Monday, October 6, 2014

A Day of Remembering

Last week, Jews in Glen Rock and everywhere around the world joined in small or large gatherings to celebrate the holiday of Rosh Hashanah. The holiday marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year. It has several different names in Hebrew. My favorite is Yom Teruah, which literally means “the day of making noise.” That probably refers to the noise made by blowing a ram’s horn called a shofar many times each day. But it may also refer to the loud talking that often goes on between friends in the synagogue. I’m just as guilty as anyone else on this count. And I still got a little embarrassed this year when, at age 65 much like at age 8, I was urged by someone sitting in the row in front of me to shhhhh. It seems I had gotten a little too enthusiastic sharing news with my friend Joe, whom I see just a few times a year. Let’s face it, prayers may be important at this time of year, but not as vital as sharing stories about our families, some of Joe’s infamous legal clients, or the prospects for Rutgers’ football team. As a faithful attorney, Joe doesn’t say much about his clients of course, but we do have a laugh about one family whom he has dubbed “the evil Katzensteins.” We laugh because Audrey’s maiden name is Katzenstein, and, luckily, these evil ones are not related to her. Gossip…gossip.
The many names of Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah is also known as Yom Hazicharon, which means “day of remembering.” I wondered why that name was chosen by the ancient rabbis, and I asked my modern rabbi for an explanation. Not surprisingly, he gave me a religious reason—he said that we hope God will remember us as the new year begins and, once remembering us, will keep us in mind for the whole year to come. I suggested another explanation to him, more human than religious. Throughout most Jews’ lives, they join with their families, in large or small gatherings, to celebrate holidays. And they share family traditions at those gatherings. That’s what we remember on Rosh Hashanah, and it helps us get a good start on another year.

For me this Rosh Hashanah was a special time for remembering. My mother died in early March, and this was the first year in my lifetime that I didn’t see or speak with her during the holiday. But she was well remembered. Amanda had several friends visiting during the holidays, and while they sat around talking to each other, they wrapped themselves in one of the many afghans my mother had knitted for us. And Brett pointed out that while the chicken soup Audrey made using Ina Garten’s recipe was very good, it wasn’t quite like Nana’s. Nana would take out some of the vegetables used for the soup, puree them, and add them back in to thicken and flavor the broth. Memorable. And I made my mother’s matzoh balls, which, she didn’t really make from scratch. Instead, she insisted that you had to use Streit’s matzoh ball mix (no other brand would do), and you had to use the one with the soup packet enclosed inside the box. And, like my mother’s, these came out perfect this year.
Nana cooking and making memories
And I told some stories about holiday celebrations with my family in Savannah. I have a favorite picture of our family gathered at the table when I was around five years old. Everyone is looking toward the camera, except me; I’m too busy eating to pose. (Some things never change.)
The family at holiday time. My grandfather is on the front right;
my grandmother is  in the very middle, where she belonged.
I hope my kids are building up memories of our family gatherings on Rosh Hashanah or other holidays, and that they will be sharing them with children, or cousins, or friends in the years ahead. After all, the New Year is not only a time for looking ahead; it’s also a time for reaching back and holding on strongly and happily.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mr Goodman,

    my name is Antje Strahl and I'm employed as a historian at the University of Rostock. I’m involved in an academic project concerning books of the university’s library. Please let me describe the project shortly first, before coming to the point of your involvement.
    Since August 2014 a colleague and I are checking lists of books which the library of the University of Rostock bought, traded in and received as gifts between 1933 and 1945. By doing so we are trying to find all books that came into the possession of the library in an unrightful and misgotten way. This concerns mostly books from Jewish people, communists, social democrats and other groups that were persecuted by the Nazis. The final purpose of this project is to find the former owners of those books respectively their heirs to hand over these books.
    So far we have found four books with the handwritten names Hedwig Malzer, Hans Malzer, and M. Malzer, the last two ones with the statement of location “Königshofen im Grabfeld” and “Königshofen i. Gr.” During my investigations of these names and the town I found your online blog “Goodman writes”, in which you described your wife’s mother’s emigration from Germany in 1937 and her efforts to also get her family out of the country in 1939. I understand that your wife’s mother is Fränzi Malzer, later on and after her marriage Frances Katzenstein, and that she is the daughter of Max and Bianca Malzer and also sister of Hans Malzer, later on Harold Malzer, all of them living in Königshofen until 1937 resp. 1939.
    Mr. Goodman, I would kindly like to ask you if you could give me more information about Hedwig Malzer. So far I only have a vague information about her being married to Max Malzer. Could it be that she was the first wife of Max Malzer, and Bianca became his second wife? Right now I’m also researching the name in the archives, but maybe you can give me some “family inside-information”. And I’m looking for a way to get in contact with Hans (Harold) Malzer or his direct descendents/heirs. Would you please be so kind as to forward my name and address to him or his children/grandchildren so I can communicate with him directly?
    As for “M. Malzer” I would like to ask if there is another family-member from that time (late 1930s) who’s first name started with an “M”. I could not come up with anybody besides “Max”, but maybe your wife knows someone.

    I’m aware that my letter must come as a big surprise to you. But by reading your blog and finding out that you have also worked together with a teacher in Königshofen about Jewish roots in that town, I came to the conclusion that you and your wife and also your daughter are trying to find out more about the family’s history and you’re open to talk about that. That’s why I have decided to write this letter to you and also to ask these questions about your mother-in-law’s family.

    I would very much appreciate it if you would write back to me. Please use this e-mail-address: antje.strahl@uni-rostock.de

    Sincerely yours,

    Antje Strahl

    Dr. Antje Strahl
    Universität Rostock
    18051 Rostock