The God Squad: Have you given your mom a papaya yet?

May 10, 2013|By Rabbi Marc Gellman

I'm not a big fan of secular, made-up holidays, but Mother's Day is different. I love Mother's Day, and this Sunday I will call my mother, Rosalie, in Milwaukee and tell her that I love her. She'll tell me that she loves me and thank me for the fruit. I know Mom would love me without the fruit, but I also know that she loves me just a little more with the fruit.

If your mother is no longer alive, I join you in praying for her soul in heaven. Pray hard, think about what was the most important life lesson your mother ever taught you, then write to me and tell me what it was. Then go eat some fruit.

My Mother's Day gift to you is a true story I heard last week at the unveiling of a monument stone in a cemetery for a wonderful woman named Frances Szmulewicz. Szmulewicz is buried next to her beloved husband, Harry Szmulewicz. Their daughter, Ruth Broitman, told this terrific story at their graves. She graciously gave me permission to tell it to you, in honor of Mother's Day.


One spring day, Frances said to her husband, "Harry! We are Americans now and I want you to send me a Mother's Day card. You never send me any cards, and here in America, they send cards to their mothers and their wives if they are also mothers. I want you to go out yourself to the store and I want that you should pick out a Mother's Day card for me yourself."

Harry was in a panic because he was clueless about how to buy a Mother's Day card. He had no idea where to buy such a card or what one looked like or what to write in it. Harry ran a carpentry shop and he asked Mr. Miller, one of his employees, to help him.

Mr. Miller was happy to help Harry, who was not only his employer but also his friend, so he went out on his lunch hour, found a Mother's Day card, bought the card, filled out the card, put it in the envelope, licked it closed and gave it to Harry, who presented it to his wife on the morning of Mother's Day. Frances smiled and before opening the card, gave Harry a hug and said, "Now, that's better! Harry, today you are a real American."

That card was placed in the corner of the dining room mirror and every time Ruth would pass it she would read it and smile and laugh the way Frances smiled and laughed.

The card read:

"For Frances Szmulewicz.

Happy Mother's Day


Your husband, Harry Szmulewicz."


Q: Why are there so many different Christian denominations? God is God, and Jesus is Jesus, so no one denomination is better than another, yet churches often don't behave that way.

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