My Surrogate Jewish Grandmas
You know those heartwarming chick flicks where women with seemingly little in common are forced together by circumstance, bond over something like quilting, beekeeping, small-town politics or a Jane Austen novel, and end up teaching each other a thing or two about life?
That actually happened to me, but it didn’t take place in a goyishe beauty parlor or a nursing home. No, this group formed at the austere Yiddish class of my local Workmen’s Circle.
One night after work, I decided to attend a class in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles so that I could continue studies I had begun several years earlier in college. I was looking for a hobby while my husband worked long hours, and though I knew Yiddish was a quirky pastime for a 26-year old woman, spin class held no appeal. What I found inside the haimish, dilapidated building was nothing like the university class I’d taken years before. The teacher, an old-school, erudite litvak named Yakov Basner, got down to brass tacks with the alef-beys, avoided using a text book and gave lengthy dictations. I liked him immediately.
The beginner class was small, composed entirely of retired women of different ages. . .