: The Pilgrimage :

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an excerpt by Bruce Jay Friedman

My first and only literary pilgrimage was to the Miami home of the late Isaac Bashevis Singer. It did not take much effort. I was in Miami at the time, the late Seventies. The city was just waking up, after a long slumber. I’d thought about moving there until an artist friend dissuaded me with a raised eyebrow and a one-word comment:


It was my mother, in the early fifties, who had first called my attention to Singer. He had been a speaker at her temple, the Young Israel of the Concourse in the Bronx. I don’t recall her ever being so taken with a writer, or at least the physical presence of one. Normally, it was stage people who had that effect on her. (Maurice Evans, the Lunts, Tallulah Bankhead, irritatingly referred to as “Talloo.”)

He was as big as a second,” she reported, “and he didn’t have a hair on his head. But he had the most beautiful eyes, and he could undress you with a single look. We gave him fifty dollars and he never stopped thanking us.”