I did not know her.

She was seated on a folding chair diagonally across from me on the women’s side of the mechitza in this Rosh Hashanah minyan under the open-sided tent—a precaution in light of the spreading Delta variant.

I was struck by the intensity with which the woman davened, head beat slightly forward, machzor open in her hands. She wore a simple skirt, a short-sleeved blue-grey shirt and sandals. She did not wear a hat.  Instead, two broad hair bands, one beige, the other white, held back her matted curls. Her glasses were thick. Her eyelids fluttered incessantly.

A scientist, I surmised. A lab coat would suit her. I watched as a small girl of seven or eight made her way across the aisle. The child, with unkempt hair and thick glasses, settled into the seat beside her mother. A tiny replica.

I wondered about the father. There must be a father, I thought. (The woman wore a wedding ring).  He would be a studious sort. The three would live their quiet lives in a small, dark house on a quiet street. Theirs was undoubtedly a serious family.

And then, as I concluded my version of their story. I noticed that a narrow strap had slipped from the woman’s sleeve.

Beneath her simple blue-grey shirt, my scientist wore a bright red bra.




Article by Author/s
Annie Gotlieb
Anna (Annie) Gotlieb retired a year ago from a lengthy career as head of public relations for an agency in Rockland County, New York and editor of the magazine published by that agency. She is the author of three books: Between the Lines, C.I.S.; In Other Words, Targum Press and Full Circle. The first two are collections of vignettes, the third is a novel. During the last four months, while waiting for a vaccine or a miracle, she writes every day. Annie is a wife, a mother and a grandmother.

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