Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Big, Bad, Blonde Shiksa - Part 2

Continued ...

So, I returned to Judaism.  I started to take classes and establish relationships at the local reform temple.  Oddly, my mother didn't try to stop me.  I remember my Jewish grandfather calling my rabbi to explain the details of my situation so the rabbi could understand it all better.  The rabbi later told me that my grandfather pleaded with him to take care of me and look out for me.  (I am crying as I write this!)  I was grandpa's little girl.  I was the first Jewish grandchild in the family.  You can imagine ...

Well, getting back to my mother.

I used to hate my mother.  I had NUMEROUS issues with her.  Only waaay later in life did I forgive her and come to understand and feel compassion for her, her life, and her choices.

My mother loved my father until the day she died.  She wouldn't admit it, but she did.  Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night and hear her crying while she was drunk, talking to one of her friends long-distance, talking about my dad.  She kept pictures of him (which I now have) and maintained a relationship with my grandparents until they passed away. 

Did she change herself much or her identity in order to be married to a Jewish man? 

I do remember how her speech was peppered with Yiddish words until the day she died.

And she could cook a Jewish pot roast that was right up there with that of both my Jewish grandmother and Jewish great grandmother. 

In the beginning, she tried to keep a kosher kitchen, but as I mentioned in Part 1, it didn't work out too well :)

She agreed to raise her children Jewish, which is HUGE for a believing Catholic woman.

She kept the name "Levine" until she married my step father.  And despite making us Catholics, she didn't attempt to change our names.

All this in a post World War II America.  And after all that, she ended up divorced anyway. 

Hmmm ...

Well, time for some photos:

Here's a Valentine's Day card my father sent to my mother.  After she died, I found it in her drawer where she kept all her treasured memories.  The middle is made of satin cushion:

Here's a picture of my dad and a few of his service buddies.  My dad is the one kneeling down in the foreground. 
My dad's aunt, uncle, and grandparents.  Aunt Julia is in the back.  My great grandparents Jake and Fanny are in the middle, and Uncle Sammy is in the foreground, sometime in the 1940s.
My father and stepmom when they got married.

Another image of my dad.

My parents on one of their trips to Pennsylvania:

My mom holding my brother, and my dad and me:


AlabasterMuslim said...

Its sad how sometimes things turn out. Your mother was very beautiful, they looked like such a cute couple!

I did go through the trying-to-be-another-culture thing. But this was before i was married. I had grown up with Pakistani friends and Pakistani step father, so I was immersed in the culture- very hard to get away from it! Eventually when I was no longer living with or around desi's I grew into my own person (which wasn't hard, rather I fell back into being myself immidiatly after the 6 month "i'm paki on the inside" phase lolll). Then I married my American born arab husband who was just NORMAL with the same culture as me. Its great, alhamdullilah!

Your step mother is also beautiful in her wedding picture. Mashallah.

luckyfatima said...

Beautiful pictures, mashallah.

My shikse mother did everything wrong in my bubbe's eyes. She was a very bad goyl :D . My mother's Ashkenazi Jewish cooking was the worse. And my grandmother would always come to our house on visits and make meat pies, kashe varnishkes, blintzes, chopped liver with onions, and of course brisket, none of which my mother could cook successfully. My dad's mom is a total walking stereotype of an old fashioned Jewish mom and grandma. My mother rejected all of that stuff and just stayed as herself.

I am glad to read that you had a chance to make peace with your mother and come to terms with your relationship with her. That is the best way to be, what a blessing, Mashallah.

Fadiosis said...

you're amazing. mashallah i loved the pictures... i loved everything...

you should write a book... an autobiography and... and i'd be your first fan ♥.. provided that you send me a dedicated signed copy...

I'm still in awe of the whole thing it's really.. interesting/weird/amazing combination how things turned into...

i dunno what else to say!...

Blue Pearl said...

Nice photos - beautiful memories. And you look very beautiful as a kid, mashallah:)

Safiyyah said...

@ AlabasterMuslim: Thanks dear! And Alhamdulillah that Allaah t'ala gave you a wonderful husband!

@luckyfatima: Yum, you're making me hungry. Your grandma reminds me a lot of mine :)

@ Fadiosis: Wow, thanks! Glad you liked the pictures. I really enjoy putting them on here for posterity, so to speak. Everyone says I should write a book! My life has been crazy and wonderful! Of course, you will get a free signed copy :)

@ Blue Pearl: Thanks! My family was crazy with the camera. Alhamdulillah, our family is well documented :)

American Muslima Writer said...

I agree BOOK BOOK!!!!
I bet you could fill a million with all your stores but I WANT ONLY ONE!!!!!


I love this story and it's so tragic for you Ma. To feel so heart broken twice musta been devisating.
It's weird as you get older you realize how your parents decisions came about and they were just trying to live through life.

Your Mom though is a fabulous person too I'm glad Allah sent her into your life. She looks liek a princess in that wedding photo. Your Dad IS Exotic Coolness. It's so weird seeing young photos of family members.
Once upon a time we are all hot stuff ;)
I once saw a pic of my g-pa from the Navy and he looked just like this boy i knew at school, of course that boy was a jerk but it was weird seing the aging process so up close.
Deep down our soul always feels young right til the day we die (so I hear).

I love hearing about your family adventures.

Yeah sometimes in our ability to adapt to environments we subconciously camoflauge ourselfs as well. It's the stuff Psyco Professors will wite dozens of books on.

Safiyyah said...

Lol Brandy has surfaced from the bowels of Magrudy's! "once upon a time we were all hot stuff". Now that's classic Brandy and should be the opening line of a novel or short story!