Traffic report: March 5, 2018.

Heavy traffic today.  Rushed from taiji class in Plainsboro down to DACA rally in Hamilton in front of Congressman Chris Smith’s office.  One of the few NJ representatives who still refuse to support a clean DREAM act.  When I got there, the LALDEF organizer Adriana Abizadeh asked me to be one of the speakers.  Luckily she had written what she wanted me to say.  She posted it on Facebook.  Back home to take care of Toto, have supper, and then off to Princeton Insight Meditation.  Must say it’s having an impact.  When some guy drove by our rally this afternoon and shouted an obscenity, followed by “Deport them all!” my immediate thought was to send my love back.  Don’t get me wrong.  I haven’t gone totally soft.  Still swear like a trooper when I bump my head.

Despite the horrible circumstances of the story, I’m really enjoying For Two Thousand Years‘ portrayals of the narrator’s grandparents and his “great-grandfather of 1828,” who at 100 years old called all his relatives together, distributed all his possessions, except for a few clothes, a few books, and a little money, all of which he threw into a backpack and took off for Israel from Romania.

His maternal grandmother sounds like a hoot.

She’s younger and livelier [than his 85 year old paternal grandmother]: still proud, vain and coquettish.  She was very beautiful in her youth and she knew it. …  She wears a hat of straw and silk, tries a dress on three times and tells the seamstress what she needs done. She frequently checks herself in the mirror and gives herself just a touch of powder when nobody is looking.

She proudly reads the Yiddish translation of the Bible to his paternal grandmother, who is illiterate.

Sometimes, at decisive passages, she stops briefly, shakes her head and makes a sound of amazement, regret or tribulation with her tongue against the roof of her mouth (tsk, tsk) as if wanting to tell Abraham, Esther, Sarah or Jacob that they’re being foolish or imprudent.

There’s nothing ceremonious in the way Grandma reads.  The Patriarchs don’t intimidate her.  They, too, are hardworking men with wives and children, with troubles and sorrows.  And if she, my grandmother, can place her experience at their disposal, as an elderly woman who has seen and lived through so much, why shouldn’t she?

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