I chose this beautiful gold Chai, which was originally given to my maternal Great-Grandmother, Lil, by her daughter, Carrie on her 60th birthday. Many, many years later, the Chai was passed down to me. It is a long-standing tradition in my family to pass special pieces of jewelry on to other family members when the time is right. Having been named for my Great-Grandmother Lil, this Chai was saved especially for me. The Chai is not a piece of jewelry that I wear. Rather, it is a special memento that I treasure because of where it came from. While I sadly did not get to know Lil, she is nevertheless a part of my history. She raised my grandmother, who in turn raised my mother, who then of course raised me, so we are all connected.
Lil’s parents brought her to New York from Russia when she was only 9 months old. She grew up in Brooklyn, and raised her children there. My maternal family history is centered around various parts of New York, from Brooklyn to Long Island. Though I was raised first in New Jersey and then in Allentown, Pennsylvania, just today my grandmother shared that she purchased the special kippot for my Bat Mitzvah from a store on the Lower East Side, so New York played a more recent part in my personal history as well. I cherish this Chai that links me to my family and our history in New York.
– Lissa Scearce