chapter  2
Gender and Homeland in the Irish and Jewish Diasporas, 1850–1930
Pages 24

My grandmother, bobe Bashka, came to America from Russia with her parental family before the First World War. She was already engaged to my grandfather, zaide Meyer, who was a good religious scholar but a terrible provider; he rolled cigars on weekdays and gambled away his wages in a marathon weekend card game. So my tiny grandmother had to become a tower of strength. She supported her family by working as a ‘superintendent’, really a super janitress, in an apartment block and by peddling haberdashery in the roadway of a local market. She kept an impeccably Jewish home and took me to a poor storefront synagogue on the Jewish holidays where the men worshipped in Hebrew at the front and the women and children gossiped mainly in Yiddish behind a curtain.