A Jewish Mother in Rwanda?

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I grew up around Jewish mothers and worry. I remember a Mad Magazine skit from childhood. The punchline? The son has had enough of his mother’s nagging and said, “I’m going to jump off the highest bridge in the city and drown myself!”

Her response? “Wait thirty minutes before you go in the water, you just ate!” Notice she only hears what she wants to hear.

Jewish Woman by Selma Todorova
Jewish Woman by Selma Todorova

When I was growing up in New York, there were advertisements for Levy’s Jewish Rye Bread. The ads had Chinese, African-Americans, Native Americans, with the slogan, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s. You also don’t have to be a Jewish woman to be a Jewish Mother.

The United Kingdom had a comedy called Keeping Up Appearances, with Patricia Routledge playing Hyacinth Bucket (Pronounced “Bouquet)” You only heard her on the phone with her son Sheridan, but she certainly smothered him. She tried to climb the social ladder with her long-suffering husband Richard, played by Clive Swift, having to go along with her schemes.

I’m writing the biography of my Rwandan friend Anastase. My warped mind put two and two together and got at least five.

I’ve never been to Rwanda. I’ve seen photographs, (What did we do before Google Maps and Google Earth)? The British Actress Joanna Lumley did a four-part series tracing the Nile River. In the last decade, GPS and a modern explorer traced a river flowing into Lake Victoria called the Akagera.

They had to chop their way through the rainforest, like Humphrey Bogart in the African Queen or something out of King Solomon’s Mines. The start of the White Nile comes up out of the ground.You

The point is, I have seen shots of Rwanda, now. Where does the Jewish Mother come in? Son, you won’t be allowed to do anything!

“Mom, I want to go for a walk by the source of the Nile, I can do a report?” “Of course, you can’t go down there! You are not a crazy person! Let someone else go down there. Have you heard of Zika? Malaria? Yellow Fever? Put that machete away! You’ll fall down, cut your head off and I’ll never forgive myself and you! Let crazy explorers cut the brush.”

A class trip is organized to see the Mountain Gorillas. “No, I will not sign the permission slip, gorillas are dangerous!” “Mom, I am the only one not going then.” “Fine, you can stay home. What kind of school puts children in such danger?”

“Mom, I want to go to Kigali with my friends.”  “I don’t know your friends, no!”

“Can I go to Gisenyi and go swimming? No! There are crocodiles and what about the animals there and back. You certainly cannot take the bus by yourself.” “Mom, I am fourteen!” “You will always be my baby!”

“Mom, can I do anything? Good question, I need to think that one over.”

Yes, Jewish Mothers will fit right in.

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