Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Heritage

I was shopping at BJ's the other day, and of course I found myself browsing the books, as I always do. Most of you that read this and know me know that I do have an addiction--to books. The smell, the sounds of pages rustling, the crackling of a brand new book being opened for the first time, the feelings stirred (or not depending on the book lol) upon reading the first few words shared by another human being. As usual, I digress from my orginal writing for today. There is a book I've been wanting, Jewish Literacy, but I'm waiting for my dear husband to buy it for me because I can't rationalize spending it myself. Yes I could get it from the library, but then its not mine to go back to over and over again. Another book caught my eye, "Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family". That's my maiden name!!! Of course I had to buy it. Little did I know what was in store for me. As I began reading, I realized this isn't only a cookbook--its an anectdotal Jewish history book starting with the 1800's in Russia to the family's current stories here in the US. Understand prior to reading this, I had no idea that Rabinowitz is a very common Jewish name. Growing up as one of two (I think?) Jewish families in Marlton, I certainly didn't think it was common! (yes, Marlton--way way back yonder...) My Mom's mother died before I was born, her father in 1980, and my Dad's mother 1981, his father 1982. I didn't get to know them as an adult, and its a longing, a yearning, that is so deep there are no words to describe it. Even with Aunt Martha, it wasn't until after she passed away that I realized the lost stories that were hers. As I read this family's story in the cookbook, I am feeling this stirring in my soul, as if I'm connecting with the lost heritage of my own family. I don't mean that in the way of hidden heritage, just lost along the way somehow. (Aunt Reba--a book of the geneology research/stories you've compiled is waiting to be written..........) These stories of marriages, celebrations, hardships, pogrammes, emmigration, extermination, loss, love, survival--they are connecting me back to what I know is there in my own family roots. I am determined to build for my kids strength and joy in their heritage, and humor, too, of course! So far I've made cousin Carole's crusty potato kugel, and read Mama Hinda's (my grandma Helen's Hebrew name also was Hinda, hmmmm...) tips on getting the most height from your Challah (I was reading it and exclaimed out loud "so THATS how you do it!", Dylan came into the kitchen asking what?, I told him, he was like "oooohhhhhh, that's how you do it!", so now my challah won't be tipping over, maybe, anymore). Today I'll make Irene's old fashioned honey cake, and later in the week we'll make Aunt Sally's ultra-extra-special noodle pudding with homemade noodles (my mom has told me that Mom-Mom Fay used to make her own noodles). While cooking and baking, I will tell my kids my own stories; I'll share and share, stories they will roll their eyes to the sky because its the 18 millionth time I've told them, or stories maybe they've never heard before. The stories will become ours, rather than mine, and together, we'll build the next generation.


Anonymous said...

Wow, how powerful heritige is! I am brought to tears by your words and the importance of those stories. I will forever be in awe of Judaism and the impact had on society. Chonny

Anonymous said...

Now that is great to find! My husband's last name is also Jewish, might want to see if there is a connection with Oliwek. it is Polish i know that (i.e. Lodz, Poland was started by Oliwek's ) After about 1944/45 time frame we have NO more information on the family.
Chauntel Marie King Oliwek

Anonymous said...

Hi Linda -
What a great blog! I was deeply moved by your "heritage" story and you have inspired me to continue with the family history - I have a lot of information but after Uncle Danny passed away, I put it aside. I'm going to do my best to get back to it again and make sense of all the data I have -and will share what I've learned.

Happy Thanksgiving!!
Love, Aunt Reba