family, Life

Growing Up Yiddish

My biological grandmother was not at all Yiddish, but because of the community in which she grew up, she was, at heart, a strong part of Yiddish culture in her part of Wallonian Belgium before and during the First World War.

She spoke French and peppered much of what she had to say with Yiddish slang. I only know about any of this through my mother, who was six when her mother died in 1933. She remembered her so well!

Mama was adopted in July of 1936. No one wanted to tell us much. Any legal records were sealed virtually permanently. I often had to learn on my own.

Mama always used Yiddish slang even though she was born in Canada. A part of her biological mother stayed in her heart even to the end of days for her in September of 1989. I absolutely believe it.

Too many people in our family were quick to write off both the LaFontaines and the Stewarts. I didn’t. They have had much to add to our stories and, in some cases, explain a bit of who we’ve become.