As a Jewish kid in a small city I suppose I had it pretty good, enough of us that I didn’t totally stand out, and it helped living a single block from the Jewish funeral home, some just didn’t want to travel all that far when the inevitable time came.
But we soon moved to the suburbs, the shtetl neighborhood was gone, and I was a Jewboy to more than a few, so the Temple felt like a safe place, setting aside all the OT stories which were wholly unblievable.
I took a fair number of lumps for killing Christ and all other imaginary sins freely attributed.
I wish I knew then that as an adoptee I was really only half Jewish, and that the other half among my distant kin were kings and saints as well as a fair number of sinners.
When we were much younger we would meet by the edge of the pond each day after winter’s first taste and pry rocks from the bank with frozen fingers, one the size of a fist, others even larger. We would carefully aim and in a crystal parabola watch as they hit the frozen surface, one upon another in hopes they would not break through to drown in a strangled silence.
When the largest stones we could heave would clatter across the ice, great uneven ruts in the covering snow, we would reach for the shovels we had sneaked from the garage and slowly roll the blanket of snow into a pillow on the banks. Lacing on our skates, some a size too large, stuffed with paper others too small, toes crushed, we would step gingerly out like sailors too long ashore and lean on our hockey sticks like three-legged stools tottering across a shined floor. We would take off a hat or a glove and mark the corners of the rink and the edges of the goal mouth, two sticks wide. We would take the almost round wooden disk of layers of plywood crudely nailed together and begin a game whose periods were marked by the cry of our mothers.
Today the pond is gone replaced by homes and our shouts barely echo off the brick facades.