If we could reverse-engineer Judith Kaye, what ingredients would we find? I’m no scientist, but I am her daughter. So, employing Madeline Kahn’s analytical scheme in her unforgettable 1976 SNL spoof on the song “M-O-T-H-E-R” (why were my brothers and I, at ages 7, 9 and 11 awake and watching this…with our parents?!):

“M” is for Monticello, the Borscht Belt town from which my first-generation-American mother hails, where she lived on a farm, skipped right from kindergarten to third grade in a one-room schoolhouse and worked in her parents’ dry goods store from well before a legally-permissible age. There is no doubt in my mind that my mother’s unbelievable work ethic, compassion, humility (see “H,” infra), creativity and practicality derive directly from her upbringing in that town. “M” is also for Mellifluous, Magnanimous and “Mother of Justice” (as one prisoner addressed her in correspondence).

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