Last evening, Charlotte, Nicole, and I had the pleasure of attending a neighborhood Havurah. This meeting (in Hebrew, a “gathering” for study or prayer) was held in the home of Ruth Friedberg, a talented musician, pianist and art song coach. I regret that it took so many years to meet this charming woman. She introduced us to her daughter-in-law, Barbara, and her 11-year old grandson, who studies piano with Nicole.
Earlier this year, after reading an article about my background in a local publication, Ruth asked me to share this story with members of her Havurah. Ruth and her compatriot, Maxine Cohen, had both read When I Grow Up, I Want To Be . . . As this is a Jewish study group, they wanted to focus on the early years of my life. To prepare, Maxine and Ruth had prepared a list of questions for me to contemplate in advance of last evening’s discussion . . . growing up in Algeria, the arrival of the Vichy French on North African shores and what it meant to be a Jew in those times. From that point, the questions moved to my participation as an Overseas Volunteer during Israel’s War for Independence, followed by my service as a captain in the Israeli Air Force. Talk about stretching my brain cells. Charlotte retrieved old papers and documents from their boxed resting place in the garage rafters and I poured over articles and letters I had written to my parents. Thank heaven for the Internet. It may not be the British Library but it provides a ready resource for dates and events. It was up to me to provide the memories. Fortunately, the brain cells still work and I came up with appropriate recollections of times long past.
I must say it’s been a very long time since I held court and spoke without stopping; in this case, nearly one hour. It was difficult, but rewarding and once again brought back so many family memories. Yes, I was the one having the adventure, but I always knew my mother and father stood behind me, ready to assist and provide moral support and love.
Even though 70 years have passed, I realize how precious family is to help one through the good times and the difficult ones.
Many thanks to Ruth, Maxine and to all the members of the Havurah for the opportunity to travel down this road once again.