I remember visiting my Bubby Eta for lunch when I was a teenager. Wearing her flowered scarf, she opened the door, smiled and said, “Hinda, come into the kitchen. I made you something to eat.”

As I entered the kitchen, the pleasant aroma of Shabbat dinner wafted in the air: kasha varnishkes (buckwheat with bow-tie noodles), chicken soup and home-baked challah.The pleasant aroma of Shabbat dinner wafted in the air

“Can you teach me how to make kasha varnishkes?” I asked. I had started a notebook to collect recipes and memories from my grandmothers.

Standing next to the gas stove, Bubby smiled.

She opened the lid to check if the kasha was ready. “The secret is to toast the kasha in a dry pan before adding a bissel schmaltz [a little fat],” she explained. “Then just enough hot chicken soup to cover. When it’s ready, I’ll shut off the gas, cover it and let it sit awhile.”

She dropped the bow ties into the boiling water and said, “Hinda, sit down. I’ll give you a bissel zup [a little soup] that I made for Zadie’s supper. Did you know that Hinda or Hindela means ‘chicken’ in Yiddish?”

“No. But I love the name. I was named after Zadie’s mother, right?”

Handing me a steaming bowl of soup, she sat down and said, “So, nu, how’s the family?”

“Everyone is fine.” I started sipping the soup, blowing on the spoon because it was hot. She smiled as she asked, “Is it good?”

After a few spoonfuls, I tasted something delicious in the soup—something I had never tasted before. “Wow! What is this? It tastes so good. I don’t remember ever eating this before.”

Eyes wide under her big glasses, “Oy,” she cried. “Ich hub gemacht der heldzel far der zaideh. I made a mistake!”

I didn’t understand everything Bubby said in Yiddish. My parents had spoken Yiddish at home until the children understood, then stopped.

“It’s the helzel, the stuffed neck,” bubby cried. “That was meant for Zadiefor our Shabbat dinner. I always cook special foods for Shabbat dinner. A bissel chicken soup, chopped chicken liver.”

“Stuffed neck,” I asked. “Is that what’s on the Passover plate?”

“No, that’s roasted neck or roasted bone.”

She sighed. “When Passover comes, there is so much to do to get my kitchen ready. Clean and prepare the counters and cupboards, and cook chicken with carrots like in the Old Country. All we usually had to eat there was carrots and potatoes.”

“You never told me your story of why you left the Ukraine.”

Oy veys mir.” She sighed again and then said, “When I was young in the Ukraine, most of the time potato and carrots and sweet potato tzimmes were all we had to eat. But Shabbat was always special. We ate a boiled chicken and two home-baked challahs as we sat around the table, sharing stories and singing Shabbat songs. Pa always had helzel to eat as he told us the weekly Torah portion.”

Again silence for a while.

“Why did I leave my home, my Ma and my Pa, never to see them again? My older brother, Velvel, bought two tickets for steerage to America. He had intended to take my older sister, but she met a man and didn’t want to go.” She sighed. “She didn’t survive the war.

“Three weeks in steerage, below the deck in the ship, it was horrible. If I had known how bad it would be, I wouldn’t have gone. Gold in the streets in America, that’s what they said.” She laughed, “So, nu, where is the gold? But at least I have Ma’s brass candlesticks and at least I kept my promise to her.

“Ma gave the candlesticks to me for the journey.” At the end of the table were two brass candlesticks. Two candles were beside them ready to be lit, along with a blue charity box.

“Ma said few words as a way of goodbye, but with tears in her eyes, she begged me, ‘Keep the mitzvah of lighting candles and saying theAt least I have Ma’s brass candlesticks blessing before Shabbat. Keep kosher and keep the Jewish traditions. Live a meaningful Jewish life.’ ”

Wiping away a tear, Bubby tapped her tooth. “Nu, it wasn’t easy. There were many times I thought I couldn’t ... but every week, I lit those brass candlesticks.”

When my Bubby Eta passed away, my Dad gave me the window box that had hung on her living-room wall. A window box is a mirror with places to put Bubby Eta’s memories: two tiny candlesticks, a blue charity box and a picture of the three generations of the family. The mirror both reflects the past and present.

Dad also gave me Bubby Eta’s brass candlesticks. Every week as I light the Shabbat candles and recite the prayer, I feel the comforting presence of my family and our Jewish traditions.

Years later, after I married and had children of my own, I sat at my kitchen table one Friday afternoon. The aroma of kasha varnishkes wafted in the air, and I said to my son, “Tonight, we’ll eat roast chicken and challahs, and sit around the table singing and sharing stories, while the Shabbat candles flicker in Bubby Eta’s candlesticks.”