Colorado: Memoir writing workshop, May 13

If you don’t write the history of your family, who will?

The Jewish Genealogy Society of Colorado, under the leadership of Ellen Shindelman Kowitt, is an active group offering several programs each month.

The next program is a “Memoir Writing Workshop for the Family Historian,” with Susan Jacobs, set for 6.30pm, Thursday, May 13, at Temple Emanuel, Denver.

Discover the joy of memoir writing in Jacobs’ stimulating and fun workshop for family historians, regardless of whether or not they’ve written anything previously.

Jacobs holds a BA in oral interpretation of literature (USC) and an interdiscplinary gerontology certificate (University of Denver). She has 30 years of teaching experience and 18 years teaching memoir writing at such venues as Regis University and the Denver Jewish Community Center.

In addition to monthly programs, the JGS of Colorado also offers a community genealogy education series for which it received some interesting grants which could be duplicated in other communities. For more information on the JGSCo’s programs, including resources and useful links, see the website above.

For more information, click here.

New Blog: Jewish food – and genealogy!

Tori calls herself a shiksa (a Yiddish term, generally negative, for a non-Jewish female) married to an Israeli-born Jewish husband.

Her blog is all about Jewish food. Her most recent post is Part I of “Uncle Dov’s Memoir: Polish Ashkenazi Food and Traditions.”

My friend Etti Hadar descends from a Polish family. Her maternal ancestors, the Levin family, lived in the Pinsk region of Poland (now considered Belarus) in a small town called Luninets. While researching her ancestry, Etti found a 280 page memoir written by her late uncle, Dov Shimon “Beraleh” Levin. Dov grew up in Poland in a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish family. He later served in Italy in the Jewish Infantry Brigade, and fought the Nazis during World War II. His memoir describes in great detail what Jewish life was like in Poland during the 1920’s and 30’s.

The post provides many glimpses of Eastern European Jewish life that should be very interesting for Jewish and other genealogists. Part II will cover some recipes and dishes prepared by the Levin family. Tori and her friend Etti selected a few of them and recreated a Polish Shabbat dinner. With Etti’s mother, they spent a day preparing a feast.

Since meeting her husband, Tori has traveled the world learning about Jewish cuisine, and friends and family have shared their culinary knowledge, keeping traditions alive.

She’s now working on a first cookbook, “The Shiksa in the Kitchen,” which will include recipes gathered from international Jewish family kitchens.

I am fascinated by the traditions and history associated with Jewish cuisine. Food is a way of communicating; the energy we pass on through our cooking feeds the body as well as the soul. By recording the stories and recipes of Jewish family cooks, I hope to help preserve and cherish the past, present, and future of the Jewish people.

Visit Tori’s blog and read Parts I and II about Uncle Dov’s 280-page manuscript.

Everything has a Jewish genealogy hook to it, including cuisine!

Israel: ‘Every person has a story’

In Israel, memories of elderly Holon residents are being documented and published under a new municipal-sponsored program launched and overseen by city social worker Ella Podolitch.

“Our motto is that every person has a story and he has the right to have it written,”she said “We don’t filter out people and say this one can and this one can’t. Our motive is to record the stories of the city’s residents. The main thing is that they should not be lost forever.”

The four-month course was attended by 13 retirees who volunteered to record the biographies of the city’s elders. The writers met with the residents over a year, resulting in 16 biographies.

Read the Haaretz story here.

Holon resident Leah Ofri recently celebrated her 100th birthday. During her 100 years, almost all of them in this country, she endured a number of experiences, many of them more bitter than pleasant. She came to Palestine together with her parents and two small brothers at an early age and when she was 5, her mother died. With her father unemployed and not functioning properly, she became the family’s sole provider.

During World War I, Leah and her family were banished from Tel Aviv and went to live in the Galilee, but when the Turks left the country, they returned to Tel Aviv. Then her father remarried and, at the age of about 10, she was separated from her family and sent to live with the well-known Chelouche family in the Neveh Tzedek quarter of Tel Aviv. She remained there for seven years, helping the Chelouches with household chores, and was treated warmly.

During those years, Leah would see her father only twice a year, when he used to come to collect the money she was paid for her help. When Leah was 17, she was married off to a man she did not love and they had eight children. Her eldest son, Avraham, was killed during the 1967 Six-Day War.

Today she has 25 grandchildren, 45 great grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren. The events of Leah’s long life were recorded in a book written by Tirza Tam ….

Tirza Tam, a retiree himself, took the course sponsored by the municipality and taught by biographer Amotz Shorek.

Relatives of the subjects, according to the story, were very positive about the project which revealed the individuals’ diverse backgrounds and experiences.

A recent meeting brought together 10 writers and three subjects, including Leah Ofri, as they described the writing process.

The story also includes the story of Zvi Gil, 90, who arrived from Poland to Palestine at age 2 with his grandparents. His parents and six brothers remained in Poland and perished. Says one of Gil’s biographers:

“It was very emotional for me to hear Zvi’s stories,” she said. “When I was a little girl, I didn’t want to listen to the stories told by my mother and father. Now I am here to correct this attitude. Today I can deal with material that I never ever dared to touch before.”

Read the complete story at the link above.