Today, Passover began at sundown. Today also would have been my grandmother’s 107th birthday.
My grandmother, Jean, was born on April 10, 1910 in Russia to Issi and Minnie Lieberman (nee Penasky). Her younger sister, Helen, was born in 1913. The family came to the United States in 1920 when my grandmother was only 10 years old. Her fondest memory of Russia was running in the snow.
Because she was so young when she and her family came to the United States, there are not many stories about her life in Russia. I could only imagine though that it might have been difficult. She was just four years old when World War I began and seven years old during the Russian Revolution. Perhaps that is the reason the family left; I honestly don’t know.
Once the family was in United States, they settled in New York City. They had many cousins already living in the United States and the family was close. The family owned a horse stable in Manhattan (yes, you read that right). My grandmother and her sister attended school and the family became citizens in 1928.
Later, my grandmother met my grandfather, Arnold, through mutual friends. They dated for three months and were married on September 19, 1943. They had two children, a son and a daughter. Religion was very important to my grandparents. They were raised Jewish and raised their children Jewish. They kept a kosher home and their favorite holiday was Passover. My grandfather recited all the prayers in Hebrew.
My grandparents were married for 47 years; my grandmother passed away on December 12, 1990. I was only eight years old. A few years later in 1993, almost to the day, my parents adopted a boy from Thailand. In memory of my grandmother Jean he was named Jesse.
So tonight, as my mother an I lit the yahrzeit candles, we remembered her parents, aunt, and step-mother. All so special to our family, all so deeply missed.