Bluma’s Braid

47" x 6" x 4"

Mixed media

Detail. Click to enlarge.


The house of my maternal grandparents was right next door to ours. They played a major role in my childhood. Yiddish was spoken 50% of the time; it was a secret language I tried to decode. I can still remember Bloom singing a Yiddish song to me called Ofyn Pripetchik. 

Bluma was a very basic cook but she did make knishes,latkes, borscht, kugel, and very plain cookies marked with dots from the tines of a fork. At Passover, I was always perplexed about whether to stomach eating the gefilte fish, which I disliked, or risk hurting her feelings. 

When my grandfather died, my sister and I alternated sleeping grandma’s to keep her company. We would drink tea in the Russian way: biting on a sugar cube and cooling it in a saucer. 

My most enduring memory from this time was of opening her drawer to find a pale blond braid tied with a pink ribbon. It was like something magical.

I have no photos of Bluma as a young woman, but my daughter, Jackie, shown right, bears a strong resemblance.