Schvitzmas

aliteraryreeder

The Caref brothers were preparing the herring in anticipation of Schvitzmas that evening. Shelly, Willie and Benjie make it Russian-style, the way their late
dad Jake taught them. The brothers toast Jake with vodka shots as they get the herring ready. Jake was one of those legendary Red Army soldiers who gallantly fought the Nazis as they retreated from Stalingrad to Berlin.

Jake also taught his boys to love the schvitz, the traditional Russian and Turkish wet steam baths, so popular among Jewish immigrant men from Eastern Europe. Schvitz literally means sweat in Yiddish. As a kid, my father use to take me on occasional Sunday mornings to the Division Street or the Luxor baths on North Avenue.

Unless you experienced it yourself, it is hard to describe the calming effect from the heat at the schvitz. Your body detoxifies as your pores seem to open up. Muscles relax and…

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