White Fish

An Essay

by Lynn Ahrens

Lynn, I loved this story. It reminds me so much of my own life, having come from a large protestant family and being the last of eleven children. My first marriage was an old Kentucky shotgun wedding that lasted thirteen hell-filled years. Your story was very open and uplifting. Thanks.

Thank you for the wonderful description of your grandmother, your family, and the gefilte fish.

Lynn, as a nice Jewish man, I understand the attempt to preserve history by demanding tradition observance. I had a phonetic bar mitzvah too. It didn't hold much meaning for me, but it certainly did a lot for the grandparents. "White Fish" is a great story in honor of your Grandmother. She was a real bubbe from the old school. They don't make them like that any more.

I am Jewish and grew up in an area where anti-semitism was quite common. Grown women would often ask if I drank Christian blood at Passover. I didn't know what that meant at the time. I now teach a Sunday School class where I urge my students to either know what the Hebrew means or to ask, but never to recite anything by rote. "White Fish," a story written for non-Jews (as Jews need no translation) resonates most at the five-pointed star around your throat. Fear of differences masks our similarities when it is these similarities that transcend food and words, and resolve in love.

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