How to Live and Die Well: Buddhist Teachings from my Jewish Grammy

By Carmen Elena Mitchell, Front Porch Communications Coordinator

At 97, my Jewish grandmother was becoming a Buddhist (although, I’m not sure she would have put it that way).

This is what I know: 
My grandmother, Florence Pinchak Misurell, was the daughter of Russian Jews who emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900s. Her mother, Molly Pinchak, worked as a seamstress in the New York garment factories and eventually opened her own dry goods store. She became a socialist, a suffragette and an atheist. And although she remained very involved in the Jewish community until the end of her life, sewing clothes to send to the Kibbutzim in Israel, she was a devout “non-believer.” 

The story goes that when my mother and father were first dating, Molly sat my father (an Irish Catholic who was having his own crisis of faith) down and grilled him on religion. “What do you think happens after you die?”

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