From Where I Sit – Judaica Tells Story

From Where I Sit – Judaica Tells Story

By Dave Schechter |

Our ketubah is on a wall in the living room.

Actually, it’s our second ketubah.

The first was signed 30 years ago in Kansas City (the exact date marked earlier this week) but was lost in storage when we left for Israel six months after getting married.

Dave Schechter
Dave Schechter

Its replacement was signed as part of our daughter’s bat mitzvah ceremony a dozen years ago in Atlanta.

As it does in many Jewish homes, the Judaica we display tells part of our story.

In a glass case in the living room is a Chanukah menorah that my father’s mother bought in Israel. As the oldest of five children, I declared it to be mine.

In the same case are tzedakah boxes, a shofar and “shana tova” greetings written on birch bark from trees by the cabin in Maine where my parents spent many summers. In the cabinet below are the haggadahs, song sheets and other Passover materials put away for another year.

On a kitchen counter are two long-empty bottles of Manischewitz extra-heavy Malaga, fitted with metal rings to serve as candleholders, with wax drippings down their sides. These were the last two bottles recovered from the home of my wife’s paternal grandmother, a woman named Rose but known to all, myself included, as “Sugie.” It was my good fortune to gain another mother and a grandmother in marriage.

On a wall in the foyer is a photograph of an arched corridor in the Rockefeller Archeological Museum in Jerusalem. On a wall downstairs are prints of photographs shot in and around the Old City more than a century ago. On the walls and shelves in the den are photographs of four generations on both sides of our family.

There is art we collected in Israel. My wife drew a squiggly line on a canvas one day, and the artist Yossi Stern took it from there, creating a sketch of a Bedouin father, mother and baby.

There are clay sculptures — a large erect bird, a herdsman with a cow, a man and woman with a churn, and a woman with a baby on her back — signed by an Ethiopian artist named Muli. In 1985, Ethiopian olim brought to Israel in Operation Moses were our neighbors in a Negev Desert absorption center while we attended a study program.

Of course, as “people of the book,” we have books. Hundreds of them. (There were more, but you have to start downsizing somewhere.) Prayer books and books about Jewish prayer. Volumes covering Jewish culture, Jewish food, Jewish politics, Jewish humor, Jewish athletes (not such a slim volume). Histories and photographic albums of Israel. Scrapbooks of our three children’s b’nai mitzvah.

This Judaica serves as markers from our journey, one I remain grateful to share with love, respect and admiration.

To Honor and Clarify

Parents, as the end of another school year is in sight, thank your children’s teachers, who work in an environment in which every other commentator, politician and philanthropist is a self-professed expert on education.

In this vein, I want to clarify a reference in my article April 10 about a future without Holocaust survivors. Tina Ratonyi is the daughter of a survivor and a teacher at River Eves Elementary in Roswell. She left a job as a paralegal and has spent 15 years teaching because “I wanted to have an impact in people’s lives.” That motivation is what makes Tina and her colleagues throughout the Atlanta area worthy of our appreciation.

Dave Schechter is a veteran journalist whose career includes writing and producing reports from Israel and the Middle East.

read more: