Category Archives: Jewish History

Elie Wiesel

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“Elie Wiesel, #Auschwitz & Buchenwald survivor, writer, 1986 #Nobel Peace Prize laureate, died on this day, in 2016.”

For more information on Elie Wiesel, visit –Auschwitz Museum

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” (Elie Wiesel)

Elisha Wiesel remembers his father, and how growing up under Elie Wiesel’s  guidance impacted him.

May his memory be for a Loving Blessing.

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Review: Einstein and the Rabbi: Searching for the Soul

I finished reading Einstein and the Rabbi:  Searching for the Soul, by Rabbi Naomi Levy.

We are all an eternal flicker in the candle of time, and each of us is an illumination of the past, present and future. 

This beautifully written book, exemplifies our connections, and enhances the fact humanity is all encompassing, each of us a minute part of the entire.  One life is all of our lives, connected through human strands.  One death leaves a portion of our souls empty, voided.

Reading this book almost brought me to tears with the beautiful, structured prose, illuminating Rabbi Levy’s concept of soul, and her defining such, through her journey searching for the answers to her questions.

I recommend Einstein and the Rabbi:  Searching for the Soul, to everyone, no matter your faith, and no matter whether you practice any religious faith, or whether you are an atheist.  It offers something for everyone.

The photo above was taken several years ago, inside Temple Mickve Israel, in Savannah, GA.  I was astonished that I was permitted to take a photo of the Torahs in the Ark.

The photograph above is of the front entrance to the Skirball Cultural Center.  They are currently closed due to COVID-19, but their online exhibits and resources are invaluable.

All photographs and writings are the copyright of Lorri M.

 

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Non-Fiction, Photography, Uncategorized

To the Edge of Sorrow

To the Edge of Sorrow, by Aharon Appelfeld, is a profound book, in many aspects.

Appelfeld leaves nothing to the imagination, as far as word-imagery, illuminating not only the physical horrors, losses, and sorrows of war, but also the emotional perceptions, repressions, and ability to forge through each day, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour.

Jewish partisans struggle from hunger, extreme cold temperatures, living in trenches, life on the run, living in a Ukrainian forest, during World War II. They are adamant about fighting the Nazis.

Judaism is a central theme, within the pages, and how it’s education is part of the partisans’ daily ritual. Whether believers, or not, it is expected that the entire group participates, because their leader is determined that morality will survive the horrors thrust upon them.

Through this daily aspect, some of the group are able to cope better, with their difficult situation.  Others are impacted more emotionally, causing them to reflect on their life, their loved ones, the comforts of home.  The effects, and how each person is affected, is important in the context of the group, as a whole.

The story, with its characters, and depictions, still lingers within me, and will, for quite some time. It is one of those books, that for me, is difficult to let go of.

I have been an avid reader of Aharon Appelfeld’s books. Sadly, this was his last one, as he died in 2018.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Novels, Uncategorized, World History, World War II

Ashkenazi Jews

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I found an interesting article, on Gizmodo regarding Ashkenazi Jews, and it began like this:  “A genetic analysis shows that all of the Ashkenazi Jews alive today — of which there are more than 10 million — can trace their roots to a group of just 330 people who lived 600 to 800 years ago.”  I found that sentence, in itself, absolutely fascinating.

Reading the entire article gave me much insight into the components of Ashkenazi DNA.  Apparently, ‘no more than half of the DNA  comes from Ancient Europeans, while the rest of the Ashkenazi genome comes from the Middle East’.  I knew that Ashkenazi Jews had Middle East DNA in them, as I had read that in several articles, over the years.  Just how much of the Middle Eastern genome was new information to me.

I also read the link to nature dot com, that was included in the Gizmodo article, which showed the entire scientific study on the issue.  The history is intriguing.

After reading the scientific study, I then looked up the subject matter of Ashkenazi Jews on Wikipedia’s website.  The information there gave more extensive information into the Middle Ages aspect of the Ashkenazi Jews.  But, once I stopped to think about it, I realized I know much of this to begin with, due to the nonfiction history books I have read, and also due to some of the historical fiction books I have read, over 1,000, combined, along with printed articles, over the years.

I also read an article on Frontiers in Genetics website entitled, The Origins of Ashkenaz, Ashkenazi Jews, and Yiddish.  Their findings indicate a predominance of Ashkenazi Jews originated in Turkey.  Interesting!

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has information on Ashkenazi Jews, as well.

Sometimes it takes one certain sentence to draw us in, and awaken, and reinforce in our minds, what we already know.

Whether one of these articles is accurate, or a combination of them is, is a changing scene in the scheme of DNA tests.  One study tells us one thing, another study enhances the first study, or diminishes it, in some respect.  New concepts in DNA arise almost yearly, with newly found genetic discoveries.

For instance, I had my DNA tested in June 2019, showing my Jewish DNA and where it stemmed from, as far as the countries it originated from, and/or included.  In December 2019, I received an update on my Jewish DNA showing a different perspective of the countries, including new ones, excluding others.

There seems to be a constant flow of discoveries, through testing and genetic studies, that influence the mapping of Ashkenazi Jews.  I try to keep up with reading material on the issues as much as possible.

 

Copyright Lorri M.

 

 

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Review: The World That We Knew

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Alice Hoffman’s books have never ceased to amaze me.  The World That We Knew is another one of her books that I felt amazed and touched by.

The story line had a mystical aspect, yet it was not difficult to suspend my disbelief within specific moments that illuminated nature, love, and the theory of clay being magically brought to a life form.  Magical realism, mystical realism, however you define it, is a powerful force within the pages, especially with the forming of a golem.

Judaism defines a golem as a substance, amorphous, one that is not complete, made from clay or mud.  Golems are also said to not have emotions, and to be, more or less, a slave to the individual who created it.  Ava’s super strength and awareness defined her powers over her human creators in more ways than one.

I enjoyed watching the character of Ava mature, in unpredictable ways.  I felt compassion towards her.  For me, she was the one character who I admired and liked the most, even though she was not a human being.

Her knowledge of events to come, and her strength in upholding her ideals through those difficult situations, gained my respect for her.  Her actions went above and beyond any forces that actual individuals took to enhance or minimize.  She was a willing shero, in every respect.

The Holocaust events depicted were not sugar-coated, but were a central force within the pages, particularly the French partisan angles, during World War II.  Hoffman was masterful with her word-imagery, within the pages.

Once again, Alice Hoffman did not disappoint me.  Her masterful prose created a wonderful story line, filled with magic/mysticism, a feature I have loved, throughout her books that I have read.  I highly recommend The World That We Knew.
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Beautiful Story, Memorial Bricks

The Beauty of the Bricks‘, by Sara Buklan, is a beautiful, heartwarming and poignant story regarding the Stolpersteine Project.  The project is a memorial throughout Europe that honors the victims of the Holocaust.  “Its name, “stolpersteine,” is a German word that can be translated to ‘stumbling blocks’ which is an accurate description of the project.”   Gunter Demnig formulated the creation for the project, using small, brass stones, as memorials to those who were murdered/perished, in front of their last known address.  Read more about the Stolpersteine Project, here.

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A career is like a house: it’s made of many bricks, and each brick has the same value, because without any one of them, the house would collapse.  -Andrea Bocelli

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