Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Sarah Katzman and the $700 Bat Mitzvah…by Robert M. Katzman

Robert M. Katzman’s Amazing Story:  http://www.differentslants.com/?p=355

September 2009

Part One

I beg for your patience, because to find the glowing nugget of celebration that lies at the heart of this moving and true story, a person must delve deep inside the seemingly hopeless drama that surrounded it, fiercely, during the cruel economic Recession of 2009.

So, to begin, it starts like this:

Some necessary facts:

Joyce, my friend and wife of 35 years, was born Lutheran, is mostly Scandinavian and lived in a completely Christian southern suburb of Chicago, when she was the same age as our youngest daughter Sarah is, in this story.  She converted to Judaism in 1975.

Sarah, my luminescent daughter, now thirteen, is adopted and also happens to be Scandinavian.  She has been part of our lives since she was six weeks old and knows of no other family dynamic or culture, but ours.

Helen, my adored (and how else would you put it?) Mother-in-Law, now ninety, lives with us, next to Sarah’s room and down the hall from ours. Wise and strong, the mother of eight and grandmother of multitudes, she too is Scandinavian, of course, and remains Lutheran.

So, whatever else you read from this point on, it is very safe to assume that Norway and Denmark are two of the best places on earth.  Why?  Well, just look what they sent to me, steadily, and how much love and goodness came along with those gifts, as you will eventually see.


After a long slow tortuous decline, reasonably blamed on the run-up to the present killer Recession, the community where I had my collectible periodical and poster store since 1990 began to seriously implode in 2009.

Never a Mecca of excitement to begin with, my town: let’s just call it Sleepyville” was mostly composed of neat, modest middle-class homes and a series of national franchises on a main drag connecting two major very long, very wide Interstate highway on/off ramps, about six miles apart.

A lot of very fast traffic racing between those two Interstates passed my store daily ”thousands of cars, too” but year, by year, by year, less and less of those cars bothered to stop at the dozens of small owner operated shops that lined the north and south sides of that east-west connecting road that was the commercial heart of Sleepyville.

There was little crime there, but virtually no night life at all.  People who slept there went elsewhere for entertainment.  But, as the bad times silently crept into each local home, eerily like the fabled Old Testament’s Angel of Death soaring over ancient Egypt and killing all of their first born, more and more people stopped going anywhere.

(Read on …)