I am from loving parents who were born in Russia and proud to be American citizens.
I am from a Jewish family where spirituality filled the home.
I am from a family of my own, loved more than life itself.
I am from a place where love is freely given and freely returned.
I am from a place of looking back and also looking forward to life.
I am from the place where values are not written in cement, but evolve with knowledge and an open mind.
I am from seeing a loved one’s being born and loved ones dying.
I’m from the circle of life.
I am from Old Orchard Beach, the sound, the smell, and the sand.
I am from daughter, sister, wife, mother, Bubbe and Great Grand Bubbe.
I am from a place where I am watching my children be me.
I am from Maine, Saco, Orono, and Portland.
I am from here!
Chaim, Hymie Zaitlin and Gut Rochel, Rose Katzer Zaitlin were married in a small shetle in Glusk, Minsks Gerbania, Russia. They were my parents. They had very humble beginnings. My grandfather Baer Laeb was a kohen and a Jewish scholar. That family lived on an estate and took care of an orchard of pears for the lord of the estate. They were very poor. Their house had a thatched roof and a dirt floor. There was no electricity, no water, and they used a big oven for heat and for sleeping. My grandfather Aaron drove a wagon for a living. He was poor as well, but in recent years I saw a photo of a house that was the Zaitlin house. It is still standing.
My brother Irving was born a year after they wed. When he was an infant my father came to the United States. His plan was to earn enough money to be able to send for his wife and son. In one year he sent them money and they started their journey. They were part way to the place where the ship was waiting when World War I broke out. Irving was eight years old when they came to America in steerage. It was a difficult and long trip.
My father started as a peddler with a sack on his back. As the years went by, he prospered. They were very proud to be able to donate a room in the Jewish Home for the Aged in Portland, and a room in the Webber Hospital in Biddeford.
Neither my mother or father could read or write in English. They lived during a time during the time that when a Jew intermarried, the family set shiva for the child and they were no longer considered a part of the family.
My niece was the first in our family to intermarry. This is how my parents handled the situation. They opened their home and their hearts and accepted their granddaughter and her husband. Family was more important to them than the opinion of friends and neighbors and the custom of their religion. They were inclusive to all who entered their lives. They loved and were loved in return!
My hope for you, my children, is that you may always be blessed with an open heart and mind. Remember a loving relationship is important, and your rewards will be great!