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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

It’s About Time: Part 5

Chanukah in Florida with Grandma.
(Credit: David Roher)

It’s about time.

The time I spent with my grandparents during the Jewish holidays. Seeing how holidays were celebrated before the internet or cable TV or television. When the biggest question before the start of shabbat or a holiday was which lights to leave on?

The time that has passed.

It’s been 35 years, but if I close my eyes, I can still see my grandparents sitting there at my father’s table. All of us in our special holiday seats since my grandparents were a “plus two” to our table. I can almost hear them. Their voices, like their words, are now in the distant past.

We would visit my father’s parents.

(That sounds so clinical.)

Ok, we would visit my paternal grandparents.

(Nope, that makes it sounds like a divorce document.)

Fine! We would visit Grandma Carrie and Grandpa Aaron for Christmas week, which usually coincided with Chanukah.

(Not during “yeshiva week.)

Yeshiva week is a term to describe the midwinter break that yeshivas give after midterms. We had it when I entered MTA in 1983, but we sure didn’t call it that.

(What did you call it?)

Mid-winter break. The whole idea of being closed for a week dates back to the energy crisis of the 1970s when OPEC engaged oil to the U.S. and municipalities were looking for a way to save money.

(Hey, let’s close the schools for a week.)

Go ask your grandparents if they had a mid winter break or a yeshiva week.

Passover in White Plains with my dad and his dad.

Mind you, I’m not complaining, I’m just pointing out that this was not always a thing.

For Passover in the 1970s, my grandparents visited us.

They flew Eastern and would tie ribbons on their hard case luggage so they could find their bags at the carousel with ease. They returned eight weeks after for the 4th of July.

(Because it was a holiday?)

Because that is when my parents took a vacation without us. It was their chance to get a moment to themselves. I don’t know if they ever understood that they gave us our own time as kids with our grandparents. Time that I cannot get back to, but if I close my eyes I can almost smell my grandmother’s homemade chicken soup. I can see the softball sized matzo balls floating in the vat. Grandma made too much soup to use a pot.

“It’s bad luck if they sink!” She would exclaim.

On Shabbat as a child, I played with my Legos. By the time I was in high school we did this parallel dance with my grandparents.

They read their books, I read mine.

They have been gone for 35 years, and I’m not sure if I remember my grandmother’s voice or the memory of what I imagined she sounded like. I can almost smell my grandfather’s aftershave. I can almost feel their hugs and kisses. Time erodes memory like “castles made of sand” to quote Jimi Hendrix.

I don’t have a time machine, I can’t go back and I can’t leap forward, but I can spend as much time with my parents as I can, because it’s about time.


David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6.He can be reached at [email protected].

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