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    January 2012          
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By Reva Reitman Schlonsky

"I have something important to tell you". My daughter was calling me in Milwaukee, from out of town.

"We've decided to make our kitchen kosher. I'm getting a new set of everyday dishes."

"You can throw your old set my way" I replied. She did!

I wasn't going to let her toss away a nice set of dishes. They'd only been married a year.

A few months later they decided not to eat meat out. Then, not too much later, to only eat kosher food. So they went deeper into Orthodox Judiaism. Eventually educating their nine children in religious schools and becoming more involved themselves. They reverted to their Hebrew names.

Although I understood they found beauty and contentment in their new way of life, I knew it was not for me. However, I also knew I had to do something so their family would eat at my house and that my grandchildren could spend time with me. So I outfitted one of my cupboards with new utensils and basic things to use only for them. I also stocked up on paper and plastic. Although my family was not observant in other ways. my Mother kept a kosher kitchen. So I at least knew what to do, what foods they would eat and the children further educated me. As the years passed we would add new things when they wanted to make something for which we didn't have the right pot or utensil.

After a few years they moved to nearby and I was able to become closer to the family as it grew.

Besides hearing about holidays I never knew existed I also learned what "Shomer Shabbat" meant. My father passed away shortly after Shabbat. The obituary would be in the paper the next day. I knew they wouldn't answer the phone so I sent my son over to their house to break the sad news because I was afraid they would see it before I could tell them.

Now, my daughter and son-in-law have been married almost 45 years and all the children are married and so far have produced close to 50 beautiful great grandchildren.

All of my grandchildren have stayed with the faith. My five grandsons are all productive and support their families. My four granddaughters have husbands who work and though some of the women also have jobs their families are happy, well loved and cared for. They are respected and active in their communities but still well aware of the world outside.

My daughter and son-in-law also have jobs working with people from diverse backgrounds and beliefs, but also are able to travel and be with their children for Simchas, holidays and sometimes to help in a troubled time.

Of course, the children are scattered all over the U.S.,but when we can be together, they always reminisce about the times they spent with me.

One Sukkot when the three older boys were around 8-10, they came for lunch during the intermediary days (Chol Hamoed) they ran around my yard collecting leaves and branches, built a little Sukkah in the corner of my third floor porch crawled in and ate their lunch. When the family moved away they still came during vacations sometimes four or five at a time.

I feel very blessed, because, despite our life-style differences, we are able to maintain a close and loving relationship.

~~~~~~~

from the January 2012 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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