Every Grandma is Sui Generis

 When I became a grandmother, I longed to share the experience with my own grandmother. Did she remember holding me for the first time? What were her thoughts in that moment? Her hopes? What did she imagine us doing together one day?  She embodied utter love. She, and my grandfather, were my haven. My grandmother kept her nails perfectly manicured despite the fact that she did all her own housekeeping, proudly and energetically. (Her two fave colors were Revlon’s Love That Red and Cherries in the Snow.)

I don’t remember her reading to me or singing me nursery rhymes. Instead, mornings always started with the Jumble, torn from the newspaper and left beside my breakfast plate for me to solve. She would have already solved it on a scratch pad. Her blintzes were legendary, as were her eclairs, egg custard, sponge and pound cakes. I don’t rembember her getting down on the floor to play with me but we played hands and hands of gin rummy. She fed me body and soul. She crooned Frank Sinatra songs to me. Billie Holiday’s I’ll Be Seeing You was a favorite. I have a beautiful memory of her and my grandfather dancing to it late in their lives. 

It’s taken me time to grow into my own version of who I am as a grandmother. Olivia and I, and now Leah, are playmates. We dance to rock music. We play rounds and rounds of Mancala and Guess Who? When there are rain puddles we splash in them. (Oivia once called the reflections “rain shadows.”) During the nearly three years they lived in Michigan, I read hundreds of books to Olivia, teaching her zillions of words in English and dozens in Hebrew. Now we text our Wordle answers back and forth.  Leah doesn’t lean toward books. Instead we invent improv pantomines, dress up her Barbies and play grocery store alternating the roles of shopper, cashier and bagger. Where Olivia and I meld over mind challenges, Leah and I wander the world of imagination.

Each of us finds our way on the path called grandmothering. I am so grateful to be a pilgrim on this journey and hope that from some corner of heaven my own grandmother is gazing down with delight.



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Scene: Shabbat morning services.

Dramatis Personae:
My friend who recounted this story.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

A young boy seated behind her.

Friend overhears young boy sighing to his father in exasperation, “When is the service going to be over?”

Friend, after the service: “You know, when I was your age it was hard for me to sit through the service, too.”

Young boy, his eyes widening as they take in her white hair and mature face: “You mean you can remember back that far?'”


photo credit:

Creator: airdone Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Copyright: airdone
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Instead of Doom Scrolling

To varying degrees we cannot tear ourselves away from the broadcasts. Someone said this week, “I will watch it all.” For this person, bearing witness is solidarity.  Others tell me they can only watch so much. They turn away, only to reach for the remote again a half hour later.

A friend who is also a rabbi and one of my teachers cautioned us against steeping ourselves in the horror.  She shared a link to a daily seminar that is broadcast by the JPPI. From their site: The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) is an independent professional policy planning think tank incorporated as a private non-profit company in Israel. The mission of the Institute is to ensure the thriving of the Jewish People and the Jewish civilization by engaging in professional strategic thinking and planning on issues of primary concern to world.

JPPI’s daily seminars  are  led by Institue fellows, former Israeli ambassadors, professors, IDF generals and more. Again, from their website: A rotating team of experienced analysts of Israeli military affairs, the US-Israel relationship, Israel’s political system and the country’s diverse society, will guide you through the fog of war, the bombardment of news – real and fake – the barrage of tweets and posts and the confusion of chaos.  If you care about Israel and the Jewish people, if you want to get the signal amid the noise, JPPI’s Daily Inside Analysis is for you.

These daily conversations (most are about an hour of less and begin at 10:00 a.m. EST)  are a welcome counterpoint to the news broadcasts.  You can watch prior broadcasts on YouTube here.          I can’t figure out how to share the embedded link in their daily note but if you email me I can send it to you or contact laura@kamgs.com.

JPPI is correct, if you care about Israel and the Jewish people, if you want to get the signal amid the noise, JPPI’s Daily Inside Analysis is for you.  And for anyone else whom you think would welcome it. Please share this post.



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Of Wisdom Streaks and Granddaughters

I was strapping Olivia into her carseat when she exclaimed.  “You’re old! Your hair is gray. You should color it!” Her parents tried to shush her, telling her she wasn’t being nice.  It astonished me that not yet seven years old, Olivia had already internalized society’s prejudice that to be old is not a good thing and gray hair is to be camouflaged.

I’m letting mine go gray.  I want to see what I look like with it. Martin is not a fan. If I don’t like it, I can always color it again. I’ll never stop working on the inside, but for now I want to see the true outside.

After catching my breath, I told Olivia that old is not a bad thing and that these are my wisdom ribbons. In this game of life, I’ve won each one of them fair and square. I know my words went over her silky brown mane. Too abstract. But we could do with a bit more elder respect. Or at least buff away reflexive dismissal.

Next trip to my stylist I might even have her wave in a few glimmer strands. It’s kind of like tinsel for hair. Stay tuned.


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