Hilda and I have been friends since I moved from Ellenville to Rockland County in 1986. With 12 years of teaching under my belt I arrived at a new school, fresh and unknown. I thought I was ready for the change and I was, but it was a much more difficult adjustment than I thought it would be but I was welcomed by a new English department with open arms and Hilda led the welcome wagon.
Sure, I knew my way around the classrooms I entered. That year I was teaching 8th and 11th grade and the kids were tough, probably the toughest I wound ever encounter again and I was co-directing plays with the well established English teacher and that was a new challenge. And then there was a new apartment and social life to create.
It was an adventure and without missing a beat, Hilda Epner was there for me. Soon we were meeting up before school began (early) at Aunt Molly’s, a stone’s throw from the school for coffee and a bagel, or a great doughnut and more important, a conversation to kick off the day.
I didn’t know how much I needed Hilda’s friendship. And her friendship opened the door to a wide network of friends and family that were also welcoming.
My first honey cake party to celebrate the Jewish holidays. I was quiet but comfortable, beginning my new life.
And 30 years later, I’m still here and still meeting up with Hilda. Now she’s on her own and I understand that challenge.
So last night Tuvia and I warmed up the car and met Hilda for dinner at the Bone Fish in the Nanuet Mall, closer to her. It wasn’t our Bone Fish, but whatever!
I can open my arms to her, never forgetting how I began as a stranger. I will never forget her warm open arms.