Browse the index:
Keywords: 1930s; adolescence; American citizenship; childhood; death; education; Evander Childs High School; father; feminism; Hebrew language; Hebrew school; Jewish holidays; Judaism; kashres; kashrus; kashrut; kashruth; kosher; loss; mother; parents; rebbetzin; Shabbat; Shabbos; shabes; teenage years; uncle; Yiddish newspapers
Keywords: Birthright; children; Conservative Judaism; cultural transmission; grandchildren; grandmother; grandparents; intergenerational transmission of culture; Israel; Jewish culture; Jewish identity; Jewishness; Judaism; Orthodox Judaism; son; Yiddishkayt; Yiddishkeit; yidishkayt; yidishkeyt; Young Judea
RITA LICHT ROSENTHAL ORAL HISTORY
NINA DABEK:So, I am Nina Dabek and today is July twenty --
RITA LICHT ROSENTHAL: -- twenty -- 21st, is it not?
ND: July twenty -- 22nd.
RLR: Twenty-second, oh well. When one is retired (laughter) one doesn't knowwhether it's Saturday or Sunday --
ND: Oh, I should have --
RLR: -- let alone --
RLR: -- the number. (laughter)
ND: Okay, it's Monday, July 22nd, and I'm here at the Yiddish Book Center inAmherst, Massachusetts with Rita Rosenthal, and we are going to record an interview as part of the Yiddish Book Center's Wexler Oral History Project. Rita, do I have your permission to record this interview?
RLR: You absolutely do. I'm excited to be doing it.1:00
ND: Okay, great, thank you. We'll begin. So, to start off with, can youtell me what you know about your family background?
RLR: I certainly can. I have a lot to tell you. I just wanted to -- if Imay -- I've been doing a lot of genealogy work, and this gives me a chance to explore my own background and my own experiences, as opposed to what's online in the various websites and the like. And I'm Rita Rosenthal, and I'm eighty-three years old and living a good life. My parents were immigrants, and I'm going to go way back -- let me go really all the way back to my father, who was the first one to arrive in this country. My father came from a little town in Galicia, which is now Ukraine, called Kalush. And, in fact, there is or 2:00there was a landsmanshaft [association of immigrants originally from the same region] in New York called the Kalush's Young Men's Benevolent Society, which is mentioned in various literature pieces, various books. Any rate, my father was the youngest of three brothers. His name was Isadore Licht, Yisroel Licht. His oldest brother, Willy, was the first one to arrive in this country, and I heard through the family stories that Willy had a very hard time with his father and disliked his very commanding and demanding father so much that when he left -- he ran away from home and left to come to the United States -- he took his 3:00mother's last name, his mother's surname, which was Licht. The family lore tells me that the father's name was Komron, but I can't ever tell how it's spelled, because I only heard it with the accents, the European accents, and it's either Ko-eh -- K-M-O -- the -- I've been looking for it and I'm doing a lot of that -- Willy, Uncle Willy, came over to this country and he became a waiter, earning his way --
ND: Can I just interrupt one moment? Just -- so, what year are we talkingabout with Willy?
RLR: Oh, we're talking about -- if my father came -- Uncle Willy came sometime-- the early 1900s. I'm not sure of the dates. I have them at home, in genealogy, but probably 1908 or '10, thereabouts. And he -- Uncle Willy became 4:00a waiter. He eventually worked as a waiter in very elegant kinds of restaurants, I've been told. Two years later, he managed to save enough money to bring the next oldest brother, and that was my Uncle Sam, Shmuel Licht. Came as Licht. Picked up on the immigration papers, which I've seen online, as picked up by William Licht. And he trained Uncle Sam how to be a waiter, and Uncle Sam was a waiter his entire life. But he worked in small, local restaurants. He was a walker, from his exercise and experience, rather, in being a waiter, he continued to walk even after retirement. He told me once 5:00that he used to walk five miles on the Rockaway boardwalk every day, rain or shine. And this was -- (laughs) this was a man in his late eighties or early nineties. He also had -- and I'm digressing, but that's okay -- he also had another thing: he visited us once in our home. At about five o'clock in the afternoon, he said, "Do you by chance perhaps have some Scotch? This is my medicine. Once a day, I take one drink of the best Scotch I can afford. Never more, never more but one." And, of course, we offered it to him. Anyway, Uncle Sam was here and worked, and two or three years later, 1913, my father was brought over. Uncle Willy brought him, as well. And Uncle Willy 6:00picked him up at the dock, off the boat, and my father arrived here -- something like March 15th or thereabouts, 1913. And later on, as a child, he told me this funny -- he arrived and two days later, there was this crazy business going on and he didn't know what it was, and he didn't understand what it was. It was a loud, noisy, drunken revelry, if you will, of St. Patrick's Day. And he was absolutely bewildered. At any rate --
ND: Okay, I'm going to interrupt just one second again --
RLR: Yeah, yeah.
ND: -- just to ask you where, when you say "came here," where were they --
RLR: Came --
ND: -- living?
RLR: Oh, I'm sorry. They came to New York. They lived in New York. Myfamily lived in New York all their lives. They started out on the Lower East Side, as most did. Uncle Willy and Uncle Sam and my parents ended up -- all in 7:00the Bronx, and -- which is where I was born and raised and so on. Anyway, Uncle Willy took his little brother, Izzy, to be a waiter. And my father decided that was not the kind of work he wanted to do. He found a friend and someone took him and trained him, and he became a furrier. He learned how to do all of the work, the cutting and fitting and all, in the fur business. And he worked as a furrier. He was very, very much involved with the furriers' union. Those were years of strikes. You know, after five years, sometime in 8:00the '20s or -- yeah, sometime in the '20s. It was 1924 when the immigration was stopped. But my mother came here as part of the limited quota after that. Now, they came -- and let me tell you, my mother -- let me go back to my mother's family, 'cause this will fill in -- my mother was born in a little town, also in Galicia -- in a little town called Olesko, O-L-E-S-K-O. If you asked her, "Mama, where did you come from?," she came from Austria, because that was more prestigious. It was never Austria. It was Poland. It's now also Ukraine. But was never Austria. But Austria was more prestigious. My 9:00mother was the youngest of ten children, and she had her next oldest sibling -- was my Tante [Aunt] Eva, and I can't call her anything but Tante Eva. And Aunt Eva is somebody else. (laughs) Tante Eva -- and Tante Eva had a twin brother. She was twins. And he was Avrom -- Abraham, but Avrom. And I never know, 'cause I never got to ask her -- but my mother and her sister, Eva, picked up and came to America, and I never understood what prompted them to do that, except I have to think that there was the possibility of marrying someone -- I suspect that my mother was the more adventurous of the two, because Tante Eva was a very stodgy kind of person. Not -- just plain and simple. I know 10:00she was bright in her own way, but not very energetic or ambitious. My mother was more of the bren [dynamic person] in that case. I recall seeing photos for her at a -- as a young girl, posing -- positions like that with very modern dresses that she wore then, in the flapper style. At any rate, the two girls, di grine meydlekh [the Greenhorn girls], came to America, and they ended up working in the fur business. And now, we're talking about 1925, '28. I can't tell you how old my mother really was, because she fooled around with her age. Sometimes she was older -- I think be-- she was younger when she got married, 11:00but then she fooled around a little bit with the age 'cause she was -- wanted to retire earlier -- I never really know, but somewhere -- in 1895 or thereabouts. So, here we go -- is big furrier strike, and my mother being very "grin [green]," as she said, she and her sister picked themselves up -- men zikh avek -- oh, I forget how she said it. "We picked ourselves up and we went to visit our mishpokhe [family] in Philadelphia." Meanwhile, my father's working for the union. And what was his job? His job was to find any scab workers in factories. And she was on his list. And he couldn't find her. And he -- that's how they met. That's -- through that contact, eventually, when they came back -- my mother came back from Philadelphia, and that's how they met. 12:00And they met and they were married. Now, my mother tells this interesting story. My father was engaged once before he met her. And the engagement was broken. And he had a ring from her. My mother even knew the girl's name. Her name was Janet. And he had the ring, and my mother said, "I don't want that ring, because it's bad luck." And then, when I was a teenager growing up with a finger like this, she said, "You know, veys farvos [do you know why]? I'll tell you why. Because she let him do you-know-what before they were married." (laughter) This was my lesson and -- my sex education lesson as a teenager. Anyway, they were married, and I was born in 1930. February 2nd, 13:001930. My mother's -- told me, when I was pregnant with my first child, that the due date doesn't count. But she always relates the story that I -- the doctors told her February 2nd. And February 2nd arrived, and my father said, "You see? They were wrong." "Vart a minut. S'iz nisht tsi -- m't zeyn shpete. [Wait a minute. It's not too -- we'll see later.]" Iz emes getrofn. [That really happened.] They found it, they got it. At any rate, they got married, they had a lovely wedding -- I have pictures somewhere of my mother in the short flapper-style white gown with the veil that had lace on the edges. And by this time, her sister had been married a couple of years. I -- my Tante Eva, she was older by four or five years, and she wanted very much to get 14:00married, and someone -- you know, not being as adventurous as my mother -- someone made a shidekh [arranged marriage], and the man she married was, I guess, retarded, slow, developmentally delayed. He had a speech defect. He worked as a hatter with all the chemicals and things that they use. And my aunt gave birth to one son who was clearly retarded. And shortly after that, she gave birth to another son whom she brought to my mother. "Dos kind iz git [This child is okay]." And he wasn't. He was even more re-- he was Down's -- 15:00you know, I -- now I can recognize the symptoms. Signs, rather. He was Down's, and my mother, though, never feared. She was sure that her situation -- here I am, so. In -- somewhere in 1931, '32, the heart of the big Depression, my father lost his job. They lived in a four-room, two-bedroom -- four-room apartment in the East Bronx, on Mapes Avenue, M-A-P-E-S. Mapes Avenue. And because they had no way of -- I was a baby -- no way of earning a living or what, my father bought -- managed to get a few pieces of equipment and 16:00opened a little business in the second bedroom. Meanwhile, my mother discovered that she was pregnant, and she wanted to get rid of it. And my father said to her, "Du host eyn kind. Vilst es makhn a yisoyme? [You have one child. Do you want to make her an orphan?] Don't," he said. And so, she gave birth to my brother, just under three -- two -- about two and three-quarter years after I was born. And Harvey was -- he was called Sonny his whole life until he went back to that name as an adolescent. "Ah, Sonny is not for me." By the way, in terms of names, I was named for both grandmothers. My Hebrew, Yiddish names are Rivka-petsl. Rivka is, of course, from Rebecca. My 17:00mother's mother was Rivka and my father's mother was Petsl, which is Yiddish, it's not -- it's not Hebrew. And my brother was named for both grandfathers, and he was named Chaim, which -- my mother's father was Chaim. And Shaul -- "Shoyl," they pronounce it, but it's Saul. And that was Komron. Not Licht, if you remember, back earlier. Shortly after this business opened, they moved to Bathgate Avenue. They moved to Bathgate Avenue, right off of Tremont Avenue in the Bronx. And this was -- well, Bathgate Avenue, today -- 'cause I've 18:00driven by -- is a fairly large shopping area. It was a tiny street, and it was just right off of Tremont Avenue. And I remember across the way there was a police station. They moved into a storefront with three tiny rooms in the back, and they had the first door in front. To the right of the store was a barber shop. And to the left was Novick the tailor. A tailor shop. And we lived there. And that's where I started school, around the corner. In fact, I very -- I don't remember the Mapes Avenue at all, it was -- too young. But I remember, clearly, Bathgate Avenue. In today's world, I think it was as big as this room, practically, and it was a ti-- it was a walkthrough. A kitchen and a bathroom and a bedroom. I don't remember exactly where everyone slept, but 19:00it worked out. I can picture the kitchen now, and have a few thoughts about that. Today, we have things so different. In those days, particularly during the Depression years, every penny was important. There were no refrig-- no electric refrigerators. There were iceboxes. And ice would be delivered in these big, square blocks with the tongs that had the pointy edge so they could be picked up. And in the wintertime, my mother wanted to save a few pennies, so they put a bucket of water outside the window, and then put -- brought that back, and it -- put it in the icebox to keep things cold. Yeah, my father worked there. I started school there -- (coughs, drinks) excuse me. And I 20:00also found the library. Now, here we were, Bathgate Avenue, was a little street, and at the end, around the corner -- left and another left -- was Washington Avenue. And on Washington Avenue was the library and the school I went to. But the library was on the same side of the street -- if -- my mother would watch me across Bathgate Avenue. I would walk to the corner and around to the library, and I would spend hours in there. At one point, I started with fairy tales. I think I read every fairy tale on the shelf. And then, I just continued. And that was how I spent a lot of my free time. I also went to school there, and I started school, kindergarten and then first grade. And 21:00when I was in first grade, I was in a play in school, and it was supposed to be the story of the grasshopper and the ant, and I was the ant. And my mother had no -- my parents had no sense of what this meant to me. They were concerned with making a living and so on. And halfway through the school year, they decided to move. And they moved -- they told the teacher -- moving, and she got angry at me, because, "Why didn't you tell me? I prepared you for this play!" And I think it -- I think after that, I became very shy for some reason. Anyway, we did move. We moved to Burnside Avenue, and on Burnside 22:00Avenue, we moved into a building -- 265 East Burnside Avenue. We were on the first floor, and the store was down below. And was a small store, and by this time, the war had started and things were moving in a different direction. Oh! I have to go back. I forgot something important. Interesting. Let me digress and go back for a minute. I go back to what I don't remember, Mapes Avenue. Yeah, what I don't -- I only know this because I was told, although I have a vague, vague memory around -- at four -- I was four in February. Sometime around April of 1934, I became ill, and I didn't get better. It was a 23:00cold, it didn't get better. My mother took me to the clinics and the like, and they decided that I was very, very sick and I had something called empyema, which is -- I never really knew -- it's not a disease that's known to -- it's -- and that exists today, because it's all handled by antibiotics. However, they didn't have the penicillin, the sulfa drugs and everything then. And at age four, I needed surgery. And what they did was -- I have two scars, fairly large scars on my back because they had to go in and drain all the pus and all the stuff from my lungs in order for me to live. And then, I have a vague, vague recollection or -- I used to have nightmares, until I was an adult, of 24:00going to sleep at night and having someone put a mask on my face. And, of course, that was the ether at this -- I used to remember the blue room and the surgery, but very vaguely. And then, they sent me to somebody's farm somewhere for recuperation period -- again, vaguely remember that. I remember my mother complained because they asked me to help some other little girl get dressed, and I had to bend down, and I shouldn't bend because of my back. It's interesting, I forgot that earlier on. I was very, very conscious of those scars on my back. What happened to me then -- I have photos of myself at four, before the surgery, and the following November, when I was almost five. And you would almost think that they were not the same child: a nice thin little toddler kid 25:00-- big, heavy, fat child. My mother stuffed me. I had to eat, because I was gonna die. That was -- that's the European concept, the idea that when -- if you're fat, you're healthy and so on. But there I was, and that was another reason -- and when we moved to Bathgate Avenue -- that I had -- the library was so important. And so, anyway, there we are, and --
ND: So, let's get back to Burnside Avenue, now, so --
RLR: Yes, I am. (laughs) I just had to interject that --
ND: Yes, no.
RLR: -- 'cause it had bearing on -- on my years later on. Burnside Avenue,after a couple years at 265 East Burnside, we still remained in the apartment, but the store moved further up the block to a larger store and the address was now 257 East Burnside Avenue. We were on Burnside, one block east of the Grand 26:00Concourse. I went to Public School twenty-eight? Yeah, that was twenty-eight -- was fifty-eight in Bathgate. And then, I attended the junior high school. And it was Junior High School 115, E.B.B., which is Elizabeth Barrett Browning, an all-girls high school, which we girls used to joke -- calling it Everything But Boys. (laughs) Teenagers! (coughs) I don't remember which junior high my brother went to, the local one. I don't remember the name of it. Anyway, there I was in high school. I was a good student. A little bit of an underachiever in that -- they always said I had much more potential, and 27:00eventually I had a few teachers who made impressions on me. I had an English teacher who would sit on the front desk and read poetry to us, which just went to my heart, and a lifelong -- yes, I -- I'm sorry -- a lifelong love of poetry.
ND: I'm just curious, as you --
ND: -- as you're talking about this -- so, just to go back to what thelanguages were that were spoken in your home?
RLR: Yeah, yeah.
ND: So (inaudible).
RLR: Let me -- yeah, let me tell you about that.
RLR: My father, who had had -- not very pleasant experiences in Europe -- andthe stories -- they said -- actually, my mother told me that his mother died and the father remarried. And the new wife was the one who caused all the trouble, 28:00which is why the boys left. And my father was truly, truly an American. He became an American citizen early in his times -- as quickly as he could. And he told my mother, "We must only speak English. These are American children, they have to be American. We can only speak English to them." But, to each other, they spoke in Yiddish. Now, (laughs) I had to know what was going on, and I think I just absorbed the language. I used to ask, "Mama, what does that word mean? What does that word mean?" I just absorbed that language. In -- I became more proficient in it, under the following circumstances: somewhere around 1939, but maybe early '40, somewhere around that time, my parents, after 29:00working very, very hard, managed to bring her brother and brother's wife to America from Vienna. This was 1939, the Hitler years. Now, they did not manage anyone -- the brother, by the way -- I mentioned earlier that my Tante Eva was a twin, and the twin was the uncle, Avrum, Uncle Abe, who had a women's lingerie store. He had moved from Olesko to Vienna and had a women's lingerie store, and he was married to Anna. Anna, who used to say -- digress -- she used to say, "Kh'l leybn a langn tsayt. Veyst 'vos? Mayn nomen iz geven 30:00'leyblang.' [I'll live for a long time. Do you know why? My name was 'Long-life.']" (laughter) And I hear her saying it today. She was a rather heavyset woman, and my mother did not like her, and called her the "Ganeydike frau [Heavenly matron]," or "Di ganeydike [The heavenly]" for short. Anyway, I recall my parents -- my father closing the store, leaving me, saying, "You have to take care of your brother." And they went, and they went to HIAS and they went -- whatever they had to do, they rushed and they got the papers, and they managed -- whatever needed to be done. They got Avrum and Anna on a boat, and I remember all of us going down to the dock to pick them up. And they even splurged on a taxi to go back to the Bronx. But there was no room for my father. The cab just was short -- so, he said, "I'll take the subway." 31:00(laughter) And the -- Avrum and Anna lived with us for six months until they could get settled. They lived in our tiny two-bed-- I don't even know how -- where everyone slept. But -- they spoke only Yiddish. They knew no English at all. And I had -- I couldn't stand that. I had to know, so that's when I really, really learned, because I listened and I asked questions, and I just absorbed it. And while I do not read Yiddish -- although I know some Hebrew letters and some -- I'll tell you about that after -- I just absorbed it. I can't even tell you how. But when you're that young, languages come very, very quickly. Mean--
ND: So, I'm sorry, I -- you have so -- you could just keep going --32:00
RLR: That's okay.
ND: -- and it's wonderful, but I just -- I'm also interested to hear about --apart from the language, then also about the other Jewish aspects of your life, like --
ND: -- and the --
ND: -- traditions and things. So, I want to --
RLR: Oh, sure. My mother, of course, kept a kosher home. My father --father was a socialist in his heart. He had a very -- absolutely beautiful handwriting in English. He read the English paper beautifully, as well as the Yiddish paper. My mother only read the Yiddish paper at that time. I have to tell you something important. Somewhere -- somewhere around -- maybe 1937 or thereabouts, my mother was studying to become a citizen, and I remember her 33:00practicing, and I was helping her with the lessons. My mother observed many of the holidays. She felt bad that they could not observe Shabbos because it was a business and they had to be open. I don't believe my father cared very much in terms of the religion itself. I remember a few times, when -- and we would always go to shil [shul] -- "mir darf geyn shil arayn [we have to go to shul]!" You know, and always had to go for Yizkor [prayer commemorating the dead] and my mother would shoo me out of the synagogue. "You can't be here." You know, that was the -- and in those days, you only stayed in for the Yizkor if you had a dead -- someone to mourn, someone to remember. Actually, I remember my father, who read the Hebrew as well as the Yiddish papers, he would 34:00say, "It's very good, but why do they have to say the same thing over and (laughs) over again?" He was very secular in that -- in that sense, but very Jewish. And he had a great feeling for Judaism as a culture, for Israel, eventually -- now, when my brother was thirteen, I was -- no, the -- he must have -- younger. When he was about twelve or so, it's just as I was going into high school, they said, "He's got to have a bar mitzvah. He's a boy, he's got to have a bar mitzvah." So, they sent him to the rabbi to learn or whatever, which he never did. (laughs) And I was jealous. "I want to learn, too! Why 35:00can't I learn?" Even then -- and so, I think that that -- I was a feminist my whole life, (laughs) "and why can't I learn?" My mother said, "We'll do it, we'll do it." And they hired the rebbetzin to come and teach me. And the rebbetzin came to my house one week, and she started with ba-bu-be. Okay, good, we're learning. Comes the next week, nokh amol [again], ba-bu-be. And the third week, when we went through the same thing, I told my mother, "Not working." Meanwhile, I had heard of this -- what I thought was a wonderful opportunity. If -- and I was district -- in New York, they had -- people district-- children districted to different high schools, junior highs and high 36:00schools, depending on where they lived. And I was district-- set to be -- my district would have sent me to Walton High School, except that I heard that if I chose to study Hebrew as my second language, there was one high school in the Bronx, Evander Childs High School, which provided Hebrew classes. And I made the request, and I was accepted. So, instead of having a short trip to school, I ended up, because of Hebrew, at Evander Childs High School, which at that time was at Gun Hill Road and Barnes Avenue. I went from Burnside Avenue down the corner to the Webster Avenue trolley car with my bus pass. And I studied Hebrew. I had taken Spanish in the junior high and continued the -- and that 37:00was my three-year language. And Hebrew was my two-year language. And here is -- no, I don't want -- here's the heart of the story. I was a very good student in the Hebrew class. I was so highly motivated, and I was at the top of class. And, in May of 1945, just before the war ended, I was awarded the Golden Ayin for the top Hebrew scholar, my second year Hebrew class. And there was a big assembly and a big celebration. And my father was so proud and so thrilled at -- I was really my father's pet. I have to -- I know that. And 38:00this was in May of 1945, and in June -- was the end of the war in Europe. And then, my father got sick, in July. And he went to doctors and he -- they said he has to have an operation, and he went into the hospital on August 7th or 8th and just -- few days, a day or two before V-J Day. And he died. He did not survive the surgery. My Uncle Sam was with him and told me that the last words that he uttered were, "Hebreish, hebreish [Hebrew, Hebrew]," and he was referring to my Hebrew reward. It meant so much to him. And we were sitting 39:00shivah [seven-day mourning period], and they were yelling all over there for V-J Day, the war was over. My father would have been an educated man had he been able to avail himself of those opportunities in some ways, I believe. I believe that he didn't because he was also co-opted by the money he had as a young man in working as a furrier and the social world. He loved to play pinochle. He was a big smoker. Was a big smoker, and during the war they rationed cigarettes. And I remember I was sixteen and he said, "Go. Will you buy me two packs?" (laughs) My mother, on the other hand, was much more cognizant of the religion. She told me many, many times how badly she felt 40:00that she could not be more involved because of my father. "Gedenk [Remember]," she would say to me. "Ikh bin a koyenze tokhter [I am the daughter of a Kohen] -- my father was a Kohen -- ikh bin a koyenze tokhter." My mother's birth name was Rappaport, "but spelled in a special way," she was sure to tell me. R-A-P-P-A-P-O-R-T, not the way others spell it. Rappaport. And Chaim Rappaport was a Kohen. Fast forward just briefly. In my genealogy work -- and I haven't found a lot, but I found the most precious material, I -- one morning, I was just up early, couldn't sleep, and I was going through JewishGen, 41:00Jewish genealogy, and I went into JRI-Poland site and typed in Olesko, Rappaport. And all of a sudden, up pops a list of Chaim and Rivka Rappaport, married couple, and their ten children. I knew their names, 'cause my mother had always recited, "Heynakh and Rukhl and Toltsa," and she recited all the names for me, so I knew them. And -- and Walter, my husband, walked in the room and the tears were running down my face. He said, "What happened? What's the matter?" And I showed him a precious -- I haven't found much else, but at least there's -- they were alive! They'd lived! They were there! My mother, as I said, was the youngest of ten, and she had several older sisters 42:00and brothers. One older sister, Toltsa, was married and went to live in Prague. And she had two sons. I don't know -- well, one was named Bernard, Beyrish. Beyrish but Bernard in America. Is that -- okay, anyway, I have to tell you Bernard's story, 'cause he's very interesting. He came to America as Rappaport, and his papers -- all Rappaport. But his mother was still in Prague. His father was here. So, he went to stay with his father and he adopted -- adapted his father's name and changed it to Spiegler, S-- Spiegler, 43:00S-P-I-E-G-L-E-R. Baruch, Bernard, Spiegler. And he's listed in the incoming papers as a baker or whatever. Well, Bernard paid his way through school, through college, through Albany College of Pharmacy and became a pharmacist and worked as a pharmacist his whole life. He eventually married and had a couple of children. But let me tell you about my Uncle Avrum, the one who came to America. The year before they came -- they had one daughter, Dolly. Dolly, they called her. Dolly. And the year before they came here, they put Dolly on a youth aliyah, and she went -- and the youth aliyah, they went from Vienna to Israel and lived on a -- she was on a moshav [cooperative farming community 44:00in Israel], from what I understood. Dolly was -- or is, I don't know, couple years older than me. Maybe four, five, I don't know if she's even alive. I met her once because she came -- when Uncle Avrum -- Uncle Abe was here, they brought her over for a visit with her husband and her children. But I was young, teenager, and I don't -- I was in another world. I didn't remember much, and I never made the connection, and I've tried to find out any information in Israel, but they never kept records. And now, I don't have a name, because she married early on and she's no longer -- or was no longer Dolly Rappaport. So, I'm still researching that. But in terms of Yiddish, oy! I 45:00will tell you that in my heart, I could never be or do anything else but Yiddish, Jewish. I've supported this center from the first time I heard about it, only because -- what a wonderful thing, to be able to preserve this language, which everyone said was dead and dying, and it's not.
ND: So, do you have -- I'm gonna fast forward --
ND: -- there -- I --
ND: You have wonderful stories and you tell them so well, and I just want tomake sure to cover all the --
RLR: No problem, go.
ND: -- territory, so, do you have other opportunities to speak Yiddish, orhave Yiddish -- what does the Yiddish look like today in your life?
RLR: Well, I have used Yiddish in many different parts of the world. I can46:00tell you -- here's a story. As an adult, married, on vacation in Italy, in the ghetto, in Venice, and I know -- I told you I know a little bit of Hebrew. I can understand a little bit of Hebrew. And, in fact, I think I understand a lot more. I don't read too well, 'cause I'm not practiced. Anyway, here we are in the ghetto, and reading signs, and I hear two women standing next to me. One is saying to the other in Yiddish -- and remember, when I heard the Yiddish, I didn't think I was hearing a strange lang-- it just had that familiar thing. And they were trying to read the sign in Italian, and -- how did they 47:00say -- oh, the -- it was a home for older adults, old age home, if you will. And I heard them say, in Yiddish, [Ah, s'iz a heym du far di kinder, es zogt, "kinder" [Ah, this is a children's home, it says, "children"]. And I turned to them and I said, "[S'iz nisht far kinder, es iz far di eltern, zikeynim -- eltern [It's not for children, it's for the elderly, far the older folks -- elderly]." And they looked at me, and one said, "Vi kimt aza amerikane frau zol redn yidish? Fun vos, fun van-- [How can such an American woman be speaking Yiddish? From what, from wh--]" (laughter) And I proceeded to have as much of a conversation as I could. And my husband, Walter, does not know Yiddish as I do, but over the years, he's learned a lot, and he -- I can really speak to him, and he understands when we're out somewhere and I don't want anyone else to understand. Here's another picture of Yiddish, okay? Paris. 48:00We went to the one remaining Yiddish section in Paris. It's a memorial there, and we did all that. I'm walking down the street, there's a man standing outside with leather goods, gloves and other leather bags and things in the window. And I'm looking at them, and he starts -- er fangt on redn yidish tsu mir [he starts speaking Yiddish to me]. And I ended up responding to him. How did he know? But he did. He spoke to me in Yiddish and I spoke back in Yiddish, and he was able -- we were able to, again -- and had several incidents of this kind where it's happened.
ND: So, can I ask so, clearly Yiddish is such an important part of you andyour sense of your Jewish identity, and I'm curious about -- so, again, it's -- 49:00fast-forwarding, but to -- when you had your own family and your thoughts about the transmission of your identity or, in particular, Yiddish and how that played out with you in your -- in making your own family? What --
RLR: That's very interesting. It's a -- that's a whole other story, but Ihave time, don't I?
ND: Oh, you do, yes.
RLR: Okay. (laughter) Okay, as long as I have time. Married. I had adream, what I wanted -- my father always spoke to me about, "When the war is over, we're gonna buy a house and I'm gonna buy a car and you're gonna learn how to drive." Okay. I'm engaged to Walter, we're -- such as -- engagements were a big thing then. We were gonna get married and we got married. And I said, 50:00"We're saving money to buy a house." He said, "I can't afford a house." "We'll afford it." And we worked for two-and-a-half years or so, and we lived on one -- we both made sixty-five or sixty dollars a week -- sixty-five dollars a week, and then a raise to seventy. We put away as much of one salary as we could and lived on one, frugally but comfortably. We lived on St. Nicholas Avenue in Washington Heights, because in those years -- we were married in 1953. In those years, apartments were hard to get. There were still -- soldiers had come back from the war, families -- there was the housing boom, on Long Island and other suburban areas. And Walter's aunt had a -- aunt and uncle owned a linoleum store on St. Nicholas Avenue in the Bronx, and she knew 51:00the landlord. And she got us an apartment, on the sixth floor. Tiny little one-bedroom apartment, enough for two young people. We had a good time. We would meet after -- we both worked in Manhattan. We'd meet after work and see if we could get last-minute tickets up in the balcony to theater or what have you. So, then I became pregnant, be-- no, the other way around. I said, "We're buying a house." And he said, "No." "Well, let's go look." And we're visiting some friends of ours who lived out on the south shore of Long Island, Bay Shore. And we took a wrong turn or so coming home -- anyway, we found this -- "Oh, look at this! Houses for sale." And we went in to look at the models, and looked and thought, and went home and came back the next weekend and bought a house. We bought a three-bedroom ranch house with master bed-- 52:00two -- one-and-a-half baths. The master bedroom had a half bath, and one full bathroom. And then, we went home to Washington Heights and I got pregnant. It's like -- I tell the story, that's really -- I said I was determined not to have a baby till I could know I had a house. Well, of course, the house wasn't ready and we ended up living in Washington Heights until Ilene was three months old. Ilene's our oldest daughter, and spelled I-L-E-N-E. And Ilene was born in Washington Heights, and we lived in this apartment that had a Post building elevator. So, they found a place -- and so, the elevator was tiny and couldn't 53:00fit the baby carriage in. So, Walter's aunt let us keep -- carriage in the back of her store. So, I would come down and walk the baby. And then, we moved out to Long Island, and my mother came to visit. And this was all the way out in Suffolk County, and it was really, really the wilderness at that time. Ugh, not now! But wilderness at that time. I mean, we planted things in the garden and there were potatoes -- used to be a potato plot. We lived for a year when we had to go to the post office to get mail, 'cause the street had not been dedicated yet. It was Verbena Drive, 42 Verbena Drive. My mother's first comment: "How are you going to raise Jewish children -- s'iz ale goyim du. S'iz nor goyim. Kh'ze nor goyim. [it's all non-Jewish people here. There are only non-Jews. I only see non-Jews.]" I said, "Don't worry, 54:00we'll do it." And there we are, and we're there a very short while before Joyce was born, I believe, when some people we knew -- yes, some people we knew said, "There's going to be a meeting in the room at the firehouse." "A meeting?" "Yeah, some Jewish people are meeting at some room in the firehouse." "Okay." Firehouse down the road, Commack Road. And we went. We went to the firehouse, had a babysitter, 'cause we had just Ilene. That was important, those days. And there were nine families there. Nine families. And the question came up, a vote: shall there or shall there not be the Commack Jewish Center? And it was unanimous. And the Commack Jewish Center was organized. And they started out at a storefront in the little shopping 55:00center nearby, and that lasted a short while. And then, they moved -- bought a house. Someone was -- a -- someone's home, a multi-story split-level house. And this was the Commack Jewish Center. And by this time, I had Joyce, had given birth to Joyce, as well, and the Commack Jewish Center grew. One of my activities at the beginning with the Commack Jewish Center was -- I wanted a nursery school for Ilene, and I really didn't like the quality -- and I was college educated by that time. I had -- let me go back a minute. I -- when I was first married, I had not completed college. I could not afford to go 56:00during the day, so I spent seven or eight years doing evening session. And we're married and I still had a year and a half to go. And, of course, the deal -- we both understood that -- I had to finish college. So we worked, went to college, did it, and I graduated. Back to Commack, with my education -- oh, here's a fun story. Woman story. What I wanted was to be a psychology major. I was interested in that field. At the time that I attended City College, women were not permitted to matriculate in liberal arts. You got it. So, there was an out for me -- if I enrolled in the school of education and suffered through the thirty-six or thirty-eight credits of horrible, 57:00horrible ed. courses, I could also take the equivalent number of credits in the psychology department. And I ended up in the same class with the young men. They ended up with a B.A. in psychology. I ended up with a B.S. in education, with a minor in psychology. A few years after I graduated, it changed. But anyway, that's important to my story later on. Back to Commack. I needed a nursery school for my daughter, and I didn't like the commercial places around. So, I and four or five other women got together, some of whom had teaching -- actual teaching background, and organized the Commack Jewish Center Nursery School, to which all of my children -- well, most of them, because we 58:00moved, then. The -- my two older children went. The Commack Jewish Center Nursery School is still in existence. Still in existence. And our oldest daughter is fifty-six, so -- (laughs) there we are. Ilene, two years later, Joyce. And then we had a really bad year, and within a year of each other, my mother died, my -- both of my parents died of cancer. My Uncle Sam used to tell me, and I believe he was right -- since the rest of the family -- everybody lived a long time. My mother and my father both worked in the fur business, 59:00and Uncle Sam said he knows it's the dyes and chemicals in the fur that caused -- my father was forty-nine. My mother was sixty-two. Anyway, that was the year -- my mother died in November, and the following October, Walter's father died. And I really -- I wanted to become pregnant when Joyce was about a year-and-a-half. I wanted another baby sooner, and I held off 'cause I was busy with my mother and nursing her and -- anyway, I finally got pregnant, and we were determined that if it was a boy, we'd name it after Walter's father. Girl, after my mother. Well, Vivian was born in June, June 12th, yeah. And 60:00what year? Hoo-hoo-hoo, '59, '57 -- '62. Vivian was born in -- June 12th, 1962. And we were done. We were finished, and we were raising our girls. They all went to -- that -- some amount of Yiddishkayt. We had family seders. We had family Shabbat dinners. But Walter and I started out marriage without -- not -- ignoring kashrut entirely. Our connection with the Comack Jewish Center, the rabbi, and several very good friends had a great influence on me. And I said to Walter one day, "We're gonna make this kitchen kosher. We're going to do what we have to do. We're going to make it kosher." I remember I worked for a week. For a week. We had a kosher kitchen, lit 61:00Shabbos candles. The kids understood about holidays, yontev [holiday]. We were never Sabbath observers. We were Conservative, if you will, in some ways leaning more to even Reform, but Conservative for a lot of years. But Jewish -- Yiddishkayt and Judaism and the whole world that was always an issue, always mattered. I was concerned that my children marry Jewish. I know a lot of parents have had that kind of pressure or anxiety and, you know, I never made a big deal out of it, 'cause once you tell a child not to do anything, they're going to do it. And they all ended up -- not to tell you their stories, I -- my children -- there are four children, and they're -- the first two are two 62:00years apart, then there's three-and-a-half years, and then we closed shop. We were done! We have wonderful family, and I'm visiting -- Walter's sister lived in Brighton Beach with her husband and two children. My -- her daughter still is a big, important part of our lives. And I went to visit her one day around the Fourth of July time, and Walter was working in Manhattan and he said he was going to take the train and meet me there. And we had plans. He was taking a week's vacation, sometime at the end of July, and we're going to drive up somewhere with all three kids and do some family thing. Calls me from New York and says, "Have some bad news for you." "What happened? I -- you get fired, what hap"-- "No," he said, "we can't go on our trip up around Niagara Falls with 63:00the children. We can't go." And, I -- course, "What do you mean we can't go?" "Well, guess what? I went to this luncheon today and I put my business card in the hat and they pulled my name, and I won a two-week trip to Tahiti and/or Hawaii!" And I -- "Come on, Walter! Don't tell me mayselekh [tall tales]!" He won a two-week trip to Tahiti and/or Hawaii. And because it was so exciting to us, we extended it to two-and-a-half weeks, added another couple days, and we went to Tahiti and Hawaii! And as the story goes, there we are, he's swimming in the blue waters and he says, "What is a nice little Jewish boy from Brooklyn doing on Tahiti?" You know, Tahiti's a big vacation resort 64:00today. It was completely and totally, totally unspoiled. Beautiful -- and it's -- it won't ever be like that again. It was just -- you're talking about -- this was 1965. So, there we are, the middle of this fabulous vacation, and he said, "You know? We won the vacation. Maybe we can win a boy!" Well, Daniel was born July 3rd, 1966. Ah! He was a wonderful child. Daniel was born in Smithtown Hospital on July 3rd, 1966. The weather report is still reported for that day, because Long Island roadways hit temperatures of 108 and 109 degrees, with the roads buckling. I was in the hospital -- the doctor 65:00said, "Bring her in the hospital, because it's the only place that has air" -- no air conditioning worked. I mean, we were -- worse than the heat wave we had just now. Much worse. This was bad. That was much worse. It's still recorded -- it comes up every year, on his birthday. I say, "Celebrate." And, I mean, the air conditioning was -- they had the babies just in diapers, nothing -- not even the little shirts that they put on. Anyway, there we are. We had a bris for him, huge, huge party at home. Big celebration. My girls, every one, had baby namings. And this started -- when Ilene was born, before we moved out to Long Island, my mother said to Walter -- she was, I guess 66:00a couple of weeks old -- "Kim, mir geyn in shil arayn. M'darf gebn dos kind a nomen. [Come, we're going to shul. We need to give the child a name.]" And the mothers didn't go, they weren't involved. You know, this was an all-male world, the religious world of -- at that time. And my mother took him by the hand and took him to shul and they named Ilene. Ilene was named for my father, but we -- he was Israel, we named her "Yehudit."
ND: I actually was really interested -- and you mentioned earlier, too, thatyou were a feminist from birth, almost, or something -- but about the intersection of your Jewish identity and your feminist identity. I mean, if you could speak -- 'cause I know you had mentioned also being involved in -- with NOW and Women's Center.
RLR: Yeah, oh, yes.
ND: So --
RLR: One of the reasons I liked the Conservative synagogue and was even more67:00-- well, in -- later on, more connected to the Reform movement was that it allowed girls to study and be on the same level. My daughters all went to Hebrew school. Each one had b'nei mitzvah, b'not mitzvah. Each one read a Torah, read from -- did all -- they didn't actually read from the Torah until -- it was not till later. This was a progressive thing. You're right, I'm trying to get it straight. Ilene and Joyce both had a Friday night service with the b'not mitzvah, each one. By the time it was Vivian's turn, they had made some changes, and they gave Vivian a choice. She could either go Friday 68:00night or Saturday morning, with more -- but Vivian, at that stage of her life, did a lot of things her sisters did. So, they -- she went Friday night. And Daniel, of course, had a bar mitzvah. Now, at the same time, at -- while all this was going on, I was beginning to get involved with the women's movement, because I was having great sense of frustration at -- in my role, my place. I valued education. I always said I wanted to go back to school, but those seven or eight years of City College at night left me -- I felt angry. I felt cheated. And I wanted to go to college like normal people, go during the day. I wanted my father to be alive -- I was a young girl -- I wanted my father to be alive. I wanted him to send me to an out-of-town college. That 69:00was not to be, but I said, "I'm going back to graduate school, but I never will do it evening session. I'm gonna go full-time." And I joined -- I was very involved with the beginnings of the Nassau County Women's Center. We were the second -- my group of women were the second consciousness-raising group developed within that context. The first group started the women's center, a group -- a dozen women, and my group -- we were nine of us, or -- though we eventually narrowed down to about six. And I began to feel how right I was to want to go and do more than sewing at home or whatever housewifely things that -- done, or the meetings and the local luncheons and the like. My brother had 70:00married, that time, and it was his wife who was influential in introducing me to some of the people, and we eventually ended up in the same group. That's -- the story of my brother's another geshikhte [history]. (laughs) We won't go there now. However, Ilene, at this stage, was already approaching adolescence, and she was, and still is, a very outspoken woman. And she picked this up very quickly. And the rabbi of Plainview Jewish Center, although he was an older man, felt some interest in speaking to the young women in the congregation about things -- as he once explained, his own mother was a hard worker and could have been in the forefront of the feminist world today. And I believe that I 71:00inspired my daughters. Some more, some less. The person I inspired the most, aside from myself, was my husband. But I will get to that later. Made a decision: I'm going back to school. And I went all over Long Island, 'cause I -- you know, I live there, and I was -- by this time, by the way, we had moved into Nassau County. Actually, we moved -- oh, we moved to Nassau County in 1966, right after Daniel was born. So, we -- this is a different world, slight-- I went back to school. I decided I wanted to go back and get my psychology degree, and I was told, even at that late date, Queens College, Stony 72:00Brook, whatever I could afford, "We don't have a lot of space for women coming back to school in psychology because we're giving preference to the men," the master's level of -- returning from the war and the like, and I was very disappointed. And someone said, "Try social work." I didn't even know what social work was. And I explored and I found -- and I applied to Adelphi University School of Social Work. The day my application was handed in directly, not in the mail -- the day that applications closed. I said, "Eh, they're never going to accept me. It's too late, so what." Of course, I was accepted. I had two most wonderful years, but it made me feel like -- adult. 73:00Like a person. Like, real. And I spent a good many of my years working for socially -- some of the year -- socially -- social work. Jewish social work agencies. I didn't start out there. My first job, because I could get it, was way out in Suffolk County, in Riverhead, at the Maryhaven Counseling Center. I then spent a number of years working for JASA. I opened the JASA Smithtown office. JASA is a part of Jewish Federation. JASA stands for Jewish Association for Services for the Aged. And I opened their Smithtown office and set it up, and I stayed there until I got an offer I couldn't turn down, and I went to work in Manhattan for United Cerebral Palsy. That ended my 74:00Jewish connection with social work, but I never ended my Jewish -- never. That's who I am. My daughters, meanwhile, knew they were Jewish. They were involved with Jewish things. Ilene became very interested in Young Judaea, the youth movement of Hadassah, it -- they're now independent, but at that time they were under Hadassah's auspices. And she joined -- she and her friend Ellen joined the Young Judaea group in Hicksville, Long Island. And we drove them to meetings and all of that, and then Joyce got involved, and Vivian got involved. Daniel, not so much. But the girls were all, at one level or another, involved. And they ended up going to Young Judaea camps. They went 75:00to the -- Tel Yehudah in Port Jervis. And they got very involved with Israel and Jewishness, but modern Jewishness. They all knew enough Hebrew, and Ilene said, "I want to go on Young Judaea Year Course when I graduate from high school." And she did. She spent the first year, a gap year before college, in Israel on the Young Judaea program, which at that time entailed time on a kibbutz and moshav and in Jerusalem at Beit Riklis in Jerusalem. And Joyce wanted to go, and she did. And Vivian said she wanted to go, 'cause Vivian was involved with Young Judaea. Vivian met her husband through Young Judaea. And 76:00they're both Young Judaeans.
ND: So, now you have grandchildren, as well.
ND: And so, what are your thoughts about the transmission of Jewish identityand Yiddish and everything with -- to that generation?
RLR: Well, yeah, I'll give you down the list, okay?
ND: (laughs) Okay. I'm -- we could talk for hours. I mean, I could listento you for hours. It's wonderful. But we actually only have about ten or eleven minutes left --
RLR: No kidding?
ND: -- so, yeah, it's been --
RLR: Oh wow!
ND: So --
RLR: Okay, that's not a problem.
ND: So, I'm just giving you that -- so --
RLR: I'll run down that -- and I --
RLR: -- I could talk for -- I love it. (laughter)
ND: Yeah, no, it's --
RLR: Okay. Let me run down the grandchildren. Ilene, who married a littlebit later than -- has -- I'm going down in age order -- married a little bit later in -- and had her children a little bit later, and she now has two 77:00children -- sixteen and fifteen. The girls are about sixteen months apart. Her younger daughter has attended Young Judaea camps, because friends of hers from school, from -- actually, from their synagogue went and she wanted to go. The older daughter wanted to be more independent. Both girls had bat mitzvah. They're very involved with -- oh, I drew a blan-- they're both involved in their synagogue. They both -- Ilene and Lou met at B'nai Jeshurun in Manhattan. They went at -- that Friday -- B'nai Jeshurun's an absolutely wonderful congregation in Manhattan. It attracts a large number of young 78:00Jewish adults from Manhattan. They're filled at services every Shabbat and every Friday night, and they're very involved. And the girls are involved, Jewishly. They will maintain their Yiddishness, their Jewishness, their sense of identity. They don't speak Yiddish. Ilene is fluent in ivrit [Hebrew: Hebrew]. From that year in Israel, she is fluent in Hebrew. Joyce lives on Long Island. Joyce has three children. Her older son is twenty-five. Mike is twenty-five, and Emily is twenty-one, just graduated from college, and they're both working in Manhattan. And Adam just started college. He's at University of Indiana. Emily has been dating and seeing for four or five years now the same young Jewish man, and she will maintain her Jewish identity, I know 79:00that. She's the young woman who just came back from Birthright. And she had this job and she told them -- I think I mentioned that earli-- no?
RLR: Ah. She graduated from colle-- I told someone else yesterday. Shegraduated from college, got a job before she even graduated, and then said, "Oh, I can't start for two more weeks 'cause I was just accepted on Birthright." And they said, "Well, so, have a good time." And she went on Birthright and she came back and she said, "You know, I never really know what being Jewish meant." And she said to me, to us, "I'm the last generation who will ever have had contact with Holocaust survivors. I never knew what that meant until my two weeks on Birthright." Emily will maintain that. I believe Mike will. I 80:00hope he will, but I don't have any indication, and I don't have any indication about Adam, either. By the way, Ilene's two daughters are Amelia and Cara. I like to mention their names. And going back now to my third daughter, Vivian. Vivian and Henry live in Houston, Texas. They moved there because they both went to school at U.T. Austin. They had known each other before they were together from Young Judaea, of course. And Henry then attended law school at Columbia and had a choice of jobs in Manhattan or Houston, and he chose the Houston job. And so, they were married right after law school. Actually, the third -- second year. Whatever. They have two daughters. Their oldest daughter is married. Their oldest daughter attended and graduated from Stern 81:00College. She is an Orthodox Jew, and she married a young man named Aaron, and Aaron is completing his last year at yeshiva, and they are truly Orthodox, but much stricter than their parents. Vivian and Henry started out in the Conservative congregation, and about a dozen years ago decided -- Henry felt strongly that he wanted to be more observant, and they are now more observant, Shabbos observers, and so on. Sally and Aaron were married a year ago. June 24th was a year. And they spent their whole engagement time not touching. No contact. They're really shomer negiah [Hebrew: Torah law forbidding touch between men and women]. They really followed -- to this day, Aaron will not 82:00even shake my hand they're so observant. And then, they -- he's graduated now, and they're gonna make aliyah. They're moving to Israel in October. Definitely, in October. Anna is completing school at Clark University. She was in Israel, is still finishing Israel -- in Israel this summer. But she's not as Orthodox. She's very Jewish, very politically involved, and she spent this summer working for a non g-- non-governmental organization in Israel, deflecting some of the Arab propaganda and responding on that level. So, I have no concerns about the two girls from Houston. My son's another story. Have time?
ND: About four minutes or so.
RLR: Yeah! Sorry we'll have to wrap, because there's so much --
ND: Okay, well -- okay.
RLR: -- else to talk about.
RLR: Oh, I have so much. Well, Dan's wife was not Jewish, and she converted83:00and she became Jewish, and they had two children, and she died of what I say is misdiagnosed cervical cancer. And that was six, almost seven years ago. And he recently -- remarried a woman with two children. She was divorced, and -- a lovely, wonderful, wonderful woman. She's not Jewish, and he was never -- he was the least observant, and his children have not attended Hebrew school. And I believe that he never felt the strength that the others did, and I also believe that when his first wife, Karen, died, it all fell apart for him. I think she might have brought it -- but anyway, he's married to a very lovely 84:00woman. We love her, she's wonderful. He's happy. I have tempered my feeling about the observance of religion. I will -- I'm Jewish. Judaism, cultural value, music, theater, dance, all of -- literature, all of that is important to me. The religion -- you know, the religion has to change. It really -- and it's starting in this country a little bit. But it's troublesome, and I think -- politically, I think Israel needs to make some changes and accept Conservative and Reform and Liberal Judaism. But that's another long story, and I don't want to go there. I guess it's time to wrap up!
ND: It's -- yes. Well, I don't know, there's so many other questions I wouldhave for you. But I'll end -- I'll ask you, do you have -- just to get back to 85:00the Yiddish, do you have a favorite Yiddish expression or Yiddish word, or any piece of advice you would want to give to your -- the next generations in terms of Yiddish?
RLR: M'darf alemol redn yidish. Mir kenen nit fargesn. [We must always speakYiddish. We must not forget.] My children do not speak Yiddish. I have a fant-- I told Walter last night I have a fantasy. One of the children -- maybe even Dan's little girl, Lucy, who's unformed right now as far as -- she's only ten -- as far as the religion and the like -- is gonna come here and be a student and work at the Yiddish Book Center. I really -- I just have to remember who I am and who you are. You're always Jewish. You're always gonna be Jewish. And look what Jews have contributed to this world. I send email messages, the positive ones, about Jews ranking this way, Jews feeling that way, 86:00the number of Jews who have been successful in this world, the whole -- it just -- we're a wonderful people. We've survived and we will survive, and I have great hopes that they will survive. I just would like them to know Yiddish, but they won't. However, they do speak Hebrew. Ilene can gab away in Hebrew -- time. (laughter) I don't have any favorite expression, but I do come across with it, without even thinking, I'll talk -- and sometimes I start talking to Walter in Yiddish, and he looks at me, and I'll -- "I meant that." (laughs)
ND: So, I really want to personally thank you. I loved hearing your stories,and also just, as a -- my generation, we stand on the shoulders of -- 87:00
RLR: That's --
ND: -- your generation and what you made happen in the world. I soappreciate hearing about all of that, and your -- and on behalf of the Yiddish Book Center and the Wexler Oral History Proj--
RLR: I -- thank you. If there's anything else --
RLR: -- I can do or say, I will be absolutely delighted, (laughter) because Ilove doing it, and --
RLR: -- I love having this for my own history, as well. And it's -- and --
ND: So --
RLR: -- it's all going to be in writing.
ND: Yes, so -- (laughter) well, thank you so much.
RLR: Thank you.
[END OF INTERVIEW]