My Experience on the OC — Orientation Committee 1976

13 Apr
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My OC t-shirt. My name is on the lower left.

There is one article of Drew clothing that I kept for 43 years and will probably continue to keep.  It is my orientation committee t-shirt from 1976.  I think that fact that it was the bicentennial of American Revolutionary War, besides marking one of my favorite Drew activities, gives it a special place in my heart.

I started my Drew career like all the other freshmen, a little excited, a little frightened, and really having never lived away from home.    But my sophomore year was much different.  I left the Drew campus to study in Israel at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

This was unusual at the time for two reasons: because most people studied abroad in their junior year and because I went eight months after the Yom Kippur War.  Life in Israel was still disrupted. I won’t go through all my experiences, but I will say I came back to the USA afraid of nothing.

When I came back, I wanted to become part of the Drew community.  Many of my friends have formed new bonds while I was gone.  My dorm room was chosen by my freshman roommate, we were going to live in a suite in Foster.  But we would not be sharing a room. She had a new friend who would be her official roommate.  And I would be living with someone I really did not know.  But it was fine.  We had a great year in that suite!

I decided I wanted to change my major and study English literature and writing.  This meant I had to take some lower level classes.  I decided also that I would graduate in 3 ½ years since I had received 12 credits of language for the intensive Hebrew Ulpan I had attended in the summer when I first arrived in Israel.  For me that meant taking 18 credits a semester, six classes, for the next three semesters, and attend at least one class in a January term, a new idea at Drew.

I also wanted to get involved. And I did.  I joined a number of clubs; started working on the school newspaper, The Acorn; did a bit in student government; and learned about the yearbook, which I would help edit in the next year.  With my Israel experience still on my mind, I joined and became a leader of the Jewish Students Group.   Because I wanted to do something to help others, I also got involved in the Orientation Committee, which helped new students in the fall to learn about the campus and settle in before everyone else arrived.

I must admit, besides working on the Acorn, my favorite activity was the Orientation Committee.  I loved the preplanning, but I especially loved being on campus early.  It was so beautiful.  The Drew campus is one of the most beautiful campuses.   And being there in the quiet was extraordinary.  We helped freshmen move into their dorms.  We watched as parents tried to direct and arrange for the last time.  We saw tears and hugs, while helping the freshmen as their parents drove off.  Most important, we made their first few days enjoyable and welcoming.

I loved Drew so much, I wanted my daughter to think about it for her college career. I took my daughter to visit Drew the summer before her junior year of high school.  We took an official tour of the campus.  But as we walked the grounds and looked at the newer buildings along with the old, I filled her in with my stories.  Stories that our tour guide, a Drew student, also seemed to enjoy.  I think the beauty of the campus drew her in to the Drew family.  As she also went to Drew and became an alumna.

I now have several Drew hoodies and shirts.  In the winter, I always wear my Drew sweatshirt proudly.  These are great additions to my wardrobe.  However, the almost 43-year-old t-shirt in my dresser is my fondest Drew article.   It reminds me of my last semester of college, as I did finish that January.   It reminds me of the friends I made then and still have today.   It reminds me of the beautiful campus, which I was able to share with my daughter.

Most of all it reminds me of an obligation to welcome the stranger to campus.  To make all new students feel comfortable as they adjusted to their new life as a college student.  Much as today I try to make all feel welcome in my life.  While I learned much at Drew, serving on the Orientation Committee gave me some of my favorite life lessons.

 

Some other blogs about Drew:

https://zicharonot.com/2014/05/12/remembering-my-college-during-graduation-season/

https://zicharonot.com/2018/05/11/end-of-the-school-year-has-me-bringing-out-my-old-yearbooks/

 

More on Esther and Leon’s London Wedding

9 Apr

There are times I truly love Facebook.   When I posted my last article about my husband’s grandparents, I tagged all his many cousins to see if someone knew something I could not find.  And yes, they did.  I am especially thankful to the two Esther/Ester who are namesakes of their grandmother.

One Esther let me know why Leon came to the United States. Leon came to the USA through Canada to be the town doctor in Lone Star, Kansas, near Leavenworth.

Why there, I do not know. But that is where my husband’s Kansas roots began.  I have researched the town and now know that it was located south of Lawrence.   Which is really not close to Leavenworth, about 47 miles.     It looks like it was quite a small community, which had a post office from 1875 until 1953.

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Thank you to my husband’s cousin for sending me this!

But then the second Ester commented that she had their English or civil marriage license!  It states that they were actually married in the Register Office on July 17, 1903.  Esther’s father Abraham and a man named, Is. Zaidner, were the witnesses. They had a civil marriage several weeks before their Jewish wedding ceremony, which was held in August.

While Leon is listed the correct age and as a medical student on the document; Esther is listed as an 18-year-old spinster.  WAIT! 18!  The misinformation she provided is even larger.  That is even older than the family legend states.  We were told she said she was 16 when she got married. But we know in fact she was not quite 14.

I am beginning to wonder if Leon knew exactly how old the girl he fell in love with was when he first met her.  They met when she hurt her arm, and Leon stitched it. The healing touch won her heart!  And the stories I have heard is that he was immediately smitten.

From the marriage license we also learn that Leon’s father, Aron, was a solicitor.  That makes sense, the family legend says that Leon had both a law degree and a medical degree!  Quite an educated man for the beginning of the 20 Century.  (Cousin update: Leon’s father, Benjamin Aharon Matassaru was a lawyer and a mayor in Romania. In fact, he was the first Jewish mayor of the city of Dorohoi). Esther’s father, Abraham, was a greengrocer.

I now also know the address of their first home in Whitechapel, London.

As for Aunt Jean and her birthday, it seems she continued to make herself three years younger throughout her life.  Although born in 1907, she told everyone that she was born in 1910.  When she passed away, her birth year was noted at 1908, making her 100 years old when she passed.  But we now know in reality she was 101!  Several cousins commented on this, included one of her grandchildren. (Another update, Jean’s daughter is happily still alive. She said that her mom wanted her dad to think she was younger perhaps because they were the same age. Thanks to Jean’s granddaughter for finding out!)

Thank you all for your help in making this history as complete as possible.  If there is anything else out there about Esther and Leon’s marriage, I am glad to continue to update so that we have a full and factual history.

 

 

 

https://zicharonot.com/2019/04/06/more-family-legends-confirmed/

https://zicharonot.com/2019/04/04/the-great-alie-street-synagogue-my-husbands-family-london-ties/

https://zicharonot.com/2019/01/11/cemetery-records-impacts-family-stories/

 

More Family Legends Confirmed

6 Apr
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Esther and Leon wedding photo.

Now that I found my husband’s grandparents’ ketubah (Jewish marriage license), I can be definite about another family legend.

The rumor was that his Grandmother Esther was anywhere from 12 to 15 years old when she married her husband Leon, who was 25. My mother-in-law told me that her mother was 12 when she married.  My husband’s first cousin, also named Esther, told me that her grandmother was 15.  All agreed she lied and said she was 16 when she married in 1903.

I now have facts.  She was born October 4, 1889.  That means when she married on August 9, 1903, she was not quite 14.  I have to be honest, this shocked me.  I cannot imagine letting my 13-year-old daughter marry a man who was 12 years older, 25, even if he was a well-educated and kind physician.  I guess times were different.  However, it was London, England, and not the wild west. All that went through my brain, was: “What were her parents, Abraham and Rachel, thinking!!!”  But the marriage occurred, so they must have approved.  (See blog below.)

They lived in England, where their first three children were born.  The oldest was born when Esther was 15 years old. The next when she was 17, and so on until she had 10 living children.  She died in childbirth in 1933, when she was 44.  She is buried with an infant.  (See blog below.)

Leon immigrated to the United States in February of 1908.  And another legend is correct, they came through Canada.  It makes sense as she was a citizen of England, coming to Canada was not a problem.   Leon was born in Romania, but he had lived in England for a while.  But actually only he entered the USA at Vanceboro, Maine, which is located across the St. Croix River from St. Croix, New Brunswick, Canada.  There is a railroad that connects the two cities, which was opened in 1871.  I assume he came by rail.

Interesting there is an E Matassarin that took a boat to Canada around the same time.  But Esther and her three children actually moved to the USA on August 7, 1920, on the ship, Carmania. The three children were Malvenia (Molly), Joseph and Jeanne.  (I have to add one comment here.  Their third child, Jeanne, was born in England, supposedly in July 1908.  Either she was born a year earlier, making her 101 when she died, or they came a year later.  I think she was a year older!  A family member has confirmed the 1907 birthdate.)

When they arrived they stayed with family members from Esther’s side before they took the journey to Kansas.

Over the years, Esther’s age moved back and forth in the census.  In a 1925 census of the city in Kansas where she lived, she is listed as 35 years old and her husband is 47.  Their true ages.  She had six children living with them ranging from age 4-18.  Her oldest daughter had already died as a young adult.  (Her grave was moved from Wichita to Leavenworth so she could be buried with her parents.)

But in the 1930 census, just five years later, she lists herself as being 42, adding two years to her life, and now just ten years younger than her husband.  She has an additional two living children, including my husband’s mother. One more live birth would occur soon after the census.

They originally lived in Brooklyn in New York City after they immigrated to the USA. Then they moved to Kansas, living at times in both Wichita and Leavenworth.  I know that Leon became a naturalized citizen of the USA in September 1915 in Wichita.

My husband’s grandfather served as a doctor for the USA Army during World War 1.  He was shipped overseas on August 23, 1919 on a ship called, Chicago. He was stationed at the US Army Base Hospital #58, which was located in Rimaucourt, France.  The Army Hospital in Rimaucourt was the last US military hospital created in WW 1 and only existed until February 1919.  I am not sure where he went after this base closed.

He left the USA as a captain.  When he returned he held the rank of major. He left Brest, France, the main port the USA used during the war, on September 10, 1919, serving just over a year in Europe.  He arrived home on the ship, Mount Vernon, docking in Hoboken, New Jersey on September 19,1919.

One more item about Leon and his time during World War 1. He found a way, through the JDC, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, to send $10.00 to his mother, and his sister, Anna, in Romania on October 17, 1917.  (I found this in the JDC Archives.)

He ended up in Leavenworth, Kansas, where he continued to work on the military base.  He was discharged from military duty in 1930 with the rank of Major. I believe he then went into private practice.  Unfortunately, his wife died just a few years later.  The memory my mother-in-law told me was that he went every day to visit his wife’s grave until he died.  Years ago, when I went to the cemetery, there was a stone bench next to her grave.  I believe her memory to be true.

My husband’s mother was about eight when her mother died and 17 when her father died in the middle of World War 2.  She was the third youngest child.  Some of her older siblings served during the war and were dispersed throughout the world.

I am so glad that JewishGen.org, the Archives.jdc.org  and Ancestry.com had records that helped me piece together this history.  I also used Wikipedia for info about towns in France and Canada.

 

https://zicharonot.com/2019/01/11/cemetery-records-impacts-family-stories/

 

https://zicharonot.com/2019/04/04/the-great-alie-street-synagogue-my-husbands-family-london-ties/

 

 

The Great Alie Street Synagogue: My husband’s Family London Ties

4 Apr

My husband’s grandparents were married on the 16 day of Ab/Av in the year 5663, which corresponds to August 9, 1903.  We knew that they were married in London.  His grandmother Esther was English.  His grandfather, Leon, was from eastern Europe. He had studied medicine and moved to England to practice.  He met his wife in an emergency room, when she needed medical assistance for an injured hand.

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The copy of their Ketubah.  I found out that the ketubah survived a fire, which left the smudge.

But that was all that I knew.   Recently I found a copy of the front page of their marriage license or Ketubah in both English and Hebrew.

Esther, the daughter of Avraham Moshe, married Yehuda Leb, the son of Aaron Benjamin in the Great Alie Street Synagogue in Aldgate, London.  In Hebrew letters above the English words naming the shul were the words, the Bayt Kenesset DaKalish, which stands for the Kalisher Synagogue.

Once I found this document, I had to do my research, which led to more questions!  I knew that my husband’s grandmother was known as Esther.  She has several descendants named for her.  Her husband did not use Yehudah or Leb, he was known as Leon.   And he also has grandchildren named for him.  I assume he could not find an English name that he liked for his first name, so went with his second name?

My biggest question relates to the date of their marriage. From the JCR-UK records I found on Jewish Gen, I learned that the Great Alie Street Synagogue was also known as the Kalischer Synagogue, named after a previous congregation.  In fact, the Kalischer merged with the Great Alie Street Synagogue, and the same rabbi served the new congregation, Rabbi Israel Dainow.   I wish I had the back page with the witnesses to see if he had officiated at their marriage.  Our ancestors were married in the congregation just eight years after it was established.

My main question deals with the date of their marriage.  The document states they were married on August 9, 1903. However, in the information I found, it says that the synagogue was closed for repairs, only reopening and being re-consecrated on September 18, 1903.  Did it close after they were married?  Were they married elsewhere by the Rabbi and so given a ketubah from that synagogue?  I guess I will never know.

This was not a big congregation, not having much more than 110-120 members from the 1896 to 1915 time period.  It was formed when two congregations merged: the Kalischer Synagogue, named for the town of Kalisz, Poland; and the Windsor Street Chevra/Windsor Street Synagogue.

This orthodox synagogue closed in 1969 and the building was demolished.  That always makes me sad.  I will never get to see it.  However, the congregation membership continued on for several decades merging along with others into the Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue. But eventually, in 2014, services ended  and the building was sold.

My husband’s grandparents came to the USA in the early 1900s.  They ended up in Kansas. The parents of ten children, they have great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren,  throughout the USA and Israel.

See blogs below.

 

 

https://zicharonot.com/2019/01/11/cemetery-records-impacts-family-stories/

 

https://zicharonot.com/2017/01/05/the-antique-european-hannukiah/

 

 

 

https://www.jewishgen.org/jcr-uk/London/EE_alie/index.htm

 

Counting the Hogans Leads Us to Learning More About The Navajo People

28 Mar

As part of our Road Scholar trip we were often on the road in a bus going from one place to another.   I need activity.  I remember when my children were young finding something to count along the way: water towers, yellow cars, different license plates, helped.   Soon I found myself counting the hogans.  Joining me was my partner in anxious inactivity, we traveled with another couple, and the husband and I share this trait.  We sat by the windows and started counting.  I must say that I was better at discerning the shape of hogans better than he.

What is a hogan and why count them, you might ask?  I am glad to explain.

A hogan is a Navajo hut/home.  Originally there were two types.  The simple, smaller, tipi style Hogan was called a male hogan. They are made of wood covered in mud. These were usually used and lived in by single men.  But anyone could live in them.  It is not gender assigned in that sense.

A beautiful stone Hogan on the grounds of the Hubbell Trading Post.

The other, female hogan is much larger.  It is often multi-sided ranging from 6 to 9 sides, with differing explanations why. But one guide told us a nine-sided hogan is to represent the nine months of pregnancy.   Both males and females can live in a hogan.

The opening of a hogan always faces east to welcome the morning sun.

Although many Navajo families still have a hogan on their property for ceremonial reasons, most no longer live in hogans.  However, that is not an absolute.  They are inhabited as well.  They can also look different now.  No longer are they just mud-covered beams of tree trunks and branches, they can be made of brick, stone, wood, shingles and siding.   We saw it all.  Some have had additions put on to make them bigger.  Others stand alone and silent, somewhat decaying.  Others have had windows installed — no longer with just an opening in the east and on the ceiling to let the smoke from the stove or fire vent.

We saw our first hogan in the Heard Museum in Phoenix.  The guide explained to use how they were built and why they were used.  Being that it was inside and enclosed in the museum, it did not face the elements ,and you really could not tell that it was facing east.  But it was interesting to see.

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Hogan at Canyon De Chelly

The second hogan we entered was at the entrance to the Canyon De Chelly National Monument on the grounds of the Welcome Center. This hogan was outside.  Our guide told us stories about his family and what his grandmother told him about the meaning in parts of the hogan.  Much we had heard from our guide at the museum, but his tellings were more authentic.  Our Road Scholar guide explained later that different families have slightly different opinions. And she did correct one bit of information he gave us.  Thank you Azalia!

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Agathla Peak or El Capitan 

Our third entrance to a hogan was at a rest stop near El Capitan.  First the beauty of the surrounding area as we drew closer to Monument Canyon was stunning.  Seeing El Capitan, or Agathla Peak, an ancient volcanic plug in the horizon was amazing.  We eventually got much closer to it.  So at first I did not notice the hogans, but there they were with some information about them.

The rest stop featured two hogans, both the male and the female.  Thus for the first time we could enter the smaller one and see how it was made. I loved seeing how the interlocking forked branches and tree trunks formed the top of the male hogan.  To be honest, it was quite small, and I can see why it has gone out of use.  Unless you are camping or living off by yourself, there is not much room but to sleep and take shelter, so it is not a great living situation.

The female hogan is much better for families or daily living. The way the logs were formed for these is much more intricate, with layers of logs forming a design in the ceiling.  Some female hogans have the side logs layered horizontally. Other are formed by longs standing upright, vertically around the exterior.

So why count hogans? Well as we drove through the Navajo reservation, we had plenty of time on the bus.  And although much of the scenery was breathtaking, there were also many areas where we drove through empty dessert, except every so often we would see a group of homes where a family had its compound.  And there, among the more modern homes was often an original or remodeled hogan.   So we did what any child would do on a long trip, we found something to count and to discuss.  We counted 15 hogans.  They were a variety of colors, symmetry, materials, and shapes as we saw several connected to other additions.

Counting hogans led us to discuss what we were seeing.  How do people live out here in the middle of nowhere?  We found that solar panels have helped with electricity.   That water has to be brought in.   That addresses are basically non-existent.  Residents of these isolated compounds tell visitors to go to a certain highway marker and turn either left or right and follow a dirt road to get to their homes.

I am glad we started counting hogans because this led us to learn more about the Navajo people and their life on the reservation.

 

 

Navajo Tacos, Fry Bread, Challah and the Shehechiyanu

26 Mar

Part of the learning that we experienced on our trip to the Hopi and Navajo reservations was eating some of the typical foods, focusing on fry bread, corn mush and hominy, Navajo Tacos and a beef/lamb stew.

I realized that the only bread I was going to find on the reservations was fry bread.  Made of just a few ingredients, the important part of fry bread is that it is fried, traditionally in lard, but when we had it, fried in either olive oil or Crisco.  We were fortunate in that we experienced food prepared by family members of our guides.

The first meal was prepared by our native Hopi guide’s (Raymond) wife.  She made corn hominy, which took hours to prepare, fry bread, and a pepper, as well as a bean and beef mixture that you eat on the fry bread.  After the meal his wife explained how she cooked it, about the four colors/types of corn: blue, red, yellow and white.  It was important that we understand that anyone who shows up at their home is always welcome to join the meal.

Our second home cook meal was made by Azalia’s, (our Navajo guide) mother and aunt.  This included Navajo tacos, which is fry bread, beans and meat mixture, lettuce and tomatoes.  They also had a soup/stew and blue corn mush (sort of looks like cream of wheat).

The best part about this meal, is that they showed us how to make fry bread and several people attempted to make it.  While some tried to make it, I took photos.  I learned that fry bread is made sort of like a little pizza.  The dough is thrown and formed.   Then instead of baking, it is fried.  Before you put the circle of dough in the pan, you have to wait for the oil/Crisco to be steaming.  As the fry bread cooks, it bubbles up.  Then as it turns a bit golden brown, it is ready to come out.  At this point I found the way I like to eat fry bread, dip it in honey. Or pour honey over the bread.  Delicious.  It sort of reminded me of a Louisiana, New Orleans beignet.

I have to admit, we had a small Jewish moment over fry bread.  One of my newly made friends was so excited about her completion of the fry bread, that I told her we needed to make a blessing.  Since she is also Jewish, I thought a Shehechiyanu, the blessing over doing something for the first time would be appropriate. Five of us stood together and blessed her accomplishment.  It made sense, as the Navajo and Hopi are very spiritual people.

The other exciting part is that our guide’s mother gave some of us some blue corn kernels to take home and plant!  I am hoping it will grow in Kansas.

It interesting to see was how she fit so many people into their home.  This is a common occurrence in their culture, where everyone is invited to special events, and like the Hopi, anyone who shows up is feed!.  They took boards and covered them with white paper, and put on stools.  We used that as a small table.  It worked great!

I enjoyed the educational component of the Road Scholar journey.  Often, I am telling others about my cultural foods, especially the ones that we make during Passover like charosets.  Having meals made by experienced members of the Hopi and Navajo tribes was so special to me, that they took the time to give us this experience.  It was a joy to be a part of this group.

However, I will admit, that by the time I got home, I was happy to have a piece of my culture’s favorite carbohydrate, a slice of challah.

When A Trading Post Becomes A National Park or A Grand Canyon Hotel!

23 Mar

Part of our tour of the Navajo and Hopi reservations were visits to different trading posts and shops along the way.   But nothing prepared me for the wonderful Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site in Ganado, Arizona.

First you need to know that I love historic homes.  Show me a home museum, and you have shown me the spark of joy!   The Hubbell Trading Post combines the history of trading between the outside world and the Navajo as well as a historic home.

The trading post itself was an important commerce arena for the Navajo.  John Lorenzo Hubbell, his wife, Lina Rubi, and their children were friends to the Navajo people.  Although they made money off of them through the trade of their native art works for goods sold at the trading post, they cared about the people.  This shows in the fact that the Hubbell Trading Post was under the business eye of the Hubbell family from the 1880s until well past Hubbell’s death in 1930.  In fact a member of the Hubbell family ran the trading post until  1967, when his daughter-in-law Dorothy Hubbell sold the post to the National Park Service.

The Trading Post still works as a trading post today along with the US post office at the post.  Today it is managed by the Western National Parks Association, with the profits going to programs of the National Park Service.

But seeing and shopping at the Trading Post is not the only highlight of this visit.  We also had the opportunity to see the Hubbell home, which sits behind the trading post.  The big central room has three doors on each side leading to the bedrooms used by John and Lina and their children.   We did not see the kitchen, which was a separate area.  But we were happy to see the house.  It was a snowy cold day and they allowed us in, with the caveat that we had to take off our shoes!!!  BRRRR.

The original woven rugs are no longer on the floors, but the recreations are also stunning.  The walls filled with painting and art work, the ceilings covered with woven baskets, the giant wooden beams, the high ceilings, the unusual lighting, all create an atmosphere that gave me joy.

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The Visitors’ Center a few steps away from the Trading Post was also a great stop.   Inside you can pick up brochures, learn about the history of the trading post. The display about weaving was wonderful.  The best part was the opportunity to watch a woman weave in the traditional manner.  Well worth the visit!

Seeing the Hubbell Trading Post would have been enough for my trading post desires, but we had an additional bonus. The last night of our trip was spent at the hotel at the Cameron Trading Post. Just over 100 years old, (founded in 1916) it is just one mile from the Grand Canyon and just steps away from the Little Colorado River.

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The enormous store or trading post is filled with items from the Navajo and Hopi.  It was a feast for the eyes, but not for the wallet!!!  We went through the shop many times on our way to the restaurant, and just for entertainment.     The dining hall was a work of art itself with its tin ceiling, wonderful rock fireplace, rug hangings and antique windows.

We enjoyed the night in our spacious hotel room where we could easily go out and see the bridge that spanned the river.

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I was glad that we were able to learn the history of trading posts that were positive for the Navajo and Hopi peoples.  It was exciting to spend time at them and to learn about the importance in the past and their continued importance now.