Leigh’s Thoughts on Life, and Her Experiences at Orchard Cove
Why do people do Jewish life cycle rituals? I think people do it as a tradition. To celebrate a big thing that’s happening in their child’s or their life.
Baby Naming: They want to bless the child and give them a proper welcoming to their family and friends.
B’Nai Mitzvah: It’s welcoming a person into adulthood. They are more responsible than they were. It’s also the first time they get to see the inside of the Torah. They want their friends and family to celebrate with them, because it’s a big thing in our religion.
The first elder buddy I talked to didn’t remember much, she got upset because she kept saying she didn’t know what to tell us. The second person remembered every detail of her life, Esther. She had pictures and everything. She had a traditional wedding. She was observant. She married a Jewish man and all of her friends were Jewish. She would not have thought about marrying someone who wasn’t Jewish. At her daughter’s wedding, they wrapped a tallit around the husband and wife to show that they are one. They hired a person to sing Jewish music in Yiddish. It was really nice. She lived in Germany or Poland while Hitler was trying to take over the world. She had two brothers and herself and mom and dad. Her dad moved to America, brothers to UK, she to America. Some she never saw again. But she had a picture of them all together when she was 15. The last time they all got together was when she was 15. Her mom got really sick. They were on a boat trying to take care of her. A guy stared at her on the boat for 16 days without saying anything. She laughed about it when she talked about it. Later they got married!! I would have found this creepy. It would make her want to marry him! There are more creeps in this world now.
She’s published books (some children’s, one based on her life with different characters). She has pictures and poems she wants to publish and needs help to lay it out in a book. She was going to baby sit her grandchildren the next day. No wheelchair, did not need help walking. Totally happy, not a care in the world. She remembered all the details of her life: dates, places. When she left Germany, what she had to do to get out of Germany.
What did I learn about older people? From the first lady I learned that they can have a lot of mood swings. They can be totally happy to miserable in seconds. I have contact with my great grandmother and she is not like that. I had never experienced that.
Excerpt from conversation with Esther:
The more you know about Judaism, the easier it will be to follow it. If you don’t know, then you won’t know what you’re going to be missing, right?
You have to remember that once a upon a time when Jewish people lived much more isolated and together, when the Christian world did not accept us, it was much easier to be a Jew. Because you lived only among Jewish people. But once you are living in an open society as we do in the United States, you have to work at it, at being a Jew. You have to learn Jewish history, you have to learn the laws, the commandments, and live as much as possible as a Jewish person. I’ll give you an example from life, okay? I live here in Orchard Cove, and from my upbringing I keep Kosher. Do you know what it means to eat Kosher meat? Now in Orchard Cove, they don’t serve Kosher meat. So what do I do in order to keep my way of life? What would you do?
Leigh: You became a vegetarian?
Esther: Very good! Not a vegetarian, I’m not totally vegetarian, because I eat fish. But I eat the fish here. But there are many Jewish people living here in Orchard Cove, probably at least 95% Jewish. Do they care? They don’t. So you see, it’s a matter of degree. Some people say, it’s enough thank you, that I’m Jewish, and I celebrate Hanukkah and certainly Pesach – Passover. So to them it’s not a problem. They celebrate whatever is comfortable for them. It doesn’t take much of an effort.
PHOTOS OF LEIGH AND ESTHER: