The synagogue was not torn down, neither was it abandoned.

The Great Synagogue slowly disintegrated.  Crumb by crumb it vanished.

Stones took some of the windows.  There were no pews,

only wooden folding chairs.  Little by little these turned into

sticks.  The prayer books began to flake: the bindings flaked,

the glue came unstuck in small brown flakes, the leaves

grew brittle and flaked into confetti.  The congregation too began

to flake off — the women first, wife after wife after

wife, each one a pearl and a consolation, until there

they stood, the widowers, frail, gazing, palsy-struck, lonely golden agers.


Paraphrases from the story “Puttermesser: Her Work History, Her Ancestry, Her Afterlife” by Cynthia Ozick.