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Where Were My Three Great Aunts in 1905?

18 Apr

I have all the census records for my grandfather and his family starting in 1900 through 1930.  I can see the birth of the children through the additions in each census, till finally there are eight living children.   I can see as children disappear, one died, one to an asylum, several to get married.  And two who stayed with their mother even after her divorce. (Abraham and Sarah Rosenberg, Kings, Bronx, New York; Sometimes Aaron, one time Rosenbery.)

I know there is the rumor that my great grandfather left the family and moved to Seattle sometime around the turn of the century.  In the 1900 Census, it seems that they are living together with their five children, aged 1 through 14.

In 1905, the family shows up, but some of the children are missing.  The four oldest children and the newest baby are all there, as are two borders.  But the three other daughters, Bertha, Edith and Hattie, are not listed.   Where are they?  One was found, Bertha is living with Louis and Rosa Salomon, also in Brooklyn, Kings.  She is listed as a niece, living with her aunt and uncle and their seven children.  Bertha is 11.  Her cousins range in age from 13 to 22.

But how are they related?  Is Rosa the sister of Bertha’s mother or her father?  Or is Bertha somehow related to the father of the family?  Is Bertha really their niece, or some other distant relative, so Rosa and Louis are doing a favor for Abraham and Sarah?    Where are the other two girls?  Are they with other family members or in an orphanage? What happened to Edith and Hattie?

The questions keep coming into my mind.  Is this when my great grandfather abandoned the family.  If so, did Sarah give her daughters to other people to care for during this time.  Perhaps, even though Abraham is listed on the Census, he is NOT really living there.  Perhaps Sarah was too embarrassed to tell.

I do know the story that my grandfather was sent to search for his father and bring him home.  That at age 13, which would have been in 1903, he crossed the USA with a friend from New York all the way to Seattle in an effort to bring his father home.  I remember being told that my grandfather’s friend was Italian, and during that trip is when Grandpa learned to speak Italian.

So we know this is a posed photo, but it is when Grandpa (on right) crossed the USA looking for his father.

Did his father come home with him?  I understand that it took almost two years for the journey there and back.  Perhaps this is when they returned, but they had not yet collected the girls from the places where they are staying.

I do know that they came back.  Because the 1910 Census lists all of them.  It is the last time that they would all be together in a census.  Here both parents and all eight children are listed in age order.  The sons always keep the same names, Samuel, Harry/Henry, and Jacob/Jack.  But I must say the girls have many names: Celia/Cecelia is the oldest, but I know she also had a Hebrew. Rose/Bertha is the oldest of the four younger children.  Esther/Edith is the third oldest. Hattie also had another name, but almost always was Hattie or Hady.  Minnie/Marion/Muriel is the youngest.

In 1915, they are all listed, but Samuel is listed as a farmer.  I know now that he was not really living at home, rather he was an inmate in an asylum. (See blog below.)

By 1920, the world of the Rosenberg family is disrupted forever. Sarah and Abraham are divorced.  Sarah is the head of the household, but two children are missing.  Samuel is at the asylum and Celia has died at the age of 24.

In 1925 my grandfather, the oldest of the remaining children, is gone from Sarah’s home, as he has married my grandmother. In 1930, Jacob is also gone.  It is Sarah and her four daughters.  But now Bertha is listed as the head of the household.  Perhaps by then Sarah is already sick.   She died in 1936 from cancer.   Before she died, she did get to see two of her daughters get married.  Muriel, who married in 1924, named her first child after her mother.  Sarah died on January 28, 1936.  And on November 13, 1936, Muriel had a son she named Stanley and used her mother’s maiden name as his middle name.  That made me happy.  I am also named for Sarah, but I was born almost 20 years after Stanley.

Standing: Great Uncle Lenny, Great Aunt Hady/Hattie, Grandpa Harry, Grandma Esther. Seating are my great grandmother and great aunt from my Grandma’s side.

Aunt Hattie married Lenny Greenberg. I knew them.  In fact, it was Aunt Hattie who introduced my Dad to my Mom.  Aunt Hattie and Uncle Lenny never had children.

Bertha and Edith never married and always lived together.

But my questions continue. Where were Bertha, Edith and Hattie living in 1905.  How was Rosa and Louis Salomon related to Bertha?

Once again thank you to Sherri V. who connected information for me when I posted on Tracing the Tribe Facebook Group!

Chihuly Double Dose

19 Mar

I do love Chihuly.  So when we were in Phoenix recently, I was delighted to learn that there was not one, but two, Chilhuly exhibits in town.  Luckily for me, my friends were willing and interested in an adventure,  seeing both exhibits in  one day! 

Friday, February 25, was Chilhuly Day for us in Phoenix. We purchased our tickets in advanced.  The morning was devoted to the “Chihuly In The Desert” at the Desert Botanical Gardens, where the art often imitated the nearby cacti.  The late afternoon was devoted to a tour of Frank Llyod Wright’s Taliesin West and the Chihuly pieces chosen to fit this unique architectural site.

I had been to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix many years ago.  Even then, there were a few Chilhuly pieces at the entrance.  But I had only seen a small part of the gardens. Since I came with a group, we were kept close by on the paths near the front.  This time my friends and I walked the entire grounds!!!  We saw everything that was outside; the Apache household and native crops; the cactus and succulent galleries; the Agave yucca forest and more.  In each area, we looked for and admired the Chilhuly glass that was selected to highlight the natural art.

My favorite natural beauty was the crested cactus.  That was truly something amazing.  As well as the giant cactus that were highlighted by Chilhuly purple reeds.  I also loved this smaller twisted cactus!  Another amazing cactus insight was that birds make nests inside the cactus.  All those holes in a cactus are often a birds nest! A special protection coating is formed to protect the cactus and make a home for the bird.  It looks like a boot!!  We were also lucky as the cacti were beginning to bloom.  So pretty!

From my friend, who lives in Phoenix, I learned that pretty cactus are not NICE.  Some can almost leap onto you.  While another, that looks like it has a soft beard, in reality has a white soft looking collection of barbs.  DO NOT TOUCH. She continued to tell us to STAY BACK.  DON’T get so close. 

As for the Chilhuly, my favorite pieces included a giant gold, cream and white swirling tall collection of twisted tubes that reminded me of a yucca in bloom. My other favorite was a grouping of red, orange and purple reed like glass that made me think of flamingos. Of course, for anyone who knows me well, I loved the blue reeds!

I will admit, that it was not until we were leaving that we realized there was another exhibit of Chilhuly glass in a  gallery.  But we did not have time to admire it.  We had timed tickets for our second glass adventure.

 I really knew nothing about Taliesin West before this trip.  I have driven past Taliesin East in Wisconsin and been to a Frank Lloyd Wright house at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville. (See Blog Below about another Chilhuly adventure there.). But I really had not much information about Taliesin West until I learned about the Chilhuly exhibit.  Then I had to go and see the compound and the art glass.

Throughout the grounds, Chilhuly glass was displayed in ways to enhance the prairie style buildings.  My favorite, once again, mixed white gold and cream, with some sparkle right at the center of the complex, near the bubbling water pond.  The mass amount of red glass reeds displayed around the front of the home, some in dyed black water, was also fascinating.  And the view from the apex of the higher ground as spectacular.  Well worth the visit!

Drafting room

As for Taliesin West.  Wow.  His original plan to keep all the buildings open must have seen like a good idea.  But when I think about the heat in Phoenix, I am glad he gave in to his wife and closed the buildings in adding air conditioning!  I guess I am not a Frank Lloyd Wright purist.   For me the most interesting parts were the actual drafting room where other architects came to study with him and the small theater. 

I loved my day of Chilhuly, being with my friends, and enjoying these two special places in the Phoenix area. A double dose of Chilhuly was definitely worth it for me.

https://zicharonot.com/2016/06/10/chihuly-stunning/

Musical Instrument Museum Brings Magic and Joy To Your Soul

2 Mar

I found another favorite museum! 

Recently my husband and I went to Phoenix.  He went to a meeting, while I visited with two of my wonderful college friends for a mini reunion. In this blog I will discuss one of the three sites that we decided to visit. 

Our first stop on our whirlwind tour of Phoenix was the Musical Instrument Museum.  I do not even know where to begin to describe this delight of the senses. 

Each display is a combination of color and sound, showing the clothes and the instruments of each area pictured.  The extremely wonderful added bonus  at most displays is a short video at showing how the instruments are played and their sound, also showing how the clothing is worn for ceremonies, rites, parades and events.

The museum is divided into geographic areas.  We decided to start with the music of Latin America and the Caribbean.  We spend two hours walking through this one section of the museum. It is overwhelming and informative.  Your headphones pick up the music of each display as you walk closer.  It draws you in and then the instruments catch your eye and sometimes colorful clothes catch your eye.

Display after display calls out to you.  At times you do not know where to look next, so you go to the music that is dancing in your ears. 

I was intrigued by the display of recycled instruments from Paraguay.  These are not instruments someone has passed down, rather they are musical instruments made from trash and scrap metal. Honestly, the Recycled Orchestra of Centeura drew me in.  I listened to the video several times. This children’s orchestra in Asuncion, Paraguay, is amazing.  All of their instruments are built from trash in a landfill!  I was so intrigued, I looked it up online.  The link to the Wikipedia article is below.

I have not been so taken by children’s music since I saw the children’s school for steel drums in St. Maarten.  (See blog below.)

When we had exhausted ourselves viewing all of Latin America, we decided we had to have lunch in Café Allegro before we tackled another exhibit hall.  We still had Europe, United States and Canada, Oceania, Africa, Middle East, four areas of Asia and more.  There was so much to see, we finally realized we were not going to see it all.

On our way to lunch, we heard piano music.  Below was a grand piano with people in line to play.  It was fun to listen to the different styles of music people chose.  Besides playing the piano, visitors can also go to the Experience Gallery where they can try all sorts of instruments.

After lunch we went to Africa and then we went to Europe and finally to North America.  We saw instruments made from every object possible:  tree trunks, gourds, pottery, ceramics, sticks, string, tin cans, steel drums, boxes. Imagination and talent can turn anything into music. 

 In my attempt to be truly honest, I will tell you that in the other exhibit halls we visited, we were unable to look at every display.  It is sensory overload.  I highly recommend just choosing one hall to go through and not to try to see it all. Instead plan to go back another time if you can. We never made it to any of the Asian exhibits or downstairs to the Mechanical Music Gallery or Experience Gallery or Encore Gallery.

As I looked through the Museum, one thing was obvious, no matter where people lived, or what materials they had, or what their circumstances were, everyone wants to make music. There are so many guitar-like instruments, and harp-like instruments, and wind style instruments.  All were representative of the continent and the culture of the people who use them.

We did not have the opportunity to go to a concert there.  But if I lived in Phoenix, I know its 300-seat theatre would be a favorite spot.

Even the bathrooms provide a musical interlude offering different songs to sing as you wash your hands!!!

On my way out, I purchased one of the magnets that reflects the Museum’s theme, “Music is the Language of the Soul.”  As we danced and sang and boogied our way through this museum, I can attest that this is a museum that enlightens bringing magic and joy to the soul through the language of music.

www.mim.org

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recycled_Orchestra_of_Cateura#:~:text=The%20Recycled%20Orchestra%20of%20Cateura,collected%20from%20Asunci%C3%B3n’s%20Cateura%20landfill.

I Wish We Could Be Using Solar Panels

21 Jan

Twenty years ago my husband became obsessed with climate change and over population.  He was concerned that the world would not be able to survive as water resources would be depleted and the world suffered through the impact caused by the changing climate.  He started talking about the need to use the sun for energy and stop the use of fossil fuels.  His focus was on solar panels and electric cars.

For his midlife crisis, he acted! Fifteen years ago, we ordered solar panels for our home.  We became the first home in Johnson County, Kansas, to retrofit a private home to solar energy.  It was quite an experience.  We found a company to assess our home for the panels.  A friend of ours worked at Black and Veatch, an engineering firm.  She took the proposal to work, where several engineers reviewed it and made some suggestions.   In the end we decided to put up ten solar panels, as well as add eight back up batteries.

It took a while to get everything ready.  Permits were needed.  The panels and batteries had to be ordered. The roof needed to be reinforced.  The city inspector was at our home several times, climbing into the attic and checking the wiring through the house.  She was quite excited to be part of this retrofit. Eventually the new rafters in the roof were approved; the electrical wiring was approved; the panels were put on the roof; and after months of anticipation the solar panels came online!  It was exciting.  Our neighbors came out to see the panels as well.

Solar panels on our home November 2006!

We had some issues at first with the electric company, KCP&L.  Even though there had been some contact with them about the solar panels, it had not gone to the right people.  We kept having KCP&L service people come out to check our meter, as it was going backwards.  We were accused of turning it upside down!   Who does that?  People who do not want to pay, we were told.  I kept showing them the solar panels and trying to figure out who we needed to talk to at KCP&L.  Finally, a woman repair person arrived to once again accuse us of moving our meter.  I took her to the back yard where she could see the solar panels on the roof. She had the aha moment and understood the issue.  She promised to look into it.

Meanwhile, we wrote to our state senator, John Vratil, who was a great help.  Through him, we got in touch with Dave Wagner at KCP&L.  From there on the process got easier.  Finally in August 2007, resolution of the issue occurred. First KCP&L installed two different meters on our house.  One for incoming electricity and one for outgoing.  On the day these two meters were put in, we had about 11 KCP&L staff coming out to help and watch the installation.   They also put a special shut off level on the house and a commercial surge protector.  It was really exciting for my husband and I, and for KCP&L. 

Dave Wagner was one of the people who came out for the event, as well as a young woman from their media department.  She took lots of photos, as did I, to document the occasion. My husband took several of the KCP&L personnel into our basement so that they could see the backup batteries!   We explained that not only were our electric bills cheaper due to the solar energy, but also due to the panels capturing the ambient heat and keeping the house cooler.

We were actually highlighted in KCPL’s newsletter and were on the news…rather our house was in the newsletter and on the news.  Eventually KCPL developed one meter that could track both in and out electricity, known as net metering.

For 14 years we lived happily in our house.  When the power went out, we had electricity for eight important elements, including the refrigerator, the furnace fan, and lights in several rooms. During the spring, summer and fall, we saved at least $100 a month in electric bills.  And during the brutally hot months of summer, even more!

Two years ago, we decided to downsize from our home of 35 years and move into smaller reverse two story villa.  The one thing we did not count on was the HOA refusing to allow us to have solar panels, even with a rolling black out in the winter of 2021.   There was a HOA meeting where the topic came up.  Among the negative comments included that solar panels were ugly. Not so.  They also did not know anything about the new technology.  Supposedly there was to be a committee formed to discuss solar panels. Not…. The former president of our HOA, who has moved away, told us the only way we would get solar panels was to have the city or the county or the state removed that restriction from HOAs. 

When we first moved to Johnson County in 1985, many HOAs demanded that all homes had to have wood roofs! What a joke. Each Fourth of July, and whenever there was a thunderstorm, some homes had roof fires.  Around 1999 this clause eliminated from many homes associations due to Overland Park passing Ordinance No. BC-2167 which prohibited the enforcement on covenants which prevented homeowners from putting on composite shingle roofs!  The community, and I believe the insurance companies, help make this change.  Now very few homes still have wood roofs!

Johnson County’s ban on smoking in businesses and most public places were enacted on January 2, 2008. My husband, a pediatric allergist, was one of the people who testified at a commissioners’ meeting asking to enforce a ban on smoking.  In March 2010, then Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson signed a law forbidding smoking in Kansas restaurants.

When the community came together, action occurred once again. We now can eat smoke free in any restaurant!

If citizens could make a change with these two issues: public smoking and wood shingle roofs, I am hoping that we can do it again.  I encourage everyone who lives in Johnson County to write to the Johnson County Commissioners as well as their Kansas State Representatives and Senators to work for change. 

Johnson County Commissioners are:

First District: Becky Fast. Jocogov.org/beckyfast

Second District: Jeff Meyers. Jeff.meyers@jocogov.org

Third District: Charlotte O’Hara. Charlotte.ohara@jocogov.org

Fourth District: Janee Hanzlick. Janee.hanzlick@jocogov.org

Fifth District: Michael Ashcraft. Michael.ashcraft@jocogov.org

Sixth District: Shirley Allenbrand. Shirley.allenbrand@jocogov.org

Together, perhaps we can make solar power and renewable energy an option throughout Johnson County, Kansas.

Relating To The Kuchisabishii Feeling

7 Jan

Why are Japanese words so relatable?

My newest Japanese word describes me so well:  Kuchisabishii is the Japanese word for eating when not hungry.   It means “Lonely mouth” or eating just to fill your mouth because you are stressed or bored.  I absolutely relate to this feeling.

During the last two pandemic years, much of what I have put into my mouth falls under these categories.  But honestly, not as often as I once would have because since January 2017, I have been an active member of Weight Watchers (WW).  In fact, during the first four months of Covid, I kept very strictly to my program allowing me to reach my goal weight in June 2020 becoming a life member.  I lost 48 pounds in all.

I kept it all off for until January 6, 2021.  There were several reasons why I started to gain weight.  The first was political.  Watching the attack on the Capitol truly stressed me out.  For a week I was in full kuchisabishii mode.  I wanted to eat even though I was not hungry. I just needed to fill my lonely mouth mainly with chocolate and salty snack foods. Food released something in my mind that helped me cope! The feeling of chewing and the wonderful textures delighted my tastebuds.

But it wasn’t only political stress that got me eating.  Up until Januay 2021 I was participating in virtual WW workshops with local leaders which included a few of the people who had been at my meetings before Covid. After January, the last of my local workshops with leaders I knew, was cancelled. The meetings were now either national or at times that did not fit my schedule. 

Finally, there was COVID.  After a while the stress and the worry of avoiding the pandemic got to me.  Even with my vaccines and my booster, I felt uneasy.  Perhaps because so many people still did not want to be vaccinated or wear masks.  I began to see others as the enemy, which is so against my normal attitude. This all made me want to eat…for no reason.

With no workshops to give me the moral support I needed and the stresses of the world, I reverted to some hard core Kuchisabishii.  I was not hungry, but my mouth was lonely for food. I just wanted to chew on something!

To be honest, I gained almost 12 pounds this year.  The good news, is that my original loss was almost 50 pounds, so I am still over 35 pounds lighter than I was when I started my healthy eating program.  I might have eaten more than the portion called for, but I did not revert back to my extremely bad eating habits.  I did not take a bag of peanut butter M&Ms in my lap and just eat.  Instead I took ten or 12 M&Ms and slowly ate them. 

A year has passed since the world upset my equilibrium. Although the world is still not where I want it to be, I am now going in-person to WW meetings.  After a year of not following sensible eating and relying on kuchisabishii to get me through these uneasy times, I decided I had enough.  I plan to bulk up on my vegetables, stick to eating the Zero point foods and do something else when I feel stressed!

I still love the word, kuchisabishii, but I am not going to let unintended eating define my life.

https://nihongomaster.com/japanese/dictionary/word/65067/kuchisabishii

Oy Vey Rosie Rosenberg!

30 Dec

Somewhere out there is more information about my Grandfather’s supposed sister, Rose/Rosie/Rossie, who was born on May 3, 1904, and died before the 1910 US census. 

First, I have to start by saying, I have known for a while that though we were told my grandfather was the oldest of six siblings, I know that he was actually the third oldest of 8 siblings who lived to adulthood.

I also know that his mother gave birth to 12 children.  For three I have no records, so I assume they were still births.  However, for one, I have a name and a date of birth.  Rose/Rosie.  That name touches my heart.  My father’s nickname when he served in Korea was Rosie.  To this day when I visit a memorial stone I put in the local Korean War Memorial, I always bring a rose.

But he never knew he had aunts who died tragically young: one named Celia, who lived to 24, (see blog below) and Rosie, who probably only lived for a couple of years or less.

But I cannot find Rosie except for this one document which includes her birthdate and her parent’s names.  I know it is correct, because it has Sarah Ritt/Rith for the mother’s maiden name. Also the family did live in Brooklyn in Kings County. I am not sure about the street. I know at one point they lived on a Sackman Street. But that was later. And I have found that this family seemed to move a bit.

Also I know Rosie was born before the youngest daughter Minnie/Muriel.  I remember seeing her name in a list of the family members at some point after 2017.  At that time, I wrote a blog about searching for my grandfather’s family.  Someone sent me an email or a private message with information about all the children from research he/she had done.   At the time I did not believe it was correct because I was still under the assumption that grandpa was the oldest of six, not the third of eight, or even nine.  But somewhere along the way I have lost that document.  And now I need it.

That teaches you to have absolutely NO assumptions about your family’s history and to never disregard a document.

I have found several Rosie or Rose Rosenbergs who died between 1905 and 1909. I am not sure if any of them is my family’s Rosie. Since her sister, Celia, was buried in 1920 at Montefiore Cemetery in the Queens, I was hoping to find Rosie there as well. But the only Rose Rosenberg buried in Montefiore, Springfield Gardens, had no date of birth or death. Could it be her? The memorial ID number is 148979659. But there is no other information or photo.

I am hoping someone who researches better than I can find out more about Rosie! I used Ancestry and Family Search as the two sources for the information I do have. Thank you!

New Orleans Spirit

21 Dec

I was not going to write about our trip to New Orleans because I have been there several times.  But then I realized I had never written about the city, and it is one of my favorites!

I will touch only on the places I saw this time, with a little of the history of why I love it.

Jazz on the street.

New Orleans is like no other city in the USA, with its Creole and French roots, its diverse populations and its jazz.  I love walking down the streets in the French Quarter and hearing the music and watching the bands play on street corners. 

We cannot go to New Orleans and not have beignets.  Each time we go to our favorite shop and get an order of three to share.  I eat one, my husband has two.  Personally, we like Café Beignet.  I know that many enjoy a different spot. But this one right off the square and next to the police station is the best for me!

Our favorite beignet shop.

I also go to the same restaurant on the corner of the plaza by St. Louis Cathedral. The windows all open and you feel like you are sitting outside while inside. And yes we went there this trip as well.  I was especially happy that in New Orleans you had to show your Covid vaccine record to enter a restaurant.  It made me feel a bit safer.

I did visit the Audubon Aquarium of The Americas. The last time I went there was 20 years ago, before Hurricane Katrina destroyed the aquarium and released many of the sea life.  It is definitely different then what I remember, plus there is construction nearby, and renovation inside, but I enjoyed my hour or so walking around by myself. My favorite spots were the Amazon Rain Forest set up in a giant greenhouse structure, and the sea horses.  But the Great Maya Reef area was also fun.   For me aquariums are great activities for both the young and young at heart.

My second stop was more educational than fun.  I went to the Museum of Southern Jewish Experience, where I learned much about southern Jewish population and Civil Rights activism.  The museum did a good job in showing how Jewish men moved into the south as peddlers and then as store owners.  Their activities against racism were important to the Civil Rights movement.  Although I knew that they had played a part in changing how people were treated, I was not aware of the extensive work of the Jewish population of the south to help.  Another good spot to go!

During past trips to New Orleans, I visited the National World War II Museum/National D-Day Museum.  It is a wonderful spot that really takes hours to visit completely.   Wear good walking shoes and schedule yourself properly. Learning about D-Day and the boats that helped in the Invasion of Normandy was the information that still sticks in my mind. The Higgins Boats, which were used in the invasion, were designed by a New Orleans manufacturer Andrew Jackson Higgins.  The Higgins boats played an important role in the invasion, a fact that has stayed in my mind for years.

I love New Orleans because there are so many museums and historical sites to explore and so many wonderful restaurants to experience the tastes of the city.  The history of Mardi Gras and the diverse communities of New Orleans makes is interesting and delightful!

After the hurricane and Covid issues, it is a city that needs support and love.  At one event I attended, the waitress told me how happy they all were that our convention was held, because it gave them hope and an income which helps keeps their spirits up.  With the rise in the new Covid variant, I know that people are nervous about traveling.  I understand.  I will say that New Orleans is doing its best to keep people safe.  I wish all cities were doing the same. In the meantime, I salute the New Orleans Spirit.

https://audubonnatureinstitute.org/aquarium

https://www.nationalww2museum.org/

A Cathedral, A Basilica, A Black Jesus, and Slowly Sinking Buildings

6 Dec

What is a trip to Latin America without going to churches?  You just cannot do it.

In Mexico City there were two church sites we had to visit.  The first was Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary Into Heaven.  They just call it the Metropolitan Cathedral.  I understand why.

Cristo Negro/The Black Jesus

There were several facts about this Cathedral that make it special.  The first deals with the tradition of Black Jesus/Cristos Negros of the area.  There are several countries that have wooden Jesus sculptures on a cross that have darkened and turned black over the ages.  The one in Mexico City has a story.   Supposedly the bishop always prayed at the crucifix as he entered the cathedral.  There were those who wished him to die.  So they put poison on the feet of the wooden Jesus, knowing that the bishop would kiss the feet when he was done praying.

The bishop did as he always does, and kissed the feet, but he did not die.  Instead, the Jesus sculpture turned black. 

To be honest this is not my first Cristo Negro, or Black Christ/Jesus.  I have been to Portobelo, Panama, and saw the one in the Inglesia de San Felipe. It is special because it was found in the town’s harbor and it wears a robe!   I have also seen the black Madonna in Montserrat, also known as Our Lady of Montserrat. Many go on pilgrimages to see these statues.  For me they have been a happy surprise. (See blogs below.)

This is not the only special site within the cathedral.  There is also magnificent altar and intricately carved wooden sculpture behind it.  Outside, in front of the cathedral, there is a statue of Pope John Paul with an image of the Lady of Guadalupe carved into his robes.  This foreshadows the second religious site we visited.

Statute of the Pope.

But the most obvious and unusual aspect of the building is that it is sinking.  Completed in the mid 1600s, the cathedral was built on land that was once the bottom of a giant lake.  It was also built in the area where the Aztec’s had their temples. In fact, the stones used in the construction of the church were parts of the dismantled Aztec temple.  The cathedral was built upon the ruins.  One way of saying to the Aztec, we beat you.  But not so great centuries later.  

Around the cathedral you can see the excavations of the Aztec sites. A model of what the plaza area looked like when the Spanish first came is near the excavations.

Part of the excavation of the Aztec ruins.

 Within the church, you can see how they have worked to stabilize it.  Marble stone stairs, now sit on a bed of concrete stairs.  A pendulum hangs from the high ceiling and shows if the building is still standing straight or sinking again.  By the lines on the floor, one can see how tilted it once was, and how close to straight it stands now.

Our second religious site was the Basilica of the Lady of Guadalupe.   This site is also sinking, and many of the buildings, the older basilica, the first church and the convent, were also tilting.  They have been stabilized. But you can see that much work still needs to be done.  The newer, larger, round Basilica built in the 1970s seems fine for now.

The Basilica and all the other buildings on the site, including the original basilica from the early 1700s were constructed to honor Saint Juan Diego and his visions and miracles of the Lady of Guadalupe. Sometime around 1530 a picture of the Lady of Guadalupe/Mary appeared on his cloak, which he said was a signal that the indigenous people should convert to Catholicism.  There have been visitors/pilgrims to this site ever since. And many buildings have been constructed to provide a place for them to pray.

Today the new Basilica houses the image.  Encased in two frames, one silver and one gold, it is mounted on the wall near one entrance of the Basilica. You must get on a short moving walkway to see it, which keeps everyone moving forward and no one can stay in front of it for too long.  The Basilica is constantly being used by the people for Mass.  Each hour a new Mass begins. 

Statue of the Pope along side the old basilica.

There is a large open plaza on one side of the Basilica.  It is here that Pope John Paul came to  dedicate the site. A statue to him stands between the old and new basilicas.  He also came here a second time to canonize Juan Diego.

The temple of the well.

We could not enter all the buildings. But I will admit my favorite was the one that covers the well.  It was a lovely little building.  And each of the windows was in the shape of a six-pointed star.  For my Jewish mind it was perfect.  Miriam, the sister of Moses, was known for her affinity for water. When they were in the desert, water followed Miriam.  So to know that here at the site of the visions of the Lady of Guadalupe/Mary/Miriam, there is a well with a temple with six-pointed stars, gave me a little joy.

My second favorite building was a small church that is still standing, but only with the help of metal beams.  In front of it was a small water way, with no water right now, except for a bowl of water that a mama cat was enjoying while her kitten struggled to reach it.

It is quite a site, much larger than I anticipated.  To be honest, I did not want to go.  We had spent the morning visiting the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon, and I was both exhausted and not feeling well.  But our guide insisted that we had to see it.  As it was on our way back to the hotel, I figured I would say yes, but could always back out.

That did not happen.  I was hot, tired and feeling ill.  But I got out of the van and walked the many steps to the entrance of the site. And then for over an hour walked the grounds and through the buildings to see all that I could.  I was amazed that I started to feel better as we walked.  It was so interesting that I forgot to think about not feeling well.  So I have to commend our guide who insisted we visit.

Ralph, Pete and Bambi, Turkeys And A Flock of Birds

29 Aug

My husband loves to feed birds.  We have always had bird feeders and books identifying birds outside our kitchen window so we could not only watch the birds but identify who was visiting our feeders.

When we moved 17 months ago, my husband was extremely concerned that the birds would not find us!  He even put a sign up on our deck beneath the bird feeders telling the birds our new address.  Yes, he is a bit crazy.  But then he is a pediatrician, so he has never grown up.

Happily, the day we moved in, a cardinal perched on his bird feeder.  I was able to say, “Look the cardinal read your sign.  I am sure the other birds would follow.”  Follow they did!   We now have a flock of birds of all sorts lounging near our yard.

Our new, small subdivision backs up to a park and a golf course.  Acres and acres of natural beauty along with several small lakes and a stream.  The animals love it.  And our home has become a gathering place for all sorts of nighttime and daytime visitors.  All due to my husband’s bird feeders.  You see, he does not just buy any old bird food.  No, he buys what I call the Mercedes Benz of bird food, hearts of sunflowers.

We have had turkeys and mourning doves and chipmunks happily munching on the seeds that fall to the ground.   We see chickadees, finches of all colors, Blue Jays, cardinals, woodpeckers, robins, swallows, and a multitude of other birds gathering on the feeders, many times waiting their turn to eat.   We buy bird food in 30-pound bags, several at a time.  And yes, we do have a hummingbird feeder as well, which we recently moved. 

Our garden is surround on two sides by a limestone wall, one side by our house, and the other by a wrought iron fence.  It is lovely and peaceful during the day.  But we have found out that at night, it is a place of high demand and drama.  We recently put in a security camera in the back of the house.  Included in its scope are the birdfeeders. 

We have found it quite exciting to watch and the videos explain much.  We were going through so much bird food, we really could not understand how the birds were eating so much especially at night.  We found out that our bird feeders were being raided by a raccoon, who my husband promptly named Ralph.

Ralph draining the bird feeder!

Ralph would stand on his tippy toes on the fence and reach up to tip the bird feeders right into his mouth and just drain the seed. So first my husband put bricks under the pole to raise the height of the feeders. Ralph won that battle. He climb up the fence, climb up the pole and shimmied down to the feeders. Then another raccoon joined him, I named him Rocky. They did not get along and often had loud fights with growling. I honestly did not like that.

Now the war was really on.  My husband started bringing the bird feeders in at night. Ralph and Rocky showed up, but there was no food. Friends started recommending solutions.  Put a slinky on the pole!  Get a dog!  (Cats don’t work.) Then the best advice came from a friend of mine, who got us into bird feeding and watching years ago. She recommended we get this raccoon baffle thing that is put on the pole. The first night it was on, we just put up two bird feeders to see what would happen.  Ralph could not get the food.

Birds waiting for a morning perch to eat!

With the raccoon baffler in place, we can leave our feeders out at night.

But in the meantime, my husband had been putting humming bird nectar out on a low pole.  And one evening when Ralph moved out of the vision of the camera, we noticed a deer, named Bambi of course.  Bambi had been draining our hummingbird feeder.  So now the humming bird feeder is inside the garden behind the gate, and the hummingbirds are happy. So the deer is back to eating all of our sedum plants! 

Ralph and Rocky can no longer climb the pole, so the birds are happy.  In fact, the raccoons have not even shown up for a week now.  But our yard is not empty.  Now that the raccoons are gone, an opossum, who my husband named Pete, has spent some time walking along our walls at night.   He joins the chipmunks and lizards who already inhabit the hedges.

As for the turkeys, Tom and his three lady friends, they come whenever the mood strikes them. It has been entertaining and fun to watch the wildlife, and I guess feed them. And no animal was injured in our battle to keep the birds happy.

An earlier battle: https://zicharonot.com/2014/05/18/man-versus-squirrel-devastation-disaster-depression-and-destruction-of-dreams/

My Personal Pillars of Life

27 May

I recently was asked to write something about myself for our synagogue’s newsletter because I am a vice president of the congregation. I was unsure, did the president want my qualifications as to why I was a vice president? No, he wanted me to tell the congregation something about me. I decided to discuss my philosophy of life.

The first time I actually wrote down my philosophy was on a cruise ship in September 2019. It was our last big trip before the pandemic cancelled everything. We were in the Baltic Sea. During a sea day, I decided I would pamper myself and get a message. The young woman who was my massage therapist was on her first cruise. She was home sick. So we spent quite a bit of time talking. And among the topics we talked about was my philosophy of life. I am not sure why it came up. But she needed moral support and a way to deal with the daily onslaught of people to serve.

It was not my usual, I will fall asleep massage.  Instead, it was my, I am a mother and here is someone in need.  She also gave me a great massage.  So during the second week of the cruise I had another massage. We had another nice discussion.  When it was over, she handed me a notebook and said, “Please write it down.”  It was strange to put my personal philosphy into writing for someone else, but I did.  I hope it helped her in some way during her six-months on the ship, but more important perhaps during the pandemic. 

Below is the third time I wrote about my philosophy of life.

My philosophy of life is based on four pillars, Gemilut Chasidim (good deeds), Tzedakah (righteous charity), Kindness and Family.   Because I believe in creating a positive energy in the world, I volunteer quite a bit besides what I do at my synagogue.   Currently I am involved in Women’s Philanthropy as campaign chair; for NCJW I chair the scholarship committee providing funds for high school seniors going on to college; and I am a Spiritual Care Volunteer for Jewish Family Services. Every Wednesday I visit with seniors in an elder care facility. I also work at a small, private, non-profit school for children who do not do well in a traditional school setting.  I keep busy!

I believe in being positive!  I have learned that doing an act of kindness for someone brings so much more happiness than buying a gift for yourself.  That act of kindness is the gift!  I keep a happiness journal.  Each evening, I enter something that made me truly happy during the day.  I list at least one good deed I did that day.  And finally, I list five things that I am grateful for that day.  Almost every day that includes my family and my cats.

One way I keep happy is to crochet…mainly baby blankets for the multitude of young couples I know who are having babies.  I could just buy a gift.  But for me, making something filled with the positive love I feel when I make one, has more meaning.  I make other things as well.  My daughter often sends me a photo of something she likes and asks, “Can you make this for me.”  So I do.  I also make items for special people. A friend who donated a kidney loves ducks. So I crocheted her a duck doily. A friend whose son died way too young got a heart doily. A little girl with cancer received a long Anna wig to wear. When I make these items I feel like I am infusing them with love.

I love to I read, because books bring me to other worlds and entrance my imagination.   I usually travel, but for the past 15 months I have been home. Books have given me the opportunity to continue to visit new worlds, both real and imaginary.  My mind is filled with trivia thanks to these books. Reading brings me joy.  I enjoy discussing books with others.

My path to tzedakah comes from my family.  I knew from an early age that giving to others was important. My great grandfather Louis was one of the founders of the Bialystoker Home for the Aged in NYC.  He also was the president of the Free Loan Society for the Bialystokers.  My family supported this institution throughout my childhood.  My Dad, his grandson, was the president of his congregation for 11 years.  We were all taught to help others as we could.

My path to kindness comes from my family as well, especially my Mom. She taught elementary school for 30 years and had great experience in teaching kindness.  I learned from her, and from my experiences in the world, that you do not need to love everyone you meet. However, you do need to be Kind.  You never know what type of day someone is having. By being kind, you can brighten a day for someone else and in turn make the day better for yourself.

Yes, I also get sad sometimes and worry about the future.  No one is happy all the time. When I feel blue, I often go for a walk outside with a friend.  Just being outside helps cheer me up. But sometimes I go back to my foundation of Gemilut Chasidim, Tzedakah, Kindness and Family are my foundation, focusing on something good I can do to bring me out of the blues.

Here are two other blogs that touch on my world view.