May 7, 1939  —  October 3, 2016

May 7, 1939 — October 3, 2016

Gail Fishman Gerwin is survived by her beloved husband of 48 years, Dr. Kenneth S. Gerwin; her daughter, Karen Gerwin, son-in-law, Michael Stoopack, and grandchildren Ben and Liv Stoopack; her daughter Kate Goldberg, son-in-law Dean Goldberg, and grandsons, Jordan and Brandon Goldberg; she is also survived by a sister, Carol Miller. A Paterson, NJ native, graduate of Eastside High, Gail received her bachelor's degree from Goucher College in 1961, where she was Phi Beta Kappa. Post-college, she was an elementary school teacher in Ridgewood, NJ, before moving on to work in the PR department at NYU Medical Center. After raising her daughters, she worked in the PR department at Sea Land, before starting her own freelance writing/editing firm, Inedit. In 1996, she earned her master's degree in creative writing from NYU, where she studied with Ann Hood and discovered her deepest passion--writing poetry. Her collection Sugar and Sand was a 2010 Paterson Poetry Prize finalist; her second collection, Dear Kinfolk, earned a 2013 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence. Her most recent collection, Crowns, was published earlier this year. Her poetry, book reviews, short fiction, essays and drama appear in print and in online literary journals, as well as on stage. She was associate poetry editor ofTiferet Journal. She loved presenting workshops, giving readings, and sharing her love of poetry with audiences of all ages. She enjoyed travel, Broadway shows, and bred Cairn Terriers for many years.  However, her greatest joy came from spending time with her children and grandchildren.

Are We Done Yet

When our daughter was four,

we lit Chanukah candles atop

the Lane record cabinet, our first

purchase as a married couple.

In our new home we could look

out the window at the house below.

The Todds’ Christmas tree stood

in their den, where lights of every color

led to a star on top that seemed

to descend directly from Heaven.

 

We chanted our prayers,

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu,

melekh ha’olam, allowed Karen

to hold the shamash—the kindling

candle—for her first time, hustled Katey

to the other side of the room lest she

light up her pajamas.  Our ritual complete,

we gifted them: a doll, a book, matching

jumpers, then sang songs from preschool.

 

Dinner, I told everyone, the greasy

latkes already blackened at the edges

as they sat in oil on the new gold

General Electric range.

Wait, Mommy, I have a question,

Karen said, what’s that in the window

over there?  I tell her it’s a Christmas tree.

 

Why don’t we have a Christmas tree?

Because we’re Jewish, I said.  She wanted

to know then, before eating the

brisket cut into small pieces so she

wouldn’t choke, before crunching

the latkes, now on the edge of soggy,

When will we be finished being Jewish?