A fall day. A stroll on the boardwalk. Some crumbs thrown to the seagulls.
In Odessa, in Ukraine, along the shore of the Black Sea, that was a rite of passage.
In Brighton Beach, in southern Brooklyn, along the Atlantic shore, this is a transplanted tradition.
For the hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, many of them Jews, who have made their new home in the neighborhood known as "Little Odessa," the boardwalk still is a meeting place. Whether in summer, with bathers frolicking nearby on the sand, or in the waning days of autumn, with walkers bundled against the first breezes of winter, the boardwalk is at once a distant memory and a living link to the past.
Some walk leisurely along the six miles of planks. Some jog. Some sit for a game of chess.
Grandparents, children in hand, will tell tales of old Odessa, where the boardwalk came alive on a fall day, where they strolled on the boardwalk, where they threw crumbs to the seagulls.