Amarcord

September 8, 2007

This is a copy of a posting on my other blog. Sometimes my life gets in the way, and I can’t make the clear division: crafting OR translation. It’s just me. 

My grandmother was born in Corfu. My grandfather in Turkey. They met in Alexandria, Egypt, and got married. They spoke French, Italian and Ladino. My grandmother also spoke Greek, and they knew a little Arabic, and later on Hebrew, too.

My grandfather would call my grandmother, Rachelle (Rake-leh), the Italian way, and her friends called her Rachelle (Ra-shel), in French. My grandmother called my grandfather Maurice or Maurizio. We called them nonno and nonna, Italian for grandpa and grandma.

At nonna’s house we would drink “Café au lait”, and hear her say “Basta” and “Toma”, or “Mon cher”. When she would get angry, she would say “Allah!”, and she also used “Ah! Dio santo!” When we would cross the road together, she would squeeze my hand in hers, and say “Shema Yisrael”.

Nonna always laughed, “Il moso tiene otro moso” (my servant has a servant of his own), and said about people she didn’t like, “faccia di pocos amigos”. At her house we ate dukka and pisti, bamia, fideus, aliches, lubia, and avikas, and she would make us jump over her pan of “Behor”, to keep the evil eye away. I owe my nonna my knowledge of French. Until the age of four she took care of me, and it is in her house that I learned all these languages. Even today, there are words I only recognize in their Egyptian accent. It was only a few years ago that I learned the funny expression “Doo Paroo” is actually French, d’où par où.Two days before my ever optimistic nonna died in the hospital, she told me, “mostufa”, a new word I had never heard, and didn’t understand. I asked, and she explained that it’s from the Italian “stufa”, but in Corfioto. She had had enough. Nonno died exactly three years ago, at the age of 86, on the eve of the Jewish New Year. Nonna died this week, aged 87, three days after her birthday. May they rest in peace.

Sento la mano tua stanca
Cerca I miei riccioli d’or
Sento e la voce ti manca
La ninna nanna o’allor
Oggi la testa tua bianca
Io voglio stringere al cuor   
-
From Mamma Son Tanto Felice, here by Pavarotti, who also died this week.

My grandparents, Maurice and Rachelle Rozanes, on their wedding day:

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12 Responses to “Amarcord”

  1. Nili Says:

    Oh, Hagit, Hamakom Yenachem Otach and all your family. I wish you all the best :)
    Sounds like you had a very warm loving grandparents.
    Take care and rak besmachot,
    Nili:)

  2. Karen Says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your Nonna Hagit. It sounds like they will both live on in the rich memories that you have of them.

  3. Rachael Says:

    It’s nice that you have such wonderful memories of your grandparents and interesting that it all ties in with your choice of career – thanks for sharing.

    Looking forward to seeing the cards when they’re done. Take care! :)

  4. Lily Says:

    I’m so sorry..But on the bright side you have so many wonderful memories of them….Can’t wait to see you here… Chag Sameach v’le shana tova…

  5. jerseytjej Says:

    That was a beautiful tribute to your grandparents. I also blog about my grandparents to keep them around me in the universe.


  6. Sorry for your loss. Hugs.

  7. Zoe Says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. But, what a great, interesting, family history. I love their wedding photo.

  8. Ayelet Says:

    I know I’m extremely late in replying to this but I’m very very sorry for your loss :( You really do look a lot like your grandmother. Same expression. Now that we’re on vacation here with my grandma I’m getting to learn so much about her (both good and bad things :)), and starting to regret that I didn’t have a chance to get to know my other grandparents like this..

  9. Nili Says:

    Hi from Tel Aviv,
    I need your number (again). please send me by email.
    I have ALL my scraps with me ;)
    Nili:)

  10. Edmond Says:

    Shalom,

    You story is very warm and close to home, as we too are Sephardic, multi-lingual Jews from Alexandria. I’m very sorry for your loss, may their neshamot have an aliyah in shamayim.

    I came across your page while searching for descendants (or family) of Isaac Rozanes (olev hashalom) from Alexandria, Egypt. He worked at a large store called Ades (selling cloth by the meter). His hobby was boxing. He may have left Egypt around early-mid 1950’s. I don’t think he was married yet, but his wife/partner (maybe Vicky?) was expecting a child. If you have any idea who this is, please let me know.

  11. Daniela Says:

    Shalom,
    You story is fantastic!!!. My family (father side), are Sephardic, multi-lingual Jews from Alexandria and El Cairo. My nonna (Lucy Rozanes) was born in El Cairo (her mother born in Greece). My grandfather (Maurice Rozanes) is from Alexandria. They also speak French, Italian Hebrew, Arabic and Ladino. My nonna Lucy also speaks Greek, and later when they move to South America they learn Spanish and Portuguese. Now they are in Florida.

    Best,

    Daniela Rozanes

  12. daniela Says:

    Shalom,
    You story is fantastic!!!. My family (father side), are Sephardic, multi-lingual Jews from Alexandria and El Cairo. My nonna (Lucy Rozanes) was born in El Cairo (her mother born in Greece). My grandfather (Maurice Rozanes) is from Alexandria. They also speak French, Italian Hebrew, Arabic and Ladino. My nonna Lucy also speaks Greek, and later when they move to South America they learn Spanish and Portuguese. Now they are in Florida.

    Best,

    Daniela Rozanes


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