Jewish Geography and Diaspora Cultures
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The inclusion of Zee Abrams letter to the editor in the March/April 2023 issue is surprising. Abrams writes of Ethel Rosenberg that “Russia would never have gotten the atomic bomb without American spies like her.”
The various theoretical formulations for an atomic bomb and, after that, a hydrogen bomb and the concept of “critical mass” have been in physics and quantum mechanics textbooks for decades.
Small World Connection
I was so happy to read “How a Farming Village Saved My Family” by Sheryl Abbey in the March/April issue. The article included a picture of Abbey’s grandparents and mother immediately after their liberation in May 1945.
I immediately recognized the grandmother, Irma Leo-pold, because she and my mother had been good friends in my hometown of Vineland, N.J., where Abbey’s family settled after the war. Indeed, my mother and Mrs. Leopold alternated as president of our local chapter of Pioneer Women (since renamed Na’amat) and worked on its annual fundraiser picnic.
I knew Mrs. Leopold because my mother used to “lend me out” as a child to help Mrs. Leopold set up for the picnic—an event described in detail in a book published in March 2023 Speaking Yiddish to Chickens, about the unique Jewish farming community in Vineland.
I was somewhat saddened to read “The Wrong Kind of Jew” by Hen Mazzig in the March/April issue, but very glad that he has brought knowledge about the Mizrahi community to the fore. After all, some of our greatest sages were of Mizrahi origin, including the authors of the Babylonian Talmud.
When I was growing up in San Antonio, Texas, the child of immigrant East European Ashkenazi parents, I did not know about the existence of Jews from other cultures. In 1961, I married a Jewish fellow from Mexico City from the same Yiddish-speaking background and we lived there for several years. Mexico City had a large Ashkenazi community, a substantial Sephardi group of Spanish and Turkish origin and an equally vibrant Mizrahi sector, originating mainly from Syria. Social interaction between the groups was rare and intermarriage was severely frowned upon.
But times have changed. Today, intermarriage among the groups is common. We have an Ashkenazi grandniece married to someone of Syrian Jewish ancestry.
When my husband and I relocated to San Antonio in 1969, we formed a group of friends that included those with East European and German Ashkenazi heritage, one with a Sephardi lineage that can be traced back to 1400s Spain and others with Sephardi ancestry from France and Greece who had survived the Holocaust. I am so glad my horizons have broadened!
San Antonio, Texas