Jewish Before I Was American

My grandparents, my aunt, uncle, two cousins, my parents and I lived in one Williamsburg, Brooklyn brownstone until the early 30s. I spoke Yiddish before I learned English. I was taught to read and write in Hebrew and in Yiddish. Aunt Dora generously shared her public library books of Yiddish poetry and stories with me. We read daily Yiddish newspapers. “Yiddishkeit” was part of my everyday life, not just reserved for Shabbat and holidays.

I wrote about my early years in my first juvenile novel {Ruthie, Meredith Press, 1965). Thinking back to those Williamsburg years, I realize that I became a Jewish person before I became an American person.

Norma Simon is the author of more than 50 children’s books, 13 on Jewish holidays or subjects; 2 new ones due out in 1997 on Passover and Hannukah (HarperCollins). She moved to Cape Cod 27 years ago.