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‎11 Iyyar 5784 | ‎19/05/2024

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A Story for Mother’s Day, by Bessie Hallowitz

A Story for Mother’s Day, by Bessie Hallowitz

ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – Many countries celebrate Mother’s Day in May, so this week we decided to read you a Mother’s Day story. But first a little history.

Many people think that Mother’s Day is a recent invention of the department stores and flower shops, but its origin really dates back to the era of the ancient Greeks and Romans. The more recent history of Mother’s Day dates back to the 1600s in England, when the Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday” was established.

In the United States, the idea of an official celebration of Mother’s Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe, the poet who wrote the famous Civil War song, «Battle Hymn of the Republic». Howe suggested that June 2 be annually celebrated as Mother’s Day and should be dedicated to peace. She wrote a passionate appeal to women and urged them to rise against war in her famous Mothers Day Proclamation, written in Boston in 1870. She also initiated a Mothers’ Peace Day observance on the second Sunday in June in Boston and held the meeting for a number of years. Howe tirelessly championed the cause of official celebration of Mothers Day and declaration of official holiday on the day. Her idea spread but was later replaced by the Mother’s Day holiday now celebrated in May.

Now Mother’s Day is celebrated in more than 130 countries in the world, and of these, about 65% celebrate it in May. And a bit of trivia: more phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year. These holiday chats with Mom often cause phone traffic to spike by as much as 37 percent. Whenever you celebrate it, we wish all our listeners who are mothers a HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY.

Bessie Hallowitz was a Yiddish writer who wrote of the daily life of the Jewish immigrant generation in the United States, and their children and grandchildren. This poignant story, She Waits for “Mother’s Day” all Year is from her first book, Humorous Monologues and Short Stories, published in Yiddish in 1959. I would like to thank my mother, Rose Jimenez, for translating it for us.


We would like to recommend three books that are all related in some way to the subject of Jewish mothers.  So if you’re looking for a Mother’s Day gift, here are a few suggestions:

Yiddishe Mamas, by Marnie Winston-Macauley, is subtitled “The Truth about the Jewish Mother”, and is a delightfully written and well-researched book that deals with the history, sociology and humor that are associated with Jewish mothers.  It is a serious book written in a very entertaining way.

Jewish Grandmothers, edited by Sydelle Kramer and  Jenny Masur, is a unique oral history of the lives of ten women who immigrated to America from Eastern Europe in the early years of the 20th century.

Finally, Written out of History: Our Jewish Foremothers, by Sondra Henry and Emily Taitz, is a very readable historical text whose aim is to restore Jewish women, who have been largely ignored, to their rightful place in history.  Through historical reports, letters, memoirs, court papers, and so on, Jewish women from the Bible and Talmud, ancient Greece and Egypt, through medieval and Renaissance times, and into the modern period, are rediscovered and rescued from obscurity.  Through the many roles that Jewish women have played in society throughout history, the authors prove their presence as a vital force in the march of the Jewish people.