02 May 2009

Jewish American Heritage Month: May 2009

The road to family history takes many turns. Tracing the Tribe recommends that Jewish family history researchers investigate the Library of Congress Hebraic section. What better time to do this than now, during Jewish American Heritage Month with many events set for Washington, DC and online exhibits. The site was just completely updated (May 1) for the 2009 celebration.

In my case, the Hebraic section held two family treasures - slim volumes of Yiddish poetry by a young man, Leib Borisovich Talalai, who died in the 1941 Minsk Ghetto uprising. Peggy Pearlstein of the Hebraic Section arranged to have the two volumes copied and sent to me.

Years ago, writer Mikhail Shulman, former head of the Mogilev (Belarus) Jewish community, mentioned to me that there was a plaque on the wall of the Belarussian Writer's Union in Minsk mentioning Leib Borisovich Talalai and his death in 1941.

Although we know that all Talalai/Talalay from Belarus are related, I was unsure as his short bio indicated Baranovichi as home. However, as I deciphered Leib Borisovich's poems, I came across one that posed the concept, "if walls could talk," which described the family home and past generations in Vorotinschtina. This confirmed the relationship as our Talalai were among the founding families of the Vorotinschtina agricultural colony in 1832; they were the sons of Rabbi Leib ben Harav Mikhel Talalai of Mogilev.

Do check for works by European relatives in various LOC sections. We also have a few Talalai who have written music and history books and those are also available

May 2009 events include:

Tuesday, May 5, noon: Aviva Kempner's upcoming documentary “Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg,” about American radio and television personality Gertrude Berg. Through film clips, she will explore how American radio and television personality Berg drew on her cultural heritage to pioneer a new medium. The program is sponsored jointly by the Hebraic Section and the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Mary Pickford Theater, third floor, James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. SE, Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, May 13, 6:30pm: Gershon Greenberg, 10th annual Myron M. Weinstein Memorial Lecture on the Hebraic Book, “Breaking the Holocaust Silence: A Hidden Chasidic Text of 1947.” Whittall Pavilion of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, DC. Gershon is a professor of philosophy and religion at American University. Reservations required (202) 707-3779.

Tuesday, May 19, noon: Laura Cohen Apelbaum and Wendy Turman of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, “Jewish Life in Mr. Lincoln’s City,” the society’s new exhibition and companion book catalog, in the African and Middle Eastern Reading Room, Room 220, Thomas Jefferson Building. An exhibit exploring the Jewish community in Washington and Alexandria during the Civil War is on display through May 31 at Washington Hebrew Congregation (Washington, D.C.), and from Sept. 11-Dec. 31 at Beth El Hebrew Congregation.

Other relevant exhibits:

Hannah Szenes, Parachute Commando: From 1943-45, a group of Jewish men and women volunteers from palestine parachuted into German-occupied Europe to organize resistance and aid in the rescue of Allied personnel. Szenes is one of the best-known of this group.

Desert Jewels: North African Jewelry and Photography: Jewish artists and craftsman, descendants of Jews who fled Spanish oppression and persecution beginning in the 13th century, contributed to North African coast artistic communities in urban centers. Jewish silversmiths living among the Kabyle of northern Algeria specialized in cloisonne enameling and introduced niello. See a photo exhibit.

Jewish Veterans of World War II: A group of US servicemen in the European Theater had a sepcial reason to fight Nazi Germany. Find video and audio interviews, personal correspondence, photos and more.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings: Recordings highlight the rich Judaic collection - Sephardic and Ashkenazi - including folk songs, religious music, classical literature, readings, children's songs and games and more.

Click here for additional exhibits, including collections, National Archives, Historic Newspaper Archive, audio/video, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and teacher guides. Materials include both Sephardic and Ashkenazi sources.

A few newspaper articles:

"Condition of the Jews Today" – New-York Daily Tribune, August 25, 1901
"Future of Judaism of America" – The San Francisco Call, December 10, 1905
"Part Played by the Hebrew in the History of the Nation and State" – The Salt Lake Herald, November 19, 1905
"Some New Books - The Jewish Encyclopedia" – The (New York) Sun, September 28, 1902

1 comment:

  1. Maria Jose Surribas1:22 AM

    Hi Schelly,

    Any reference to the earliest Talalai living there?
    Just found in Jacobs an Abrahem Talay, from Talaya, in Asturias. Must look for further info.

    Maria Jose