By Henya Chaiet
Ah gooten morgen tzu eich tyereh Yiddisheh kinder. Onshuldicht mir far derfar vaus ich haub nisht gehret mit eich far etlehcheh maunahten. Ich haub geven nisht gezundt, uhn in hauspital. (Good morning, my dear Yiddish children. Please excuse me for not writing to you these past few months. I was ill and in the hospital.)
Danken Gaut, ich haub gehhaht a gooteh refueh, un ich bin yeder taug besser. (Thank G-d I have made a good recovery and get better every day.)
Ich vil eich zaugen vaus haut pahsirt mit mir hient in der free. (I want to tell you what happened to me this morning.)
Ich cook ahrine in daus shpigel un ich zeh ah alteh froy shtayt mir onkegen, un ich der ken ear nisht, frehgich ear “Vair bintz duh?” Un vaus tuhst do in mein shpigel? (I looked into the mirror and there was an old woman that I didn’t recognize starring back at me. So I asked her, “Who are you and what are you doing in my mirror?”)
Entfert zee mir “Daus bin ich Henya Chaiet, un ich vayn shane dau mit dir far ninetzick yor.” (She replied, “It’s me Henya Chaiet and I have been living here with you for ninety years.”)
Mineh tyereh kinder ah zay layfen aveck dee yungeh yoren, un meh vert alt un meh ken zich ahlayn nisht derkenen in daus shpigel. (My dear children, this is the way the “young years” fly by and you look at yourself in the mirror one day and you do not recognize yourself.)
Halt tyer yehder taug, un tuht epess goot far zich ahlayn un far daus velt vaus mir ahleh vaynen in. (Hold dear every day and do something good for yourself and for the world we all live in.)
Tzen tehg far Pesach haub ich (kein ein horeh) gevoren ninetzich yor alt, un ich dahnk gaut vaus ich ken nauch zein mit myneh kinder, un kinds kinder, un mit aleh myneh gooten frynt. (Ten days before Passover on April 7, 2014, I celebrated my 90th birthday. I thank G-d every day that I can still be with my children, grandchildren and their children, and all my wonderful friends.)
Daus cuhmt mir ah Mazel Tov. Ich bin gevoren ahn elter baubeh, tzuh tzveh maydehlach. Zayereh nehmen zeinen Zara uhn Harper. (I have a Mazel Tov coming as I have become a great-grandmother to two little girls. Their names are Zara and Harper.)
Zaulen zeh baydeh hauben goot gehzundt uhn tzu langen yoren uhn brayngen nahches uhn frayd tzu zayer mahmeh – mein eynekel Hindi – uhn ear mahn zayer tahteh Adam. Amen.
(I pray that they may have a long life with good health and much joy. May they be a blessing always to their mother – my granddaughter Hindi – and her husband, their father Adam. Amen)
Henya Chaiet is the Yiddish name for Mrs. A. Helen Feinn. Born in 1924 ten days before Passover, her parents had come to America one year prior. They spoke only Yiddish at home so that is all she spoke until age five when she started kindergarten. She then learned English, but has always loved Yiddish and speaks it whenever possible. Chaiet lived in La Porte and Michigan City, Ind., from 1952 to 1978 and currently resides in Walnut Creek, Calif. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.