What do you want to do when you grow up? my Grandma Sil always asked.
“I want to be a cantor,” is what I said. It made her smile and hug me. “Cantor” meant I was not only deeply engaged in the lessons of my yeshiva but also that I longed to sing about it. I have memories of Grandma Sil telling me I should take over the family law firm when it’s time. She said it in a tone that suggested, “Ya gotta do what’s right for the family, even if it’s wrong for you personally.” I found this philosophy all day in yeshiva. I understood my role. I just had no interest in being a lawyer. It was final. I’d better be a cantor. So I said it again. “I’m going to be a cantor, Grandma Sil.” She smiled and hugged me the same way, not realizing I might as well have said, “I’ll pass on the law.”
The idea of teaching college was lauded by Grandma Sil but not the idea of teaching children, a role that was designated either for women or less ambitious men. So when I chose early education as a major at NYU, she called me at home.