By Philip “Chick” Chasen
Retold by Rabbi Jon-Jay Tilsen
I used to say to my mother, “Why do I have to go to Hebrew School? I go to grammar school all day. All the other kids are out playing. Why do I have to go to Hebrew School?”
All she’d say was “Farshem nit dein mamen — Don’t shame your mother.” I never understood what she meant. All she’d say was “Farshem nit dein mamen.”
During the War when I was in England, my friend was invited to go to the home of a prominent family in Leicester for the Passover seder. But he couldn’t go, so I went instead. Each member of the host family was highly educated, and each one read from a Hagada in a different language. The young boy in the family spoke French flawlessly. I read along in Hebrew.
After the seder, the father of the family said, “Phil, where did you learn to do that? You read so fluently and proficiently that when I paused to take a breath, you kept going. Where did you learn to do that?”
And all I could think of was “Farshem nit dein mamen.”
© Jon-Jay Tilsen