Everyone in my world knew that both of my maternal grandparents were survivors. They weren’t the typical American
grandma or grandpa who played golf or ate bacon. They weren’t even the typical American-Jewish grandma or grandpa
who, in my experience up until that point, all seemed to speak with New York accents and appeared sporadically in
their grandkids’ lives. Paula and Sol Dash, known in Poland as Pola and Shlomo, spoke with somewhat-stereotypical
Yiddish accents and had never tried bacon (or golf ) in their lives. They watched 60 Minutes and read The Washington Post
religiously, and they discussed everything that was important in their first language of Yiddish.
Paula—Bubby—was my primary caregiver in my earliest years. She lived with her husband, Sol, my Zeidy, in a two-bedroom apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland. Most of my earliest memories take place in that first apartment, the happy place of my childhood. It was a warm and cozy combination of chicken soup, cinnamon and frying oil. These two, my grandparents, were at the center of a very small core family that consisted of them, my mother, my father, myself and later, my sister, Erica.
My mom, Lily, was their only child. She’d been born in Bergen-Belsen, perhaps best known as the death camp where Anne Frank and her family were sent once they were discovered. After the war, places like Bergen-Belsen became Displaced Persons or “DP” camps, and that’s where my mom was born in 1947, two years after what Bubby referred to as “TheLiberation” (all one word like that) and to everyone else was more simply “the end of the war.”
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