Tag Archives: Al heit shehatanu

I Never Asked

by Natalie Zellat Dyen (Huntingdon Valley, PA )

My bubba taught me to knit European style, yarn on the left.
What hands had guided her hands,
Which now guided mine?
I never thanked her for that gift.
Or for filling empty jars with cinnamon cookies.
Al heit shehatanu. For the sin of ingratitude.

My bubba could have shared memories:
Of a long-ago village
Of lost traditions
Of melodies sung by her father, the cantor
Who passed on the gift of his voice
Before dying on the passage from old world to new.
But I never asked her to sing those songs.
Al heit shehetanu. For the sin of not asking.

So I must speak for her.
“I remember my own grandmother,” she would have said,
“And you will probably live to see your own grandchildren.
So right now, between the two of us, we share two-hundred years of history.”
And if I had looked into her eyes,
I might have seen her great-grandparents, her great-great-grandparents,
And all who came before.
But I never looked.
Al heit shehetanu. For the sin of turning our backs on the past.

Natalie Zellat Dyen is a freelance writer and photographer living in Huntingdon Valley, PA. Her work has appeared in The Willow Review, Global Woman Magazine, Intercom Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and other newspapers and journals. Links to Natalie’s published work are available at www.nataliewrites.com.

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Filed under American Jewry, Family history, history