Archive | October, 2017

A Touch of Jewish Philanthropy In Lincoln, Massachusetts 

30 Oct

The entrance to the museum. The house is on the hill.

I always enjoy going to Boston, as I can immerse myself in our nation’s history. And I love history.  I also enjoy going because I get to visit with my college roommate. She is my official Boston tour guide.  With this visit she decided it was time to get out of Boston and see some of the surrounding sites. It was a beautiful fall day. I am always ready for a new Museum.

Her choice was the de Cordova art museum and sculpture garden in Lincoln. With my interest in Jewish genealogy, I was very familiar with the name De Cordova or Cordova as a Sephardic Jewish name.  But searching for the name of Julian De Cordova online, there was no mention of any Jewish roots.   Just that he was a the son of a Jamaican merchant with Spanish roots.  So to me it was obvious that this was a family which left Spain due to the expulsion of the Jews and ended up in Jamaica.  I love the white wash of history.

In any case I was excited to see this museum, walk through the sculpture garden and visit with my friend.  We decided to go inside first and see the exhibits.  The main topic was screens and  the different interpretations of a screen:  television screens, screens that separate rooms,  screens that keep people out. It was interesting.   But as we wandered the through the museum, we passed a little display on a wall that discussed the history of Julian de Cordova.

Part of the house.

Julian was the son of a Jewish family of merchants in Jamaica who was able on his own merit to become a successful business man in Lincoln,   He and his wife, who was from the local Dana family,  I assume not Jewish,  traveled the world and purchased art wherever they went.  He loved going to Spain because of his family’s Spanish roots. While there,  He also fell in love with castles and so remodeled his summer home in Lincoln to look like a castle.

He also set up that when he died, this summer home, its land and his art would be donated to the city of Lincoln as a museum.  When he died in 1945, the de Cordova Museum was established.

One of my favorite pieces.

So although most do not know that this lovely estate and museum was once the abode of a Jamaican, Sephardic Jewish man, to me it added a bit of joy as I walked the grounds, enjoyed the art and the lovely setting.  It made me appreciate how immigrant Jewish families have added to our country and the arts.

My friend and I spent two hours walking through the museum,  most of our time was spent walking around the sculptures, along the paths that led to the pond and lovely gardens.   Afterwards we spent time in Concord and the Minute Man National Park.  But this little jewel of a museum is well worth the visit.

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The Missing Link in My Family History or My Biggest Genealogy Block

25 Oct

 

Harry Rosenberg

We think this is Grandpa Harry on his bar mitzvah day.

Help!

I know basically nothing about one set of my paternal great grandparents. My grandfather, Harry Rosenberg… Hersh Zvi ben Avraham, was the son of Abraham and Sarah Rosenberg. His father, Abraham, abandoned the family when my grandfather was about 13 or 14. Grandpa was borned in 1888 or 1889. So in 1901 or 1902, his father left and ended up in the Seattle, Washington, area. He came back to the east coast around September 1941, because he showed up at my Dad’s bar mitzvah. I know that he had a second wife, or a woman that he lived with on the West Coast. He supposedly became quite wealthy. Who knows?

Grandpa was born in New York, the oldest of six children: Harry, “Hady” (Harriet), Jacob, Muriel and two maiden sister.  (I am thinking one of my great grandparent’s parents had an H sound in their name, since both my grandfather and his oldest sister were Harry and Harriet.)

After Grandpa traveled to the west coast to find his father, he returned to New York to help support his sibling. He was a tailor. And through his work, all five of his siblings went to college Grandpa never did.   He found out much later that his mother had lied to him for many years.   She had been getting money from her husband, but never told my grandfather, and so kept him working for the family. (See blog post below: “The Sad Scandal That Forever Scarred My Grandpa Harry )

Grandpa married my grandmother, Esther Goldman, on February 26, 1922. He died February 29, 1984.

I know that Jacob got married and had a son named, Betram, and a daughter, Delilah. Delilah was around the same age as my Aunt, so born around 1931. I know because my Aunt would go to their house for piano lessons once a week. They lived in New York City at least until the 1940s. But supposedly he was an important lawyer and moved to England at some point and never came back to the USA.

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

Haddie married Lenny.   I knew them when I was a child. They lived to the end of their lives in Sullivan County, New York, in the Monticello area. (See blog post below: The Littlest Gambler: Learning about Horse Races in The Catskills.)

The two maiden sisters, and Muriel, I never knew. But Muriel also married and had sons. But that is all I know. The only story I know is that my grandmother asked them if they had any names they wanted when my aunt and uncle were born. Hence my Uncle’s middle name was Prime, and my Aunt’s middle name was Gwendolyn.   Grandma did not offer when my Dad was born.

I know my great grandfather’s original last name was “Grau.” He was one of three to five brothers who came to the USA at different times. We believe they all took different names.

I know nothing else. I do not even know my great grandmother’s maiden name. I don’t know when she was born or when she died. I do not know when my great grandparents’ married. But I know it had to be on or before 1888. I do not know when they moved to the USA.  We have no known photos of my great grandparents.

I am hoping one of the wonderful researchers from Tracing the Tribe can help me.

I would appreciate it. My Grandpa Harry’s family is the missing link in my research.

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/the-sad-scandal-that-forever-scarred-my-grandpa-harry/

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/the-littlest-gambler-learning-about-horse-races-in-the-catskills/

I Hate Having to Say, “Me Too”

19 Oct

I hate having to say, “me too.”   It makes me a bit sick to my stomach to be honest. So many of us were harassed on the job or in school or just walking down the street in the 60s. 70s, 80s, and even today. I wish the culture would change. Perhaps it will.

I remember when my husband would watch, Mad Men. Sometime he would say something like, “I cannot believe they treated women like that. “ And I would respond. “Yes they did. And it was sometimes much worse.”

So I will relate my two worst encounters.   To be honest, I have a list of about ten incidents that impacted my life. But I was lucky. There always seemed to be an angel near by that saved me from the worst. As Fred Rogers would say, I always looked for the helpers. Here are the two worst work-related incidents and the angels who saved me.

I started working In the 70s.   When I was in high school and college, I worked at a grocery store in Monticello, NY. The Catskills my happy place. For five summers I worked at Shopwell. I actually loved my job. I worked behind the Deli counter. I knew the other worker, almost all men.   I made friends with some of the cashiers, almost all women.

For four years, I never had a problem.   I loved going to work. I hung out with my friends. I made two great friends over the summers and we looked forward to being together. Until the fifth year. The year I was 20, entering my junior year of college.

I admit I was adorable. And small. That is important. I did not look strong, but I was. I was raised to be independent. I had just returned from living in Israel for a year, and nothing frightened me. But the store hired a new manager of the deli. Eliot. He was young, perhaps 30; he was obnoxious; and he was after me in a not nice way.

It became an extremely unpleasant place to work. He would whisper horrible comments in my ear, and give me the most obnoxious jobs to do.   Victor, one of the long-term employees, who I had known for years, started standing next to me whenever he could.   I actually started keeping a giant butcher knife near me all the time. And once I threatened Eliot. I told him that if he touched me again, I would cut off his penis. And I meant it. He was insidious.

One day I went to eat lunch in the staff lounge, upstairs and away from everyone. Eliot followed me. He cornered me in the room and said something like, “IF I rape you right now no one would believe you.” I never had the chance to respond.

Out came my angels. Two of the cashiers, who I had known for years, were in the ladies’ room. They heard every thing. “How long has this been going on!” Anita demanded. They chased him out of the lounge. Held me and said, “We are going to the manager.” To be honest I was a bit afraid of losing my job. But no worries.

The manager was appalled.   He told me to call my grandfather to come and get me. (I did not have a car, and my grandfather often drove me to and from work.) When Grandpa got there, the manager and he had a talk.   We drove home basically in silence. I could tell he was upset, but did not know what to say. He had a talk with my Mom when I got home. My Mom and I had a short discussion.  When she found out he had not touched me or harmed me physically, she calmed down.   We never spoke about it again.  It was a part of life for women.

Two days later I went back to work. The manager told me that Eliot was fired and was not allowed on the Shopwell grounds. That if I was to see him there, I was to come to the manager immediately. Eliot never came back when I was there.

I was fortunate that I had people who protected me and kept me safe.

The next incident happened four years later. I was working on my master’s degree in journalism at the University of Missouri. I was also working part time at the Missouri School Boards Association. I loved working there. We had a great staff. I was in charge of the PR, newsletter and publications. I made great friends with the two secretaries, the other women in the office. Susan and I got especially close. The Executive Director and Assistant Executive Director were men, but really nice. It was great.

Once a year we would all go to Tan Tar A, near Lake of the Ozarks, for a convention. My job was to put out the convention newsletter and write the articles. I was worked about 16 hour days during the convention.

The first year, there was one school board president who was persistently bothering me. He was often drunk and unpleasant, middle aged and married.   I was 24 and engaged. I wanted nothing to do with him.

Luckily, Susan was with me the first time he tried something. She told me to never get on an elevator with him. In fact she and the other secretary would go down with me in the morning. One would come to the printing room at night to get me to my room safely. But they were going home a day before me.  That last night they would be gone. I was worried. So were they. This guy would not stop! NO! said emphatically did not deter him.

We finally told the Assistant ED.   At first he would not, could not believe it. But in the end he agreed to come to the printing room to walk me to my room that night. The drunk was already there when he arrived. My boss was really stunned.  I think somewhat ashamed. He walked me to my room. The next day, when the convention ended, he drove me back to Columbia, Missouri. We spoke about it briefly. His telling me that not all men were like that. But as a young woman in 1979, I knew the truth….more men were like that then he realized.

Again I was fortunate.   I had angels and helpers who kept me safe. But there are many women who are not as fortunate. Who suffer undo duress and pressure. My “Me Too” is small in comparison to the stories of others..

Honestly,  I think because of these incidents I looked for a safe place to work when I got my master’s degree.  I found that working for a Girl Scout Council.  No men.

As women, we never knew who would be safe and who would make unanticipated and unwanted advances. At work, at school, on the street, on a bus, in a store, in the bathroom, at a restaurant, in a bar! When I was younger, I was always on the watch.

My daughter once made fun of me. She and a friend traveled to Egypt together. I said, “Do not go to the bathroom by yourself. Always go together.” She laughed until her friend did go to the bathroom by herself and was assaulted by the male attendant, but luckily another woman came in before anything happened.

I hate having to say,  “Me Too”. I hope by the time I have granddaughters, the world will be safer.

My Favorite Catskills Photo of Me

16 Oct

Summer 1957

There are many reasons why I have always Loved this photo. First it was taken in the Catskills when I was 2 1/2. I am blissfully happy sitting in the grass. I love seeing the old wooden outdoor furniture.  I know that bench is Blue. I spent many hours on it over the years. 

I love seeing the women on the bench. The one to the far left is my maternal grandmother. She and my grandfather owned the bungalow colony. And with many family members there, I was surrounded by love. To be honest I am not sure who the other woman is, but I think it is my aunt.  I love that bench as my paternal grandmother taught me to knit and crochet as we sat on it when I was about seven or eight. 

I love that my aunt’s feet are resting on that single chair, as I know she is really relaxing. They mothers only put their feet up when they were settled in for a rest.  There is another chair to my side. It indicates to me that there is a square table to my side as well … the table where my grandmothers, great aunt and their friend spent endless hours playing canasta. 

Further on I see some of the white painted bungalows. This was the original colony. Eventually my grandparents purchased more land and moved some of the buildings. Only two of the original bungalows still exist. The land has been sold off and newer homes were erected. Two of my cousins purchased some of the land, so I am fortunate that I can still walk this property. 

I love how I look in this photo. I remember my Dad telling me that this was his favorite picture of me as a child because in this photo he could finally see how I would look as an adult. But I also love it for the curl in the middle of my forehead. I had and still have thick, curly hair. I cannot tell how often one of my parents would recite this poem to me: “There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very, very good But when she was bad she was horrid.” 

I know that hat and outfit. It was red and white. Because of my black hair my mom often dressed me in red. I rarely wear red now. Blue is my favorite color. But when I envision myself as a child I am often in red or pink. But that hat I specifically remember. I must have worn it for several years before my younger sister was born and she have the chance to wear it. 

I wish I knew what was in the box I am holding. I am sure it is crackers or cereal. But I wish the front of the box was facing out. It would add to the memory. I guess it does not matter.  Whenever I see this photo, I am filled with joy. I am in my happy place. Our home in Kauneonga Lake, in the Catskills where summers were always delightful.