Recollections — Pearl Gruber Kaplan

Pearl Gruber, 1940sPearl Gruber Kaplan is my father’s older sister, the oldest of the seven children of my grandparents, Frank and Rebecca Rosenberg Gruber. Now more than 90, Aunt Pearl lives in Santa Barbara, California. I asked her for her recollections of candle-lighting, when she was growing up in Akron, Ohio.

Yes, my mother lit the candles, closed her eyes and said the blessing; then we all sat down to the traditional (and always the same) Friday night dinner of roast chicken.  I don’t know whether she continued the ceremony after my father’s death.  But I have the candlesticks; and I’ve painted a still-life of the lit candles.

My parents emigrated from Eastern Europe and brought their religious observances, with them.  Success,for a man, was measured by his profession and /or income;  for a Jewish girl, it was marriage and her role as Queen of the Kitchen. She was the  guardian of the various rites and rules of the Orthodox faith, which she observed seriously and zealously.  The mother of a friend had four daughters, three of whom (including my friend) were successes, i.e. married. The ‘failure’ was the unmarried administrator of a large hospital in another city.  That was then, but the cultural mindset remained pretty much the same until the Conservative and Reformed congregations loosened things up a bit.  And of course Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, et. al.

I have asked her to send a photo of the candlesticks in questions — and of the still life she painted of the burning lights.

2 thoughts on “Recollections — Pearl Gruber Kaplan

  1. I am new to your website/information and find it just fascinating. The candelstick articles are wonderful and I am enjoying reasing it all. I pam planing a Jewish jeritage tour this fall which is what bought me to “find”you, I only wish I had found you long ago.

    My father born in Vilnius emigrated to the US in 1903 through Ellis Island, my motherfher mopther emigrated from Odessa in 1901.

    Can you suggest a source in Vilnius to search for fmaily information. Sadly, I have no one that can give me any details past that they lived there. Is there a central record resource? I appreciate any suggestions you may have.

    Naomi Hauser

  2. Ruth, Thank you for transmitting the traditions. It’s always a hard decision for immigrant families to decide what to keep and what to let go of in their new lives in the USA. Pearl was an independent thinker, way ahead of her time. It is very comforting for me to find the photos of her that you have put on the website. Pearl certainly cast light on her community in Santa Barbara. When she was evacuated from her home during the fires, she was housed in a Catholic Mission, and she organized the documents in the library while she was there!

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