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.