At some point, every little bird must leave its nest. It may be pushed out, yanked out, or fly out on its own. Whether the mode of departure is voluntary or involuntary, takeoff can be traumatic. The little bird must spread its wings and fly solo. Only then can it decide whether to return to its childhood nest — even just occasionally — or to soar away and build its own new nest.
For generations before the Holocaust, our great-grandparents and grandparents built a unique shtetl nest in the town of Munkacs. On family-owned property in a hoif (courtyard) off the Yiddishe gass (Jewish Street), they’d add a new house for each child and grandchild as they married. A cluster of nests surrounding the parent nest. A flock of innocent birds surrounded by love and family support.
Tragically, that extended family got snatched out of those comfortable nests by the Holocaust. Miraculously, our mother a”h was one of the few who was able to fly far from the devastated nest. Armed only with trust in Hashem, she not only flew — she soared. And with our father a”h she built a new nest. With new nestlings.
The three of us.
We sisters were lucky. We weren’t yanked from the loving nest our parents built for us. We flew of our own volition. And now our children are continuing in their own flight paths. Come… fly along with us, fly with our children, and see where we all land to build anew.
Marcia’s first to fly the nest…
Moving Out of Town
Back in the ’70s, living in rent-controlled Brooklyn neighborhoods was no picnic…
East 17th Street, off Church Avenue. I push my two-year-old son in an umbrella stroller. Approaching our apartment building, I stop to retie his shoelaces. Suddenly, in the spot the stroller would’ve been had I not stopped, a rock hurtles from a roof. Clearly intended for us.
Avenue F, off Ocean Parkway. A slightly better Brooklyn neighborhood. We think we’re safe.
But twice during my next pregnancy, I walk in on burglaries in progress. Men. Inside my apartment. Once I’m even chased down the stairs by a burglar. I can’t outrun him, so I start knocking on doors on the floor below. Thankfully, someone lets me in.
It’s a neis my daughter is born safely.
Still… Brooklyn is a beautiful place to grow up. Surrounded by loving and supportive family, friends, and teachers, shuls and yeshivos on almost every block, bustling Manhattan just a train ride away — all that and more makes up for some of the ugliness around us.
But we know: It’s time to leave. My husband gets his PhD, he finds a job in the DC area, and we make a scouting trip to neighboring Maryland. We discover a charming Silver Spring community called White Oak.
June 5, 1977. Our last night as New Yorkers. The night is clear, the view of the skyline spectacular. We drive over the Manhattan Bridge one last time before tomorrow’s big move.
I’m a jumble of nostalgia, fear, and anticipation. How can we do this to our families? No one from either of our families has ever left New York. How will we manage in a strange place, with a three-year-old and a three-month-old, without our families nearby?
My first “out-of-town” shock: I’m walking down the street. A stranger smiles at me, says hello. What does this weirdo want from me? Soon, however, I come to realize that’s the norm. I can relax. I can smile back.
My next realization: Most of the young couples in White Oak are in the same boat. No one’s a native. They’ve all flown their family nests. So instead of relying on nearby family for support, we rely on our growing number of friends. We even form a babysitting co-op: a secretary tracks how many hours we’ve sat for each other’s kids, and each time we need a sitter, she gives us a list of who’s deep in the “hours hole.”
We become more involved in the community. I chair a spaghetti dinner for the shul. My husband joins a learning group. We form playgroups for our kids. We discover the “joys” of school car pools.
(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 632)
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