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Tag Archives: Jewish

Zookeeper’s wife

Zookeeper’s wife

Wasn’t planning on blogging tonight but I was hit with so much emotion after watching “The Zookeeper’s Wife” tonight.  In 2012 my mom and I went to Warsaw to start our Roots Tour. The first day when we arrived our guide Graznya took us on a brief tour of Warsaw before we went on the train to Krakow. Tonight the places we saw became so incredibly real on screen. The scenes of the Warsaw ghetto and the bombed out Old Town became so real.  I thought of this picture that I took in the area that was the Ghetto where they posted photos of people who lived there before they killed the Jews. The wall is just a symbol of tiles of mosaic in the street.  There are pictures all over Warsaw of what it looked like after the war. It was nearly destroyed.  The movie was based on a true story and I found myself unable to move sobbing in my seat at the end.  What a horrible situation. Fucking Nazi’s!

Part of what remains from the Ghetto, memories of families and people who lived there

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I believe this was the building where people came in/out of into the ghetto (similar to the movie)

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Location of where the wall was built

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Yizkor

When I got back from “the” trip, I printed a Shutterfly album. I made an appointment to have coffee with Rabbi Mari Chernow as I was so excited and proud to share the book with her. She asked me if I would say a few words about it at the memorial Yizkor services.   This is what I have planned so far…

This summer, my mother and I had the honor of visiting my great-great grandmother’s grave.  There were no stones placed on her gravestone as no one has visited her since 1942.  It was a beautiful cemetery that has been slowly restored by a non-Jewish local woman named Riva Vaivos. We met RiVa at the cemetery and I asked her why she is spending countless hours by herself in the Jewish cemetery restoring and hand painting each headstone… her response was, “because there are no Jews left to do this.”   The cemetery is illuminated with color.  Riva hand paints the Hebrew letters on each headstone in a rainbow of colors telling me that she is fulfilling OUR tradition.  While restoring, she sometimes she scrapes off 7-8 layers of paint.  Risa Gittel Freyman’s stone is in a cemetery in Jurbarkas, Lithuania adjacent to the town’s mass murder site where the remainder of her family is buried in the mass grave.

My mother and I had brought our blue Temple Chai Yizkor book and said Kaddish for her and for everyone around us who haven’t had Kaddish read for them in 70 years.

We also said Kaddish in the Jewish cemeteries of Vysokie Mazalowieki and Chee-cha-novitz, Poland where my grandfather’s family are likely buried.  I say likely because Jewish headstones were frequently taken and used for building materials such as foundation walls and wheels after the Jews were gone.  There are no caretakers there and the headstones are going back to becoming field stones.

I need to take a step back and tell you how I got here.  My family was watching the NBC show “who do you think you are?” which follows some of today’s iconic celebrities as they embark on personal journeys of self-discovery to trace their family trees.  Bennett asked me if I would make our family tree.  I thought…how hard could it be when you have those little shaky leaves giving you all your hints?  After a few months of tracing the Freeman family to 1750 Lithuania, I got hooked.  I now have 2200 people in the Weitz/Katz tree and it has transformed from just being about “my” family to something much bigger. I have new connections with new family around the globe from sharing my tree with relatives who also were wondering “who they were and where did they come from.” 

There are less than 5,000 Jews in the entire country of Lithuania. Over 96% were liquidated during WWII.  One thing that struck me while in Poland and Lithuania was that the majority of people we met at Jewish sites caring for our cemeteries and synagogues were not Jews.  Similar to angel in the Jurbarkas cemetery, our guide at Auschwitz was not Jewish, nor was our guide on the Jewish Quarter/Schindler Factory tour, nor the head of Matzevah in Lithuania, nor was our researcher in Poland, nor the man who cares for the only wooden synagogue standing in Lithuania.  They all said that there are no Jews to do this.  I hope ‘out of sight out of mind” will not become our American Jewish “norm”.  It was an honor to visit Lithuania and Poland. I hope I can pass on the family legacy and to continue the Yizkor tradition of remembering so our family will be able to visit a grave and know others were there to visit and honor them too. Let’s also remember those generations cut short with no one left to leave a stone for them.

 

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Did they have Springform pans back in the day?

Katz's lemons Passover Cheesecake

Twas the night before Passover and all the Jews are a bakin…chocolate salted matzah, macaroons, brisket and lemon cheesecake? I was going to make a poem but I have cookin to do… As I make my signature Katz’s lemons Passover cheesecake, I couldn’t help but reflect on my ancestry’s preparation for Passover. My guess from what I have read was they were all pretty religious. They must have been cleaning their cabinets of bread products (limited in variety) donating to the local food bank? Hmm there must have been something back then. So if they were baking pies and cakes… what kind were they? I am guessing they didn’t have Springform pans. I did a Google search to find definitions but no history of when the Springform pan was invented. Even Wikipedia didn’t have it, actually not that surprised.  Wishing everyone a wonderful Passover and Easter holiday.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Jewish, Uncategorized

 

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“I’m Jewish and I know it”

LMFAO's "I'm sexy and I know it"

Ok… I can’t get this stupid song out of my head and my kids want to play it on you-tube all the time. Yesterday, I got an email from an Ancestry.com connection whose tree matched up with mine. It was my grandfather’s brother’s granddaughter. We have been corresponding back and forth and filling in gaps with our trees when she says she was not raised Jewish. I was thinking, “Wow, we have non-jewish Weitz’s in our family?”  She was saying how she is doing the tree for the same reasons as I am for our kids and future generations. So…these christian 4th cousins of mine have orthodox jews in their family history.  How interesting it must be for them.  Which brings me to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvjbLYXnQmE   So… this isn’t your grandfather’s type of Jews but I find it funny to laugh at ourselves.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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