The eruv came too late for me. . .

If the level of observance was low in New York before the war (see previous post and comments), imagine the state of Jewish life in Sacramento, California. My mother’s family settled there in the late 30’s,  where my grandfather and my grandmother’s brothers had established a business. My grandmother told me that she refused to travel to shul in the car, so my grandfather attended alone for a few months until she gave in. 
According to my mother, her uncles hesitated to bring their parents over from Germany. They realized the parents would be disappointed in the brothers’ lack of observance and shocked at the absence of religious amenities. My great-grandparents did manage to get out in 1939 and lived with my grandmother, who, despite the Sabbath driving, remained the most religiously observant.
I did not look forward to my frequent trips to Sacramento. It was dull, and my grandmother kept a close eye on me. When the Orthodox synagogue first opened, I wanted to attend. Grandma tried to exert control over the situation by insisting that I take a sweater. Ordinarily I would have accommodated her requests, but this was Sacramento. In July. I would have had to wear it, as carrying without an eruv is forbidden on Shabbat. I left the sweater at home.
An article about the new Sacramento eruv inspired this post. I see that my grandparents’ shul, the Conservative Temple of Mosaic Law, still exists.


  1. mother in israel says

    My grandmother was always cold.

  2. why did she insist on a sweater? was she cold? tzniyus reasons?

  3. My father’s first cousin used to run the kosher deli/meat store in Sacramento. They recently moved back east, though.

  4. Lion in Zion says

    i’m glad they got out of germany when they did.
    my grandmother’s brother never made it to america because of family politics and was killed.

  5. What a small world this really is! My daughter is a student at UC Davis – about 25 miles from Sacramento. But we do go into Sacramento a lot! Yes, your granparents’ shul is still going strong. Mosaic Law is a Conservative synagogue, sorta like your Masorti one in Israel.

  6. I wonder how common it was for kids (or other relatives) not to want to bring out their parents, because they were embarrassed/uncomfortable about facing them now that they were no longer religious