One of the difficulties about blogging about something new is the compulsion to start from the beginning. “Well I can’t blog about E,” I think, “because I haven’t blogged about A, B, C, or D.” And I think, “I’ll just post an initial post about A and then I can get move on.” But of course that gets lost in the shuffle and a little blog sits empty. I’ve kept a personal blog for over eleven years now, so most of my A, B, C, and D has been posted over the course of the years, although there are occasionally new topics that fall through the cracks for just that reason. This alternate blog is meant as a way for me to think about things that aren’t as interesting to those who just want to read about my kids, a place for me to remember articles I’ve enjoyed, process the research I’ve done, and explore new ideas that aren’t family related. So I’ve decided the only thing to do is to jump in with E and then when–if–I have the urge and the time, I’ll fill in A, B, C, and D.
Genealogy has been my obsession of late. I see it as a way to discover stories. But not just stories–stories connected to me. I love taking those stories and putting down the history just as much I like to–separately–take those stories and twist them into fiction. Family history is a goldmine of inspiration.
This past Sunday I went to a lecture on Jews who moved from the Iberian Peninsula to the Pale of Settlement. Before I went Adam and I bet over/under on how much younger I’d be than everyone else in the room. Were they old? Oh, I felt quite young. How old were they? Let’s just say that they served Sanka. And when I texted that to Adam, I noticed I was the only one in the room who was texting. Just sayin’.
This was a topic of interest because there’s an old family story that in the 1930s, my great-uncle went to visit his grandfather in Kobryn, Belarus. His grandfather (that’s my great-great grandfather for those trying to count that out) showed my uncle an elaborate family tree that dated our family back to the 1400s in Spain. My uncle asked for the tree and his grandfather told him he could have it when he was adult. Fast forward about ten years and neither the grandfather nor the family tree survived the Holocaust. I have no way to substantiate this idea of our family originally being from Spain. Our names aren’t Spanish, our traditions aren’t Sephardic, and we are Ashkenazi through and through. But who knows? Apparently there were a few waves of Jews who left the peninsula and headed East, either south through Italy and onto Turkey where they worked/traveled on the Ottoman Empire trade routes, which brought them to Hungary, Odessa, Lithuania or north through France into the commercial cities of Flanders and Amsterdam where they traveled to Hamburg and from there, to Poland. The exodus started in the 1100s, not just in the old, “In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus left, and the Jews did, too.”
The lecture was interesting–and they served Oreos! I mean, I liked it without the Oreos, but Oreos make any event better–but it didn’t give me anything concrete to go on. Our family lore is still simply family lore. Not all history can be revealed. But I’m glad I went and it did give me an excuse to finally introduce this topic on my blog. So consider this entry kind of like a C. Maybe I’ll get to A and B sometime soon.