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Every summer my big sister Lydia and I would go to our grandparents’ home. How I loved going to visit them! It was different from being in Krakow. They lived thirty kilometers outside of the city. The ride there was pleasant and scenic, winding along the Vistula River until both buildings and people appeared less and less. The dominant color of this rustic paradise was green. I will remember those summer weeks—with moments of carefree fun alternating with religious contemplation—forever.

My father’s parents, Aaron and Blindel, were even more religious than my father. During our visits we read the Torah every day and did many religious things. I credit much of my personal and religious identity to these visits.

My grandparents also worked very hard. Arising before the sun each day, they would arrive by 6:00 a.m. at the local ayarmak, which was a type of outdoor bazaar or flea market. I would go with them when I was visiting. Every week they would travel to a different marketplace. Colorful ribbons, lace, scarves, and other beautiful things that they made were loaded into their wagon. They wrapped them carefully, like presents, and kept them safe upon the wagon until we got to our destination. The markets were each 6 to 10 kilometers away.

I liked to help my grandparents. I especially enjoyed watching the ladies who came to shop for their niceties. I remember how they would hold up the different colors, run their fingers along the satin and lace as if the touch of it would tell them something. There were so many pretty girls with their mothers! Sometimes they smiled at me during these exchanges—which equally thrilled and embarrassed me—and I would wonder what they would make with these ribbons and lace.

My grandparents taught me how to be a good salesman and how to run a business. The one thing that was always stressed was the concept of “quality.”


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