CARMEN`S PRAYERS

Though, if you looked closely, there was something atypical, “non-Hassidic,” beneath his straight posture and his fluid movements.

His wife Esther was thirty-five. She had a round face and wore an old-fashioned style hat. White sneakers were visible beneath her long skirt, and a tightly buttoned blouse emphasized her broad shoulders and wide waist. Her favorite activities were to drink beer, play soccer in the yard with the kids, and put on shows for Jeff.

They had married a year earlier, when Esther left her alcoholic husband and fifteen-year-old daughter in Denver, taking her five-year-old son Moshe with her to New York. She had been far from a strict follower of Hasidism when she lived in Denver—on the contrary, she loved bars, casinos, and drinks. In summary, she liked everything that a strict Lord cannot tolerate. But in New York, when she joined up with Jeffrey, she was forced to enter into the bosom of Orthodox Judaism, to bathe in the waters of the mikvah, to exchange her shorts for long skirts, to put on a wig and hat, and to attend synagogue on the prescribed days.

Her son Moshe had transformed quickly as well: he grew side-locks and put on a yarmulke. He had eyes as black as coal, and his skin was a dark color, too. Esther said her son took after his grandfather, who was half-Jewish and half-Native American.

Moshe was stunned by the events and tribulations of his childhood fate, such as drunken fights between his parents in Denver, the separation from his father and sister, the move to an unfamiliar city, his living with Uncle Jeff—who like dad was often drunk and smelled unpleasantly of cigarettes, but who unlike dad didn`t beat mom or bring home drunken women. Uncle Jeff attended synagogue. In short, poor Moshe became disoriented and lost his connection with the outside world due to all these changes. By nature a good boy, he was unresponsive and looked around him with surprised, sad eyes unlike those of a child, as though he wanted to ask, “Why is it so? Is it really impossible for it to be otherwise?”

Moshe had very few toys, and they had no TV at home, either. It was school vacation now for the Jewish elementary school he would attend in the fall. Poor Moshe had no friends or acquaintances here. His favorite dog Hunter had been left with his father and sister.

facebooktwittergoogle_plus