Seeing Grandma In Poland before 1922

26 Dec

While in Israel, my daughter and I went to visit my cousin and her family.  Sara and I are just one month a part in age, but she is actually my mother’s first cousin.  Sara was the child of my grandmother’s youngest brother.  My two uncles and their wives, two sisters, escaped Poland by running to Russia.  Probably not the best choice. But since they were tailors, they were able to survive.  In any case, they did not have any children till the war was over and they were out of Europe.

Sara and I became pen pals when we were 11.  Sara grew up in Australia, and then moved with her family to Israel in 1966. That is when we started writing to each other and we have been in touch ever since. 

During this visit, when the young people were visiting, Sara pulled out some old photo albums.  Most of the photos I had seen before.  But some from Europe and Australia I had not seen.  One in particular caught my attention because I noticed my grandmother as a girl.  And I realized that this was the only photo I had ever seen of my grandmother in Europe before she came to the USA at age 16.

There are two other girls in the photo.  The back of the photo says “Isaac’s three sisters.”  And there were three sisters.  My grandmother Tova/Taube/Thelma was the oldest.  Esther was the middle child and Malcha was the baby. Esther was about six years younger than my grandmother, who was able to bring her to America along with my great grandfather in 1936.  (See blog below.)

But the question is: are these really the three sisters?  The notation was made by my great aunt, not my great uncle.  Sara doesn’t know for sure.  I got in touch with my mother’s other first cousin, who is 15 years older than us.  I thought she might know.

She agrees that the girl on the right is my grandmother.  That is not in doubt.  My grandmother never changed! But although the girl on the left looks like my Tante Esther, she seems too close in age to my grandmother in this picture.  Grandma was born in 1906, Tante Esther in 1912.  These two girls seem to be the same age.    The girl in the middle could be Malcha.  But supposedly Esther is only three years older than Malcha.  Oy Vey.

Then we thought, this is my grandmother on the right, so perhaps it is  her best friend and first cousin, Tova Malcha on the left. They were the same age.  We then think,  sitting on the ground is grandma’s sister, my great aunt Malcha.  Then Esther is not in the picture. 

The caption could be wrong?

We do not know.  And I doubt that we will ever know, because everyone who might know has passed away.

In the meantime, I am just excited about finding a photo of my grandmother when she was a girl in Poland.  As my cousin said, no matter what, it is great treasure.

Holon Adventures

16 Dec

Holon is a town just south of Tel Aviv and is a great community for families and children with many museums and activities.  But even for those without children, there are places to visit and enjoy.

My daughter and I spent time exploring Holon in November.  Since she lives in Holon, we were able to walk to some places.  But there are parking areas for cars as well as buses that you can take.

Our first stop was to one of the Story Book Parks, specifically, Gan Sipur, the Park of Stories.  Holon has several parks designed especially for children that fall under the category of Story Book Park.  The one we visited has a large playground, sculptures and activities that focus on seven children’s books. Each of the sections focuses on a different book written by an Israeli author.  There is an explanation of each book.  Unfortunately, they are only in Hebrew.  For this trip, my son-in-law accompanied us and was our official translator.

An added attraction to this park is a wonderful restaurant that is also family friendly, Café Garden Story, Café Gan Sipur, that is situated within the park. Since it was a Friday, and most people are off, it was busy.  We had to wait for a while. So we put in our name and then we walked around the park while we waited to get a table.  When we got the message, we hurried back to the restaurant on Mota Gur Street 15.

We decided to sit outside to enjoy the beautiful weather.  But the inside is fun as well. The Café also caters to children with bookshelves inside and activities for the children to do while they waited for the food.  The food was worth waiting for.  Out selections were excellent.  We had a great time visiting the park and enjoying the atmosphere of the café.

Not far from the Story Park is the Holon Design Museum at Pinchas Ayalon 8.  It is a short 1.5 kilometers, or about a five minute walk. My daughter has been wanting to see it, so we decided to add that to our adventures.  There are timed tickets to enter the museum, but there was ample space to sit outside as we waited along with several groups of women.

The museum was opened in 2010.  The building is quite interesting and was designed by an Israeli architect Ron Arad.  When we visited, all of the museum’s display areas were dedicated to the work of Alber Elbaz, an Israeli designer who grew up in Holon. He died from COVID in 2021.  This exhibit, Alber Elbaz: The Dream Factory, will be at the museum until February 25, 2023.

To be honest, I am not a follower of high fashion.  But I found this exhibit that focused on his life, how he started in design, his time with famous high fashion designers, as well as the tribute pieces designed by others, interesting.  I understand the desire to tell the story of a Holon native and his rise to fame in fashion design.

Going through the exhibit took about 90 minutes for us.  In certain areas we had to follow a long line of people through a curved hallway display.  I enjoyed seeing some of his early designs and the movie showing his work at one fashion show.

I look forward to going back in the future to see other exhibits and to see how the display rooms are used when it is not devoted to one person.

In the past I have visited other spots in Holon. One I have not written about, but loved was Dialogue in the Dark at the Children’s Museum at Peres Park in Holon. It was the most amazing experience I have ever had.    The tour is entirely in the pitch black as you tour several spaces, including a marketplace, a street and a port, led by a blind person.

To be honest I was terrified.  Because I am so near sighted, I have always been afraid of becoming blind.  But our guide was wonderful, and the experience is one I will never forget.  If you are ever in Tel Aviv or Holon, this is a must do activity.  You need to make reservations in advance and must be over 9 years old to attend.

https://en.gansipur.co.il/Holon

https://www.childrensmuseum.org.il/eng/pages/childrens_activity/dialogue_in_the_dark.aspx

Take My Mother To Work Day: CyberWell

29 Nov

A recent trip to Israel gave me an opportunity to visit my daughter’s jobsite.  The last time I visited her on the job, she worked at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Jaffa.  She was using her education and experience to help create peace in the Middle East, definitely a difficult aspiration.  Her new job focus has switched to stopping the rise of antisemitism and Jew-hate speech on social media platforms.  My daughter has always wanted to make the world a better place.

CyberWell is a start-up NGO founded by Tal-Or Cohen, an attorney and American-Israeli who saw that Jew-hatred was growing on social media.  She thought her expertise in law and her experience researching extremist movements In the US on social media would work together as astart to combating this growing problem.   She founded CyberWell as an ethical high tech non-profit with the aim to make social media less hateful.

A colleague of my daughter’s from the Peres Center is a close friend of Tal-Or’s, and recommended that my daughter could help in this quest.

In October of 2021, my daughter joined the team.  In May 2022, the site came online, first as Global ARC, now recently renamed CyberWell. The work of CyberWell is to document social media hate speech directed mainly at Jews and Israel, to report this hate speech to the social media platforms and to get it removed in all instances.  Recently when the artist, Ye, formally Kanye, started posting antisemitic tropes on social media, CyberWell could track the major increase in hate speech.  Their documentation of the data is being used by others working to stop this rise of hatred and have social media adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism. 

Tal-Or Cohen has been cited in several articles about this effort. In ‘the algemeiner,” she is quoted: “’Data must be the cornerstone of our fight against online antisemitism,’ said Tal-Or Cohen, the CEO of CyberWell, the company that provided the data for the antisemitic tweets recorded in the letter. ‘In the face of skyrocketing digital Jew-hatred, social media platforms should take meaningful actions and integrate the IHRA definition into their community standards.’”

My daughter’s job is behind the scenes. As Program and Ops Manager, she organizesand searches for ways to connect with others who would support the mission of CyberWell and work with the organization on this important endeavor. You can learn more about the team and CyberWell by going to the website: https://cyberwell.org/our-team/

My visit to CyberWell and its offices near the Sarona area of Tel Aviv was enlightening.  The offices are housed in a shared office space, Panthera, that was started by a woman who wanted to give other women entrepreneurs a chance.  The space is perfect.  CyberWell has two small offices side by side for the four people who currently work on site. But there are lots of shared spaces for conferences and meetings.  There is also a wonderful event space that can be rented for events or can be used by people who work there to have meals.  My favorite area was the outdoor patio that can be accessed from the shared space. They have found a wonderful place to work while trying to clean up social media.

Tal-Or, Vered, Lara and I shared a lunch in the Sarona Market, where they told me more about what they were doing, what type of hatred they were seeing on line, and their plans to tackle and try to end antisemitism and other hate speech on social media.

Vered, Tal-Or, Lara. The CyberWell team.

It is a lofty plan, one that I think is well worth the effort.

In my role as one of their greatest fans, I gave them as much positive reinforcement as any mother could and I treated them to lunch.  Honestly it made me kvell to be with these three young women who are trying to do good in the world.  

I have many friends who fear that the hatred against Jews right now is similar to what happened in 1930s in Nazi Germany and Europe. But I see a major difference. Jews are not keeping quiet. We have many who are pushing back. CyberWell is one such company. If you wish to help them in their work, you can join their mission or support them by emailing hello@cyberwell.org or donating through their 501(c)3 fiscal sponsors here.

Wonderful Changes at Truman Presidential Library

26 Oct

Living on the Kansas side of the Kansas City metropolitan area, my husband and I do not often venture to the Missouri side.  But recently we made the trip to Independence, Missouri, home of the Truman Presidential Library.

Truman statute outside the Courthouse in Independence.

Before heading to the Library, we met a friend on the ‘Square’ in Independence for lunch.  But first we walked around the outside of the Court House where Harry S. Truman had served as a judge for many years.  We admired his statute which stands in front of the Courthouse.

After lunch we went to the Truman Library.  Since it reopened in June 2021, we have been wanting to see the changes. But as COVID ebbed and waned, the museum closed, then reopened, then required timed tickets.  Now It is back to normal scheduling.

The changes are wonderful!  First you arrive at a new entrance, which is located on the side of the parking lots, making it much easier to enter.  It is so much better than walking up all those stairs and entering right into the room where the wonderful Thomas Hart Benton mural is on display.  The new area has room for groups to meet up, bathroom facilities, a lovely gift store and the entrance to a room with a short movie about Truman.

Each exhibit room in the museum has been repurposed and reinvented.  There are movies and interactive activities throughout.  Some of the movies are in little alcoves, others are in bigger areas.  All have a bit of seating and standing room.  But you have the choice of how much time you want to take in each area, depending on how many activities you want to do.

I loved the exhibit about the atomic bomb and Japan. The important documents are highlighted and much easier to read and see. I still cannot believe that Vice President Truman knew nothing about the atomic bomb.  The letter to President Truman requesting a meeting to discuss a “highly secret matter” to me is chilling.  Another chilling moment in this exhibit is the two videos about the actual bombing.  Seeing the movie about the aftermath is emotional.

Recognized Israel

For me the exhibit and movie about Truman’s recognition of Israel as a state also was moving. Once again, the relevant letter was highlighted better than in the old version of the library.  I also enjoyed watching the movie about this important moment. Although Truman lived in a time when antiSemitism and the Holocaust had decimated the Jewish people, he felt that they deserved a homeland, a safe haven. But the antiSemitism of the world colored his staff as well. Finally, Truman made the decision to recognize Israel despite what some of his staff wanted and due to the intervention of his close Jewish friend. An antiSemitism that is once again rising, I hope we can find leaders like Truman who will push away the words of those who hate, to work for a peaceful world for all.

You can still see the re-creation of Truman’s oval office setting, as well as the office he used when he was retired in Independence.  It was intriguing to me that Truman never had a college education. But he was a lover of books and reading. His library is still filled with his books.

A sign outside the office says, “Readers of good books, particularly books of biography and history, are preparing themselves for leadership. Not all readers become leaders, but all leaders much be readers.” A statement that is extremely important as we look to elect good leaders now! Reading and the ability to understand complex issues made Truman a great president.

When you walk over to this office, you also can pay your respects to the graves of Bess and Harry Truman, along with the daughter and son in law, Clifton and Margaret Daniel.

There is much more to see at the Truman Library and special exhibits.  When we were there the new exhibit, “Portraits of Courage” with paintings by President George W. Bush, was not yet open.  It will be there through December 31, 2022.

I do need to say that Truman was my Dad’s favorite president. When he would come to visit we would do Truman trips: Lamar, Missouri, for Truman’s birthplace and to the Truman home in Independence. I brought my parents to the Truman Library at least two times! Dad would have loved the changes.

https://www.trumanlibrary.gov/

Why The Attack On Books and Librarians!?

7 Oct

Another Day, another article about libraries being forced to remove books.  Recently it was Missouri libraries removing 20 books for fear that the librarians would be fined or might go to jail for allowing people to read. 

That sickens me.  But what sickens me more so is the need for the leaders of the American Library Association to write a letter to the FBI last week due to the increased violence and threats against librarians and libraries.  REALLY!!!  People are attacking libraries and librarians. 

The article by Meghan Mangrum of the Dallas Morning News, says that the association was concerned about library workers receiving personal threats.  

My relationships with librarians have always been positive.  When my son was in middle school, I volunteered at the school library once a week for a year to restock books.  It was the librarian who helped me encourage my son to read.  She reminded me that reading any book was better than not reading.  And that my son loved manga.  “Let him read as many as he wants,” she told me.  “He is excited about reading.”  She was so right!!

The attacks against books and libraries are additional evidence of how those in our country are so afraid of facts, that they are rebelling against books.  When my children were young, I could not wait for the annual summer reading program to sign my children up to read.  I added prizes to the reading list.  Every five books my children got a treat.  Anything to inspire the love of books, reading and libraries.

With adults so afraid to let children read, it makes me think about my history.  My parents banned one book when I was in high school. They felt the sexual content (which now would be considered mild) was too much for a high school senior.  I was not allowed to read it.  Believe me the first book I read when I got to college was that book!  My parents even laughed about it.  Why ban it?

With the current banning, I was so happy to see that the Brooklyn Public Library opened their online books to young adults throughout the country who want to read banned books! I was so proud of them.  When I was in New York in September, visiting my niece who lives in Brooklyn, we added a walk to the Brooklyn Public Library to our plans!!! I wanted to celebrate it!

The Brooklyn Public Library has been around in some form since the mid 1800s. It’s main campus, which I visited is at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway near Prospect Park.    But what makes is so wonderful for me, and why I had to visit it, is the National Teen BPL eCard, that allows young adults ages 13-21, to get a free Brooklyn Public Library card which allows them to borrow books for free, including books that have been banned in other states!

To apply, email booksunbanned@bklynlibrary.org.

To learn more about the efforts to ban books in schools, I would recommend you go to PEN America’s website: http://www.Pen.org.  There is much to read about the increase in attempts to ban books in our public schools in the past two years, with many of the books attacked focus on racism, gender issues, history and sexuality.

Finally Finding The Three Rosenberg Sisters

12 Sep

I have had such a mystery. I have found out much about my great grandparents Abraham and Sarah Rosenberg. I know that they got divorced. I know that they lost one daughter, Celia, to the Spanish Flu and a son, Samuel, to a mental institution. (See blogs below.) They were their two oldest children. Other children in this family disappeared from our family connections.  I have been trying to find them all for over 20 years.

In order, the children were Samuel, Celia, my grandfather Harry/Hersh, Jacob/Jack, Bertha, Edith/Esther, Hady/Hatti/Hanna, Minnie/Muriel.  I have found Jacob in England, where he moved.  I have found out some about Muriel.  I did know my Aunt Hady when I was a small child.  (See blogs below.) But Bertha and Edith/Ethel were still a mystery.

At several times in their marriage, in which my great grandmother had 12 pregnancies and eight live births, my great grandparents had major issues, they eventually divorced, which in the 1920s was uncommon.  There was a period of time when their three middle daughters did not live with them: Bertha, Ethel/Edith and Hattie/Hady/Hannah. At first, I could not even find them anywhere in the census reports.  But then I posted a request for help on the Tracing the Tribe group

The mystery starts in 1900.  I found the family in Kings County, New York census. There were two girls are named Rose and Esther.  Rose is a name that was often given to a daughter in this family and then changed!  (See blog below).  And I believe Esther became Ethel/Edith.

In the 1905 New York census, none of these three girls were living with their parents.  But another Tracing the Tribe member (Sherri V) found Bertha living with a family headed by Lous and Rose Salomon/Solomon. She is listed as their niece. The list of family includes Benny, 22; Rebeka, 20; Moses, 19; William, 18; David, 16; Sadie, 24; Esther 13; and. Bertha 11.  Esther is not listed as a Rosenberg, but I have to wonder if she is Ethel.

I found the family again in both the 1910 and 1920 census.  This time all three girls were living with Louis and Rose Solomon and their sons Bernard, Morris, William and David. The three girls are listed as Bertha Rosenberg, 17, Ethel Solomon 15, and Hanna Solomon, 13. in 1910.  Later in 1920, Louis is living with William, and David, along with Bertha Rosenberg 24 and Ethel Solomon 23.

Although Ethel and Hanna are listed as Solomon, it is possible that they actually used these names when living with their aunt and uncle. These three girls seemed to go back and forth between their parentsmother and the Solomon family.

I posted the above information along with these questions to the Tracing the Tribe group: How is the Solomon family related to my great grandfather, Abraham Rosenberg, or to his wife, Sarah Ritt/Writ/Rith/Rosenberg. They lived in Kings County New York.

Kaye H. was kind enough to do some research for me.  She posted:  According to their marriage record, Rose’s maiden name was Rosenberg. Her parents were Jacob Rosenberg and Rhoda Anna Cohen (I think, it’s a bit hard to read). Does that line up with Abraham’s parents? https://a860-historicalvitalrecords.nyc.gov/view/7950837

Well that was a very good question.  I did not know the names of my grandfather’s parents.  He was born in Russia, and he was married in Europe.  I have been unable to find his parent’s names.  I have my great grandmother’s death certificate, so I know her parent’s names, but have been unable to find anything about my great grandfather.

My family lived entirely in Kings County once they came to the USA. But there is a rumor that my grandfather left the family and moved to Seattle.  A few years ago, when I was in Seattle, I went to the public library to see if I could find any records of him.  With the help of tw o lovely librarians, I found a few Abraham Rosenbergs, but no one that really matched my great grandfather.  I am thinking that I was looking too early.  I assumed in went around 1900. But now I think if he went it was closer to 1905.

My great grandfather was born about 1861.  Rose/Rosa, who is perhaps his sister, married Louis on January 4, 1882 in New York City. She was 17 or 18 when she got married.  Making her birth about 1865 and she was born in Russia. Rosa/Rose signed her marriage license with an X. Louis, her hsuband , was educated enough to sign his full name in Hebrew.

Because Bertha is listed as a niece, I have to believe that Rose is Abraham’s sister.  In fact, Abraham and Sarah did name their fourth children, Jacob, and the custom is to name after a relative that died.  It would make sense for Abraham to name a child after his father.  With this mystery uncovered, I now know the names of my great great grandparents, which was the only set of great great grandparents I did not know.

I want to thank Kaye, Sherri V., and others from the Tracing the Tribe Facebook group who are always willing to help solve a genealogy mystery.

Island Adventures on Lake Huron

4 Aug

We did it.  We left the confines of our home and took our first cruise in almost three years.  I was a bit hesitant and anxious.  But we chose a cruise that stayed close to home, sailing the Great Lakes between the USA and Canada.  It was a cruise I had been thinking about for years.  This seemed like the perfect time to take it.

Two of my favorite stops on the cruise were islands that are adjacent or within Lake Huron.  Both were the home of the Ojibwe nation, but one is in the United States and one is in Canada.

Mackinac Island

Years ago my husband and I lived in Michigan.  We heard over and over again that we had to go to Mackinac Island.  We never made it there during our two-year time. But it has been on our list of places to see ever since.  We had a most delightful day!!!

I will start by telling you that the original native Ojibwe name was Michilimackinac.  When you say it, you realize that the name Michigan was also a native name. It means Big Turtle, because the island is somewhat shaped like a turtle. The entire island is just about eight miles around.  So it is easy to walk from one place to another.

In July we found out why people love it so much.

First, there are NO CARS on the island!  The only transportation is foot, bicycle or horse drawn carriage.   WOW.  (Fire engines and ambulances are an exception.) It is interesting to go around an island on an open carriage. When we got off the ship, very close to downtown, we were loaded up into a carriage that had about 20 people.  This took us on the first part of the ride, through the downtown, past the Grand Hotel, and to a place where we were transferred to a larger carriage drawn by three horses for our tour through the park to the historic Fort Mackinac.

Second, there is the GRAND Hotel.   It is pretty darn Grand.  With its stunning Victorian décor; the large veranda with excellent rocking chairs (yes I checked them out); ice cream parlor; excellent views; the Grand Hotel lived up to expectations.  I especially loved the sign that said after 6 pm all men must wear jackets and women must wear dresses.  To be honest, I would never stay there because my husband would not want to dress up each evening.

However, we did go the Gate House Restaurant that is part of the hotel and had a delicious lunch sitting outside and enjoying people watching and horse watching.  There is a little stone church across the street from the restaurant that we also visited.  It is actually called the Little STONE Church.

Third, there is lots of history surrounding the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the lives of the Native Americans and how the changes from French to British to American impacted the First Nations Peoples, especially the Ojibwe nation, which is also based in Canada.  We spent an hour or so walking around the Fort and we even got to see a cannon fire.

After we at lunch at the Grand Hotel, we walked into town to visit some of the sites, including  the Biddle house which is now a small museum about the impact on the Native Americans.

We had an excellent time walking around the downtown, doing a bit of shopping, and finding an ice cream store for my husband.  Mackinac Island is known for its many fudge shops.  And we did enjoy the free samples. But we stayed strong and did not purchase any.  I could only that that with eight days left on the cruise, it would be too tempting.

Manitoulin Island

The other Island we visited was quite different. First, it is in Canada. Manitoulin Island is also known as Ontario’s Island Retreat. Its original Ojibwe name is Manidoowaaling, meaning the Spirit Cave, which we did get to see. It is a big island, over 100 miles long. In fact, it is the largest island in a fresh water lake, Lake Huron. In the island of Manitoulin is the largest lake in the largest island in a fresh water lake. That would be Lake Manitou in Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron. But there is also Treasure Island, which is the largest island in a lake in the largest island in a Great Lake. But it was not in Lake Manitou. I LOVE these descriptions. They should be part of a children’s song!!!

The island was also first inhabited by the Ojibwe people, who still inhabit much of the island.  But it was also the site of the first European settlement in Canada.

We docked in Little Current, which is the largest city on the Island. It has been a resort town for a while and has many bed and breakfast accommodations, much like Mackinac Island.

We visited the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation, which was a great experience.  My husband was concerned that it would be ‘hokey’.  But it definitely was not.  The young man who met us at the Center gave us a great presentation about the First Nations and the Island.  He explained what we were seeing in the museum section, which really was fascinating.  We then went to a work area where people can come to work on their crafts like beading and porcupine quill art.  We also met with a young woman who explained the sacred herbs such as sage and how they are used.

Finally we were welcomed to an outside theater where we got to see authentic First Nation dances and the drummers.  I so enjoyed this experience.  My favorite were the jiggle dress dancers.  Finally we were invited up to dance with them and learn a bit.  I had to get up there.  One of the dancers stepped with me and showed me how to do it correctly! 

We did notice along the way that the cities in the USA were much smaller than the cities in Canada.  But then I had an enlighten moment. For the Canadians, these cities were among their furthest southern border, while for the US these were at the northern border.  Makes a difference when you take in this factor.

We loved our island experiences in Lake Huron. 

A Past Column Predicts the Present

5 Jul

Over the Fourth of July holiday, a friend of mine called to tell me she had to come over and share something she found.  She told me that I wrote something that related to what was happening in the world today, and she almost could not believe how right I was in my premonition.

What was the find?  A copy of a column I had written 22 years ago.  Entitled, “Election affects future of Supreme Court,” the column was in the October 21, 2000, issue of the Kansas City Star’s Blue Valley/Leawood Neighborhood News. This was a publication that was inserted into the KC Star in our area for many years.

I wrote a commentary column for the Neighborhood News for about nine years.  In this publication was my column about voting and the Supreme Court.  I remembered writing it, but honestly did not remember what it said. However, once I reread it, I agreed with her. In it I wrote about the importance of presidential elections and not to worry about too much about the short term goals because it was the long term goals that could hurt society the most. Mainly that the biggest issue to vote for was who would be choosing our Supreme Court justices.

I tried to find a link to the original column online, but could not find it.  Instead, I am putting a picture of the column here.

To be honest, I wish that my fears did not come true and that people had paid attention to elections.  Those who stayed silent by not voting; those who were complacent thinking nothing would change; those who did not vote because they did not like any candidates, or not enough to vote for one; your silence led to this.

Don’t stay silent any more.  We all have to vote.  Now the biggest vote we face in Kansas is the Amendment  to ban Abortion.  VOTE NO.  Kansas already has strict abortion guidelines.  The antiabortion groups are trying to ban all abortion here as well. No abortion for rape or incest.  No abortion for health.  No abortion period.  And along with that they almost always want to sideline birth control.  

We cannot be silent or stay home.  This is too important to women’s health and privacy.

The Importance of My Grandma’s Illegal 1931 Abortion

16 Jun

In 1931 a 25-year-old mother of two young children was pregnant with her third pregnancy.  It was twins.  But whereas her other pregnancies went fine this one was not going well at all. In fact, her kidneys were failing, probably due to eclampsia. If nothing was done, she and the fetuses she carried would all die.  Abortion was not legal in 1931.  But someone saved her.  Someone, I am told a doctor, provided her an illegal abortion. 

That woman was my grandmother.  She lived.  

“Preeclampsia may lead to kidney disease by causing acute kidney injury, endothelial damage, and podocyte loss. Preeclampsia may be an important sex-specific risk factor for chronic kidney disease,” according to an NIH website.  Although my grandmother did not die in 1931, she was left with failing kidneys.  In fact, she had kidney disease for the next 52 years of her life. 

Grandma decided to go back to Europe with her two children, my Mom and my Uncle, so that when she died they would be raised by their grandmother, as she was sure that she was still going to die. Someone traveled with my grandmother for this trip. In fact, one night she was so sick, they took her up on the deck because she wanted to see the stars one more time before she died.

The doctor who saved her life actually impacted the lives of many people. Because my grandmother lived, my mother and uncle were not left without a mother. Also, as the story continues, because my grandmother lived, others lived as well.

When my Grandmother got to Europe she traveled through Germany to Carlsbad, to take the waters, and then around Poland visiting family for over six months. During these travels her opinion about life in Europe changed drastically. By the end she was much healthier and concerned about taking her children back to the United States to safety.

Why do I say saving her life saved others? She had been traveling through Germany in 1931. She had seen the evil that was taking over Europe with the rise of Hitler.

This is where her surviving preeclampsia and a life saving abortion takes on even more meaning. First, everywhere she went in Poland, she told family and friends to “Get Out! Bad times are coming.” We do not know how many heeded her warning! But we know her story and what she tried to do.

When Grandma came home she had one goal, to get her family and the family of my Grandfather out of Europe! My grandparents worked to bring family members over from Poland and Austria. In the end, they only were able to bring my Grandmother’s father and sister. My Tante was very small for her age, so they changed her age and made her under 21 so she could travel to America on my great grandfather’s papers and visa.

My Tante lived.  She married and had one daughter.  Her daughter married and had three children.  Her children married and among them had 11 children.  

All because my grandmother had an abortion, all because she lived, two people survived and avoided the horrors of the Shoah and 15 descendants were born.  Who knows how many more will be born in the future.

Abortions save lives! The mother’s lives. To me these lives are extremely important. Currently, in this time of legal abortions another relative of mine had eclampsia putting her life and the life of her much wanted fetus at risk. They were both dying in the hospital. The only choice to save one life was an abortion. My cousin lived. Amazingly a year later she was again pregnant and gave birth to a healthy child.

I do not believe anyone, a legislator or a member of the voting public, has the right to tell a woman how to handle her private medical issues. We have HIPAA laws that are supposed to keep our medical history private. What a woman decides, with input from her medical professional, for her own health is her personal business. HIPAA laws are not just for men. They are for everyone.

In the meantime, I support women’s health rights. I support women who make the difficult decision to end a pregnancy. I support their choice and decisions concerning their personal medical health. I know that the right to chose an abortion must remain legal, because I know that saving a mother’s life is vital.

Another Quest Completed!

29 May

Great Grandpa Abraham Shlomo Grave

One of my genealogy goals is to find the graves of all my great grandparents who are buried in the United States.  Five are buried in the USA with four for sure in the New York, New Jersey metro area. Three of my great grandparents died in Europe, two during the Shoah, so finding their burial sites is impossible.

Since I live in the middle of the country it is difficult to search cemeteries on the east coast. But luckily for me I have willing helpers!  I truly appreciate my family who understand my quest.

Last year during Covid, one of my first cousins went to Washington Cemetery in New York and took photos of my Goldman great grandparents.   (See blog below.). In my mind he was the ideal person to search for the graves, since is named for our great grandfather, with the Hebrew name, Baruch Lev.  It was perfectly apropos that he went to find the graves.

Now it was my brother’s turn.  My brother’s Hebrew name is Avraham Sholmo for my Szenk/Shenk/Schenk great grandfather.   Our great grandfather was born with the name Shlomo/Solomon. But when he was a child he became very ill.  His parents gave him a second name, Avraham, to keep the Angel of Death from finding him.

Usually, the names given to fool the Angel of Death were names like Chaim and Chaya, which mean life. The idea was to confuse the Angel of Death because he would not be able to find a child with a different name.  This superstition said changing the child’s name would save him/her.

In any case my great grandfather’s Hebrew name was changed, but his legal name remained Solomon, or Szlama, as he was known in Poland.  His birthdate was September 1874 and he died in 1942. My great grandfather came to the USA in 1936 along with my great aunt. It was the work of my grandparents to get as many people out of Europe that they could. Unfortunately, it was only these two that they were able to actually bring over.

At first my great grandfather lived with my grandparents.  But, although they had a kosher bakery and kept kosher, my grandmother did not cover her hair, and they did not follow the rules as they did in Europe.  So my great grandfather moved into a Hebrew Home for the Aged

We did have the name of the cemetery where he was supposedly buried. I think my mother’s first cousin told us.  My brother took over the job of finding the grave.  He contacted the King Solomon Memorial Park in Passaic asking about our grandfather. (I do find it interesting and coincidental that Solomon was buried in the King Solomon Cemetery.)  The response was positive, our great grandfather was buried in the Tuber Section through a gate that says Welloner Benevolent Assn. 

The grave had the correct date of death.  There is no date for his birth, probably because no one knew it.  We thought he was born in 1870, but his Visa paperwork said 1874.  However, the age on the stone matches what his age would have been when he died, 68 years old.

The staff at the cemetery even emailed my brother a map to the grave, which was exactly where my brother was told to look.  Not only that, the cemetery and the gravesite were in excellent condition.  So many old cemeteries are not kept up.  Thank you to the King Solomon Memorial Park for keeping these graves in excellent shape.

My brother took photos of the entrance to the cemetery, the gate to the section and the grave itself. He also looked for other family members, but did not find them. Then he left three stones on the grave. This is the way to show that we remember and honor his memory.

https://yivo.org/Folklore-of-Ashkenaz?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI0NL84bX59wIVfW1vBB1sGgIMEAMYASAAEgKhzfD_BwE