Cross-Examination

Mama should have been a district attorney.  Her cross-examination of the girls we boys brought home to meet her now seems comical. 

Each was Jewish and from a respectable family.  There never was a question of whether the girl’s parents would meet Mama and Papa before our becoming “serious.”

There was an interviewing session that would be as stringent as the job interview for a high level position at the CIA.  Before meeting her parents, the future shnur (daughter-in-law) was grilled.  Mama asked questions slowly and in a singsong manner.  Her questions were short, but she expected detailed answers. 

When we boys met later and got the report from our prospective sister-in-law, each said they were more nervous than taking a final college exam.  We compiled a list of questions and passed them on for each future shvegerin (sister-in-law.)

Here is a partial list of questions we remember.

Fun vanen kumt di eltern?  From where do your parents come?

Vu voynt ir haynt?  Where do you live today?

Vi heyst dayn tate?  What is your father’s name?

Vi heyst dayn mame?  What is your mother’s name?

Hostu brider un shvester?  Do you have brothers and sisters?

Bistu a frumer?  Are you religious?

Vifl farmogst dayn tatn? How much money does your father have?
Hostu gegangen tsu kalidzh?  Did you go to college?

Du host a groysn boykh—shvengerstu?  You have a big belly—are you pregnant?

Denkstu dayn kleyd iz tsu kurts?  Don’t you think your dress is too short?

Farvos shlingstu di verter?  Why do you swallow your words?

The next day at a family conference the evaluation was announced.  It always was the same.  It is too embarrassing to print the actual statements made.  However, to be kind and summarize Mama’s words, it amounted to, “Is that the best you can do?”

To be fair, Mama always wanted the best for her boys.  Yes, Mama asked hard questions.