She Did the Best She Could
Friday nights at dusk she lit the Sabbath candles. Her ritual: hold a lit wooden match to the bottom of each tapered candle, melting the wax so the candle stood on its own in the silver plated candlestick, and then placed on the rickety silver plated tray. The flames had their own lives making shadows on the walls.
She covered her head with a white cloth napkin, began the rocking gesture back and forth, saying blessings in Yiddish. She didn’t teach me the prayers. Outsider to my own religion, I watched from the edge of the foyer. She wept for her mother. She wept for my dad. She wept for her birth father. She wept for her stepfather. She wept and prayed and survived for 97-years plus a month or two.
For years I was told and believed we were orthodox. So many shadows later, I learned it was my mother’s pick and choose depiction of orthodoxy. We were kosher Jews, observing the rule of no milk with meat or sipped after meat in the same meal. Two separate sets of dishes- one for meat and one for dairy. Never mixing the two.
My mother did the best she could.
Golda Solomon: Adjunct Assoc. Professor, Communications, (Manhattan College, CUNY) Poet –in- Residence, Blue Door Art Center, Yonkers, NY, facilitator Po’Jazz, (Poetry in Partnership with Jazz), ArtSpeak/From Page to Performance and Make W.A.V.V.E.S., improvisational performance and creative writing workshops. Poetry collections: Medicine Woman of Jazz, Flatbush Cowgirl. CD’s: “We Were Here” (J&PCC), “Word Riffs,” “First Set,” and “Po’Jazz Takin” It to The Hollow.” She is founder and member of The Jazz & Poetry Choir Collective.