Kirshenblatt, Mayer (1916-2009)
Mother giving birth to my brother Vayde, October 1994
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 30 in.
"This is my mother in confinement with my brother Vadye, who was two years younger than me. I am in the crib. On the chair you see a key. My mother told me that when she gave birth to me she had a very difficult time. I was the first one. My grandfather put a key under the small of her back to 'open the gates' and make it easier for the baby to come out. My father is sitting near the table. Kheyder boys used to come every evening to say the Shema. This was to keep away the evil spirits during the week between the birth and the circumcision. They would be rewarded with candy. On the wall there are excerpts from the Psalms. This too is to ward off evil spirits and the evil eye. On the table is a reshinke. It is a flat cake made from cookie dough. Two intertwined coils of dough make a decorative boarder, with an almond in every section. In the center, were the words mazltov, Good Luck, written with a coil of dough. Colored sugar, matshik, was sprinkled over the whole thing. It was customary to serve this cake to the guests at the party after the circumcision and to save the piece with mazltov written on it for the kimpetorn, the woman in confinement. My grandparents are looking on."
Mayer talks about the time his mother gave birth to his brother Vadye, and more. Listen to it.