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The Triumph of Pearlie and Tessie

November 20, 1994

Bravo to Joy Horowitz for her warm and huggable portraits of her bubbes ("Greetings From Pearlie and Tessie," Oct. 16). She has earned her place in heaven for her ability to share these remarkable women with us. They are the crones who teach us by example, the goddesses who stay at the hearth and stir the noodle pudding. They are everyone's grandmothers, the ones we may have forgotten to honor.

Regina Morin

San Diego

*

Old age is inevitable. Tessie and Pearlie have certainly done it with grace. They are to be respected and admired.

Frances Terrell Lippman

Los Angeles

*

Horowitz's marvelous story about her grandmothers reminded me of a story I heard about my own grandmother. When she was in her late '70s, her daughter suggested that she slow down a little, as she was always running out to club meetings and luncheons. Her answer was: "I'm not going to slow down. I'm ready whenever God wants me, but I'm not going to sit home and wait for Him . . . He's going to have to find me." She kept right on running around until she was 87 years old.

Betty R. Baum

Brea

*

My entire Sunday was special because of my breakfast with Pearlie and Tessie . . . tears included. They truly are worthy of being "cover girls."

Roberta Strem

West Hills

*

I am proud to be a bubbe , and I am happy that Joyala, a talented young writer, has the privilege of being loved by Trendy Bubbe Pearlie and Witty Bubbe Tessie. She certainly inherited a good kop from them.

Carrie Hodes

Beverly Hills

*

We should all be so lucky to have such be-you-tee-ful bubelehs in our lives. Oy !

Brian Kelleher

Palm Desert

*

The recipes were hilarious. I think my Hungarian mom learned at the same cooking school: "You know, honey, a handful of flour, a little water, two eggs, and then you beat it until it looks like a good dumpling." I had a heck of a time getting the old family recipes out of her.

All I can add is that Pearlie and Tessie must have been good "poysons" when they were young.

Elaine S. Ewen

Santa Monica

*

I, too, seem to be suffering the same middle-age crying syndrome that Horowitz writes about. Just the other day I found myself in tears that Lou Gehrig had died of the disease named for him. I cried as I read the bubbes article. I miss my grandmother's marble cake. Any way I can have Tessie's recipe?

Fredrica Duke

Pacific Palisades

*

Grandma Tessie's Yummy Marble Cake:

I'll tell you the truth; I don't make it from scratch. I use the Duncan Hines marble cake mix, but I doctor it up and make it more rich. I put in half a pint of sour cream that it doesn't call for. It calls for three eggs, so I put in four. I add small chocolate chips, about six ounces. I also put in a package of My-T-Fine vanilla pudding. This you must have; it's got the vanilla smell. I use half of what the box says for water and oil, since I add the sour cream. Otherwise, it'll be too loose.

So I mix the eggs, sour cream and water at not a very big speed--a nice speed. I mix it for 20 minutes for sure. It comes out very smooth. When I have all the ingredients mixed, I put it in a nine-inch baking pan--you know, so the cake comes out with a hole in the middle. But in order to make it marble, I leave a little dough in the mixing bowl. Duncan Hines gives you a little envelope with chocolate, and I marble it with a knife, back and forth. Into this here, I add the chocolate chips. If anyone doesn't like it, let 'em sue me.

*

One question for Joy: How come your bubeleh told you that the name Horowitz means hard-working , when my bubeleh , who had the same name, told me it means you have no idea how I suffer ?

James Kramer

Encino

*

My husband had just had another chemotherapy treatment for the bladder cancer that he has been fighting for the last 2 1/2 years, and he was feeling pretty rotten. He had been working on the crossword puzzle, and, as usual, it gave him some respite from his ailments. I asked him if he had read the article about the bubbes , and he said no.

After reading the first paragraph I knew I had to read the article to him aloud. We roared over the similarities between Horowitz's bubbes and my own mother and her sisters and over the Jewish idioms. It made our day. We both ardently believe in laughter therapy (my husband is a psychologist) and your article was so effective that we had to let you know how much we appreciated it.

Libby Zweig

Camarillo

*

Horowitz wrote that a Jewish woman is "unclean" for 40 days after the birth of a son and 60 days after the birth of a daughter. The Hebrew word for a woman's status after the birth of a child is niddah , and she is teme'ah --"ritually impure." This is a spiritual concept that has nothing to do with physical cleanliness. The Kotzer Rebbe, in quoting the Gemara , says that when a woman gives birth, the schechina (heavenly presence) is present, but after birth, we mourn its departure, and that is why we are niddah after childbirth.

The time period mentioned is more than merely symbolic; six weeks is also modern medicine's recommended waiting time before a postpartum woman should resume sexual relations. The longer time period following the birth of the girl is because the birth of a daughter, who has the potential of giving birth to others, carries with it a much greater sanctity.

Debbie Cohen

Los Angeles

*

I learned a lot from my grandmother, who lived until the age of 97, and from the truly amazing stories she told about her life. We all could learn from the elderly; they are our backbone. I feel as though they are the forgotten generation in America. I loved and respected my grandmother the way that Horowitz does hers. I miss her every day.

Kathy Vega-Poyer

Long Beach

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