Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood - Kaddish
Wednesday, 15 December 2010 11:15

This weekend is my mother’s yortzeit, the Hebrew anniversary of her death. It’s been eight years now since she died.

As I say her name in temple Saturday morning, sounds  choke up. Esther Simonoff.

What I remember most about honoring the dead in my family is two things:

First, the glass jars that were filled with wax and small enough that they lasted only twenty-four hours, sundown to sundown left a perfectly fine functional juice glass. Each time I needed a drink of water, I reached past those ones for fear of drinking the dead.

Second, my mother brought home the perfect solution: an electric glass cylinder candle that when plugged in had the neon hot pink outline of a Jewish six pointed star, illuminating, honoring of the “loved one” as Evelyn Waugh, the author called them. At sundown, turn the knob and the light goes on and twenty four hours later turn it off. The ceremony has ended.

I used to tell my mom,” Are you sure God accepts this?” feeling that this modernization, although I was usually in favor of progress, seemed a caricature of a religious symbol started with one cruse of oil. It was now evolutionized for use over and over by my mother, as only a child of the depression can deeply understand.

Here it is Friday night at 5:30 p.m. I plug in and turn on that lamp and with this celebration, bring her back.

I wake at 3:00 a.m. for a drink of water, the room glowing with a pink Jewish star. I realize that I now hope this luminescent candle will never burn out.

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