As another holiday approaches, it seems the perfect time to share with you a great moment from this fall’s High Holidays. The Russ & Daughters erev Yom Kippur line is legendary. Throughout that day, each year, a crowd gathers, numbers are clutched, stories and recipes are swapped, friendships and shidduchs are made, and this past year, something extra special happened. There was singing.
Alina Sheffi has been a Russ & Daughters slicer for 16 years. She recounts:
“One year during the Jewish holidays, the store was packed, packed, packed as usual. Amidst all of the noise and activity, I overhead one customer talking to another one about a Yiddish song from his childhood. He couldn’t remember the name, but he remembered that it was about a tsigele (figuratively, a young child, literally, a baby goat) and what he was going to be when he grew up. ‘I know that song!’ I said. ‘Can you sing it?’ he asked. Then other people started pushing me to sing, including Mark Russ. My boss wanted me to sing, so I had to sing. All of a sudden the store got totally quiet and there were 100 pairs of eyes on me. I sang and then the place erupted in the biggest applause ever. My face turned as red as a tomato.”
This year, erev Yom Kippur happened to fall on Alina’s birthday. As a tribute to Alina, and as a treat for all the customers who would be waiting in line, we asked Metropolitan Klezmer to provide music, and to accompany an unsuspecting Alina in performing Rozhinkes Mit Mandlen, her beloved song. After that, the band played on the street, providing a joyous soundtrack to a bustling time in the store.
- Jen Snow