Simple Summaries


Hugh Nissenson

·      Father was “working twelve hours a day on his rented Singer sewing machine, he made an average of seven dollars a week.”

·      “We paid fourteen dollars a month rent and ate very little”

·      “The only time we splurged on food was on Friday nights in celebration of the coming of the Sabbath. As a religious Jew, my father insisted upon it.”

o  “We always had a guest on Friday nights, someone even poorer than we, and alone, who had no place to go to celebrate the Sabbath. It was a religious obligation my father had brought with him from Russia”

o  “Very often, on particularly cold nights, my father would invite them to remain with us, and they would curl up on the table, covered by a woolen blanket. Their snoring made it impossible for me to sleep.”

§ “"Remember. 'Charity saves from death.' " He quoted the words from the Talmud in Hebrew”

·      The mother is sick and the doctor says she should go to the hospital

o  Father still wants to do shabbat: “why should tonight be any different from last Friday night, or the Friday before that?"”

·      The kid goes shopping and “By the time I reached home, my mother was gone, but there with my father was a tall, emaciated, stoop-shouldered man”

o  “My father gave Rifkin the fish head and he devoured everything” because Rifkin hadn’t eaten in 6 days

·      Rifkin says “"God is just, but He's merciful too. To whom will He not show His mercy if not to a fine woman like that and her husband who feeds the starving?"”

·      At night, kid says he feels better because “charity saves from death”

·      Father says: "Is that what you think a mitzvah is? A bribe offered the Almighty?"

o  Father says the charity would not save the mom, that it would save Rifkin

·      We know from the beginning of the story that the mother died