November 01, 2017
by Ruth Cohen
My paternal grandfather was a tall, kind, handsome man with a sweet smile and a beautiful beard. I was about seven years old when he died, but my memory of his funeral is very clear. The whole street was full of people paying their respects to him. He was an ombudsman after he retired from his business career. My grandmother was not very tall. She was also always smiling, but she was a very strict woman who also had her own business. We spent all the holidays at my grandparents’ table. The extended family was large, and so was the table.
I remember Purim most vividly. As we ate and sang, the door to the dining room would open, and a group of people or an individual would come in and present a Purim spiel, for which they were given some money (gelt). As they left, the next group would come in. This went on for hours and was great fun, especially for us children.
After my grandfather died, my grandmother moved in with us. She was a special person. For a woman to own her own business was unusual at the time, and she was used to giving orders, but she let my parents run the house as they wished and let my mother be completely in charge. We had a special, warm, and good family. At age 83, my grandmother was sent to Auschwitz—at the same time we were—but because she was in a wheelchair, they put her in a different railcar (one with all disabled people).
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