World Literature Today
The Cadillac Image Credit: World Literature Today
The Cadillac Image Credit: World Literature Today

The Cadillac

A bar mitzvah brings multiple generations of a family together in celebration, far from the reach of the evil eye.

Sylvie Weil

NEW ROCHELLE, 1954

“Say, would you look at those Dagmars! Aren’t they something!”

Everyone in the family knows Mounya has just bought himself a Cadillac, but knowing is one thing, and seeing is another. What a sight to behold, it’s a beauty! All that chrome, gleaming in the slanted sunlight of a late afternoon in June. The car is two-toned beige, but beige doesn’t begin to describe it. The bottom half is a warm color, like coffee with milk, and the top is pure cream. Magnificent! What class! Look at the gigantic, curved windshield, just a single piece of glass. And those matching bumpers shaped like missiles, the famous Dagmars, named for the actress whose voluptuous breasts, accentuated by the cone-shaped cups of her brassiere, appear regularly on magazine covers. That Mounya, he doesn’t hold back on anything.

The sleek beauty innocently offers herself up to the gaze of all the guests invited to the bar mitzvah of Mounya and Clara’s eldest son. Yesterday, which was Saturday, Michael was called to the Torah for the first time. Such a beautiful, moving occasion, the bar mitzvah of this boy who, having reached the age of thirteen, is now a man in the eyes of Jewish law, a man carrying his paternal grandfather’s name, the grandfather who was assassinated in his Ukrainian village by Petliura’s bandits alongside his youngest son. As the rabbi reminded them all yesterday, this martyred gr


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