Monday, February 25, 2008

From the grandparent files

Apparently, ever since they've had candles to light for yahrzeit memorial, my grandparents have been saving the little glasses after the candles burn out. They rinse the glasses and use them for drinking.

I can just see them, in all of their wisdom as children of immigrants during the Great Depression, saying "Nu, vy should ve vaste perfec'ly gud glass? Is still useful, no?"

The funny thing is, yahrzeit candles are small, only slightly bigger than tea candles. The only way they could really use those glasses would be for taking shots.

I'm sure it goes something like this: "May my mother, of blessed memory, rest in peace and may her soul rise up to heaven, if we believed in that sort of thing, L'CHAIM!" *takes a shot of vodka*

There's more to it than humor though, drinking from the empty shells of memorial candles. It just goes to show, once again, that memorial rituals are for the living, not for the dead.* And why should the living waste the glasses once the ritual is over?

See, the ritual, not the memories are made of candles and jars. Saving the glass and drinking out of does not blaspheme the memory; it's another way to move on. We remember not only on the yahrzeit and on Yom Kippur. So, how does it sanctify the memory by throwing the glass in the garbage?

There's more than this, but it's not coming just yet. Maybe later...

*I went into more detail on that in this column:

1 comment:

Sammy Finkelman said...

My parents also used to do this. I think they eventually stopped.

At first the glasses for the yahrzeit candles were big - a full 8 ounces - and we used them for regular glasses. They eventually all broke. I don't know when I saw the last of them.

Then they were small. Orange juice or prune juice was put into them and my father drank them every morning. That would have been into the 1980s.But maybe other glasses weer used for that.

My parents did keep these small glasses. There were always a few of them with the other glasses.I think this faded away by the 1990s. Maybe I still have a few.

Of course we didn't know anything abouyt needing to Toveil them. This was not common. Come to think of, maybe they don't need top be toveled after all. They were always in Jewish ownership. But they would have been bought and they don't toveling until they are used for food or drink.

We also had a relatively small glass - from a store but bigger than the current Yahrzeit glasses.

One was used for the Cup of Eliyahu at the Seder. I liked that one. A nice design on the cup. That survived the longest - still survives I think - but all the chometzdike glaasses with a similiar design are all broken.

You could later buy drinking glasses. I was getting them at Delt Hardware at the coner of McDonald Avenue and Avenue P right next to a supermarket that is now Fine Fair. But they had a fire last August or so