Essie is a 21st century bubbe. She’s hip to smart phones, Instagram, and using What’s App for calling cousins in Israel. She takes Zumba classes on the days she’s not doing Pilates to strengthen her core. (“With my family’s history of bone loss, you think I am going to let myself become the shrunken old lady my bubbe turned into?”) Every Shabbos afternoon, Essie Skypes with the grandkids in the Bay Area who, thank G-d, go to Jewish day school or else they’d learn absolutely nothing about being Jewish; but only until fifth grade which is plenty, thank you. After all, we don’t want them raised in a bubble, thinking that everyone in the world is Jewish.
For Rosh Hashanah dinner, Essie makes the best caramelized Jerusalem Kugel you’ve ever tasted. She serves it in perfect ¼ inch cubes, because with your family’s history of heart problems, you can’t be too careful. Don’t think she missed that you got winded just coming up the front stairs. It’s the New Year: use it as motivation to get your diet back on track. After all, Essie and her second husband, Abe, each lost their extra few pounds just by adding a three mile walk at 5:30 every morning (except Sundays when they sleep in and then treat themselves to a kale and chia smoothie) and by cutting out bread at lunch. Essie also makes incredibly moist chocolate brownies (gluten free and with half the sugar — no one needs all that sugar) that, when tasted, may evoke dual paroxysms of confusion and pleasure.