Tuesday, December 23, 2008
My new born niece was named after my grandfather Jacob Friedman. Steven and Beth asked if I would write something up about my memory of him.
"Take your jacket and go home!"
Your Mom and Dad asked me to introduce you to one of the people you
were named after, Jacob Friedman. For everyone in our family I try to
hold dear to me the one thing they said or did the most often, and for
your Great Grandfather it was 'Take your jacket and go home'. Strange
thing to remember as it does not seem that nice. You have to put a
lot in context to realize that it was in jest and love.
Great Grandpa Jacob was a man who lived and pushed forward in this world despite everything he went through. Being born and living in Poland before and during World War I and II could not have been an easy thing. The stories they all shared with me remembers the family living in one room which included kitchen and bed. I don't think they had indoor plumbing at that point. It was a very different world than ours today. Great Grandpa Jacob was married, before he married Grandma Sonia. He had two children. All of his family however was taken from him during the war and were killed. After the war he met Sonia in Berlin, Germany and fell in love and married her. I tell you this tragic story for two reasons
1. We should never forget our heritage and and the holocaust.
2. We should feel very special and lucky to have the life we have.
- From this part of his life I have always learned to persevere.
But there is a great second part to his life as well. In 1950 when your Grandpa Mike was three years old, Jacob and Sonia moved to the United States. They started with very little, but what they did have was community. They had Sonia's sisters and Jacob's friends. The greatest memories of my childhood are being part of this community. Though Jacob lived a hard life he kept Jewish tradition in his house. The singular most favorite memory of my childhood was Passover in Brooklyn. I just remember starting a seder in grandma Sonia's house with the immediate family. By the end of the night every friend and cousin was there enjoying each other.
- From this part of his life I learned family is what connects us, tradition is how we enjoy it together.
So 'Take your Jacket and go home'. It was simply his way of telling us to behave. We were a bunch of little kids running around, breaking things, fighting with each other and what not. You can't blame him. But those words stuck with me all my life and as I got older I started interpreting it differently. He could have said 'stop that' or 'get out if you behave like that' or just ignored us. But it was not meant in a mean way, why else would he tell us to take our jacket? He loved us! He could have said leave or get out, but instead it was go home. That was because he was a caring man.
- From this I learn it's always better love and care for others, especially family, no matter if we are angry or happy.
Your Uncle Rich.
PS. Your great grandmothers hair is still that big!