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Patricia Fieldsteel

Family Meals Without Reservations

My family wasn’t Jewish—except on both grandparents’ sides. We celebrated Christmas and Easter and attended Christian Science Sunday School. When my mother cooked, she prepared goyishe concoctions such as tuna-noodle casserole with cream of mushroom soup. Our culinary highlight was Sunday when my grandparents visited bearing bagels, smoked salmon and sturgeon, babka, rugelach and homemade chopped chicken liver. Although I associated these treats with my grandparents, with their love and warmth, I quickly assimilated that they were secret foods, eaten and spoken of only within the confines of our home. The word “Jewish” was mentioned sotto voce only en famille, as if anyone other than a room full of Jews could have heard.

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  • Bobbi Zahra

    Oh my God, this is brutal. Exquisite writing, and courageous in sharing her story, which I will in turn share with others.

    • Patricia Fieldsteel

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write. It means so much, Bobbi Zahra. Shalom!

    • Patricia Fieldsteel

      Bobbi Zahra, thank you so much. And thank you for saying the word I have always felt and been afraid to say–yes, BRUTAL. and thank you for liking my writing–I am a very late bloomer, but writing means everything to me. shalom!

      • Bobbi Zahra

        I hope you will write more. I’ll watch for your name.

        • Patricia Fieldsteel

          thank you.

  • Carol Jackson Riddle

    Dear Patricia (or Patty as I would remember?)
    I was on one of those Sunday afternoon internet searches of my past, and Googled your name. To have come upon this article that touched on the years we spent together at Fulton School was a gift that was so much more than I had anticipated. My picture of your house that remains 60 years later is of the dining table with the lazy Susan in the middle – that and your mother’s presence hovering over all. What I didn’t see was the pain with which you lived then and the years after.

    The way in which you overcame and flourished is remarkable. What inspiration reading about the creative, far-reaching life you have lived since. Bravo, indeed!

  • Carol Riddle

    Okay – trying again.

    Dear Patricia (or should I say Patty, as I knew you at Fulton School?)
    Yesterday was a lazy, rainy Sunday afternoon during which I decided to take an internet journey into my past. One of the names from many years ago that has periodically reappeared to me is yours. So with some amount of curiosity I googled Patricia Fieldsteel, and certainly found more than I could have hoped would show up on a random search.

    I remember well spending time at your house – where I was so envious of the round dining table with the lazy Susan. It seemed very cool compared to our run-of-the-mill rectangle (probably from Levitz) and its 6 chairs. But reading your story of what came along with that perfect picture brings both a sense of remembered pain and real admiration for who you are and the fulfilling life you have lived. As I read on, I realized how much of your life has been a journey of beautiful food, art and sharing through your writing. As one of the other commenters said so well – Bravo!!

    • Patricia Fieldsteel

      for anyone reading this who might not know the story, Carol Jackson, as she was at the time, was my best friend from the age of 6 to 9. Then we lost contact. Thanks to Lilith and Carol’s persistence, we are now back in touch with each other. She goes back farther than anyone else in my life today. Merci to Lilith for bringing us back together!

  • Sandy Sussman

    Thank you for this amazing piece of writing. It was the main topic of discussion at our recent Lilith salon and many of us were very moved by your story.

    Moved. Upset. Outraged. Incredulous. Amazed. Mostly, admiring of your perseverance and strength. You opened our eyes – my eyes, in particular – to some of the causes and consequences of anorexia. I’ll never think of this disorder, or those afflicted by it, in the same way again.

    Thank you for sharing your story and being an important role model of courage. You are an inspiration!

    Sandy Sussman

    • Patricia Fieldsteel

      Dear Sandy, I am just seeing this now. I can’t tell you how moved–seriously choked up–I was when I read what you wrote. It means so much. I have worried my article was too superficial, so I am glad it said something to you and to others. ( I would have adored to have been a fly on the wall at that Lilith discussion!) My struggle–and that of others like me and who have suffered far worse–is made all the more difficult because our battles are fought in silence and in solitude. Knowing what I wrote touched others makes all the difference. Thank you so much for taking the time to write what you did! shalom! Patricia

  • Patricia Fieldsteel

    dear Elaine, thank you so much for what you wrote, which has deeply touched me.Yes, self-hating Jews are toxic and scary. Parents who hate themselves and deny who they are cannot possibly love their children and allow them to grow and be who they truly are. thank you for your thoughts and wisdom–and kind words. shalom!

  • Patricia Fieldsteel

    to Nora–love, love, love and merci!! xxxp