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But we sat talking. “Nobody makes challahs like Mayerowitz. My daughter asked her for the recipe. The secret is honey in the dough.” Or, “Avraham Avinu also served tongue for the guest.” She urged us to put it on a slice of challah, because the meat was thin.

When the seudah lulled, she said, in her biding voice, “Bring the soup. And a cut paper towel.” We ate in the kitchen, just the three of us under the kitchen chilar, the two of us on small kitchen chairs and her wheelchair taking up the rest of the space in the tiny, hallway-like dinette.


We discussed her last trip to Florida or the upcoming one. She remembered how her mother shopped in Budapest for her clothing store. “My mother said, rather use the money for clothing than for food.”

As the seudah wrapped up, we brought out Pepsi and ginger ale and poured it over the shrinking ice. We girls gravitated toward the sofa and continued the conversation from there.

“You girls are going to laugh all night,” she said, as she summoned her aide to take her into bed.

The next morning, she told the ladies who came for a Shabbos morning schmooze, “And the girls were up all night. I heard them giggling at six-thirty.”

Which we did. This was the time to catch up. Regular school nights did not allow for this camp-like atmosphere where snowflakes hurried past our window, downward ten flights to the ground below as we dreamed on.

I imagine the tastes of her home, and it’s hard to believe I won’t savor them anymore. She made strudel with sweet and sour cherries and lots of breadcrumbs between the layers. Before filo dough she kneaded flour and water with her fingers in a small bowl, and then stretched it over the entire table, until it was almost a skin, a membrane. Then she rolled it into layers and layers that flaked and crunched and collected at the corners of the lips. “Nobody makes rollad like Mrs. Spitzer. And nobody makes strudel like me.” When she came to us for Pesach, she made chremzel out of potatoes and eggs, and nobody, no matter how they combine them, could make the same ingredients taste like hers.

She laughed, or had an opinion, or let her feelings be known. I realized that it was all love – the poem on her cabinets, her late night wine-drinking with one grandchild and a friend. And I knew I didn’t know the first thing about her.

Pictures of her in her sprayed-wig swam up in my mind. Her reading every word I ever published, and passing it around to every friend who came through her door. Lighting countless candles every Friday night – a full tray of melting wax, for every soul she remembered. Her plants, some of them with photos of grandchildren rooted in the soil, which her aide watered. Her cemetery plot, far from her mother, but where her children would visit.

And I knew, just hours after she passed away, that I lost more than just a grandmother. I lost a woman I could have known better.

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Chany G. Rosengarten is the author of Promise Me Jerusalem, an innovative novel welcomed into the Jewish literacy and art sphere. The book offers a riveting and intimate glimpse into a culture and struggle as of yet untold, in the streets of Jerusalem. The books is found wherever Jewish books are sold, and at