June 16, 2024
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June 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Preparing for My Interview

Recently, Hillel Eisenberg, our grandson who is living in Lakewood with his wife, Malkah, surprised the Eisenberg wing of the family by creating a weekly newspaper in order to keep the family in touch with each other despite their distance. With Yoel in Manalapan; Ben-Tzion in Kew Garden Hills; Shlomo in Columbus, Ohio; Adina in Chicago; Esther in Lakewood and Doniel in Lakewood, and their parents in Rochester, Hillel created the “Eisenberg Editorial.”

Each week there are comments from the editors, Hillel and Malkah; thoughts on the parsha from one member of the family; a nachas report in which each family reports on their week with pictures; original artwork from some of the junior members of the family (all 15 of them), ranging in age from several months to 9; and always a few pictures under the headline “Where in the World,” with pictures that should shock the memories of at least several members of the family. There is an “Ask the Rabbi” column, since three brothers are rabbonim; there is a joke and riddle of the week; and there have already been several letters to the editor printed.

I have omitted just one column, “Spotlight on…,” where each week a different person answers questions posed by the editor. I know that Malkie and Baruch must have felt they did something right when a grandchild of theirs was asked what his father’s favorite food is and he replied, “salad.”

Lo and behold, for the forthcoming edition I have been chosen for the “Spotlight on…” column, and they sent me a list of questions. Some of the questions were easy to answer—where I lived, my parents’ names, etc. Others were more thought-provoking as I realized that young children would be perusing this together with their parents. When asked what America was like when I was growing up, I thought of what I could write and what I should not write. I did not want to mention (for fear that young children might be reading it) how devastating it was to drive through the South together with my family and witness the squalid conditions in which Blacks were living. Miles of shanties lined the roads and signs for porters and maids were evident whenever you passed a rest area with bathrooms. They too were segregated.

I would also have a difficult time explaining the drills we had in elementary school, where we had to quickly hide under our desks in case there was a nuclear attack. There were blackout shades on our apartment windows, just in case, and there were drills to ensure that we were all ready. How could I explain the “dog tag” I had to wear with my name and contact information in case there was a nuclear attack, so people would be able to identify me if I was killed? I did not know the reason at the time and just remember that it left black marks on my neck.

No, those were not some of the memories that I would wish to share with my great-grandchildren about what it was like growing up in America. They once jokingly asked me if people had horses and buggies when I was young. I had to remind them that I am not that old. For kids I think that anything over 30 is really old.

We had a good life and it was simple, but we did everything as a family. There were no therapies, no extracurricular activities. No one in the Jewish world ever heard of sushi, and only later did we hear of kosher pizza. When kosher Chinese became the rage we were all excited over this new Jewish phenomenon.

I am skipping a few questions in my interview but the last two resonated with me—how I made Yom Tov with a smile and how to raise a beautiful family. I loved preparing for any chag. It was always special, even more so as my children became adults and began their own lives. I would work for days and evenings preparing meals that everyone would enjoy. I always kept in mind each person’s specialty and favorites and made sure to have at least one special item for each person. Especially for the longer yomim tovim, when our kids would return home and stay with us for an extended time, it was my goal not to have to cook while they were there so that I could spend quality time with them. With the exception of
salads, each dish was precooked and ready to go. From the minute they walked through our door I was thrilled. I remember that when things would spill and break, it was all in the zchut of having them together. What more could we have wanted in life than to be able to be together? The fact that they wanted to come home was the most rewarding feeling of all.

Just the other day our 6-year-old great grandson wanted to know when he can come to our home because he knows that we have lots of fun things: candy and more candy.

We have often said that we lucked out with our children. Just as we have been there each day from the time they were born to show them any type of support that they required, they are now reciprocating by constantly offering us help and assistance.

We were a unit, and part of that unit was a daughter/sister who has extreme disabilities. There is no doubt in my mind that our children and our family flourished even more by having Naama with us. Loving Naama made our children more sensitive and caring as adults.

Growing up out of town and living with so many types of people taught our children the value of treating everyone equally. In our first position in Montreal there were a limited number of shomer Shabbat children, but that didn’t deter us from allowing our children to play with others.

The fact that our children saw a father and mother who adored each other and didn’t hesitate to let them know it has surely enhanced the relationships which they themselves have chosen to be in.

As a parent you hope and pray that you are doing the right thing, and we have been blessed with amazing children and grandchildren who we can see are already on the derech to continue in our original footsteps. I hope that the readers of the Eisenberg Editorial won’t be disappointed with my answers.

By Nina Glick


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