A Legacy of Their Own

By Joanna Drusin

Published September 16, 2005, issue of September 16, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Carol and Gila Daman share the same bright eyes and affable smile. And though they’re more than 30 years apart, they also have an academic home in common: Brandeis University. Carol graduated from the Waltham, Mass., school in 1973; her daughter, Gila, has just started her sophomore year.

As she moves into her new room this fall, Gila is no longer a stranger to college life. She has learned the ropes; she knows what time the dining hall closes and where to party in Boston, and she has found her niche within the campus Jewish community.

And yet, as she begins her second year, one aspect of Gila’s life will be dramatically new: For the first time ever, she will be living somewhere her mother has not. During each of their freshman years, both mother and daughter lived, by pure coincidence, in the same room: Shapiro 110A. “We even both happened to choose the same bed — the one on the right!” Carol told the Forward over cantaloupe in the Damans’ Scarsdale, N.Y., home.

“It was extremely exciting, just amazing, to find out that Gila would be living in my old dorm room,” Carol said. “I didn’t feel there were any ghosts watching over her or anything like that — but I was thrilled to think that we could be enjoying a similar experience. Except for the new carpeting, the room was basically the same. Well, with more electronics, obviously.”

As for dorm life, it’s not just the gadgets that have changed. When Carol was a first-year student, Shapiro’s halls were not yet coed. There was one phone at the end of the hall, and the residence adviser’s rule for inviting boys into a room was “3 feet on the floor.”

Gila joined Carol at both her 25th and 30th college reunions and enjoyed meeting her mother’s friends, whom she recalled as “balding and a little overweight, but really sweet, fun people.”

Both women are beautiful in a simple and straightforward way. Gila explained that her mother “almost never wears makeup or jewelry. We both like to be kind of plain and natural, just being ourselves and feeling comfortable in our own skin. Maybe that’s why we both like Brandeis — because it’s full of kind, down-to-earth people.”

As she begins classes this year, Gila will be forging her own path. “I thought that living in the same room was comforting, but now, living in a new room feels symbolic. Even though there are so many ways that I’m like my mother, I keep realizing ways that we’re different.”

After graduating from Brandeis, Carol went on to Hartford, Conn., to work as a paralegal, and then to Yale to attend law school. She became a contract lawyer, but stopped to raise Gila and her brother, Avi. Gila does not share her mother’s interest in law; she’s more interested in psychology and nutrition. “She has a lot of qualities I don’t have,” Carol said of her daughter. “She’s a lot more organized than I am, and less of a procrastinator.”

“We’ve always had a very open relationship where I would tell her everything and she’d usually approve,” Gila said. “Now, living on my own, I feel that I can make my own decisions. I’m becoming more independent. Obviously, I will usually tell friends when important things happen, but I don’t need to tell so many people because my mom is still the first person that I tell.”

Joanna Drusin, a student at Brandeis University, is a staff writer for the N.Y. Blueprint.






Find us on Facebook!
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.