Sophia Stein, Elie’s mother, in the picture of elegance. At seventy-plus, she still has a lovely grace about her.
She was born in Tunisia to Jewish parents. When the situation in her country became difficult for Jews, her parents moved to Rome. She lived there many years until deciding to follow in the footsteps of her old brother Simon, and move to New York.
In New York she met a kind man, an immigrant from Poland who came to the US as a teen – Aaron Stein. They fell in love and married. They had one child – whom they named Eleanora, and nicknamed Elie. Never succeeding to have more children, Sophia & Aaron nonetheless adored their daughter and built their world around her. Aaron died soon after Elie returned from her junior year of study in Israel. Sophia remained a widow, never remarrying.
Sophia always knows the right thing to do and say. She dresses in simple skirts and button-down blouses, wears well-tailored shoes and usually has a string of pearls around her neck (passed down from her grandmother). She is an excellent cook, specializing in Sephardic and Italian foods, and passed this talent down to her daughter.