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✡ Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology Harvest-Ha’Asif

Premier Edition 5764-2003




5764--2003 Dedication by Rabbi Lerner First Words From the Editors Marcel Braitstein Betty Palik Marcel Braitstein Harry Rajchgot Daniel Mergler Jonathan Slater Marcel Braitstein Harry Rajchgot Heather Solomon-Bowden Barbara Belson-Green Celia Charles Sandra Scheinberg David Pariser Ernest Peter Guter Daniel Mergler Joseph Graham Daniel Mergler Vivianne Schinasi-Silver Marcia Goldberg Last Words from the Editors Cartoon

Hiding Place of the Soul Legs for Grandpa Seder 5762 The Gold Watch Silence Tumbleweeds The Presence Graveyard Shift Temple of Blue Glass Softly Fall 45 Years Married Making Gefilte Fish Iceberg Dwellers My Six Miracles Song of the Soul The Levines of Trout Lake Chopin’s Nocturne Passover in Egypt Three Steps Forward

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Harvest-Ha’Asif- Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology

Harvest-Ha’Asif Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology

✡ 5764- 2003

! When Dr. Harry Rajchgot and Zav Levinson proposed Ha'Asif, a literary journal for Temple, I accepted their offer enthusiastically. We have people of talent in our congregation. The Art Committee, for example, has been among those who have activated our members' talents in designing and creating the Torah binders that we use today. ! Harry and Zav presented a literary opportunity of great value to us. But would there be a response? Hinistarot Ladonai, the hidden things are for God to know, until you ask certain questions. We asked for contributors to step forward, and so many people said Hinneni, Here I Am, that Ha'Asif required the editors to make the difficult decisions about which material to include. ! Clearly Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom possesses an artistic bent, whether with words or shapes and colour. We bless this new year with the literary efforts of our own congregants placed before us. ! We have been called the People of the Book. If anything, we are people of the word -- the word of God, of commentators, of poets and storytellers. That intensely Jewish tradition continues in this journal. Thank you to our editors. Thank you to all that contributed. Thank you to those who read and respond. ! L'shana Tova Tikatevu -- may you be inscribed in the book of life for a good year.

Rabbi Leigh Lerner

Dear Reader ! I don't know from what mysterious source the idea for this journal first planted itself in Harry's mind but I do recall that when he first mentioned it to me I loved the idea. And indeed our work on this journal has been a labour of love. Nevertheless it has not been free of the usual trials and tribulations such ventures must face. The response to our appeal for manuscripts was slow at first and for a while we could doubt whether we would receive a sufficient number to publish. But as the deadline approached and then passed, a little deadline magic occurred and manuscripts began to pour in. As I read through the submissions I felt truly pleased to have supported this endeavor. There are some real treasures in this collection. Our contributors were sharing delicate and intimate feelings with the whole world, and were doing so with a remarkable degree of craftsmanship. ! We received texts in three main categories- poetry, memoir, and prose fiction. Not surprisingly, for a collection by and for a Jewish audience, there is even some decidedly Jewish humour. A number of the works we received seem to belong in a gray area between

First Edition categories. This is the case of Legs For Grandpa and Making Gefilte Fish, memoirs both, in which an exquisite interaction between characters occurs creating dramatic tension and revealing states of mind that give these stories the look and feel of the classic short story with its omniscient narrator. By contrast, The Levines of Trout L a k e , a l s o m e m o i r, h a s a! relaxed journalistic style appropriate to its genealogical concerns and large brush strokes that permit the author to convey whole lifetimes in a few sentences while never wavering from his fi r m c o m m i t m e n t t o t h e documentable fact. In the poetry, too, there is a similar range of modes of expression. Iceberg Dwellers is a layered, allegorical poem that moves from the familiar - a son recounting the illness of his mother - to the unfamiliar, a saga of the fate and fortunes of an iceberg- dwelling people. The portrait created by collating these two streams vividly evokes the human condition while poignantly describing a personal trial. Finally, the poems inspired by an inscription on a cellar wall of a house of refuge in Nazi Germany have a quality that recalls the concrete poetry of the sixties in which the spatial arrangement of the words on the page adds a visual dimension to the text. Here the

2 0 03– 5 7 64 truncated sentences and the stark isolation of each word or phrase, alone and surrounded by empty space, helps evoke the anguished voice of the survivor/witness and the outrage he is expressing. ! There is much more here to ponder and enjoy and I hope you, dear reader, will concur that the energy, insight and passion evident in these works, along with the willingness to risk sharing that the act of publication demonstrates, are both moving and bracing and a tribute to us all. ! Harry and I wish to underscore the kind and wholehearted support this adventure has received from Rabbi Lerner, Rhona Samsonovitch, Ron Boro and Leon Blauer. Their support and encouragement helped bring this project to fruition. Happy Harvest! Zav Levinson


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Hiding Place

Marcel Braitstein


The following incident is the inspiration for Marcel Braitstein’s poem “The Presence”, and is

included in his book, “Nocturnes”.


On his last visit to our synagogue, Rabbi Plaut related an incident that moved me

deeply. When he was a chaplain with the Allied forces in Germany at the end of the war, he found a cellar that had clearly been a hiding place for Jews. He had no idea as to what happened to the people who had temporarily found refuge there, but on a wall he found the following inscription:


In the darkness of this windowless !cellar,


light does not exist,


but I know that out there the sun is still shining.


Surrounded by evil and hatred, I see !


no compassion or kindness, but I ! !


believe in the existence of love.


I do not understand the silence of God,


but I feel His Omnipresence.

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Harvest-Ha’Asif- Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology

Legs for Grandpa Betty Palik


One May evening we celebrated the

seventh birthday of our eldest son, Jesse, and to our delight, my father came too. He hadn't visited all winter. His wheelchair could not be pushed through the snow piled in our backyard. He could only enter our house through the back, which was at street level. The house was on a hill so our front door was more than a dozen stairs away from the street. In the past, he had valiantly tried navigating the stairs. That was when he had just been freshly fitted with two steel, prosthetic legs. Using two canes, he would heave himself up step by step. He would arrive at the door drenched and exhausted. Once he slipped and fell backwards to the sidewalk. Three of us, screaming and blubbering, could hardly lift him. Climbing down the stairs was also a physical and mental feat. His prosthesis always wobbled and demanded to go faster than he did. He would fight against gravity with all his

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might. My father was only 66 years old when two

T.V that he had never played - baseball, basketball,

leg amputations had robbed him of much of what

hockey, football, tennis and golf.

he used to be.



It is ironic that fighting against gravity was

us with stories about his life in Europe before the

what my father did best. He had been so fleet

war, about famed soccer games and his heroes, all

footed! So nimble! In the late 1930’s in Bucharest,

soccer greats. But at the table this night, on Jesse's

my father played right forward on Romania’s

birthday, he hardly spoke. He ate slowly, relishing

national soccer team.

the home-cooked fare. He asked for three helpings


Soccer remained my father’s passion long

of chocolate cake, blindly ignoring my mother who

after he had stopped playing it. In the 1960s and

fretted to everyone within hearing range about his

1970s, he stood on the sidelines of Fletcher’s Field

diabetes and his uncontrollable, sky-high blood

in Montreal where young European immigrants


played soccer in municipal teams. He was there


every Sunday, from spring to fall, shouting advice

pushed my father's wheelchair through the patio

and encouragement to the players, whether they

doors into the warm, spring night. He looked up

heeded him or not. He rooted for all the teams; he

and smiling, pointed to the uncurling leaves on the

claimed he had no favourites. From Monday to

maple tree. High above the branches stretched the

Saturday he worked ten-hour days operating a

dark, velveteen sky. Clumps of high cumulus

phalanx of clanking knitting machines at a knitwear

clouds drifted across it with icy slowness. We

factory. After his amputations, my father went to

searched for the flickers of stars but found none; the

live at a geriatric hospital, even though he was the

city's lights must have sapped all their brightness. I

youngest there. He spent his days and nights in bed

stroked his grey hair and the spider veins on his

or strapped into his wheelchair, watching sports on


As we were growing up, my father dazzled

After the presents, hugs and goodbyes, I


Harvest-Ha’Asif- Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology !

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We both tensed up when the hospital's

find my children and put them to bed. I longed to


old, mini-bus rounded the corner and clattered to a

touch and embrace them. But my heart sank. I had

himself onto the couch while Aren, red-faced and

stop. The driver cranked the wheelchair ramp

expected to hear children’s chatter but what I heard

agitated, yanked a chair around.

down. The metal scraped against the sidewalk,

was a heated argument.


grating my ears and my spine. My father said not a


Aren announced.

word as I pushed his chair across the backyard

and without waiting for his answer I hurried down


I heard a long groan from the couch.

through the gate and down the pot-holed lane.

the hall.


“I could make them from paper, like

Under the streetlights, the exhaust fumes of the


waiting bus looked so much like whirling,

birthday, was shouting: “Yes, yes, yes, they're


malevolent vapours that I stopped in my tracks.


taped to the door of the fridge: Megatron and

The driver walked up and took over. He wrestled


“They're not broken,” Jesse replied.

Optimus Prime, their body parts drawn on scrap

the wheelchair with my father in it up into the bus


“Yes, yes, they're broken. He can't stand

computer paper then cut out, coloured with

and I followed. While the driver locked in the chair


and securely tightened the seat belt, my father said


nothing. He held my hand to his lips and looked

broken off. That's different,” Jesse stated.

Aren was extremely imaginative in arts and crafts.

bravely ahead.




“And in the hospital they’ll put a.. a.. a thing, that..

Aren's paper robot men because he was giggling.

three blocks. When it turned a corner and

What's that? That hard, white thing, a.. a..”


disappeared, I turned too, weighed down by a


will they stay on Aren, huh?”

sorrowful heart. Minutes later I was back in the

don't know what you're talking about. A cast won't


“With tape. Scotch tape!”


help. Grandpa doesn't have legs to fix.”


“What! You’re gonna cover Grandpa with

summoned me. I could hear my husband clanking



tons of tape?”

dishes and Aretha Franklin's voice on the stereo. I


I was frozen myself.


I watched the bus chug up the street for







opened the kitchen door and my spirits lifted. My

“What's going on?” I asked my husband,

Aren, one month short of his fourth

Seconds later I could see Jesse throw

“Maybe I can make legs for Grandpa,”

Megatron! I just need scissors and lots of paper!” I immediately thought of Aren's robot men,

crayons and glued together. Just the previous week “They’re not broken, dummy! They’re

“Broken, they're broken!" Aren insisted.

“A cast,” Jesse said patronizingly. “You

Aren’s nursery school teacher had told me that

Jesse must also have been thinking about

“Legs from paper! Now that's funny! How

Aren thought quickly then wailed: “Then

with staples! Yes! Staples! You hear me?”

intentions were to hug my husband and then to


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I imagined my father, quivering like a

next day I put her into a shoe box and shoved her


butterfly, paper legs stapled to his underwear. I

into the back of a closet. I briefly played with other

up and down on red and yellow plasticine legs

could see his legs becoming

dolls, but with much less devotion. When I was

shaped like tree trunks.

afraid, I could never again conjure up my beautiful


wings. He lifted high up into the air and hovered


Stores would run out of it. Then what would you

there, happily.



All of a sudden a painful memory jarred me

snickering, was shooting cushions off the couch at


from that pleasant vision. I reacted as if I had just

Aren. Aren was pacing back and forth breathing

Playdough Company,” Aren answered.

been cut. I hadn't thought of her in three decades!

heavily and trying to dodge the cushions.


When I was four or five I had a doll with a porcelain


Part of me wanted to intervene but part of

send me one hundred pounds of Playdough so that

head and rag body. After a nightmare once, my

me wanted to hear more. I stood soundlessly

my little boy can make legs for his grandpa. Thank

mother told me that the doll was my guardian

outside the room, not knowing what to do.

you very much.’ Won't that be funny? Aren, you’re

angel. She would guard me when I was afraid and


so dumb.”

would wrap her invisible wings around me to help

pitched, frustrated voice: “Listen you stupid! I got



me sleep. I believed it.

another idea!”


“Then wood!” Aren burst out.

everywhere with me. One day the doll's head fell


“Oh, oh,” Jesse muttered. “Now what?”

right! I don't need a lot and it's strong and Daddy

off. I spent hours stuffing cotton balls into her neck


“You know what! I can make legs from

will help me hammer it!” Aren was now yelling at

trying to build another head. I mended her for days.

Playdough! I’ll need lots and lots. I'll roll it and

the top of his lungs. “Isn’t that a good idea?”

I bandaged and taped her head to her body and not

make it very hard so it stands up!”


satisfied, would tear it all off and start over. Finally


nailed to two planks.

my mother came up with an ingenious solution. She

not strong! It won’t hold Grandpa up!”


sewed a little bandana for the doll and used it to tie


“But I’ll get lots! My teacher will give me

shortly appeared in the doorway. “He's crazy,” he

the doll together. When I carried the doll I had to

some and Jeremy and Simon and Mommy can buy

said, pointing to Aren and gave me a knowing look.

walk very slowly so that her head would not jiggle

some too!”

He turned on his heels and ran to the kitchen to

My angel doll went

My mind returned to the den where Jesse,

Then Aren shrieked in his most high-

“That’s crazy!” Jesse howled. “Playdough’s

I smiled at my vision of my father, bobbing

“You’d need bags and bags of the stuff.

do?” “Mommy could write a letter to the

“Oh yeah. Sure. Why not? ‘Dear Sir: Please


I pictured my dad, hurtling through the air,

“I can't stand this,” Jesse grumbled and

off. One day my father laughed at my tattered doll.

pass the news on to his father.

She was just a toy, he told me, not an angel. The



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I strode into the room and gathered Aren into my arms. His body was

tense, his face hot. His long eyelashes fluttered like moths trapped in a window

Seder 5762

screen, trying to keep the tears from spilling out of his eyes. I sank to the floor and

Marcel Braitstein

held him tightly. !

It took many minutes before he finally relaxed and allowed his soft body

to curl into mine. His sweet, child’s breath whistled against my chest. !

I knew the answer but I asked anyhow.


“Why do you want to make legs for Grandpa?”


“So that he’ll be happy and you’ll be happy. And Grandma will think I’m

so smart and she’ll be so happy with me. And then Grandpa could also play

an assassin rigged out in the respectable mantle of a militant wades through shards of glass and fragmented bolts and

soccer with me.” !

Nursed on malevolence and beguiled by a vision of Paradise

I marvelled at the secret place his imagination took him. I wished that I

dances over nail-studded children

too could dip into that shimmering and bottomless pool, a sacred place where

on his descent

stallions have wings, animals talk and magic carpets offer free rides to faraway

to Hell

lands. In this place people live in freedom, ease and harmony. Everything and anything that is broken is easily fixed with flair and imagination. !

Then I told him.


“You know, no one can make legs for Grandpa. Not even the best doctors

bloated with

in the world.” !


With wide-open eyes he stared at me. At that moment I knew that

flesh and blood

something in him changed, right then and there. Then I lost it. !

I cried into Aren's tussled, brown hair. He held me tightly and with his


small hands wiped the salty tears from the corners of my mouth. I cried for secret places where legs are easily built, I cried for my father, my son and my lost angel.

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empty themselves after the war. That was before the metro had been built. Now it carried the bulk of the passengers, and she could ride the bus in peace. Dora had never taken the subway. She didn’t like escalators. ! There had been a succession of retirements lately. One of them, old Mr. George, had started working when he was only fourteen years old. He talked about how things had been during the depression years before the war. He praised the union contracts he and his generation of workers had fought so hard for. Those veterans were gone now. Only a few weeks earlier, it had been her friend Mellina’s last day at work. Like the other workers retiring, she was given a gold-filled watch. At the end of the day, Mr. Berson pulled out a bottle of whisky. The watch was presented and the boss toasted the retiree. ! Mellina was a more recent immigrant than Dora, but they were the same age. Mellina had come from southern Italy during The Gold Watch the late fifties. The two women had become good working friends. They were friendly and helpful to each other while at work, but their social Harry Rajchgot worlds rarely overlapped, except on a great occasion, as when Dora and Manny were invited to Mellina’s eldest daughter’s wedding. Manny had eaten with gusto, but Dora, not sure of its ingredients, had picked at her food. ! Dora herself would be retiring at the end of the week. She would be ! For Dora Miller, it was just another workday. She woke up at 6:00 the last of the old-timers. The younger generation of workers at the shop a.m., automatically, as she had for twenty-seven years. Her husband Manny were different. They were not as diligent, and they knew all the rules. They stirred slightly. She sat with her feet planted on the cold wood floor, never gave more than they had to. Mr. Berson often complained about breathing in the will to go to work. them, taking Dora aside to tell her how lucky he was to have her. Mrs. ! Her two boys would still be asleep. Dora would call them later from Berson gave him a dark look whenever he did this. She didn’t like to work, at seven-thirty, so they wouldn’t be late for school. Then, with her encourage the employees. It would result in independence and lower the boss’s indulgence, she would do it again fifteen minutes later. She knew her firm’s profits. sons. ! The fur trade had seen better days. New synthetic materials were ! Dora’s boss, Mr. Berson, liked her and allowed these small beginning to replace animal skins. There was no knowing transgressions. She had always been a hard worker. His wife complained, how long the industry would be viable. Manufacturing was moving to though. poorer lands, where they could pay lower wages. No wonder businesses ! “Why are you called the boss if you let your workers do whatever were closing or moving away. Mr. Berson shrugged his shoulders. “What they want?” she demanded. He ignored her, as much as he could the can you do?” he noted. woman who slept in the same bed as he did. So sometimes he would call ! His wife just nagged him some more. “You don’t need to give a the boys himself while Dora worked. What do women know about gold watch to every worker, Bernie. It’s an extravagance.” compromise? ! “It’s not your business, if you ask me. They have been good ! Dora had ridden the crowded bus daily, crumpled between large employees. They deserve it.” women and tiny men from the European countries that had rushed to


Harvest-Ha’Asif- Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology ! “So, you don’t think it’s my concern, eh? Well, let me tell you, when you started to reward your old workers years ago, it was me who bought a bunch of these watches when the price of gold was still low. But I have news for you. You gave the last of those watches to Mellina a few weeks ago. If you want to buy new watches, you’ll see how much they cost now.” ! Mr. Berson shrugged his shoulders again. He asked his wife to find a watch for Dora, but he knew it would be futile. Well, they could at least drink a whisky. That he could still afford. ! Mrs. Berson had tried to do another deal for some watches, but as she expected, they were much too expensive. So she bought herself a watch instead. At least it would stay in the family, she rationalized, instead of being given away. It was a nice gold watch, with one small diamond set into the face below the 12. The clasp of the band was a little hard to close, but she could live with that. After all, she got a good price. So she couldn’t find something for the workers. Did that mean she had to suffer? ! Mrs. Berson showed her new watch to her husband the day before Dora’s retirement. He liked the diamond on the face. It made it look like a rich woman’s watch. He still squirmed, though, because he had intended to buy a gift for Dora. He tried to find his words, but his wife glared and he remained silent. ! Mrs. Berson came in the next morning, distraught. She had lost her watch on the metro somewhere. She told no one except her husband. What did the workers have to know about her private life? She didn’t want them to resent her for what she had, even if she no longer had it. Mr. Berson said the same thing he always said: “What can you do?” ! Dora worked hard her last day. She couldn’t have slacked off even if she had wanted to. She was too used to it. When the day was over, the workers

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gathered and Mr. Berson poured the drinks into small shot glasses. Everyone drank a toast to Dora. ! Mr. Berson handed Dora an envelope containing her pay. Inside it, she found another smaller envelope, containing a crisp hundred dollar bill. Mrs. Berson fumed when she saw this. Such an extravagance! Dora saw that there was no commemorative gift, no watch like Mellina had been given. She said nothing. At five o’clock sharp, after a last farewell to everyone, she walked away. She knew she would miss her routine. ! On her way home, Dora decided she would take the subway for the first time. Who knew, she might never have another chance. She was a retired person now, after all. On the metro, she looked down as she bravely rode up the escalator. Something glinted as she reached the top of the moving stairs. She bent down, afraid to be knocked over by the mob of people riding up behind her. While the crowd complained, she picked up the object. It was a gold-coloured watch. And what a nice shiny rhinestone there was on its face. Maybe it was real gold, she dreamed, and the rhinestone was a diamond. Then she discounted such a possibility. She knew life wasn’t like that. ! Anyway, she would show it to her husband Manny later. They could have a good laugh together.

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Silence Daniel Mergler


When the saint looks upward


And sees what he can see,


His soul knows only silence


And leads to ecstasy.


And when the melody's over


Its silence lingers on . . .


And from its precious essence


There springs a new-born song.

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Tumbleweeds Jonathan R. Slater Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, for God took him. (Genesis 5:24)

photograph by Edmond Meinfelder , as found on Wikimedia Commons

! Back in the '50s, when we were kids, it wasn’t unusual for my friend Harvey to disappear for days on end. So, I wasn’t very surprised when, in 1965, without so much as a word, Harvey picked up and moved west, never to see Brooklyn again. In fact, I didn’t even know Harvey had moved away until two or three weeks after the fact. ! Not that Harvey liked Brooklyn that much. I loved the noise and all the people. But Harvey was more of a loner and would go off on his own every now and then, vanishing from our Ocean Parkway neighbourhood sometimes for days at a time, much to the consternation of his parents. When ! Harvey used to disappear like that, his mom would go into hysterics, then she’d call the cops. Just as the entire New York City police force was out combing the streets looking for him, Harvey would stroll casually back into the kitchen of the rented railroad flat he and his parents occupied, acting as if simply nothing at all had happened. When Harvey’s dad asked him where he’d been and what he’d been up to, Harvey would merely mumble something about having been “out,” with no further explanation. On such occasions, Harvey’s dad, a teacher at the local Jewish day school and usually a very patient man, would have to restrain himself not to wallop Harvey good and solid right there in the kitchen.

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! So no one in the old neighbourhood considered it news when, one day, Harvey just left and set himself up in a tiny adobe shack right in the middle of the New Mexico desert. Harvey had lots of lizards and sagebrush for company. There was hardly another human being in sight, and I’m sure that’s the way Harvey preferred things. ! Not too long after, however, people from the east began moving west. Harvey’s corner of the desert started to get a little crowded. Soon, the developers came in and began parcelling up the land around Harvey’s shack. Almost overnight, Harvey found himself with neighbours. They tended to live in a higher style than Harvey was used to, and their houses were considerably larger than Harvey’s sun-burned clay hut. Harvey kept quiet, though, and didn’t complain. Nevertheless, things just weren't the same anymore. First, there were the paved roads. Then came the street lamps. Harvey couldn't see the night sky anymore. Before all those homes went up, Harvey had been in the habit of going out behind his house after midnight, where he would lie flat on his back in a ratty old lounge chair and gaze at the stars, often until the sun came up. Harvey would sometimes fall asleep right there on the chair, only to awake as an unforgiving desert sun began to beat down on him. ! Then there was the business about the tumbleweeds. Tumbleweeds, it seems, litter the desert floor like garbage on the streets of New York City. One time, according to accounts, Harvey was out driving his old Chevy truck somewhere in the desert, and a tumbleweed the size of a Volkswagen came bouncing along on the sand and suddenly came to rest in the bed of Harvey's pickup. Harvey drove all the way home with that car-sized tumbleweed lodged in the back of his truck.


Harvest-Ha’Asif- Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology

Nevertheless, things just weren't the same anymore. First, there were the paved roads. Then came the street lamps. Harvey couldn't see the night sky anymore. Before all those homes went up, Harvey had been in the habit of going out behind his house after midnight, where he would lie flat on his back in a ratty old lounge chair and gaze at the stars, often until the sun came up. Harvey would sometimes fall asleep right there on the chair, only to awake as an unforgiving desert sun began to beat down on him. ! Then there was the business about the tumbleweeds. Tumbleweeds, it seems, litter the desert floor like garbage on the streets of New York City. One time, according to accounts, Harvey was out driving his old Chevy truck somewhere in the desert, and a tumbleweed the size of a Volkswagen came bouncing along on the sand and suddenly came to rest in the bed of Harvey's pickup. Harvey drove all the way home with that car-sized tumbleweed lodged in the back of his truck. ! Harvey did to that tumbleweed what he did to all the tumbleweeds that made their way into the proximity of his shack. He put a match to it and burned it. He squeezed and stuffed that humongous thing into a metal trash can and set fire to it. However, because Harvey no longer lived in the middle of nowhere, but rather in a bona fide town, the burning of tumbleweeds was strictly prohibited. “Not good for the air,” neighbours said. From then on, Harvey had to collect his tumbleweeds and put them out for the regular trash collection, which was another new thing he had to get used to.

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! So, Harvey put out his trash early one spring night, just before going to bed. He also put out the week's-worth of tumbleweeds that had coalesced in his back yard. But Harvey had neglected to stuff them into green jumbo plastic garbage bags. He just tied them up with a couple of feet of twine and left them sitting by the curb, as Harvey now had a sidewalk in front of his home, for the garbage collectors to fetch the next morning. ! Harvey also neglected to remember that the winds coming down off the nearby mountains could be pretty fierce at that time of year. Which meant that when the sanitation truck came by the next morning, Harvey’s assemblage of tumbleweeds was nowhere to be seen. They most likely had been blown and lifted wholesale off the curb by a gust of wind and were residing in some distant neighbour’s yard. This happened more than a couple of times. While the neighbours might have been somewhat inconvenienced by Harvey's tumbleweeds descending into their yards, Harvey didn’t seem too concerned by the possibility that his tumbleweeds had flown off to parts unknown. In Harvey’s universe, tumbleweeds were tumbleweeds, and flying around was what they were supposed to do. Just about then something must have clicked in Harvey's head. He had gotten the odd notion that anything he didn't want lingering around his house was a candidate for airborne disposal. All he had to do, Harvey figured, was to put his refuse out by the curb any blustery night, and the wind would save him and

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the garbage collectors a whole lot of trouble. The first thing to go was the ratty old lounge chair that he no longer used since the street lamps had obliterated the stars forever. Sure enough, a gust of wind came down from the mountains one night and blew Harvey's ancient lounge chair beyond the far end of town. ! Harvey next divested himself of his several-year-old collection of plastic soda pop bottles, which had been piling up in his closet. He plunked those bottles down on the sidewalk one evening, confident that the wind would once again do its job. Indeed, a gale-force wind came sloping off the mountain range sometime before dawn and picked up those hundred or so bottles and carried them clear across town. As the empty bottles bounced and bobbed up into the sky, the pressure of the wind rushing across their mouths caused them to make a most hideous howling noise. Many of Harvey's neighbours were startled awake by this unexpected sound, certain that coyotes were out roaming the streets. ! One day, someone in the town put two and two together and fingered Harvey for depositing his refuse on the wind. Perhaps it had been the nametag still sewn into one of his old shirts which gave Harvey away. It appeared that Harvey had gotten rid of a number of worn-out clothing items in the usual way one windy spring night, and the shirt wound up pinned to a branch of a thorn tree in a neighbour's front yard. The police were soon knocking on Harvey's door, and before Harvey could get a word in edgewise, he was holding in his hand a ticket for a court appearance.!


Harvest-Ha’Asif- Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology ! One day, someone in the town put two and two together and fingered Harvey for depositing his refuse on the wind. Perhaps it had been the nametag still sewn into one of his old shirts which gave Harvey away. It appeared that Harvey had gotten rid of a number of worn-out clothing items in the usual way one windy spring night, and the shirt wound up pinned to a branch of a thorn tree in a neighbour's front yard. The police were soon knocking on Harvey's door, and before Harvey could get a word in edgewise, he was holding in his hand a ticket for a court appearance. ! While his neighbours correctly thought that Harvey's solution to garbage disposal had gone too far, Harvey finally began to feel that things had gone far enough, too, but for an altogether different reason. He had left Brooklyn behind in order to get away from all things citified. But once all the city folk from out east began moving in and laying down their roads and sidewalks, putting up their bright lights and preventing him from burning his tumbleweeds, Harvey began to feel as if he should be moving on. ! A week later, the police were very surprised when they got to Harvey's place, or at least the spot where Harvey's place used to be. Harvey had missed his court appearance, and the judge sent the cops out to remind him that he had a civic responsibility, not to mention a legal duty, to show up in court when he was ordered to do so. But when the police drove up the well-paved road, passing the lumbering gray garbage truck along the way, they could find no sign of Harvey nor of his home. Where there had once stood an aging eyesore of an adobe shack, there now was just an empty lot. ! After all, it had been a particularly windy night.

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The Presence Marcel Braitstein

The Presence beyond words in the invisible light that permeates darkness the deafening silence of stilled voices the blinding suns of sleepless nights infinite emptiness

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Harvest-Ha’Asif- Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology

Graveyard Shift Harry Rajchgot ! Morris drummed his fingers on the table. He was showing his usual impatience. Al was slow to make a decision, or even to show any sign of being awake sometimes. ! “So, Al, when are you going to deal, already? We’ve been waiting to play this game for I don’t know how long. So, nu? When’s the action?” ! Al just reached for some chips from the bowl on his left. Who needed such aggravation? He hadn’t had enough already? ! “Morris, look, I can’t yet. You know, Mo, I promised Manny I’d wait until he got here. And from what I hear, it won’t be so long.” ! “What is not long you for? An hour? A day? Maybe a week?” Morris sputtered and then sighed. His body almost shook with impatience, but he managed to keep himself still. He knew the rules of the game. Moving like that would not do. It would upset people. ! “Don’t get yourself so bothered, Morris. It’s only a game, and we have a lot of time now. We’re retired.” ! “Yeah, yeah, a game. So where is this Manny? How do you know he’ll be here soon. The phone is disconnected for a long time. What, you heard from a little bird: ‘Manny is coming. Tweet tweet.’ Like that?” ! “Yeah, Mo, like that. Here, have some of these peanuts. It’ll take your mind off the clock.” ! “So now he’s offering me peanuts, like it’s some kind of delicacy, like they would serve at a

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rich man’s wedding. Peanuts, for God’s sake. Maybe a little schnapps, Al. That might make me more patient.” ! “Sure, Morris, why not? I’ve got a bottle that I’ve been saving just for you, for when we had something to celebrate. So why not, maybe it’s a good time to open it now.” Al began to get up to get the aged bottle. His legs wouldn’t cooperate so readily. ! “Ah. I don’t know what’s wrong with me lately, Morris. I feel so sluggish. My feet won’t listen half the time when I want them to walk.” ! “Yeah, Al, why don’t you go see your doctor? Maybe he can help you.” ! “Are you kidding? Do you know how long it takes to see a doctor these days? It seems like forever. Besides I heard Dr. Feldstein died a few months ago.” ! “So that makes it easy, Al. You won’t need an appointment. You can see him anytime.” Morris broke into a laugh, then started into a long cough. He grabbed at his throat, afraid he might inhale a peanut. There was a knock at the door. While Al struggled to rise, the door opened without his intervention. Al must have forgotten to lock it. Manny waltzed in with a big smile on his face. He looked excited, as if he was expecting a party. ! “Hey, boys, that’s nice of you. How did you know I was coming?” ! Morris turned towards the door. “Finally he arrives. A good thing too. I can’t wait any more.” ! Al was also running out of patience. Time had seemed to pass so slowly lately. Maybe Manny would be able to inject some life into the place.

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“Hey, if it ain’t Manny? Hey, how’re ya doin’, Manny. How’s the family?” ! “Ach, don’t ask. They’re in a bad way. I got sick, then I had to stay in that hospital. Such terrible food I never ate.” ! “So, always with the complaints, Manny. Here you’ll see you’ll have nothing to complain about. Anyway, the family, they’ll be happier once they see the cheque from the insurance.” ! “I should so hope, boys. It’ll help them with the bills. Doctors are so expensive. No wonder they have those big fancy cars. Bloodsuckers, every one of them. They didn’t make me better and still they send their bills. But I won’t complain about anything while I’m in your house.” ! “Yeah, Manny, it would be rude. And you don’t even know what that word means, right? Hey, Al, break open that bottle. We can celebrate now that Manny’s here.” ! Al found that it was suddenly easier to move easily. His muscles didn’t feel so stiff as before. Maybe he had been right. maybe Manny could bring some life to the dreary old place. He pulled the bung out of the bottle of rye and tipped its contents into three shot glasses. He brought them to Mo and Manny, then raised his glass. ! “Lechaim!” he shouted, then downed the whisky in one swallow. It went to his head immediately. He felt a little woozy and sat down at the table. “Hey, don’t worry for nothing here, Manny, you’ve got us helping you out. We’ll be your guides. It’s lucky for you we got here first.”!


Harvest-Ha’Asif- Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology ! Manny repeated the lechaim, then downed his glass. He wondered how Al could guide him when he didn’t look like he could even stand up. “Yeah, I can see you guys have got lots of experience. So, tell me, can a guy get a good cigar around here?” ! “Schnapps you can drink, Manny, if you want, but cigars are out. Forbidden. Bad for your health. You know that already. Isn’t that why you were in the hospital?” ! “Ha, ha, Al. Bad for my health. Someone around here has a sense of humour.” ! “Pity on us for a bad joke. So, sit, we’ll play. Morris, you deal.” ! Manny placed his hand over the deck of cards. “Not so fast. You know Abe is on his way too. I saw him back at the hospital. He’ll be leaving on the express, believe me. He’ll be coming through that door, huffing and puffing like always. You don’t believe me, what?” ! “Sure we believe you. It’s just that we’ve been here long enough and there’s nothing else to do here but sit and wait for the Moshiach to come.” ! “Oy, for that you’ll be waiting a long time. A long time.” ! Morris responded indignantly. “What, so now you’re a prophet? You don’t know any more about it than we do.” ! Abe arrived at that moment, just as the bickering about religious differences was about to begin. “Hey, why always the arguing? You need me for a go-between, like always?” ! Manny was happy to see Abe. A foursome would make the game interesting. “Abe, you finally got here. And it looks like your shoes are on fire. Manny wasn’t kidding about you getting here in a hurry.”

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! “Ach, what do you want with the quality of the shoes you can buy these days? And I paid a good price, let me tell you.” ! “Hey, Abe, come on in. Sit down, take a load off your mind. I’ll pour you a glass too.” Manny grabbed for the deck of cards. “Enough waiting, already.” ! Morris agreed. “Yeah, let’s play. Manny, not that I don’t trust you, but maybe your memory isn’t what it once was. You might not remember the rules so well. Abe, you’re new here, you deal. No tricks, though. And aces are wild.” ! “Sure, okay, Mo.” Abe dealt out the first hand. Each of them picked up their cards and started to arrange them. While he waited for the others to finish, Abe asked, “So what’s to do around here besides playing cards?” ! Manny also was beginning to notice how slow things were. “Looks like not so much. Maybe a little gefilte fish and a piece of hallah. Can we have that, Mo? Al? It’s almost Shabbath, you know.” ! Abraham looked around on the wall. There were no clocks. And none of the boys seemed to own a watch. “How do you keep track of the time?” he asked. ! Al tried to be smart. “A little bird tells me.” ! Morris caught him on that. “Is that the same one that told you Manny was on his way?” ! “Yeah, that’s the one.” ! “Well, at least I can tell if it’s night or day. It’s really dark out there. Do you only play cards at night around here, Al?” ! “Sure, Abe, it’s the only time we can sneak away.” ! “You mean, during the day, we have to lie in our beds?” ! Morris started to chortle. “Beds! That’s a good one. Beds! Ha, ha, ha.” Then he broke down into another fit of coughing. When he caught his

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breath, the others were staring at him, as if he was deliberately procrastinating. ! ! “What are you guys looking at me for. You think I’m going to cough myself to death?” With that he broke into a laugh again. ! Al had had about enough of these good-fornothings. “Hey, let’s not waste time. Once the ladies start to come by, they won’t let us play any more. They’ll take over the place.” ! Morris stopped laughing. This was deathly serious. “Yeah, Al’s right. Deal, already. ” ! Abe was unconvinced. He missed his wife already. “Okay, boys, relax, we’ve got all the time in the world.” ! A feminine voice broke up the men’s concentration. “Manny, so there you are. Manny, what are you up to here? Playing a hand of poker with the boys again? That’s going to stop right now. None of this nonsense while I’m around.” Manny’s wife Zelda was carrying a shopping bag filled with cleaning supplies. ! “But Zeldie, there’s nothin’ else to do here. No chasing women, not that I would ever think of such a thing myself, as God himself is my witness. There’s no smoking either, not even the butt of a cigar. Come on, already.” ! “You’re going to help me clean up over there. I can’t even sit down, it’s such a mess. Where will I be able to sleep? Anyway, boys, I have good and bad news for you. You won’t be able to play cards much longer. New rules. Time to wake up soon. The Moshiach is coming tomorrow. So help me clean the place up. I can’t have a visitor like him in such a mess.” ! “Oy, Zeldie. And I thought that once I was dead, I could relax a little, already.”

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Temple of Blue Glass

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spent a day with me baking Jewish 45 Years Married - 45 Years a Jew

delicacies that she knew Jack would

Celia Charles

Heather Solomon-Bowden

like. !



Concrete and brick, spackled with spirit





! !

! !

So not only mortar pictures its place. Arteried into the hearts of members,

were unobtainable at that time in



Its physical space a block long



Surges in the mind, endless.

! !

! !


It was the love of my husband


Quebec, so like many other mixed

brought me to Judaism, but it was

relationships, we met Rabbi Stern in

Temple Beth Shalom and Temple

his Study. He looked at Jack, fair-

Rodeph Shalom that nurtured it in

Where life cycles turn from birth to simchah to passing Of the Torah to our children and theirs.

skinned, freckled and gray eyed,

my heart. They became my family.


Parchment yellow with age and wisdom,

said, "I am". He looked at dark-

! !

! !

Raised, unrolled, digitized by countless yadim with silver fingers Then rolled, girded, hushed in velvet, crowned

skinned me and said firmly "You're



Vaulted in the Ark.



and said "You're not Jewish!" Jack

Jewish?". When I said no, he remarked,

A sanctuary like a tent in the desert






With no Jewish "mishpucha" to teach me, books became my support system. My first Seder in our home was a mixed delight, as I followed every direction in a very old Haggadah and we sat for hours. !

Three Bar Mitzvahs, one Bat

! !

! !

Of the world Pleated angles above pointing the way to God


wonderful journey, Many people

in-laws later, we are still here and

! !

! !

Throughout. Pews with names of those who have gone before, Who clutched or smoothed the wood

have asked me if it was difficult and

they said it wouldn't last.

I can honestly say it wasn't. Thanks



In prayer.


to my kind, broad- minded husband

for me. The beauty of Judaism

and many friends and their parents,

enclosed me every day and I am

even the most Orthodox, welcomed

honoured and grateful to be a part

me joyously. Friends with a large

of it.



Hallways of hot bulbs,

! !

! !

Lives that burned out and burn on In Memoriam.



Souls that flow like fireflies,

! !

! !

Taking refuge in the Eternal Light As blue flames turn to glass.



As strong as survival.

That was the beginning of my

Mitzvah, and two Jewish daughter-

It has been a joyous journey

family invited us to every Jewish holiday and every life cycle event that touched them. One dear mother


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Softly Fall Barbara Belson Green


Softly fall the snowflakes


Covering the ground


Gently fall the snowflakes


Blanketing the mound


I see your face before me


Your smile I love so dear-


I wish that I could hold you


How I wish that you were here


Softly fall the snowflakes


In time it will be spring-


Until the winter’s over


To your memory I’ll cling

✡ Written on the death of her grandson, Mark Wener.


Harvest-Ha’Asif- Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology Making Gefilte Fish Sandra Scheinberg ! My sister made gefilte fish this year for Passover. She later told me over the phone how she had done it. Following Mother’s recipe, she combined ground white fish, pike and trout, then added eggs and seasonings, chopping and slowly adding water and chopping some more until the mixture was “puchy”, as Mother would describe it. We understood that it meant gelatinous. ! My sister doesn’t eat fish, and doesn’t like the smell of it cooking in the kitchen. But when Mother passed away in the spring of 2001, my sister must have decided to carry on the traditions that our mother had passed on from her mother and her mother’s mother, my “little bubbe”, to differentiate her from our “big bubbe”, our father’s mother, who was short and chubby. ! My sister used Mother’s large dutch oven, placing a layer of fish bones on the bottom for sweetness, and bringing water to a boil, then carefully putting in one after another of the oval fish cakes, and placing the fish heads around them, letting the fish cook for at least two hours. She remembered to use a little sugar, but not too much to make it overly sweet. The same was true of the pepper. Mother’s fish was appreciated in our family for its whiteness as well as its sweet and fuIl of flavour, achieved by a proper balance of ingredients, sufficient chopping and mixing, and the use of the fish bones. ! The last time our mother made gefilte fish was for Rosh Hashanah of 2000. In recent years she

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made it twice a year, as she did chopped liver. It was the custom, and Mother refused to change the custom for the holidays, although she limited the liver to twice a year because of its reported high cholesterol. Although she was 87 in the fall of 2000, she didn't change the menu, merely accepting help from my sister and me, her granddaughters and other friends and relatives, who were coming for dinner. Although I did not live in Chicago, I would try to be there, if possible, to help Mother prepare for the holiday, and to spend it with her and the Chicago family. My own children, who also live in Canada, and have children of their own, would also go as often as possible to be with their grandmother. ! Mother began to suffer from pain in the hip in the winter of 2001, which rapidly grew worse as the new year progressed. By March, she found she could not get up or sit down without experiencing excruciating pain. The doctors insisted it was arthritic pain, and prescribed anti-inflammatories, which did no good, and which made her sick to the stomach. By mid-March I decided to go to Chicago to see what was going on. Shortly after I arrived she was admitted to hospital, where further tests showed that she was suffering from bone cancer that had spread to the brain. ! While in hospital, Mother, concerned about her taxes being paid and the Passover meal made, gave us instructions and a shopping list. She knew my sister and I were not likely to make the gefilte fish, but suggested we buy frozen fish and cook it up with vegetables, so that it would taste better. She gave me her recipe for meat balls, which I made, as well as the chicken soup and matzoh balls. My sister took charge of the main course, tsimmis and

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vegetables, and her daughters made kugels or baked desserts. ! About this time Mother was given radiation treatments, both to the brain and the femur, which suffered a fracture afterwards. Then she was operated on and had a new femur put in, and physiotherapy to help it to work. She was determined to walk and to regain her strength, but the pain was terrible and she collapsed after each of the therapy sessions. As Passover approached, Mother began her campaign to be allowed to go home to be with the family. This, according to the head nurse, was against hospital policy. Once in hospital, a discharge was the only way to get out. And Mother wasn’t in any shape to be discharged. My sister and I backed up Mother, aware that this was most likely the last holiday she would be spending with the family. She was determined to be there, and finally won over the head nurse, who gave her permission to be taken home for the first seder. She was given her pain killers before leaving hospital. and was brought to my niece’s car in a wheel chair, then transferred to the car, which brought her to my sister’s house. ! Mother was made up, had lipstick on and wore a wig. She had lost her hair from the radiation treatment, and looked terribly frail. But she was happy to be with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Both my son and daughter and their families were there, and we were all very emotional that night. As the story of the Exodus from Egypt was told, mother read from the Haggadah, as did the other adults. The children did their part, and the holiday was celebrated as it had been every year.


Harvest-Ha’Asif- Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology

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! As each of the courses of the meal was served, Mother commented on it. The meat balls were excellent, the soup and matzoh balls were wonderful the brisket tender and flavourful, the side dishes very good and the desserts tasty. Even the gefilte fish was acceptable, although we all knew it was far from the wonderful dish that Mother always served. It had to do, and that was that. My sister and I were proud that we had managed to put together the Passover meal, accommodate more people than had ever attended a seder, and had gotten Mother out of hospital for the evening. However, by the end of the evening, Mother was in obvious discomfort, and my niece returned her to hospital. ! Mother died on the day before Mother’s Day. She was a month short of 89. At her funeral my sister gave a eulogy praising our Mother as a woman of valour. My daughter spoke about her Nana’s special love for her “aitzers”, as she called her grandchildren. I read a poem, which, in effect, expressed my love for my mother and my wish to become more and more like her as I grew older. ! It wasn’t until two years later that my sister decided to make gefilte fish.

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Some years earlier she had made a video of Mother making the fish, while explaining what she was doing as she went along. We all watched the video this year when I was in Chicago for Thanksgiving, and laughed and cried as we saw Mother doing her thing, like a TV chef. ! This year my children and their families came to Montreal to celebrate Passover. I made the food myself, using many of my mother's recipes, and we had a wonderful seder together. But when my sister called me after Pesach and told me she had made the gefilte fish, I was moved. She had, I understood, taken upon herself the responsibility to carry on Mother’s tradition of making gefilte fish, had followed her recipe, using Mother’s large chopping bowl and dutch oven, and had chopped the fish until it was “puchy”, as Mother had instructed. And her middle daughter had spent the day with her to help her and to learn how to make her Nana’s gefilte fish. Mother would have been so proud!


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photo by Patrick Rowe, National Science Foundation, Antarctic Photo Library

Iceberg Dwellers David Pariser

! !

After her stroke, my mother said: "One minute you are on top of life, the next minute it's on top of you."

! ! ! ! !

I have read that icebergs are bad places to camp, Because, after a while the massive keel of the mountain Is eroded by warm, maternal seas, And the top-heavy titan rotates ponderously in the waves, Its flanks sweating rivers of brine in the icy light.


The behemoth still floats, indifferent to the exchange of surfaces.

! ! ! ! ! !

My father has always loved water: Its ubiquity, its fecundity, its peculiar physical properties, So it is fitting that now, he and my mother should maintain house on an icy marvel, One that, kayak-like has rolled once-but failed to throw them off. For, my father- ever the optimistic pessimist-foresaw the impending shift, And ran with my stricken mother and their possessions, Until the rotation stopped.

! ! ! !

My parents are both a little the worse for the experience, But with the help of loving friends they have courageously set up their camp. Folk from other floating palaces come and visit , To speak of change and to admire the view.


Harvest-Ha’Asif- Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology

My Six Miracles Ernest Peter Guter ! Excerpted from a longer memoir of the author’s odyssey from Nazi Germany to Canada. ! In the year 1938, Adolf Hitler, his henchmen, his Nazi government, his Gestapo, his brown shirt and his black shirt storm troopers, his army, navy and air force, in fact the vast majority of the more than sixty million people in Greater Germany were eager and willing to rob and kill the less than one percent unarmed and defenceless men, women and children of Jewish faith or heritage. All they needed and in fact waited for was a plausible pretext. ! On the 7th of November at the entrance door of the German embassy in Paris a Polish Jewish student, Hershel Grynszpan, provided the excuse to unleash the greatest ever series of coordinated pogroms, forever known as Kristallnacht (translated into English as Crystal Night). ! Hershel’s father and mother were part of the unfortunate large group of Polish Jews, then residing in Germany, who were arrested and transported across the border into the no man’s land between the two countries. ! There they were left without any food or supplies whatsoever. Their sole help came from handouts given to them anonymously across both borders by sympathetic bystanders. Finally, after three weeks, the Polish government relented for humanitarian reasons and let these poor people enter. All of them needed hospitalization. ! Hershel could not possibly foresee the ending of this. All he knew was that there was no

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way he could help his parents. So Hershel went berserk. ! He rang the bell at the embassy. A minor German diplomat, Ernst von Rath, opened the door and Hershel shot him dead. Of course he was arrested, sentenced and imprisoned by the French authorities. I have no idea about his final fate nor does it have any historic significance. I guess the Germans killed him as soon as they occupied Northern France in 1940. ! It took Adolf Hitler, his Propaganda Minister Dr. Joseph Göebbels and his Gestapo Chieftain Heinrich Müller two days to order and organize the huge murderous and destructive action of Kristallnacht all over Germany. The main action was perpetrated during the night of November 9th to 10th. In Berlin and other large important cities it was continued up to another two additional days and nights. ! “Kristallnacht”, Crystal Night, the night of broken glass is a descriptive name for the littered windows and store fronts of our estimated 1,000 synagogues, 7,500 businesses and God knows how many vandalized homes, hospitals, schools and cemeteries. More important, 91 Jewish males were killed on the streets and 30,000 arrested and transported into the concentration camps of Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen. Adding insult to injury, the Nazis imposed upon us a collective restitution fine of one billion Reichsmark! ••• ! In November 1938 we were living very modestly in two furnished rooms in the fashionable west end of Berlin. My parent’s room was furnished with a double bed, while I slept on a living room couch in the other. I had already

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finished over ten months of my apprenticeship as social worker, looking forward to a better paid promotion in about six weeks. I had to work very long hours, because the poverty of formerly comfortable Jewish individuals and families was enormous. We were understaffed and lacking much needed financial backing. Often all we could muster was sympathy. ! Imagine a family of three penniless with the rent overdue and the kitchen stark empty. All we could muster would be one rye bread and one quart of milk for the whole week. My mother gave me every morning two wrapped sandwiches for lunch. ! Often I gave one of them to people who were hungrier than I. ! In the east end of Berlin there was an area that was almost a Jewish ghetto. My father’s oldest sister, Mrs. Nadel, lived there with her husband and their only son, about ten years older than I. Early in the morning of November 10th she telephoned and warned us. The Gestapo, Hitler’s secret police, was all over their neighbourhood arresting all Jewish men and boys, but leaving the females unharmed. Her two men had seen the secret police trucks arriving and had immediately gone into hiding in their attic. Incidentally, they were lucky and got away with it unharmed. The parents, like mine, were eventually killed in the Holocaust, but my cousin Heinz Nadel managed to get into the United States and lived out his lifespan in New York. He even served three years in the American army as cook, which enabled him thereafter to study full time and to earn a doctorate in psychology.


Harvest-Ha’Asif- Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology ! My dad and I immediately dressed as inconspicuously as we could, grabbed a few sandwiches and whatever cash money was around, kissed my mother goodbye and ran out on the street. Thank God, we were not overweight, bearded, hook-nosed or in any other way looking like the anti-Semitic caricatures in the weekly Nazi propaganda paper “Der Stürmer”, owned by Hitler’s friend Julius Streicher. Also, we both were fully German-educated, and therefore able to sound right and to fully blend in. ! We leisurely walked and went by public transportation all over Berlin, never showing any apprehension or fear. After our sandwiches were finished, we patronized street vendors and small restaurants and we stayed in touch with mum over pay phones. When tired, particularly at night, we took long subway rides, because we did not dare to try to enter any hotel or motel. Luckily, the city was full of public toilets in parks and railway stations, so we managed to stay clean and looking decent. ! What we witnessed was indescribably horrible! We had both thought that the German character was basically decent and that in time tolerance would prevail. Now we lost all hope. We realized that all Jewish life in Greater Germany was utterly doomed. ! So here we were, father and son going from one neighbourhood to the next, in the midst of four million people, seeing one horror after another. During those ten or more hours we felt utterly isolated and alone. There was smashing, destruction, burning and looting everywhere. Jews and also others mistaken as such were degraded, beaten, hurt and wounded all over the place. If male, they were finally forced by Gestapo into vans and trucks

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to be taken to headquarters for so-called interrogation or into one of the three recently enlarged concentration camps. ! Wherever possible, local police and fire brigades were standing by, often causing or cooperating with the destruction, but also always preventing it from endangering nearby gentiles and their properties. Much of the mayhem and particularly the looting were done by private individuals of both sexes who did not wear any Nazi or other uniforms. Some may have been just neighbours or bystanders. This alone shows the strength of the ever present anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda. ! I distinctly remember one murder. An elderly man ran out of the burning synagogue near the Münchener Platz carrying a book of the bible, called a Torah. Of course, he tried to save it. This is God’s word and our symbol of divinity. This is also why we are called “The People of the Book”. A black uniformed member of the Nazi SS brigades pulled his revolver and shot him dead right on the spot. The holy Torah burned to ashes alongside his corpse. ! My aunt Bertha was my father’s next sister, only two years older than he. I never got to know her very well, but remember her as good looking and friendly. She made beautiful self designed lady hats to special order in her own large store, just off one of Berlin’s most famous shopping thorough-fares, the Kurfürstendam. After more than ten hours of walking, we happened to pass it. Of course the store did not escape the Night of Broken Glass. The landlord was in front up a ladder, busy fixing plywood for temporary cover. He recognized my father. Very furtively, with an almost invisible gesture, he beckoned for us to enter.

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! Once inside, we found five or six other men, equally sheltered and after us he let in one or two more. ! Frankly, now sixty five years later I do not remember exactly how many we were or what they looked like. We all were scared and suffering great stress. ! Everything inside the premises was severely damaged and ready for the junk heap. Two large counters when covered with torn textiles could still be used to lie down upon and likewise one could still sit on a few damaged chairs. Being the youngest, I spent most of my time there sitting or lying on the floor. All mirrors were smashed and neither electricity nor gas was functioning, we did not even think of heating. There was one toilet without paper and one sink, thank God with drinkable cold water. The telephone had disappeared, so there was no way we could call Mother to tell her that we were OK. We stayed there for two days and nights in almost full darkness and did not dare to make any noise. ! All this time we did not see a single outside face. However, we were not forsaken. The landlord or somebody on his behalf, left each morning and evening at our inside entrance a supply of sandwiches and black coffee, then knocked and disappeared. All this time we did not even have a chance to say thank you. At the end of our second night the landlord yelled in loud voice: “The coast is clear, you can go home!” and, of course, we left immediately.


Harvest-Ha’Asif- Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology


If I could trace a melody of Mozart to its source,I'm sure that I would find my own soul.

safety and those of his family and associates.

Of what Utopia does Mozart speak?

Here was one righteous German hero who

He turns me into a dreamer of golden dreams

should be remembered for always alongside

That reach out to the very universe itself, Joining my heart with the very stars,

Raoul Wallenberg ! ••• !

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Daniel Mergler

learn his name. He was a German and certainly

saving ours, he was risking his own life and

The Song of the Soul

I never knew the landlord, nor did I ever

not Jewish, nor any kind of a foreigner. While

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I did and am still living a normal life. I

Bringing ecstasy to my senses, Blinding my eyes to the manifold tragedy of life. For what is the darker side of life

tried but could not save my parents. Seven other

Compared to the song of Mozart's soul?

very close relatives of mine died in the

Vital, like the very breath of life itself,

Holocaust. We, the German Jews were the

He triumphs over sadness and despair.

earliest exposed to Hitler’s “Final Solution”, yet our victims formed only a small part of the six million. Never should any of this be forgotten.

Mozart helps me see a future Touched by beauty and perfection, Unlimited in pure potential, The dream of music that tears, however bitter, Can never wash away . . .

I listen to Mozart's melody as I never listened before, And I feel my own soul sing As it never has sung before.

✡ painting by Jean Louis Filion


Harvest-Ha’Asif- Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology

Building Canada: The Levines of Trout Lake Joseph Graham ! Each family has a claim to a rich past, the knowledge of which often dies with the oldest member. This lost knowledge is more than a personal family recollection, of little relevance to those outside the family. It is a perspective upon the past. of our culture and a part of the history of Canada. There are rich rewards for those of us who take the time to talk with the elders and write down what we learn. An example of this is shown the story of the Levines of Ste-Agathe-des- Monts and the story is told of the hopes, aspirations, hardships and successes of one family as it explored a new culture. ! Alter and Sima Levine arrived in Montreal in 1903 along with their seven children. They met others here who, like them, had fled the pogroms in Russia. Their new country was full of hope and

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freedom. There was no dark authoritarian presence watching their moves, no pogroms, and immigrants could freely share their stories, hopes and fears. Almost drunk with a sense of freedom, a number of these new Canadians decided to establish a commune off in the countryside where they could farm and reorganise their world. What could challenge their vision in this ill land where only hard work stood between them and their dreams? No society had experimented with the ideas of Karl Marx and intellectuals everywhere believed that we could achieve utopia with a social system. ! The family names of these social pioneers are still with us today: Ofner, Gillitz, Com, Shuldiner, Smith, Levine. They believed that they could create a commune in the Pays d'en Haut, the great north, where functioning farms with open, grazed fields could be purchased reasonably. The purchase prices: should have been warning enough that their project

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was ill starred. Unlike French Canadians, who, a generation earlier, hacked down and burned the forest, believing that they could recreate the rich farms of the St. Lawrence Valley, the new pioneers arrived by train and beheld rolling, green fields, fenced pastures and roads. ! Life on Laurentian farms was, however, never easy. The soil is generally nutrient-poor and thin, leaving crops vulnerable to drought, and the frost-free season is short: It is unlikely to freeze between the twelfth of June and the first of September, a period of only 80 days, but of course we have seen snow in August and frost-free periods can run to mid-September, so there is always hope. On the other hand, while the farmer could not rely on the weather in summer, he could count on being stranded for days at a time in the heavy snows of mid- to late winter. The commune lasted less than five years.


Harvest-Ha’Asif- Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology ! Mortimer Davis, who had extended credit, ended up with one of the farms, and it ultimately became the site of Mount Sinai Hospital. Alter Levine, who was older than the others, ended up with his own farm fronting on a part of Trout Lake. His family of 8 children, their youngest daughter having been born here, must have practically formed a commune in itself, but Alter fell into a deep depression after the failure of the original project. Sima assigned her sixteen-year-old son Leo the task of checking up on his father to make sure that, in his depressed state, he did himself no harm. Once, Leo cut his father down from the rafters of the barn where the elder Levine had tried to hang himself. Another time he found his father bleeding to death in the woods and dragged him home, helping his mother nurse him back to health. Leo always remembered what his father told him when his body was fully healed: "Next time you won't find me.' ! Sophie Levine Gross, the youngest and only child born in Canada, remembers the hardships of those early days. She has no memory of her father. He had made good on his promise and his body was never found. Her mother Sima Levine was left with 8 children ranging in age from 25 to 2 who, with her, were learning the local languages. The 278-acre farm, with fifteen acres of fields under cultivation, a barn, a horse, a small herd of cattle and 50 chickens. Sophie's earliest memories include receiving a new birth certificate because the farmhouse burned down and all their papers were lost. Their mother began to take in boarders in their new building, people who were visiting family at Mount Sinai Hospital, or others who

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had come to Ste. Agathe for 'the cure’ and could not find room at the hospital. Over time, their home evolved into the Trout Lake Inn and her brothers ran it together with their mother. The inn was on the north side of the lake and became a popular destination, finally bringing the family some prosperity. ! Fire was a constant danger in those days. There was no safe heating source, and the structures were made from wood that dried thoroughly in walls that let the wind through during the long, cold winters. Everyone had experience with fires. Chimneys, stoves and fuels were not standardised and daily chores occupied all of people's time. At the Trout Lake Inn Leo had been responsible for the fire insurance and so it was Leo who was blamed when fire destroyed the inn and they discovered that the premium had never been paid. ! Even so, the family managed to rebuild, but Leo did not join them. Never fully forgiven for the fire, he managed to buy a parcel of the Larivière farm to the south. In time, the Trout Lake Inn closed and the others moved on to other careers, but Leo, who had secretly married Sophie Eidlow, persisted and eventually built a new hotel that he called Sun Valley Lodge. Leo and Sophie, both of small stature, made up in determination what they lacked in size. Sun Valley Lodge became a popular hotel and soon they found other opportunities to make money. When Sir Mortimer Davis died in 1927 his estate was liquidated and Leo purchased a number of the outbuildings and dragged them behind a team of horses around Lac des Sables and over the hill to set them on foundations on his farm. These houses were rented to his guests for

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longer periods and in time were purchased as summer cottages. Because the road ran along the lakeshore, they were placed up the hill, overlooking the lake, and the Levines kept a very deep setback of land between the road and the cottages. Rumours were rife that the government was going to widen the road and they wanted to receive the expropriation money. Thwarting their plans, a new road was built behind the mountain, eventually becoming the Route 117 that we know today. ! Unfortunately for the Levines the fields could no longer produce. Filled with cottages, with most of their customers preferring the idea of renting or buying a small cottage, the hotel became redundant. Undaunted, the Levines set up a summer camp for the many children. They themselves had one son whom Sophie home-schooled telling everyone that her 'Sonny' would one day become a doctor. ! Overtime, the Levine farms grew into the small Jewish country community that still exists around Trout Lake. While all of the other Levines moved away and established careers elsewhere, Leo and Sophie persisted. Eventually Leo sold the balance of the mountain to the Gentemens who created the Chanteclair development, providing some additional funds for retirement. Sophie predeceased Leo, who passed away in 1989 at age 99 at the Mount Sinai Hospital. They are survived by their son, Dr. Mark (Sonny) Levine, neurologist, his wife, three children and nine grandchildren who all live in California.

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Harvest-Ha’Asif- Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology Chopin's Nocturne

Daniel Mergler

And when the Chopin Nocturne ends And the last note says: “Goodbye” . . . Where does the golden beauty go? Does it really ever die?

And when the pianist lifts his hands And the music is no more, Do others hear the afterglow Of what was heard before?

If the soul thirsts after beauty And beauty flies away, There must be someone, somewhere, Who hears the music play.

Can such beauty disappear, Leave nothing in its wake, Except the golden meaning In the heart it must forsake?

It must be there, among the stars, In some distant galaxy, Where beauty such as Chopin's Lives on, forever free . .

Passover in Egypt- A Daughter Remembers Vivianne Schinasi-Silver ! At Passover each year, my mind floods with memories of festive celebrations during my childhood in Egypt. What makes it particularly poignant is the remembrance of my beloved father who lavished a lifetime's worth of joy, strength and inspiration on me. His legacy was one of courage, hard work, and dignity. At the age of forty, he left Egypt, his beloved native land, bidding farewell to the father he revered and whom he would never see again. In a new land, he made a new life for himself, my mother, my two brothers, and me. ! I remember my father vividly from my early days in Egypt during the "Golden Age” of Jewish life there. It was a time when Jews were part of a thriving, vibrant community when they prospered under the benevolent patronage of the monarchy and its ruler, Farouk. This era lasted right up until the king was overthrown in 1952 under the leadership of Mohammed Naguib. ! My father, Joseph Schinasi, was a man with a distinct presence. When he walked into a room, he automatically commanded respect and attention. In a restaurant, he invariably requested the best table and ordered the finest dishes. He loved creating an ambience of well-being and comfort. His greatest pleasure was to see everyone around him enjoying themselves. At my father's table, even a simple piece of bread turned into a feast. ! My father took great pride in his appearance, his black hair slicked back, smelling of orange blossom cologne. Even in Canada, favouring suits of white shantung, he always conjured up visions of summer days in Alexandria. It was his way of honouring our lives in Egypt. ! My Papi, as I lovingly called him, was a wonderful raconteur. He could weave a lengthy tale, punctuated by

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Arabic exclamations of "Wallah El Azim"(I swear to God). A simple episode in his business day would feed his stories at the dinner table. He loved to laugh. He had a gusty one that was so infectious, we were all splitting our sides before he came to the punch line. ! A devout man, I admired my father's unshakeable loyalty to Judaism, his immense pride at bring a practising Jew. Every morning at dawn, near the living room window, his tallis draped over his shoulders and tefillin on his forehead and arm, he would recite traditional prayers. ! As far back as I can remember, Passover was an especially joyous celebration for father, and by extension, for us. Each year, we would on Erev Pesach make the ceremonious journey from Heliopolis, the suburb where we lived in the years of my childhood, all the way to the Beni Ezra synagogue, in Old Cairo. After a good hour’s drive, waiting for us there in the courtyard would be the rabbi, a shoichet, and the lamb designated to be sacrificed. ! Because my father would take this holy duty so seriously, I would respectfully stand at his side right up until the moment when the rabbi would press his thumb's imprint from the blood of the freshly slaughtered animal onto our foreheads. The four of us (my father, my two brothers, and myself), as we held hands, would then bow out heads and receive the rabbi's annual blessing. Later, the meat would be distributed to poor Jewish families. My father only took home the shank so that my mother could prepare the special meal, and the bone could take its rightful place on our Seder plate.


Harvest-Ha’Asif- Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology

! Many years later, in Canada, my father would tell us many of his Passover stories as we gathered around his table The recounting of Pesach took on a special significance, for he could now speak to his children and grandchildren of a Modem Day Exodus. Some of us had experienced how he had led his family out of Egypt ! The tale that most captured the attention of the diners was the one of our last Passover in Egypt in the spring of 1956. The country was then on the eve of a war with Israel, England, and France over the question of the rights of passage through the Suez Canal. ! My father described how we could not travel to Old Cairo for safety reasons. The "Yahood" (the Jew in Arabic) had become an unwelcome sight to the natives. We had to exercise every possible caution during these increasingly politically charged times. True to tradition, my father ordered a lamb, but because of the changes, he brought it home. She lived with us in the laundry room, on the rooftop of our residence. I would go upstairs every day, and lovingly feed him. I called him "Zazy" and he became my pet, recognizing me and greeting me happily. Needless to say, I refused to partake of the sacred ritual of slaughter in the days that were to follow. Eventually I reluctantly acquiesced to the thumb's blessed marking on my forehead but was quick to scrub it off with the coarsest of "loofahs" I could find. I felt I had betrayed my trusting little friend. ! That story and many others would always delight all those at the table, right up until my father's last Seder.

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! That year, due to his failing health, I wanted to give both my parents a reprieve, and so, the celebration moved to my home. I planned the menu and the seating arrangement very carefully. True to tradition, the patriarch of the family was placed at the head of the table where everyone could see him. I put the softest of cushions behind his back so that he would be as comfortable as the "pasha" of olden times. I cooked my father's favourite Sephardic dishes: a lemon flavoured "molocheya" soup, okra in tomato sauce, stuffed artichoke hearts, zucchinis and eggplants. He marvelled most in my piece de resistance, a dessert called "mahlabeya", a white pudding covered in sprinklings of pistachio nuts, all flavoured in rose water. ! As the story of the Exodus once again unfolded, I managed to tape my father's voice. Everyone present was especially attentive that night. We all felt the sacredness of the moment very keenly. ! Sometime ago, my father passed away, symbolically, on the eve of Pesach. His seat at my table remained empty for years. Indelibly marked in our minds and in our hearts, his stories will remain forever alive, stories that will be told again and again on this Passover and on many others to follow. They are the legacy of a true gentleman of Egypt, lovingly remembered on this and every Passover by his daughter.


Harvest-Ha’Asif - Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom’s Literary Anthology

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Three Steps Forward

Marcia Goldberg

There's a man on a grave in the snow; it's almost two o'clock. I have to go home for the sabbath hour, the eighth day of Hannukah. I look up. He's moving away to a red car on the driveway, dressed in white parka and jeans. He takes three steps back to his right before going away, as if to see if his prayer has stuck on the tombstone or taken to air. He drives 'round the center of the long-shadowed lot just under my window, his auto skylight a dot through which I see he is still looking back where moments before he was praying while I zippered my sack. He keeps looking, driving slowly beyond the wall of the college. I cannot see him, but I, too, consider the call before sundown: consider your parent, your brother, your aunt. Do it today or you may not survive to do it tomorrow. The daylight is short in December. Remember your sister, your friend while they, too, are alive. There was a man on the ground on a grave in the snow.


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Breaking news- water main break on Elm Street- Temple in danger of inundation.

Last Word !


! There were many who sent in contributions for this, the first issue of The Harvest-Ha’Asif, many more than could be accommodated in the modest issue we envisioned for this year. It is our hope that the literary pieces chosen will speak for themselves as examples of the high quality and wide range of topics, styles, and genres submitted, and act to inspire others to show their creativity to all of us. ! It was our hope that submissions would display the sum of talent, depth of emotion, and distilled experience that is good writing. With this end in mind, it was very gratifying to see our Temple members’ creative imaginations at work, whether in the form of poetry, prose or memoir.

! !

Zav Levinson Harry Rajchgot


Assistant Editors:

! !

Cheryl Everett Heather Solomon-Bowden


Illustrations: Harry Rajchgot

Harry Rajchgot, co-editor

If you feel that this anthology is worthy of your sponsorship, we ask that you contact Rhona Samsonovitch at the Temple office with your donation or pledge (tel. 937-3575).

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“Tell me, Rabbi, does Temple have

! !

All copyrights remain the property of the authors.

insurance against

“No. I guess we’d better build an ark.”

acts of God?”

✡✡✡✡✡✡ ✡✡✡✡✡✡

Donations are tax-deductible and will be profusely, thunderously, and thankfully acknowledged in the next issue of Harvest-Ha’Asif.

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Harvest-HaAsif 2003  
Harvest-HaAsif 2003  

literary anthology