanted to give them something meaningful something that also marked their desire to establish a Jewish household.

I remembered how after my husband ans I became engaged, my future mother in law bought me silver candlesticks. My grandmother bought my mother candlesticks as a wedding gift around the time that she got married. 

I decided to give my daughter my grandmother's candlesticks. As I polished them, up I realized that one of my great grandmothers had probably purchased these candlesticks for my grandmother.

I have admired these candlesticks for as long as I can remember.  I have owned them for only a short amount of time.

I am so happy that they will now live in my daughter and her intended's home, creating both memories and a connection to the deep past of my family.


  1. Beautiful, wonderful news, and thanks for the story of your Mama & the candlesticks <3 -Donna

  2. Wonderful! I love hearing how you remember your people and moments that make treasures into memorials. What a very special choice to give your daughter the candlesticks.
    Please pass on my felicitations to your daughter...and my delight for the moments of rejoicing you and your husband must be experiencing!
    Many, many blessings to all of you.

  3. Mazal tov! Sarah, this is such a lovely story. My maternal grandmother gave me the candlesticks she received as a wedding gift. I'll give them to my daughter. The tallit you made for her from her paternal great-grandmother's Japanese silks is for the next generation. Much love and appreciation, Becky

    1. Becky- thanks for your good wishes. So nice to see you here...Those silks still haunt my dreams.Thank you for trusting me to work with them. Your daughter looked so beautiful in that tallit. Not all of us are as lucky to inherit such treasures like that incredible silk brocade. I have never touched any silk like that before or since.

  4. Wonderful news and a lovely story. Best wishes all around.

  5. Mazel tov! I inherited my grandmothers candlesticks which I then gave to my son when he got married. It's a meaningful, beautiful gift.

  6. I love your stories and the way you share your life with us. Much happiness to your whole family!


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