By Ruth Ellen Gruber
Some time ago, I wrote a post including my aunt Pearl Gruber Kaplan’s recollections of her mother, my grandmother, Rebecca (Rosenberg Gruber) Rifkin, lighting the candlesticks on Friday night.
Here is a recent picture of Aunt Pearl, with a still life she painted of the Shabbos candles, and the candlesticks themselves. Photo was taken by her son, Robert (Tex) Kaplan.
Pearl 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.