When my siblings and I were teenagers, some of us thought our sister Sonia was mad, because she used big psychology words that none of us understood. Sonia was already married and had been living away from home for several years. (See Siblings – The Unsentimental Education).
In the late 1960s, eight days after my nephew, Moshe Gamaroff (the son of my brother, Sammy) was born, the family went to Sammy’s flat for the bris (brit milah “covenant of circumcision”). The bris is performed by a mohel ,a “circumciser,” who is usually a rabbi, and sometimes a cantor (chazan). Jewish boys are circumcised on the eighth day. My elder sister Sonia was also there. I was about 26 years old and Sonia was about 39. Near the door, on the other side of the table from where I was standing, the mohel, wrapped in his shiny talis (prayer shawl), blade in hand and surrounded by Moshe’s parents and other family members, was deeply preoccupied with the matter in hand. Sonia sat at the table staring into space, tight-lipped. Her fingers moved slowly towards a drinking straw lying between the glasses on the table. With one hand she started to twist the straw into the shape of a Cross, held it up, elbow on table, and said slowly: “God is love.” For one excruciating moment, the blade stood still.
And they crucified Him.