My name is Fradella. It is a special name given to me by my mother and my father who thought that I too would be a special woman someday. I am growing up in a small house in Jerusalem, the most holy city in the entire world. We speak Yiddish at home, but my mother and father speak English to each other. I have many friends who speak Hebrew and my Bubie and Zada speak only English to us. This means that I am growing up speaking three languages which is a real gift to have in my life.
I go to a girls’ school and learn how to read, do simple math problems and how to pray to Hashem. I think that of all the things that I learn in my life, besides the languages, how to pray to Hashem is the most important. The reason I say this is because life is filled with difficult challenges and we have no control of what happens to us and those we love so, we must turn to someone above who can help and that is God. If we are taught how to speak to Him when we are young, it makes it easier to turn to Him when we become older.
I am a clever girl. I have always learned things quickly; I am good at numbers too. Whenever my parents need to call someone they ask me for the phone number and I remember the number, most of the time. Sometimes I am lazy though and don’t work hard in school because it is easy for me and I don’t see the use of learning so much anyway.
My father intends to marry me to someone when I am very young and my mother feels it is more important for me to learn how to cook and to sew more than most anything else. I can’t blame them for their ideas. For the Jewish people, who have lost so many people in pogroms and the Shoah, having a large family has become a very important mitzvah.
My parents are also not supportive of the Israeli government. They feel that the country should be run by Jewish laws and the Halachah and of course the government does not make laws based on the Torah. I imagine when I get older I will have to decide what I believe about all of these things, but for now I live with my parents and I must look at the world through their eyes.
One of my most favorite activities is to hear the stories that my Bubie makes up for me. Sometimes I just want to call her on the phone and listen for hours to her tell me her stories. I always start out, “Tell me a story Bubie”, and she usually has something new to tell me. Sometimes I want to hear stories about what happened to her or Zada when they were little children, real stories. Other times I am happy to hear stories that my Bubie makes up.
My Bubie told me that she would write these stories down and save them and that is how this all started. I don’t mind her sharing her stories with other people. What is interesting about stories is that they, in some ways, are all “real”. A story tells a secret truth about the world. Sometimes it is revealed in the character and sometime in the plot. Sometimes we don’t understand the meaning of the story until we think about it or hear it again. Sometimes we don’t understand the meaning of the story until we are older, but I believe that the person telling the story always has an important message to pass on to the person listening to the story. This is the power of storytelling. It is the way we reveal to each other an important message or a secret that we cannot say in any other way to the person because we might get into trouble for saying what we want to say and so we must have the character in the story say it, teach it, or reveal it.
I hope that you enjoy the stories that my Bubie tells me as much as I enjoy hearing them. Someday I hope to have grandchildren to tell her stories to and to also have my own stories to pass on. Until that time comes, “Tell me a story Bubie….”