Tag Archives: pogroms

Everything Must Go (Or, why it pays to have a pogrom in your DNA.)

After months of waiting, crying in the building department, and all but offering myself up to the gods of Yonkers (because, surely there is more than one), we finally got our construction permit. Still, we weren’t starting anytime soon. Our contractor told us we’d have to wait a few weeks while he finished up the job he took when we got delayed.

And then, in a text, he told us he could start in 48 hours. (I’m trying to ignore the nagging feeling that this guy may not have been the best choice, but I’m keeping that to myself for now.)

Here’s what I learned:

1. It helps to have a pogrom (or three) in your DNA. Polish ancestry means one thing if you’re Jewish: You can pack in a flash, even when there aren’t Cossacks at the door. As I used my great-grandmother’s linen tablecloths to wrap my dishes (once the newspaper ran out), I had enough time to hum the entire score of Fiddler. Good times.

2. Jet lag is AWESOME when you have stuff to do! Turns out, keeping my watch on NY time during our trip may have kept me awake the entire time, but it didn’t ensure that I’d come home on local time. (Who knew?) So, I hopped out of bed at 3.45 AM and got cracking on packing the kitchen and tossing anything that does not bring me pleasure. (This was a good thing. Because M is no fan of throwing out anything and believes this whole de-cluttering movement is nothing more than an excuse to buy more shit, I usually have to toss things under cover of darkness.)

3. I was put on this earth to answer the question: How many glass jars can one person own?

4. I apparently also have a thing for egg cups.

5. M has a thing for free water bottles. The shittier the bottle, the more we have. If you happen to need one, there will be a box of them in front of our house as of 4AM. (shhh.)

I’ve been awake for over a week and I have miles to go.

If Marie Kondo calls, I’ll be throwing out egg cups.

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Would You Care to Pogrom? 

A friend of mine recently bemoaned the fact that in LA, where she and her family live, her kids spend years learning California history in school. Here on the east coast, California doesn’t even exist in the time period that occupies our kids’ thoughts from grade school through middle school. We have been living in New York for almost two years, my kids are scattered in several grades, and from what I gather, there is nothing much on the history curriculum other than the scintillating period leading up to, and including Colonial America. 

From what I also gather, historical relevance aside, there is also nothing duller than Colonial America. Given that it wasn’t that long, nor was it the first (or last) revolution to occur, it is somewhat shocking to me that kids need to spend so much time learning about it and only it. Context aside, if you are teaching revolutions, couldn’t you also throw something saucy in there? Something French? Something Russian? Something Chinese? 

Another friend of mine,  a Bostonian (who tells me the New York obsession with all things colonial has NOTHING on what happens up in New England), recommended a book about the Romanov family for my boys. 

It’s a HUGE hit. What could be better than knowing that this entire gang is gonna lose it at the end of the book? What better villian than Rasputin (who a high school history teacher of mine once called “the Drunk Monk of Siberia”)?? God bless Thomas Paine, but these guys are far more interesting – not only to adolescents, but to their parents. (Interestingly enough, the most interesting thing about Thomas Paine was that he was a rare atheist in a sea of Puritans.)

In any history of Russia, there’s always a point in which the Jews get shafted. One night, while we were reading, we came to a section entitled: “Pogroms.” I asked the boys if they knew what a pogrom was. 

Boy number one: “Is it a dance?”

Me: No. It is not a dance. (Although it does sound like something Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy may have done in public, to the accompaniment of a piano.)

Boy number two: “I know! I know! It’s related to Jacob DeGrom, who pitches for the Mets!”

ME: NO! It is in NO WAY related to a baseball player! A POGROM! A POGROM! THINK! (Forget school! How could I have let them get this old without knowing about this?)

Thanks to Candace Fleming, who wrote this terrific book, the boys now know what a pogrom is. 

Now, back to the Stamp Act….. (yawn). 

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