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My Jewish Heritage

Under the influence of my mother, Father became a Conservative Jew, leaving orthodoxy behind him, but he remained devout, never working on the Sabbath or other Jewish holidays. We kept kosher at home (with two sets of dishes and a third one for Pesach), and we went to the synagogue every Friday night and on Saturday. Holidays were celebrated in all their splendour: we built a sukkah for the Sukkoth holiday–which we celebrate in September–and had two memorable Seder feasts every year, with many guests (sometimes total strangers that Father picked up at Synagogue) who shared the meal with us. I learned all the prayers by heart, without understanding a single word of them. There was much singing on these occasions, plenty of good food and the celebration never ended before midnight.

We did all the things Jews were supposed to do but, for the most part, we lived in a gentile world, surrounded by gentile neighbours, schoolmates, co-workers and friends. Jews lived in another part of town, close to the synagogue, which was a 15 to 20 minute walk from us. We attended synagogue every week, but as far as I remember, we had little contact with other Jewish families.

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