Could I have waited any longer to submit this entry? Here it is, December 31, 2007, at 5:12 PM. Part of the reason why it took me so long to get this together has to do with my great-grandfather's legacy.
Isadore Singer, my maternal grandfather's father, was a cavalryman in the Russian army under Czar Nicholas II. His prestigious position was very unusual; in fact, he was the only Jewish soldier in the cavalry. Due to persecution against his family and community, Isadore decided to make a run for America. Around the year 1902, when he was about 21 years old, Isadore escaped to America. He deserted the army in the middle of the night, said good-bye forever to his only brother Benjamin, and took only one object with him: his menorah. It took him weeks to get to Germany, and from then on to the United States through Ellis Island.
Isadore Singer came to this country so that I could be free, even though he never knew me. He risked his life for an idea, a place where Jews could live without persecution. Not that my grandparents didn't have to put up with discrimination, and not that I didn't encounter the occasional rude and ignorant comment growing up; but every time I think about pogroms or the Holocaust, I thank G-d my great-grandfather was brave enough to risk all. I grew up lighting his menorah every Chanukah, and so the holiday came to mean more than religious freedom from the ancient King Antiochus, but also tangible religious freedom for my family and myself.
His legacy: four sons, three of whom went to college, of which he was enormously proud. (He hung their diplomas on the outside of his front door so all the neighbors could see.) His oldest son, Benjamin, my grandfather, passed away more than ten years ago, but his youngest son, my great-uncle Meyer, is still my pen pal from New York. We just got together this summer at my brother's wedding.
I know that I am also part of Isadore Singer's legacy. And so it is that I sit here at my computer more than 100 years after he came to the United States, typing this entry, a 'typical' harried American with a gazillion things to do. That's why he came here. So I could be me.
Thank you for reading this.