Dearest Mom

By Helen Rubin

Dearest Mom,
We had a close relationship in our many years together. It was not customary in those days to discuss personal thoughts and feelings. It was before the era of psychology and deep introspection. We were good friends and had a lot in common. We went shopping together and we attended every new Yiddish theater production in New York City after the war, we liked to talk politics and family matters and we both liked to read. I learned to speak English in a jiffy listening to the “American Hit Parade” on the radio, and you learned to read English using an English-Yiddish newspaper.

But I never told you Mommy, something I can tell you now after years of self-discovery and of course tons of experience.

As a young girl you rebelled against the Polish schoolmates who threatened, chased, and insulted the Jewish girls in the public school. You convinced your Jewish classmates not to return to class for the next few days. Soon after, the school administrator confronted your father (Reb Shmuel Aron Wagschal) with threats of non-compliance if you didn’t return to school. The other girls soon returned to class but not you. You had to prove your point. And as a result, you were home-schooled from then on.

Your father did not suffer the promised consequences because he was a prominent member of the community. But what I inherited from you is your sense of justice, your sense of right and wrong and the courage to express, feel or enact it.
And of course, many other beautiful traits that would take a whole long essay to describe.

So thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I love and miss you very much!

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