One stubborn woman preserves Diaspora Judaism

In 1945, my grandparents had three daughters aged between 18 and 23. They lived in Cadillac, Michigan, about 300 miles north of Chicago.

Fannie, my grandmother, was insistent on finding Jewish husbands for her girls. Sol, who owned a scrap metal business, asked what she planned on doing about it. Her plan involved taking the girls to live in Chicago until three sons in laws were in place. Which she did.

Which meant that in a time before Interstate Highways that Sol would commute weekends from Cadillac.

I thought of them and him last night. Traveling back from a visit to one of those daughters (my mother) in Chicago to Ann Arbor, I found Interstate 94 to be monumentally backed up. Leading me to switch to US 12 as it hugged the lake through Michigan City and southwestern Michigan.

Pine trees canopied the two lane portions. Missing were Panera, Burger King and other modern names. Standing were nondescript convenience stores and unbranded coffee shops.

It must have been much like this as Sol made the trips from Northern Michigan to Chicago and back.

In time, all three daughters married Jewish husbands. A son who came along later in life – a track star, only seven years older than myself – died while a college student in 1960. The three daughters brought a total of seven grandchildren.

The hospice people say that Mother has between four and 12 weeks left to live. Of course, she’s been in hospice care for over a year now and, like the other women in her family, is a very stubborn woman.

About the Author
A resident of Ann Arbor, Michigan, I hold BA and MA degrees in economics, and spent the first decade after graduate school in journalism. I have worked on Wall Street, met a payroll, won a wire service award, and served on three boards. With a partner, I am involved in a litigation funding business.
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