Editor’s Wrapup: So That We Do Not Forget
Most of us keep photo albums to remind us of enjoyable moments or milestone events. As we get older, we sometimes become the keepers of our parents’ and grandparents’ stories. For anthropologist Ruth Behar, her discovery of “The Book”—the unpublished Yiddish memoir her Polish-born great-grandfather wrote as an immigrant in 1934 Cuba—was an eye-opening legacy of the old country. Though Behar does not read Yiddish (her grandmother translated it into Spanish), she found she could not give up “The Book.” Her story begins on page 58.
But what if one’s family album encompasses the memories of a 400-person community, as in the case of Berkley, Virginia? When Charles A. London, a descendant of the handful of Yiddish-speaking Litvaks who settled in Berkley in the 19th century, was writing about the remarkable, close-knit shtetl that had been re-created by his forebears, he discovered a world he never knew. It is his landsman, and uncle, Stephen Baer, who “has taken it on himself to preserve and pass on the town’s legacy,” London writes (page 10). Baer’s research was a labor of love that took him to Ligim, Lithuania, and eventually led him to organize a weekend reunion that brought together 250 descendants of this unique, self-contained American Jewish community.
On an even larger scale, Gail Reimer, founder of Jewish Women’s Archive, is committed to retrieving and preserving the stories of Jewish women. The national nonprofit’s innovative technology and creative programming make it “a breathing, dynamic treasure chest of Jewish women’s experience,” writes Deborah Fineblum Raub (page 55). One of Reimer’s dreams is for every Jewish child “to have heroes who are Jewish women, to know their names and their stories.”
Those who save our past stories as well as our future ones create a legacy that deepens our s